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Do I need an attorney if I'm going through mediation?

Most people do not resolve family legal matters like child custody and divorce alone. They work with a number of parties to help them understand their rights and fight for a fair resolution. Two of the parties often involved are a mediator and an attorney.

While mediators can be attorneys (and vice versa), when it comes to a specific mediation, you should not expect one person to fill both roles. If you are going through mediation, you will have a mediator, but you can also have an attorney.

What a mediator will do

Let's imagine you are going through mediation for your divorce. In this situation, a mediator's goals will be to:

  • Keep discussions between you and your ex focused on solutions
  • Level the playing field between both parties
  • Ensure each person has a chance to speak freely and uninterrupted
  • Providing neutral guidance on the legal system
  • Make referrals for third party services
  • Offer solutions
  • Draft any agreements reached in the sessions

What your attorney will do

On the other hand, your attorney will have different goals when you are going through mediation for your divorce. Your attorney can:

  • Negotiate on your behalf
  • Help you compile information, like financial records
  • Advise you on what you can and/or should do
  • Communicate with your ex or your ex's attorney outside of mediation sessions
  • Ensure you are well-informed on your legal rights and options in negotiations
  • Provide feedback after mediation sessions
  • Serve as your representative if your case goes to court

Working through mediation with your attorney

Mediation can be a very effective option for helping people reach mutually agreeable, amicable solutions outside of court, but rest assured you do not have to go through it alone. Having the neutral, trained guidance of a mediator as well as the personal advisement from your attorney can help you feel confident in the agreements you ultimately reach.

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