Many people hope to save on costs by entering into divorce mediation without having their own attorney.
Whether or not your spouse has an attorney, if you are contemplating a divorce, you should have your own divorce lawyer.
This should be a divorce lawyer. For example, if your estate planning lawyer does not also regularly practice in the area of divorce, you should not rely on that lawyer for advice on a divorce.
A mediator, even if the mediator is a lawyer, is not allowed to give legal advice to one party in a divorce that the person is mediating.
If you do not have a lawyer looking out for your own interests, you might not be aware of the negative implications of some aspects of a proposed settlement. Similarly, you might not be aware of the actual likely range of outcomes that might occur at a trial, and you might agree to something that has negative implications that would not become obvious until it was too late.
There is no guarantee you will avoid all possible traps if you have a lawyer, but you are less likely to fall into a trap that is obvious to someone who regularly practices in the area if you do have a lawyer.
Having a lawyer on your side can also help avoid a situation where you later have to go to court to resolve some issue which you thought was resolved in mediation, but which was not clearly written in a divorce judgment.
Perhaps even more important, having a lawyer on your side may help avoid a situation where a court can no longer fix something that was not properly handled in your divorce, if the matter is not properly resolved in the divorce itself.
Steven A. Heinrich
Divorce & Custody
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