FAQs – Input from Divorce Lawyers and other Specialists
(see also FAQs – Divorce Process)
If I mediate, do I also need a lawyer?
It can be helpful to have divorce lawyers available for consultation. It depends on your needs, preferences and budget. It’s your choice. The best times to consider consulting with an attorney are at the beginning of mediation and near the end before signing the final document specifying all your agreements. You can of course consult with divorce lawyers at any time during mediation. Having this input may enhance your comfort with the process and the outcome.
If you were to speak with a lawyer at the beginning of mediation you could get an idea of how the law might apply in your particular case and to get an idea of possible outcomes if your case were to be decided in court. This may help you formulate proposals and have realistic expectations in mediation.
Between mediation sessions, a lawyer could serve as a coach who could help you better understand the issues and your rights, identify areas for further inquiry and formulate proposals. Once mediation is underway, you’ll have a clearer understanding of your spouse’s negotiating positions and the lawyer could help you evaluate and respond to them.
Most common is having divorce lawyers review the final agreement document (Memorandum of Understanding) before you sign it.
If you need a recommendation, I can provide names of divorce lawyers who are supportive of mediation. They will charge you an hourly fee for consultation.
Should lawyers come to mediation sessions?
It’s up to you. Most people do not have their lawyers come to the mediation sessions. Complex legal issues or serious power imbalances could weigh in favor of bringing your divorce lawyer. This is something we would need to discuss and all agree upon.
Might other specialists be involved?
Here are examples of specialists that in some cases it might make sense to hire to provide input for the mediation:
- real property appraiser;
- actuary to value a pension;
- business valuation expert;
- other appraisal specialist;
- tax specialist;
- forensic accountant to investigate financial matters;
- legal expert;
- child psychologist.
As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, I will be able to help you understand and work through the financial and tax matters relating to your divorce, thus reducing the likelihood of needed outside financial expertise. Hiring outside specialists is always your choice.
Divorce lawyers - when?
There are a number of possible situations in which you should definitely be represented by an attorney and mediation may not be appropriate for you. See “When is mediation not appropriate?”
If your spouse has already filed for divorce and there is any risk of a default judgment against you, you should consult with a divorce attorney. If there is an already-scheduled hearing in your case about a matter of substance that your spouse is unwilling to postpone, you may well fare better at the hearing if you are represented by a divorce lawyer.
Divorce lawyers can help you try to obtain a court order (say for interim financial or parenting arrangements before the divorce is granted) and to enforce an already-issued court order.
You always have the right to meet with a divorce lawyer for consultation, advice or representation.