An important difference between a mediator and a review attorney is that a mediator is neutral and does not support or oppose a position that you take. A mediator helps you address all the issues in your divorce -- a parenting plan which includes child custody, allocation of your marital assets and debts, child support and spousal support. But a mediator does not take sides or give advice. A divorce attorney is your legal advocate and can inform you about the law and what is in your best interest in your particular situation.
The example I always give clients concerns spousal support, which used to be known as alimony. The couple may decide that there will be no alimony. I explain that if you decide there will be no alimony now it is a very hard, if not impossible, decision to change in the future and encourage each spouse to speak with his/her attorney about this issue. What they may not realize is what they are giving up/expect to pay. After being equipped with this information, each spouse is better prepared to return to mediation to have an informed, productive conversation about this issue and reach a resolution. So, a ten-minute conversation with your attorney allows you to move the process along with the mediator, making educated decisions about your new future.
Of course, attorneys are an additional expense. Many people want to use a mediator because it is a significantly lower-cost alternative to litigation and they don’t want to spend their money on divorce lawyers. The adage “penny-wise, pound foolish” comes to mind. You are saving $2,500 now by not retaining a lawyer but you may well be unknowingly giving up lots more than that in future spousal support.
Ultimately the choice is yours. You can choose to use a review attorney or not. At Westfield Mediation, LLC, the mediators are able to share a list of review attorneys in the area who know our work and are not out to gouge you or make you start the process from scratch. They understand that you have chosen to go through mediation and made some compromises in your divorce agreement, but will still advise you of your legal rights and help complete all of the court paperwork and accompany you to court.
For more information about divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M.Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.