WHY PARTIES NEED REVIEW COUNSEL DURING MEDIATION

Mediation is a process whereby parties who are looking to resolve their divorce or post judgment issues meet with a neutral third party (the Mediator) in an effort to settle the case. The parties’ agreement is then memorialized by the Mediator.

In Mediation, the parties (not a Judge and not the Mediator) determine how the case settles. While the Mediator may provide neutral guidance to both parties, the Mediator does not take sides and does not advocate for either party. In fact, in Connecticut, Mediators are not even necessarily attorneys! Since most parties to a divorce action are not attorneys themselves, how are they to navigate the complexities of a divorce, including making major financial and parenting decisions, without someone on their side? This is why it is critical for parties to hire their own Review Counsel to assist them during mediation.

When a party engages mediation Review Counsel, she is hiring an attorney to look out for her own interests and help guide her through the mediation process in a manner that is best for that particular party. Instead of taking a neutral approach, as the Mediator does, Review Counsel will provide important insight particular to the client’s best interests and assist in reaching a resolution that is best for her.

A party’s Review Counsel typically does not attend the actual mediation sessions with the parties. Review Counsel does not formally represent the client in their Divorce or Post Judgment case, which means that the attorney does not file an appearance with the Court. Instead, an attorney acting as Review Counsel will provide background support to his or her client, including:

1. Explaining the Divorce (or Post Judgment) Process. While a mediator should explain the general process to both parties, sometimes certain areas are not fully elaborated upon or a party will have questions that she does not want to ask in the presence of her spouse. Her Review Counsel can provide a more detailed explanation tailored to the particular concerns of the party.

2. Strategic Preparation for Mediation Sessions. One of the major benefits of having Review Counsel is the ability to plan and prepare for Mediation sessions in advance. For example, if a party knows that the next mediation session will be focused on alimony, she will have the ability to meet with her Review Counsel in advance in order to review her rights to alimony and discuss the potential settlement options that are best for her.

3. Review of the Parenting Plan/Separation Agreement/Post Judgment Stipulation. While the parties’ Mediator will be the one actually drafting the Parenting Plan, Separation Agreement or other Stipulation, a party should have her Review Counsel examine the documents to make sure that they are drafted in a way that is fair, equitable and beneficial (or at least not detrimental!) to her.

The attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC are committed to helping our clients navigate their divorce and post judgment issues in the most effective way possible, whether it be assisting clients in Wilton, Darien, Greenwich and surrounding towns as a Mediator or as mediation Review Counsel.

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