This Week’s Blog by Lauren M. Healy.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where you and your spouse jointly hire a neutral third person (a mediator) to help settle the terms of your divorce. Your agreement is then memorialized by the mediator. One of the major benefits of mediation is that you and your spouse have control over the process, such as the timing of the case, the tenor of the negotiations and the ultimate terms of an agreement.
What do I need to know before I agree to mediation?
In mediation, you and your spouse (not a Judge and not the mediator) determine how the case settles. While the mediator may provide neutral guidance, he (or she) will not take sides and does not advocate for either party. In fact, in Connecticut, mediators are not even necessarily attorneys.
How can I best represent myself in mediation?
Without your own independent counsel, you may find it difficult to navigate the complexities of a divorce, including making major financial and parenting decisions. The secret to getting the most from mediation is to hire your own attorney to coach you through mediation, or “review counsel” to assist you during the process. Instead of taking a neutral approach, as the mediator does, your divorce coach or review counsel will help you negotiate a resolution that is in your best interest.
What is the role of the lawyer who serves as coach or review counsel?
Review counsel typically does not attend the mediation sessions with you. He or she also does not usually file an appearance with the Court, but instead provides you with background support, such as:
- Explaining the Divorce Process. You may have questions that you do not want to ask the mediator in front of your spouse. Review counsel can provide you with a more detailed explanation tailored to your concerns.
- Strategic Preparation for Mediation Sessions. One of the major benefits of retaining a divorce coach is the ability to plan and prepare for mediation sessions in advance. For example, if you know that your next mediation session will be focused on alimony, you can meet with your review counsel in advance to review your rights and settlement options.
- Review of the Parenting Plan/Separation Agreement. Your divorce coach or review counsel should review any agreement before you sign it, to make sure that it is drafted in a way that is fair, equitable and beneficial (or at least not detrimental!) to you.
Am I allowed to have a divorce coach or review counsel during Mediation?
It is perfectly acceptable for you to have an attorney “on your side” during mediation. In fact, Mediators often recommend it to both parties.
The attorneys at Broder & Orland LLC are committed to helping our clients navigate their divorce issues in the most effective way possible, whether it be assisting clients as a mediator or as mediation divorce coach or review counsel.