The Center for Divorce Mediation, like many mediators, strongly recommends that clients meet with a consulting attorney prior to signing the divorce agreement. The role of the consulting attorney is that of an expert who can educate the client as to his or her legal rights, help the client to evaluate the options before him or her, and to review the legal paperwork to make sure the client’s rights are protected and the agreement is fair and reasonable.
The consulting attorney’s role is that of providing a second look at the agreement not to renegotiate the agreement.
Clients are often concerned with the cost of the consulting attorney and that the attorney will make the process adversarial. We advise them that the cost and climate of the divorce can be controlled if the client clearly defines the role of the attorney.
The attorney should help the client evaluate options, think clearly about future needs, and separate present emotions such as anger and guilt from the legal realities. When the mediator drafts the final documents, the attorney’s task is to review them carefully with the client, making sure that they reflect what the client agreed to and that the client fully understands them. When the client has an attorney who does his job well, the client is able to mediate the divorce successfully and achieve a fair and reasonable settlement at a reasonable cost.