There can be no doubt that mediation is the most efficient and lowest cost method for a dissolution of marriage. Mediation also supports divorcing couples in arriving at an equitable property division and doing so peacefully.
While mediation is the method of choice for most situations, mediation is not always the only answer. In mediation there are situations where it may be necessary or even wise to engage an attorney for assistance. In some cases attorney assistance can be both useful and very important. Certain documents frequently associated with divorce may only be drafted by an attorney. An example of one such document, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, is required to divide certain types of retirement plans. There are others. Mediators may only provide parties with legal information and not legal advice. This is true whether or not the mediator is an attorney. When deemed necessary, occasionally divorcing couples have an attorney review their final agreement prior to having the mediator file the agreement with the court. In addition to the mediation process itself, frequently certain adjacent issues may require attention. Such issues may include:
- Drafting or changing wills, trusts and other family related documents.
- Providing counsel and drafting documents to meet personal or family estate planning needs
- Assistance in transferring ownership and title of your residence (a Quitclaim is an example)
- Mediation of civil (non-family) disputes
- Drafting of voluntary alimony documents
- Drafting documents clarifying desired care arrangements are in place for special needs children
Successful mediations require both spouses to fully disclose everything to one another. In extremely rare situations the level of trust needed to effectively mediate the issues is lacking. In these rare situations, engaging an attorney may be necessary. Another very rare situation arises where a mediation effort ends in an impasse. In situations where a mediation impasse has been reached, an attorney may sometimes be very useful in focusing the parties on the disagreements and have a court decide those issues.
At Heartland Family Mediators we provide attorney referrals to divorcing couples whenever situations rise where an attorney may be needed. Attorneys referred by Heartland Family Mediators, while all effective advocates, are focused on peaceful resolution of issues