One of the most common questions asked of our Bergen County divorce and mediation attorneys is whether or not a person going through a divorce mediation should hire independent legal counsel. As with the answer to most family law questions, the answer to this question depends greatly upon the specific situation.
There are some divorce mediations which go perfectly smoothly, result in fair and comprehensive legal agreements, and leave both parties satisfied with their divorce and their decision to mediate their divorce. On the other hand, there are also many mediations which result in highly unfair settlements, and leave one or both parties in financial jeopardy.
This is due to the fact that a divorce mediator, by definition, does not represent either party individually. Rather, a divorce mediator’s role is to facilitate communication and compromise, and help the divorcing couple to reach their own divorce agreements in regards to property and asset division, alimony, child support, and child custody.
In today’s article, we will discuss when it may make sense to mediate your divorce without separate legal counsel, when you might want to hire an attorney to represent you during a divorce mediation, and the role your divorce attorney will take as part of a divorce mediation.
Why to Hire a Divorce Lawyer During Mediation
One of the most important things to understand about divorce mediation is that it is based on both parties fully and accurately disclosing all financial information, and that there are no real rules to compel a person to do this other than their own conscience.
What this means is that if you have reason to believe your spouse will try to hide or manipulate financial information from the mediation process in order to secure more favorable financial settlements for themselves, it is probably a good idea to hire your own divorce lawyer during the mediation process, or simply forego mediation altogether.
Alternatively, any time your divorce involves the division of complex financial assets such as businesses, multiple homes or commercial properties, or a diverse investment portfolio, you will probably want to have individual legal counsel representing your rights and interests in these matters. While your mediator can certainly help you reach an equitable agreement, this agreement will not always be based on your best interests.
A Ridgewood NJ Divorce Attorney’s Role in the Mediation Process
When a person hires a divorce attorney to represent them at the negotiation table or in a family court, the divorce attorney will be the person doing most of the talking in order to protect their client, and represent their interests to opposing counsel and even a judge if necessary.
However, one of the main attractions of the mediation process is that negotiations and discussions are had between the divorcing parties directly, with the divorce mediator acting in a much more passive role. With that in mind, it is important to understand that when a person hires individual legal counsel during a divorce mediation, that same person will still be doing the negotiations and most of the negotiations, the attorney is there more to advise them privately regarding whether or not they believe the agreements reached are fair and protect their client’s interests, and whether or not they believe the mediation process is working.
If the attorney believes the other party to be hiding assets, inaccurately sharing financial information, or obstructing the negotiation process, they can advise their client and take appropriate action from that point.
Contact Our Hackensack Divorce and Mediation Lawyers Today
At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients as attorneys as well as neutral mediators in order to resolve family law matters of all kinds in towns across New Jersey and Bergen County, including Ridgewood, Paramus, Hackensack, Teaneck, Fort Lee, and the surrounding communities.
By practicing exclusively family law, our firm is able to offer the kind of highly knowledgeable, effective, and attentive legal counsel that you deserve when it comes to the issues most important to your legal, financial, and parental futures.
To speak with our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your divorce or other family law matter, whether or not mediation may work for you, or whether or not you may wish to retain individual legal counsel during your mediation process, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 285-5985.