In mediation, the parties hire a neutral third party to assist them in reaching agreements about their divorce. The mediator can provide information about the divorce process and guide a discussion to help resolve issues. The mediator does not need to be a lawyer and does not represent either party. Whether the mediator is a lawyer or not, the mediator cannot provide legal advice.
Mediation may occur with parties who have hired attorneys or parties who are not represented. The parties communicate with each other directly, in the presence of the mediator. The goal of mediation is to allow parties to reach agreements that meet the needs of both parties and their children without the financial and emotional cost of a court battle.
If the parties use mediation without attorneys, they are responsible for preparing all the required forms for the court. The parties must also appear in court for their final hearing to have their agreement approved and the divorce judgment granted. Some mediators require, or the parties may decide on their own to retain “consulting attorneys.” In these cases, the attorney’s role may be limited to reviewing proposed settlement agreements and advising his/her client with regard to what the law is and how the proposed agreement may impact the client’s legal rights.