Why and How to Get Supporting Counsel
Using an Attorney to Help You Through the Mediation Process
While Peace Talks does provide a comprehensive support team around the legal, financial, and coaching issues related to your family law dispute mediation, we still suggest that you don’t go through this process alone.
Reach out to people and professionals you trust. Consider consulting with a lawyer, accountant, financial planner, therapist, friend, family member or other trusted advisor at any time during the mediation process, and especially before signing the final settlement agreement. Many attorneys, accountants and other Trusted Advisors will work on an hourly basis (no retainer, no minimum fee).
Mediation participants use supporting attorneys in different ways—some not at all, some a little, and some every step of the way. We recommend that you consult with these advisors early in the process, to establish a relationship with counsel you trust so that when you review the agreement, you will be reviewing it with a professional who has familiarity with your circumstances. This trusted counsel will also let you know your rights under the law, and be another person you can call when you have questions.
Consulting Attorney Referrals
Please let us know if you would like a referral to an outside consulting attorney.
Attorneys referred by Peace Talks support the mediation process. They will work on an hourly basis to help you with all of your questions, discuss your rights, help you formulate proposals, prepare your financial disclosures, and go over your final agreement….as much or as little as you wish. They will even attend mediation sessions with you if needed.
If you’d like for us to share any information with your attorney directly, we can give you a release for all mediation participants to sign.
We can also provide additional referrals upon request to other attorneys, in addition to the mediation friendly consultants we normally provide.
Of course, you are permitted to use any attorney you like - not just one from our referral list.
What to Watch Out For
Not all attorneys are mediation-friendly. Sadly, many attorneys will promptly derail - or attempt to derail - mediated agreements. It’s really important to get good advice on your divorce or other family law disputes, and support attorneys are critical to the process. That’s why it’s important to get a consulting attorney who is on board with the mediation process you believe in.
Questions to Ask a Prospective Attorney
To be sure your prospective consulting attorney is mediation-friendly and has your best interests at heart, consider gently asking the following questions and seeing if the answers line up properly:
- Will the attorney frankly discuss with you both the best case scenario and the worst case scenario at the first or second meeting? A mediation-friendly attorney will give you a range of outcomes and options, not just one solution. If a litigation-oriented attorney talks only about the best case scenario, get that guarantee in writing before you pay your retainer.
- Is the attorney patient with you about listening and explaining the pros and cons of each position, and in helping you to develop settlement options? Do they have some good suggestions and alternatives?
- Does the attorney trust you to understand your rights and options? Will they work with you in the way that you feel most comfortable (whether it’s behind the scenes, or coming to the mediation session) - or do they insist on representing you in a particular way without being clear about why?
- Will the attorney support your view of fairness even if it differs from theirs? Are they committed to helping you make an educated, informed decision - even if they think it is an unconventional decision?
- Have they attended mediation training, or are there mediation books or materials in the office?
- If your support attorney has an issue with any aspect of the agreement, please ask him or her to fully explain the perceived problem and to make some suggestions as to solutions.
Final Thoughts on Consulting Attorneys
At Peace Talks, we are convinced that good advice doesn’t have to equal litigation. The right attorney can help you find a better or more clever way to solve the problems or inequities that they may find in your agreement.
You can still mediate, even if your attorney thinks you should be getting a better or different deal. Your attorneys are always welcome in the mediation room, if you choose to involve them.
At the very least, your consulting attorney is welcome to telephone our office and discuss the issues (with your written permission); or to write us a letter (no permission required—we just can’t respond without your permission).
Collaboration to get you a peaceful resolution is what we’re all about.