ATTORNEY INVOLVEMENT IN MEDIATION.You need to know if your mediator requires that you have attorney representation. Though most mediators are required by the State to tell that you should be represented by a lawyer (and Virginia is no exception), that is not the same as the State saying you must be represented by an attorney. If your mediator tells you that you must have a lawyer to mediate, your next step is to ask them why they have such a policy. Determine if this suits your needs – and your wallet – and then decide if you want to go that route.
Your questions will be answered and you will be educated about the law and finance. Most of my clients are comfortable, just from participating in their mediation sessions, that they have learned enough about their rights, the law, the tax implications, the finances, and how various custody arrangements might affect their children, to confidently proceed to settlement without lawyering-up. However, if they want the advice of an attorney, that is never discouraged.
But my lawyer told me I “have to be represented” … It is common in many places (Virginia included) for a divorcing spouse to be advised, by a lawyer, that they need to be represented by an attorney for mediation to work. That is usually not the truth. However, if you do choose this style of mediation (two lawyers and one mediator), you will want to get out your big wallet. It will be very expensive.
Saving money in your divorce does not mean that you will be sacrificing a fair settlement. At Graine Mediation, we do not require that you have an attorney. It is always recommended that you run your settlement terms by an attorney; but that is entirely up to you. Settling your case with a mediator, who does not require that you have a lawyer, will save you and your family many thousands of dollars that you could probably put to better use for your kids or yourselves.
Are certain cases inappropriate for mediation? There are certain cases where mediating without an attorney – or mediating at all – is not well-suited. In my experience, the only two situations where you need an attorney to manage your case are: (1) when there is a reasonable suspicion that one of the spouses is hiding assets, and (2) where there is a history of physical violence. Aside from that, mediating usually does a great job for divorcing spouses even when they leave their attorneys out of it.