[Updated 6/7/2019] A lot of clients ask me if their attorneys can attend their divorce mediation sessions. I tell them “yes” with other mediators, but not with me. It still seems I’m one of the only mediators in town that prohibits couples from bringing their attorneys into the mediation sessions. I’ve found that once I explain the process and what happens in divorce mediation sessions, most people agree it sounds like a much more productive, collaborative, meaningful way to go.
Why do I have this policy? Well, if you happened to read my earlier blog “Is that Really Divorce Mediation?,” you’ll have an inkling. I personally believe that mediation should be focused on the goals of the couple considering a divorce or separation and not on the litigation strategies of their attorneys, which can tear the process — and the emotions — apart.
As everything discussed in mediation for settlement purposes is confidential, it is not admissible in court anyway. So, what’s the actual risk in keeping the divorce lawyers out of the session? Hmmm….maybe the couple reaches full agreement? Maybe they decide to reconcile? Maybe they decide to move forward without resentment and with mutual respect still intact? Still planning family vacations together? I’m not saying that these outcomes can’t be reached with lawyers in the room; however, in my opinion and experience, discussions have been a lot more satisfying and productive, when we just met privately, and kept the process very personal.
So, although you are always encouraged to obtain legal advice and support throughout your divorce or separation process, when you come to my mediation session, please check your lawyer at the door.
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