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Can we mediate even if we have already retained attorneys?

Absolutely. Like most divorce mediators, we suggest that spouses review their final mediated divorce agreement with an experienced family law attorney who represents only that spouse’s interests. Moreover, for divorces that involve complex financial issues or other complicated factors, it may be helpful for spouses to secure private attorneys as mediation coaches. An attorney acting as a mediation coach generally does not appear at mediation sessions, or directly contact the mediator, but instead works in the background, assisting the spouse he or she is coaching to prepare for the mediation and understand the legal issues involved. Although a mediation coach represents an additional expense, this form of representation is often considerably less costly than retaining an attorney for divorce litigation.

In general, it is helpful for mediating spouses to work with attorneys who are considered “mediation friendly”. Being “mediation friendly” does not necessarily mean that the attorney is a mediator him or herself. It simply means that the attorney should have an understanding of the mediation process, and tailor his or her services to encourage – rather than disrupt – the mediation process.

A divorce attorney who thinks only in terms of litigation can be unhelpful when operating from the sidelines of a mediation for a variety of reasons, ranging from a desire to micromanage the process to self-serving concerns about legal fees. If one or both spouses indicates that he or she would like the support of a mediation-friendly attorney, our mediators are always happy to suggest the names of mediation-friendly attorneys for the spouse to contact. In the end, the decision of who to hire as a mediation coach during a mediation – or whether to hire anyone at all – rests solely with each individual spouse.

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