Bottom line: hiring an attorney for mediation is a choice. Bringing an attorney to mediation can certainly help in making decisions based in the law and on projections of how your case may play out in the courts. An attorney will negotiate on your behalf, a skill they are most likely more experienced at than you are. Having this advocate can decrease your stress on mediation day because you can defer to your attorney if you become overwhelmed.
However, always remember that you, not your attorney, are the person who will have to live with the outcome of mediation. If you are unable to reach a settlement agreement, you will most likely incur a longer litigation process accompanied by hefty legal fees. If you reach a settlement that does not reflect your core desires, or that caused further friction with the other party, you may encounter other challenges.
THE FUTURE. How you and your attorney act at mediation could have a lasting impact on your communications with the other party, which is especially concerning when children are involved.
Some attorneys use mediation as a chance to “Win.” Remember. Attorneys are still people. We have egos and may let that guide our actions. Sometimes one attorney doesn’t like the attorney on the other side and that can influence how they negotiate. It might even seem exciting to the client in mediation to be a part of this game of submission and competition. But the end result, not settling, or setting with a one sided agreement, can and most likely will create future problems:
-heightened animosity between parties that has a negative impact on property distribution and coparenting
-unsustainable parenting arrangements that put everyone on the defensive and at their wit’s end
-children being deprived of quality time with another parent
-perpetuation of controlling behaviors, particularly where domestic violence was an issue
-creation of friction between parents that spills over into the parent-child relationship
All these are important to consider when deciding if you want to take an attorney with you to mediation, and if so, what parameters you want to set with your attorney before mediation. Most attorneys will respect your desires and negotiate YOUR reasonable desires.