Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?


Cheap Divorce is possible through negotiations

We took a call from a distraught client “I told my lawyer that my wife and I were pretty much in agreement about everything, that we didn’t want to fight and I didn’t see any reason to go to war over everything. We just needed a lawyer to draft the paperwork. But then I got served. My wife said she didn’t know anything about it, but a hearing was set for a week later, and I was terrified and angry. Our lawyers started fighting, and both of us were paying thousands of dollars for work we didn’t want. How did this happen?”

Your mediator’s role is to guide you toward settlement. Your lawyer’s job is to advocate for you.  In other words, you pay your lawyer to talk to the other side, not necessarily listen.  They are paid to push others in your case in the direction you instruct them to push.  This talk, not listen, approach can lead client’s down a path towards costly litigation that the client may not actually intend.

A mediator’s role is to listen to both sides in an attempt to find common ground; to prevent someone from ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” so to speak. However, because lawyers have other skills to offer you may need their help as well.  Depending on the issues in your case, the mediator may recommend that you confer with a experienced Family Law Attorney.  When we recommend this, we often see a surprised look on the client’s face. “That’s why we’re mediating” they explain. “We want to avoid lawyers. They’ll just charge a lot of money and get us fighting with each other!”

What can a lawyer do that your mediator cannot? Your mediator’s job is to help you reach an agreement, but because he is neutral he cannot advise you as to whether your agreement is wise. Remember that you make the decisions, your mediator merely helps you reach settlement.

Your lawyer, on the other hand, helps you think clearly about your rights. Your attorney is concerned about your needs; there to look after your interests by advising, coaching, and commiserating. You don’t have to take their advice, but their knowledge of the complicated legal world and focus on your welfare may make him or her a valuable resource.