When you are working with a professional mediator, that person’s job may be difficult to do, but it’s easy to state: the mediator’s job is to facilitate your reaching an agreement. It is not the mediator’s job to judge that agreement or to advise you about legal pitfalls that you may encounter or be creating. Your mediator can offer legal information but should not offer legal advice. You have questions while creating the agreement and/or after the agreement has been drafted. The job of your consulting lawyer is to ensure that understand both the law and the alternatives to the law and the consequences of the choices that you are making.
As your consulting lawyer, I will work to understand your resources and your short-term and long-term goals. As I understand those fundamental aspects, I will ask questions and make judgments with you to ensure that the agreement that you are negotiated or have already reached is the best agreement for you, your family, and your circumstances. I think that an important role of the consulting lawyer is to educate you about the law and how it applies to the facts of your case. When your choices are different from the resolutions that the law imposes, my goal will be to support your choice while ensuring that you understand that it is a variation that may have consequences you had not previously considered. I strongly believe that, as an adult, your choices should be honored. I do not want to interfere with that choice; I do, however, want to ensure that that choice is being made in a fully informed way.
I always urge both spouses in a divorce to have independent counsel. You simply don’t know what you don’t know. Nevertheless, there are occasions when that is not possible. When I represent you in such situations, it remains my goal to find a solution that works well for you and your family. Agreements that are sound and consider the hopes and concerns of each person are far more durable and far less likely to be attacked later than one-sided or inequitable agreements. I will assist you in preparing the equitable agreement, although it will include pretty strong language about the person who is not represented, or has not consulted with counsel, and will clearly state that that person really should consult with counsel. Regardless of the size of the estate, you are both making lifetime decisions that should have the benefit of legal advice and counsel.