It is common for people to ask whether they need a divorce lawyer in addition to the divorce mediator. Generally speaking, the answer is yes. That’s because the mediator and the lawyer serve very different roles.
The purpose of the mediator is to help the parties reach an agreement. The mediator is not necessarily concerned with the reasonableness of the settlement or whether it is fair to one party. The mediator is instead focused on helping the parties to settle the case. The mediator is successful if the parties can reach an agreement on the issues that are the subject of the mediation. In a perfect world both parties would be happy with the terms, but as long as the mediator has done everything he or she can do to help the case settle, then he mediator has done their job.
The lawyer, on the other hand, is there to advise the party he or she represents. The lawyer is concerned about the reasonableness of the agreement and whether the terms of the settlement are fair to his or her client. In contrast to the mediator, the role of the lawyer is to get the best possible outcome for the client. While the lawyer would like to resolve the case during the mediation, he or she should advise the client to leave without a settlement if the other side is unwilling to agree upon terms that the lawyer considers reasonable in light of the facts of the case and the laws of the state.
In addition, the lawyer can prepare settlement documents while the mediator cannot. Because the mediator is acting as a neutral third party, he or she is prohibited from drafting any legal documents. So, once the parties reach an agreement at mediation, they will need a lawyer to help them prepare a Separation Agreement, Consent Order, Deed, Qualified Domestic Relations Order or any other documents necessary to finalize the case.