If you have opted for a mediated divorce, don't assume that the mediator will protect your legal rights. The mediator won't do this because they aren't your attorney, and they can't analyze and assert your rights. As such, it is easy for your legal rights to suffer in a mediated divorce if you don't take the right measures. Use these three precautions to safeguard your legal rights during the process:
Understand the Mediators Role
Not everybody can or should be a divorce mediator. To safeguard your legal rights, you need to understand the role of the mediator and choose a professional person for the role. For example, you should understand that the mediator:
- Shouldn't give advice to either of you.
- Must remain neutral throughout the process.
- Should encourage open and free exchange of ideas throughout the mediation.
Understanding these points reduces the risk that either the mediator or your spouse will trespass on your legal rights. For example, the mediator cannot advise your spouse in a manner that will put you at a disadvantage since they aren't allowed to give any advice at all.
Research Divorce Laws
Carrying out independent legal research is a good way to learn your legal rights. Start the research as soon as you have decided that you want a mediated divorce. There are many online legal resources you can use for this purpose. You can also visit the law section at your local library.
For example, the legal research will help you understand the factors courts consider when determining child support. That way, you can know what to ask for and not waste time demanding an amount even the court cannot grant or ask for too little money.
Seek Legal Advice
Just because you have opted for mediation, it doesn't mean that you can't use the services of a lawyer. A consulting lawyer can act as your legal adviser, providing you with the legal aspects of the issues you are negotiating.
Again, do this early in the process so the adviser can help you understand your legal rights before the mediation commences. That way you don't run the risk of finding out later that you were shortchanged during the negotiation. Keep in touch with the legal adviser during the negotiation process on an as-needed basis to help you out with advice.
Even if you have consulted a divorce lawyer, you can still go the mediation route. Talk to your lawyer, like those at Reagan, Melton, & Delaney LLP, about the idea and let them advise you on further measures you should take to safeguard your rights.