Although all PCD Professionals are trained in Mediation, and we recommend that the primary mediator be a family law attorney, capable of ensuring that all your documents are carefully drawn up and filed, in compliance with California laws.
Attorney mediators are, by definition, neutral. They answer questions about the law, and are skilled at writing up agreements in accordance with the law. In their efforts to remain neutral, all mediators allow partners to reach any agreement they wish, as long as it is not illegal and both parties understand the ramifications of their agreement. As neutral mediators, they do not outline what would be best for either partner.
Consequently, our mediators strongly recommend that divorcing partners each seek private consultation from mediation-friendly, consulting attorneys. Consulting attorneys trained in collaborative practice learn to be mediation-friendly when they consult with clients, rather than adversarial in their approach to your case. Attorneys who are “mediation-friendly” actively avoid creating unnecessary distress and tension — they avoid unnecessarily sabotaging a mediation and pushing the consulting client to pursue litigation.
Consulting attorneys empower their clients to negotiate for noteworthy legal options and to consider carefully the pros and cons of certain legal decisions. Collaboratively-trained, consulting attorneys are able to focus on the couple and family’s overall well-being, without upending the mediation in favor of adversarial positioning.
Mediation, Enhanced Mediation and Co-Mediation all recommend each partner hiring a consulting attorney. The extent and timing of your use of a consulting attorney is up to you. It is not necessarily advisable to wait until just prior to signing an agreement to consult with an attorney. Why? Because at this point your partner and your mediating attorney have invested considerable time, effort and money in coming up with this agreement. Changing anything significant at the last minute, may create unnecessary upsets, and may decrease the likelihood your partner will be open to a change. On the other hand, using your consulting attorney to prepare for your mediation meetings and to be clear, ahead of time, about how you can offer and come up with win-win solutions, may save you time and money in the long run.
Some mediating couples also each hire consulting divorce coaches who are not in the room during the mediation. The consulting coaches may help to enhance a client’s communication skills prior to a mediation meeting, model and help to prepare the client for how to protest respectfully during the mediation and to how to propose viable alternatives to what a partner is proposing, without being provocative and disrespectful, and without becoming upset in the face of a partner’s provocation, etc.
Similarly, some couples entering a mediation, each separately hire a consulting financial specialist who helps the partner understand the family’s finances, and set a financial plan and budget in motion. A consulting financial specialist may be especially helpful for the less-financially savvy spouse needing to map out a realistic picture of the economic future, how to prepare for retirement, and what the basic requirements are for thriving.