A Smart List of Questions to Ask Your Family Law Attorney About Mediation

Mediation allows couples to settle their differences amicably, quickly and privately. It’s not appropriate for everyone, however, so ask your family law attorney these questions:

How does mediation compare to other types of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)?
For instance, the collaborative process (a different type of ADR) coordinates a team of experts to resolve challenges related to your business, your finances, your children’s development, and so forth.

What role will you play in mediation?
Your attorney cannot outright advocate on your behalf during mediation, but he or she can give you counsel.

Do you enjoy mediation cases? Do you have any special skills, qualifications or experience handling them?
Some family law attorneys thrive in the courtroom—they love the challenge and feel like they do their best work there. Others prefer quiet strategic compromises. There’s no “best” approach. However, if you feel strongly about attempting ADR (at least at first), then find an attorney who shares your passion about this approach.

What timelines and costs should I expect?
Each case is different; and surprises can throw off timeline and scope. However, your attorney should be able to give you ballpark estimates.

How should I help you help me?
Collaborate with your legal team; don’t be a passive participant. Find out what you can do to assist the firm, so that you get what you need from the process.

Can you persuade my ex to consider this approach?
Perhaps your spouse is leaning towards litigation, but you’d prefer a private resolution. If you can’t convince him, maybe your attorney can.

Can you prepare me, step-by-step, for the process?
Your attorney should set the vision, so you can mentally, emotionally and financially get ready for negotiations.

Are there any great resources about mediation that you recommend?
For instance, your attorney might suggest you listen to certain podcasts, read books or blog posts, or watch a mediation video.

Why might you advise against ADR, given my circumstances?
The benefits certainly appeal: an informal setting, a private forum to discuss differences, a neutral person to assist the negotiations, a potentially low cost, low stress, fast solution.

However, mediation is not a cure-all, and it’s not always appropriate. Your attorney may counsel against it, for instance, if: your ex easily manipulates you; you don’t trust him; your business interests are complicated; or you’ve tried and failed at mediation previously.

The right family law attorney can minimize the stress, drama and frustration of separating from your spouse.

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