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Shillington, Pennsylvania Family Law and Estate Planning Blog

Why you should have legal counsel during divorce mediation

Posted by Rob Levengood | Aug 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

Not all divorces end up in court. Some Pennsylvania couples, seeking to exert greater control over their divorce and to try and come to an agreement amicably, will choose to take their divorce before a mediator. However, just because a couple elects to mediate their divorce does not mean there is no need to retain legal counsel. In fact, having an attorney present for the mediation process can be vital in making sure the mediation agreement can be enforced.

With a divorce meditation, the two spouses can mutually negotiate an agreement outside of the judicial system with the assistance of a mediator. Once an agreement is finalized, the agreement is submitted to the courts to take effect. However, according to Forbes, it is possible for a mediation to produce an agreement that the courts will not enforce.

For one thing, a mediation agreement might be too tilted toward one spouse at the expense of the other. Sometimes a mediator could show partiality towards one spouse and draft an agreement more favorable to that spouse. Courts are going to be on the lookout for agreements that unfairly penalize one spouse or deprive a spouse of assets. An unfair agreement could be challenged in court and thrown out at a later date following the mediation.

Also, the agreement could be poorly composed. If the mediation agreement is unclear in its terms, is written amateurishly, or runs afoul of existing law, it is unlikely to be enforced. Some mediators are attorneys or have some sort of legal training, so they have no problem crafting a strong agreement. However, if the mediator has no legal experience or input from an attorney, the mediator will likely have problems drafting a coherent and legally sound document.

When spouses in a mediation have their own counsel, they can catch possible legal problems before they end up drafted in the document. Experienced divorce attorneys will want the mediation agreement to stand up in court. A failed mediation agreement can result in litigation or a repeat of the mediation process, which will eat up time and money. Additionally, the Huffington Post points out that legal counsel can keep spouses advised of their rights as they go through mediation, which can help prevent one or both spouses from being taken advantage of.

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Rob Levengood



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