Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, involving the use of a neutral third party to assist spouses who directly participate in the attempt to negotiate a settlement. Typically in mediation, neither spouse has an attorney, so no one’s rights are overseen or protected. Mediated agreements are sometimes reached, but which frequently contradict or ignore appropriate legal authority. Sometimes people just want it over with, and are willing to give up certain legal rights.
Since neither party is typically represented by an attorney in the mediation process, there is no one to provide legal advice with regard to one’s rights or obligations in the divorce process. Often times, parties to a mediated divorce enter into an agreement that makes provisions for certain things like child custody, support, spousal support, or division of property, with no idea whatsoever whether the agreement is fair or reasonable under the law. The mediator is not allowed to provide any legal advice to either party. Many times, the mediator is not even an attorney.
At the conclusion of the mediation process, the parties are provided a proposed binding contract, and are advised of their right to have an attorney review it. Many people, however, prefer to have a lawyer early on in the legal process, to negotiate for them, and prevent them from entering into legal binding contract, which may treat them unfairly.
Very often, the proposed mediation agreement will provide rights or benefits to one party, at the expense of the other. Unless you have an attorney representing your interests, and looking out for your rights, you may never know if you are giving up, or receiving, greater rights than you might otherwise need to.
At the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis & Associates, we strongly recommend that parties who choose mediation, understand that they may be giving up certain rights. You should always know what your rights are with respect to your children, and when it comes to money or property. Most people benefit by going through the divorce process with an attorney providing independent legal advice, and negotiating the best solution on their behalf.
Although some claim that mediation costs less than the traditional divorce process, the opposite is often the case. After exhausting the mediation process, parties are then advised to seek an independent legal review of the proposed agreement. It is at this point in the process that one spouse realizes they are getting a bad deal, and the negotiation breaks down. When this happens, one party typically will then commence legal action, basically starting the process all over again, resulting in wasted time and money.
Before deciding whether to pursue divorce mediation, or independent legal representation, call the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis & Associates today. Call 716.886.9600 or contact us online to schedule a meeting at our Williamsville or downtown Buffalo office.
As a Buffalo divorce lawyer for 28 years, I have devoted myself to solving the problems that affect families throughout the Buffalo metropolitan area and Western New York. As a family law attorney, I make it my goal to create a partnership of trust with my clients. People put their trust in me to handle cases that can potentially have a long-lasting impact on not only their lives, but the lives of their family as well.
Alexandra M. Rockwood is an Associate Attorney with the Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis & Associates and has been with the firm since early 2020. She practices primarily in the areas of matrimonial and family law. Ms. Rockwood graduated magna cum laude from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in History and minors in Political…