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Divorce law blog

Do lawyers and mediation mix? How you can use a lawyer during your mediation

12/10/2018   By: Andrew Moore

There is a misconception that you need to choose between mediation or instructing a solicitor. In reality, mediators and solicitors are not in competition. In fact, you are likely to get the best result for you and your family if you use both together as each has their own specific skills they will be able to use to help you reach an agreement with your ex.

Solicitors and mediators working together can take different forms. It could look like:

  • Your solicitor advising you in the wings – this is the most common sort of collaboration in family mediation and normally takes place between meetings. Your solicitor will support you during the mediation process by acting as a sounding board, by assembling financial disclosure, instructing any experts needed or, for example, initiating the divorce process in the court. Remember that the mediator cannot give you (or your ex) legal advice. They can only give you general legal information, for example, about the process or the types of order the court can make. What they can’t give you is independent legal advice so they cannot tell you whether the agreement you are working towards is sensible or fair. A family lawyer will however be able to give you that advice, will help you turn your agreement into a court order and help you put it into action. 
  • Lawyer assisted mediation. Although solicitors being present in the mediation meetings is more unusual it can be of benefit to people who are nervous about negotiations, where time is tight (perhaps having a longer session over a full day), or the legal issues are complex and would benefit from immediate input from a lawyer. 
  • Formalising an agreement reached in mediation – the vast majority of cases in mediation lead to an agreed outcome. In order for that agreement to be binding on you and your ex, you need to turn it into a court order. A solicitor can do that for you. 

The family team here at Mills & Reeve have lots of experiencing in working in tandem with mediators; likewise, our mediators have lots of experience working collaboratively with other lawyers! To find out more, contact us using our dedicated hotline. And look out for further blogs from the team during Mediation Awareness Week (8-12 October 2018) both here and on www.cohabitation-law.co.uk explaining what mediation is and the ways in which it could help your family.

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