If you filed for divorce, can you still do mediation? If you go through divorce mediation, do you still need a lawyer? We commonly hear these questions from potential clients. And the answers, for the most part, are yes, and yes.
Once you file a divorce complaint, you start the Court clock running. If you decide instead to try divorce mediation to save you and your spouse some time and money, you can pause the clock, so long as you inform the Court and your lawyers. Usually, the Courts prefer that people resolve their differences on their own, so they are happy to give you the time to do so, as long as you keep them informed of your plans, and you don't let things drag on too long. If you and your spouse have started working with lawyers, those lawyers would not be able to mediate your divorce because of potential conflicts of interest. So you would need to find a divorce mediator to help you create an agreement.
What if you start with divorce mediation - would you still need to hire a divorce lawyer? Most likely, yes. Once you and your spouse have come up with an agreement in mediation, we recommend that each of you hire a "review attorney" to look over the document, make sure your legal rights are protected, and explain any of the legal consequences to you. The "review attorney" will then convert your agreement into the form that the Court wants, file the documents with the Court, and accompany you to the Court hearing. Many lawyers will do these tasks for a set fee, rather than their usual hourly rate.
So, why go through mediation if you will still need to hire a lawyer? Because divorce mediators do the bulk of the work quicker and for less money. Moreover, in mediation, you come up with an agreement together, so there is no expensive, time-consuming back-and-forth between lawyers. Divorce mediation is focused on resolving conflict, rather than winning, which reduces stress and is better for your on-going relationship. And the agreement that you make together, you will follow together in the future.