All Things Family Law

Discussion of all things related to family law from an Indiana divorce attorney.

This blog provides general family law and divorce law information. If you have a specific issue or case you need assistance with please contact me directly. 

Mediation and Divorce - Can we use one lawyer to get divorced?

No, if you are looking to employ one lawyer to represent you and your spouse in a divorce. Yes, if you hire a lawyer to act as mediator to assist you and your spouse reach an agreement.

The key difference is the role of the attorney you hire. If you hire the attorney to represent you, they can not represent the other party as well. The attorney ethics rules prevent (yes, attorneys have ethics rules, even divorce attorneys) the same attorney from representing both parties interests. However, there is nothing preventing one party and his/her attorney from creating an agreement and proposing it to the other party to settle the case. This happens all the time.

When you hire an attorney to mediate your case that attorney does not represent either party. That attorney's interest in the case is to fulfill his/her role as mediator by helping drive the parties to reach an agreement. That attorney can answer questions and can play 'devil's advocate', but can not provide legal advice. What is the difference? Well, an attorney you hire will (hopefully) think 2 or 3 steps ahead for you and will point out to you how certain aspects of the agreement might affect you, your kids, or your business in the future. The mediator can not do this as he/she must remain impartial. For example, an attorney you hire to represent your interests would counsel you to require that the other party take certain action to limit your exposure for joint and/or future debt and will suggest ways to do this that serve your best interest; whereas, an attorney you hire to mediate the case can offer solutions for resolving the debt issues if asked, but can not draft the agreement in a manner that looks out for one parties subjective best interest.

A proposed change to Indiana law should make it easier for mediators to assist the parties in creating the necessary documents to instigate and settle the divorce issues. Stay tuned...

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