There is most definitely a place for an attorney within the Mediation process, and that is as a consulting or a review attorney. The attorney can either meet with you prior to your commencing Mediation or meet with you at the conclusion of your Mediation to review your Separation Agreement.
A consulting attorney can provide you with the kind of legal advice and advocacy that a Mediator may not, even if that Mediator is an attorney. For example, a consulting attorney can meet with you before or during the process to give you his or her opinion as to how the law would apply to your matter. More importantly though, the consulting attorney can give you suggestions as to what you may ask for in mediation or even how you can raise certain issues to your best advantage.
On certain occasions, if both parties consent, one or both parties’ attorneys can attend the Mediation. However, that does not happen often in family and divorce Mediation since one of the reasons that a couple chooses to mediation is to keep costs down and keep control over the process.
Typically, most parties wait until the Mediation is completed and they have a Separation Agreement before they consult with an attorney. At that point, the role of the attorney is to give legal advice as to the client’s rights and responsibilities and what may likely happen if this matter were to go to Court but also to respect the client’s right to determine the outcome and make the decisions. You can also expect your attorney to suggest changes to language and possibly additional provisions that do not effect the basic terms of settlement.