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Do I want a Financial Professional Who is a Neutral or an Advocate?

September 16, 2020  | 
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{3 minutes to read}

In an earlier post, I described the benefits of using a financial professional who acts as a neutral in mediation, but sometimes that may not work for you. Here are some factors to consider when deciding which will be best in your case.

An Advocate

If you choose to have the financial person be an advocate, they would be acting in the same way that an attorney would act on your behalf — looking out for your interests and how to achieve the best possible outcome for you. They would also be able to spend as much time with you as you feel you need, to ensure that you understand the budget process and the different outcomes that may be presented as options.
 
If you choose a financial professional advocate who has had either mediation training, or worked in a mediation or collaborative practice, they would be more likely to understand the other party’s needs and interests. Any proposals made by them would take those needs and interests into consideration.
 
If you choose a financial person who works primarily with clients in litigation or attorney-negotiated settlements, it is likely that they will adhere more closely to an advocacy role. This may not be conducive to mediation in the sense that your spouse may feel overwhelmed or outnumbered, especially if the financial professional participates in the meeting. If your spouse is very comfortable with financial matters, however, this may not be much of an issue and in any event, you and the financial professional can make it a point to try to ameliorate these potential feelings that could arise from your spouse.

 

As a Neutral

A financial professional who acts as a neutral likely has had mediation training and/or training in collaborative practice, and is attuned to the role of providing information and options for settlement without advocating for either party.
 
With consent from both of you, the financial professional can spend more time with one party. This can happen when that party feels they need a better understanding of budgeting or complicated financial options.
 
If you are looking for advice as to what to offer or accept, a neutral financial professional is just that — neutral. They cannot provide advice any more than a mediator can.

 

Which style is better for you depends on your comfort level in the process and willingness to make decisions as to support and equitable distribution. When you are fully comfortable, understand what is being proposed, and the ramifications of the different choices, making informed decisions is easier.

I have had successful mediations with both financial professionals as advocates and as neutrals, and while I admit I prefer that the financial professional be a neutral, the decision is one made by the parties. If you and your spouse disagree on the type of financial professional, you can mediate that issue and agree upon parameters as to the role the financial professional will play. 

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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