When spouses reach a mediation agreement, the attorney-mediator typically drafts the first draft of the parties’ agreement. This mediation agreement is a contract. The best divorce mediators strongly encourage spouses to seek independent legal advice to provide each of the spouses, independent of one another, with the legal advice, various scenarios, and to propose or adjust language which may change their mediation agreements for the better.
Some spouses are very hesitant to meet with the review attorneys. There is a general fear that the review attorneys will derail the agreement of the spouse. The concern is that the attorney providing independent legal advice to the other spouse will convince the other spouse to re-negotiate on the agreements reached thus far in the divorce mediation process. Or, worse, the review attorney will convince, overpower, and compel the other spouse to employ the traditional litigation process of divorce. This fear is generally misplaced. The role of the review counsel in mediation is to empower the family to avoid at all costs, the devastating toll of litigation and reach comprehensive agreements jointly, with the other spouse. The reviewing attorney will look for items that the parties might have omitted during the process. The review counsel will likely run his or her property division and they will partner with the client to help them reach a comprehensive well-drafted, future-oriented mediation agreement. The review counsel may offer options out of existing conflict that the divorce mediator might have not thought about. The reviewing attorney may provide advice about compromising and the reasons why compromise makes sense to the particular circumstances of the family. The review counsel’s role is to provide alternate language in order to make the mediation agreements clearer to read.
The mediator’s role is very creative and sees the family as one entity. The role of the divorce mediator is NOT to provide the clients with legal advice. Rather, it is to discuss all legal, financial, and parenting options, (child support or co-parenting counseling,) that is available to the couple, empowering them to reach their own mediation agreements. The job of the mediator is to stay neutral at all times, helping the family find common ground and reach comprehensive mediation agreements that are in the best interest of all family members, not just one spouse.
The divorce attorney-mediator prepares in joint sessions, various property division options, and various support alternatives. They inform the clients of all options available to them. The best-case scenario for Spouse 1 is often the worst-case scenario for Spouse 2, while the best-case scenario of Spouse 2, is naturally is the worst-case scenario for Spouse 1. Often, Attorney Mediators provide the spouses with the language from various statutes or share judicial opinions on recently adjudicated cases in Connecticut Courts. The Divorce Attorney mediator’s role is to stay neutral at all times and discuss with the spouses, the multiple variations and options available for the family.
Once the final agreement, also known as the separation agreement, is signed by both parties and the divorce mediation attorney, the spouses will present the Separation Agreement and the Financial Affidavits to the Court. In a Connecticut divorce mediation, both spouses must be present in the Court on the date of dissolution. If a spouse is out of state, certain accommodations can be made to appear via teleconference or video conference. In the State of Connecticut, the Judge has to find that the Separation Agreement is fair and equitable in light of all the circumstances of that specific couple, and in light of their Financial Affidavits submitted to the Court. Once approved by the Court, the Separation Agreement becomes the final Divorce Decree.