Attorney Mediator vs. Non-Attorney Mediator
Why use a Mediator who is an Attorney?
A mediator in Minnesota does not have to be an attorney. A mediator might have a background in business, a background in mental health, or a background in working as a Barista, but you won’t know unless you ask. Mediators in Minnesota are not required to know the law, but there are distinct advantages to using a mediator who is also a family law attorney. A family law attorney has experience representing clients in court and has an understanding of how courts will rule in any particular situation. No one can ever say for sure what a specific judge will do in any given case, but experience provides some framework for understanding how local judges apply the law under different circumstances.
Why do you care about what a judge would do if you are in mediation? The easiest way to know whether the mediated agreement is “reasonable” may be to understand what the court would do. You have rights under the law and you don’t want to give away your rights in a mediated agreement. You cannot know whether you are giving away rights unless you know what your rights are. Spouses have very clearly defined rights for property division in Minnesota and parents have right with regard to custody and child support payments.
I have had clients come to me and say they feel they “gave away too much” or they believe they were taken advantage of in mediation. Understanding your rights and understanding the risks you assume in going to court can help you feel comfortable making acceptable settlement agreements.
A non-attorney mediator can be especially helpful if parties understand their legal rights or if they have attorneys helping them prepare their documents. A non-attorney mediator with a background in mental health may have a unique understanding of the underlying needs of the parties and may be able to think of creative solutions without regard for legal ramifications which can help parties come to an agreement. As long as an attorney is available to review any agreements before they are signed, a non-attorney mediator may be beneficial in proposing creative solutions.
In addition to offering our services as a Mediator and a Family Law Attorney, we also offer limited scope services to review mediated agreements before you submit them to the court. If you used a non-attorney mediator to help you resolve your dispute, you should have an attorney review the agreement for any potential unintended legal consequences. It may also be in your best interests to have an attorney draft your legal documents rather than try to do it yourself. We offer a free consultation and can help you decide whether you should have a review or whether you might need drafting assistance.