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Which Party Does a Mediator Represent? Is It One Spouse or Both?

Which Party Does a Mediator Represent? Is It One Spouse or Both?

Interviewer: If someone wants to hire you can you help them not just as an attorney, but can you help them in a mediation capacity if they want to go that route?

A Divorce Mediator Works for Both Parties

Tanya: As a mediator I can’t work for one person. I have to work for both people. So, if somebody calls and says, “I’d like to use you as a mediator,” then what I have to do is have both people come in.

Mediators Do Not Handle the Legal Aspect of a Divorce

I actually have them interview me and see if they’re comfortable with me as a mediator. As a mediator I can’t do the legal process for the divorce. I cannot file papers in Court. A mediator does not represent the parties in Court. The mediator helps the parties come to their agreement.

A Mediator Helps Both Parties in a Divorce Come to an Agreement Regarding Custody and Financial Issues

What I can do is I can help people to come to an agreement regarding the divorce issues, which are custody, alimony, child support, and equitable distribution and everything related to their particular situation.

Interviewer: If people come to see you wanting to hire you to be their divorce attorney, do you ever recommend working as a mediator?

Tanya: They both have to come together to discuss their case for me to suggest that I be their mediator.

I cannot then represent one party as it is a conflict of interest.

What I try and do in all my cases, is, even if you hire me as a lawyer, as you’re advocate, my goal is always to try and settle the divorce right up front. Of course, that applies if it’s a case that is possible to settle.

The New Jersey Court Rules require that every divorce client be made aware of alternate dispute resolution.

As an attorney, I reach out to the other side to see if we can settle it without having a judge make a decision. There are cases where you can’t do that, where people are acting unreasonably and then you have to go to court and litigate.

As a mediator for both parties I provide a written agreement. Both parties then go to their respective attorneys to file the divorce and formalize the Property Settlement Agreement.

Interviewer: Is it possible that you’ll even not take a case if you can help guide the person and get it resolved some other way, right?

It Is Better Not to Bring Emotion into a Divorce Negotiation

Tanya: We may decide to attempt settlement before filing for the divorce, but once I perform any matrimonial services, the client enters into a retainer with me. The retainer clearly indicates what my responsibilities are and what the client’s responsibilities are. Every case should be resolved. Judges want the cases resolved. A few people want to harm each other in court but most people want to approach this with humanity and intelligently and arrive at a fair settlement and move on with their life.

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  • Whippany Office
    575 Route 10 East
    Suite 1
    Whippany, New Jersey 07981
    Phone: 973-428-0800
    Fax: 973-428-0830
  • New York Office
    420 Lexington Ave.
    New York, New York 10170
    Phone: 646-213-9053
  • "Without Tanya and her time, the really unpleasant experience of getting divorced would have been even worse. They were able to settle the matter very quickly and helped me fit this into my tight schedule allowing me to leave to move abroad for my dissertation research on time without having to delay the trip because of the divorce. They also did all of it within my very tight budget. Thank you so much for your help and dedication to my legal matter!"  - AG

  • "Tanya and her Associates are outstanding! What I admire most about Tanya is her knowledge of the law with her keen negotiation skills to foster mediation. Her strategies efficiently resolve conflict leading to the resolution of cases. She and her team have an outstanding work ethic, know what data are needed, and get the job done. It is a pleasure to work with such wonderful professionals."  - Tara, Whippany

  • "I found Ms. Helfand's knowledge and tenacity most reassuring during the ordeal of my divorce. She was steadfast in her guidance and was very effective in her negotiations on my behalf. I would recommend her without a second thought. "  -Jonathan

  • "Ms. Helfand was very professional and helpful with our bankruptcy case. Her advice was very useful and helped us make the proper decisions for our situation. In addition, she was very supportive during a very difficult time for us. Finally, she set very specific fee expectations and there were no surprises when it was completed. I would use her services again and would recommend her, without question."

  • "She is Incredible, very quick responding to the other party. Very professional and courteous. I highly recommend her. She has a great passion and love for every single case."

  • "Tanya and her team were very professional handling my divorce proceedings. She was very proactive in making the other attorney finally get the process moving forward. I would recommend her to anyone looking for legal services. "  -Scott

  • "Ms. Helfand strategized & processed, both, my Divorce & Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. As both cases were emotionally and legally challenging, Ms. Helfand proved to be an empowering Mentor along the path to clarity for which I am truly grateful. I highly recommend her legal expertise to anyone who is seeking a confident, savvy & caring attorney to become at peace with self and any legal matters."  -Vas

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