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.