When spouses separate they are often reluctant to retain lawyers to assist them to resolve their issues. They will attempt to compromise and reach a settlement but when this fails they often end up representing themselves in court. Going to court without a lawyer can be a daunting experience.

A possible alternative is for both spouses to hire a single lawyer to act as a mediator. The mediator can guide them through the process and both spouses can hire lawyers to provide independent legal advice and review a final separation agreement before it’s signed.

Some of the benefits of the mediation process:

• Legal fees are kept to a minimum
• Issues are contained and are usually resolved more quickly
• Spouses are protected by the limited and specific use of their separate lawyers
• Spouses are able to craft their own agreements and find solutions which seem fair to both of them

In complicated situations where spouses need lawyers to represent them from the beginning, mediation is still a useful way to resolve issues and spouses can attend the mediation with their lawyers. The success rate for mediation in my experience has been very high, over 90%. It’s an extremely useful process and it has transformed the practice of family law by reducing the number of cases that end up in court.


Deborah A. Todd