Mediation and Hiring a Lawyer: Not Mutually Exclusive

Posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 by Marc Beyer and is filed under Early Neutral Evaluation,  ENE,  ICMC,  Initial Case Management Conference,  Lawyer,  Mediation,  Process.

Many people think that you have two basic options when you start a divorce: You can hire a mediator and try to settle your divorce amicably with your spouse in mediation, or you can hire lawyers and go to Court on a contested basis.

In other words, people associate lawyers with contested litigation and assume that if you hire a lawyer, you have no interest in amicably settling your divorce in mediation or otherwise.

Not true. Even if you hire a lawyer, the first thing most lawyers will seek to do (me included) is explore settlement options that don’t involve going to Court and asking a Judge to make rulings for you.

In Minnesota, after your divorce case is filed with the Court, an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC) will get scheduled. At the ICMC, the Judge will explain the benefits of settling your case in a mediation setting as opposed to litigation. We have Early Neutral Evaluations (ENE’s) to assist with that. An ENE is very similar in concept to mediation. In many ways, it is a hybrid between an evaluation and mediation. The parties get evaluative feedback (confidential and non-binding), and they also have an opportunity to engage in settlement discussions. (For a more in-depth explanation of ENE’s, give me a call).

If a party is represented by an attorney, the attorney attends the ENE with the party. An attorney’s presence at an ENE can be crucial, as they are able to provide on-the-spot legal advice. They have also been working with the party and have familiarity with the case. This enables the attorney to provide simultaneous advice, and hopefully settle the case at the ENE. All too often, when people attend mediations without an attorney present, agreements fall apart after one or both parties seek legal advice. Meeting and preparing with an attorney in advance of the mediation or ENE allows the parties to make better use of the time spent at ENE.

So, again, don’t equate attorneys only with litigation. Attorneys play important roles in mediation settings, and should be steering you in this direction anyway.

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If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.