The Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer Blog recently asked this question in the context of a Florida divorce. Their answer was the same as ours: legally, you aren't required to have an attorney for mediation, but you really should have one with you. As they pointed out, there are several important functions an attorney will carry out for you. Here are some of their ideas, with some of mine, for what an attorney brings to mediation:
Give you an overview of the process. There are different ways to conduct a mediation and a Tarrant County divorce lawyer can tell you how mediation is normally practiced here. The process may be followed a little differently in other areas of the state.
Help you select an appropriate mediator. Just like everyone else, mediators bring different experience, knowledge and personalities to the process. To put it another way, “one size doesn't fit all”. It helps to have an experienced attorney who knows the mediators in Tarrant County who can help you choose the best mediator for your case. That decision alone can have a dramatic effect on your case.
Help you create and understand your options. Part of the mediation process is developing and evaluating options for settlement. An experienced family lawyer can help you create and select appropriate solutions.
Be a legal advisor. One of the primary roles of your attorney is to explain the law to you and answer any questions you have about how the law applies to your case.
Help you evaluate the offers on the table. Your attorney will ultimately have to give you advice, based on the attorney's knowledge and experience, about the advantages and disadvantages of any offers of settlement that you make or receive. The decision on whether to make or accept an offer always belongs to the client, but it's a good idea to consider the advice of your attorney. Lawyers typically look for what can go wrong with a deal, and that's a good thing to listen to when you may be anxious to settle.
Thus, while you can technically go to mediation without an attorney, you are better off having an experienced Tarrant County attorney to help you prepare and then to go through the process with you.