One of the best calls I can get from a potential client is “I went to mediation, and I have questions.” Why is this the best call? Because the call isn’t “I went to mediation, I signed an agreement and now I have some questions.”
Saying divorce is complicated is an understatement. Besides navigating the emotional aspects of a divorce, parties are faced with learning and understanding legal terms such as maintenance, sole or joint custody, equitable distribution, child support, qualified domestic relations orders, wasteful dissipation, etc. For example, maintenance (also known as spousal support or alimony) is determined by a statute in New York state which defines a calculation based on the party’s incomes. So, does that mean whatever the calculation is what you must pay? No. The statute also provides for various factors that can affect or influence a deviation in that calculation, such as present or future earning capacity, availability and cost of medical insurance, care of children and tax consequences.
If you are negotiating an agreement with a mediator (meaning you and your spouse do not have independent counsel) there is no reason you still cannot consult with a separate attorney if you are not comfortable. This is not saying that mediation is not a successful path for many couples to take, but if one individual is not sure about something, it can upset the apple cart in a big way. With just one phone call to an independent attorney, with questions or even for a party to have an independent attorney review their agreement before signing, they could be saving both parties from future litigation.