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Sharon Easley
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Defining legal advice and the role of a mediator

If you choose to go the divorce mediation route, you and your spouse will hire a neutral, third-party mediator. The role of a mediator is to meet with you to help you come to an agreement on issues and resolve problems that arise in the divorce process. While the mediator will serve as a facilitator, there are certain things mediators are not permitted to do. Here is some vital information about legal advice and the role of a mediator.

What is legal advice?

Only lawyers are permitted to provide legal advice. Therefore, any advice you receive from your friends or family does not qualify as legal advice. True legal advice actually creates an agreement between the client and the attorney based on the legal issue the client is attempting to resolve. Some of the characteristics of legal advice include:

  • Requires legal skill, education, judgment and knowledge
  • Affects the legal responsibilities or rights of an individual
  • Applies a certain law to the circumstances of the client
  • Creates responsibilities and rights for the giver of the advice

Therefore, since mediators do not serve as lawyers, they are not permitted to provide you or your spouse with any legal advice. In fact, not only are mediators not able to provide legal advice, but they also cannot answer any legal questions that you have. For example, if you want to know how much child support the court would likely require you to pay to your spouse, a mediator cannot answer this question. Your mediator can only help you and your spouse come to an agreement on what you both feel is right and fair.

More on the mediator's role

In order to help you resolve issues you may disagree on, you should count on your mediator to ask tough questions and provide reality checks when necessary.

A mediator has the responsibility to only mediate matters in which he or she believes they can remain impartial. Your mediator must not have a bias, prejudice or favoritism for either party. Even if you were the one who hired the mediator and not your spouse, the mediator must not show preference to you, for example.

Another duty that the mediator has is to ensure confidentiality. All communication between the spouses, the lawyers and the mediator must remain confidential. What is said to a mediator should not be used as evidence in a trial. Also, a mediator cannot be summoned to serve as a witness during the divorce process.

We hope we have debunked the myth that mediators are there to provide advice on all aspects of a divorce. Remember that your mediator's role is to only help you negotiate effectively and work together toward an outcome that you can both live with.

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