5 Steps To Manage Your Divorce Attorney Through Mediation

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5 Steps To Manage Your Divorce Attorney Through Mediation
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Make sure your attorney is working for you!

Do you feel as though you lack power in a relationship with your attorney or divorce mediation group? If you think you may not be managing your lawyer properly, look at your results in your divorce so far. 

You need to learn how to motivate and inspire your legal team. Then, you become brilliant at tracking results so that nothing falls between the cracks.

RELATED: What To Expect From An Angry Ex During Your Divorce (And How To Handle It)

Your best chance of getting the legal support that you need in your divorce is to email your attorney with your needs and expectations so you have a paper trail to begin with.

Communicate your needs with your attorney if you're worried they're not doing a good enough job. Even the best and most brilliant attorney needs to be held accountable.

Below are some scenarios you could run across in your divorce proceedings, along with suggestions on how you should keep in contact with your attorney, what advice you might expect, and how to proceed.

Here are 5 ways you can make sure your attorney is staying on task for you and that you're maintaining control of the proceedings.

1. Remember that you're in charge.

Ensure that you have been heard by your attorney and that your needs will be addressed in a timely manner. You cannot allow an attorney to do it their way unless that is also your way. Remember: You're the client, a.k.a, the boss! What you say ultimately goes.

Here are a few examples of emails you can send to your lawyer to make sure that they have heard and understand what your expectations are:

"Thank you for letting me know you've scheduled the first consultation with my spouse’s attorney. As we discussed, what's needed right now is [state your most pressing needs]. Would you please confirm each point on your agenda? I want to make sure nothing is forgotten.

Or...

"Before you speak to my spouse’s attorney tomorrow, please confirm that you're committed to discussing all of the issues we identified in our consults over the past few weeks."

2. Understand where you are in your divorce proceedings.

What is acceptable changes depending on where you are in the process. You need to know this and make sure your attorney knows what you expect, too.

Once your attorney begins speaking to opposing counsel (your spouse’s attorney), you cannot agree to anything your spouse requests, unless you receive something of greater or equal value in exchange.

Before your attorneys speak to one another, you may have decided to be generous and make a few sacrifices to get your partner to the mediation table. However, once the two attorneys are speaking, everything changes and the clock starts ticking.

Mediations need to move swiftly and effectively to a fair, peaceful conclusion.

Be prepared for “smoke and mirrors” from your spouse’s attorney. Attorneys who are aggressive and argumentative will accuse you of things to gain ground. You must be sure to counter every single accusation with facts and figures that contradict them.

You have to provide this information to your attorney and review their responses beforehand, or you risk missing something vital in your proceedings. Deliver a spreadsheet to your attorney listing facts that prove or disprove your points in order to make sure nothing is lost.

RELATED: 10 Small-But-Crucial Things Your Divorce Attorney Wishes You Knew

3. If there's a "temporary loan" or money questions, provide your attorney with everything they need to handle it.

Your attorney may suggest that you offer a temporary loan to satisfy your spouse’s demands during the proceedings. However, you need to know that such a document may become null and void in the process of mediation, leaving you holding the bill.

Frequently, the side that has less interest in divorcing or compromising may hold such a loan "hostage." Your attorney may receive assurances that the money will be taken care of, but these might be worthless to you.

If money between you and your spouse during the mediation or divorce proceeding is in question, you need to make sure your attorney is equipped to handle these without you. Make your expectations clear when it comes to funds, or you may end up spending more than is necessary.

Here are a few examples of emails you can send communicating this:

"I've received three emails from my partner demanding more money until the mediation is complete. I must get something in exchange that I require before I agree to pay more. Please handle this with opposing counsel so I'm not bombarded with these messages. I've included them in the email, however, please do not share them with my spouse's attorney."

Or...

"I know my husband thinks I'll continue to be generous as I was when I was trying to make the marriage work, but that's no longer the case. I have no wish to continue throwing money at this situation, as doing so has solved nothing.

I understand we must move forward without rocking the boat. My question is, how little can I pay in order to ensure both of us get to the joint mediation table. And once mediation begins, how little can I pay to continue right up until the agreement is signed and filed?

Based on the advice of the CPA who has calculated the appropriate monthly child support, if we continue to agree to 50/50 shared custody, what do you believe we'll end up agreeing I need to pay?"

4. Understand child support needs during the divorce process.

You want your children to thrive, even during the mediation process. However, you need to be incredibly careful about making payments or offering to do so until there is a clear, written agreement between you and your ex. Otherwise, the money situation can get complicated.

Here is another example of an email you can send to your lawyer in this situation:

"I just received 10 invoices from my partner who is insisting that I pay them now or there will be dire consequences to the children. None of the bills are for medical treatment; they're for school activities, clothing, and supplies.

What do I do? I'm worried and yet, I trust that your advice to wait until an agreement has been reached makes sense. How should I proceed?"

5. Understand the difference between divorce and mediation situations.

Most attorneys know nothing about joint mediation; they've become used to the easiest option for them, which is the lengthiest and most expensive option for you, the client.

Understand the different types of mediation available to you, discuss them with your attorney, and make a call on what will be best for you in your situation.

Email your lawyer with...

"You've mentioned that opposing counsel wants to have separated mediation, but this isn't what we discussed. I know this isn't the best option for my family, and in fact, I wanted to proceed with joint mediation. Listed below are the reasons I believe this will be the best way to move forward..."

Getting a divorce isn't an easy or fun process.

And while it's easy to feel overwhelmed and become reliant on your attorney to make all the decisions, it's important that you stay in charge and know what your options are.

By demanding a certain level of accountability from your divorce attorney, you can protect yourself from less-than-desired outcomes. Plus, you make sure that you're all on the same page.

RELATED: 7 Questions You Must Ask Your Divorce Lawyer (So You Don't Get Screwed Over)

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Susan Allan is a certified mediator and communication expert who created The Marriage Forum, Inc. For complimentary one-hour private telephone coaching session, visit Heartspace.

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