Divorce attorneys can assist you in important ways if you end up calling it quits with your spouse before a judge. In some cases though, a couple may try to separate more amicably by forgoing a court proceeding and taking their issues to a West Virginia divorce mediator. However, just because you are not handling your divorce in court does not mean a divorce attorney is irrelevant to your situation.
Remember that a divorce attorney is going to be experienced in family law and will likely know more about your rights than you do. Even in mediation, you should be aware of what you are entitled to so that you do not surrender valuable rights while negotiating with your spouse. And since mediators generally seek to be neutral, retaining your own counsel is a smart option if you want legal advice.
Also, just because you and your spouse successfully complete a mediation agreement does not mean that a court will accept it. As Forbes points out, a court still has grounds to refuse to enforce your agreement even if you and your spouse have no problem with it. A judge may, for instance, determine that the agreement is too biased in favor of one spouse over the other and deprives one spouse unfairly of assets.
A mediation document should also be clear in its intentions. An agreement that does not clearly state what a spouse is entitled to or is too broad in its provisions is liable to be thrown out. The agreement might also be written without full regard to existing state or federal law. If a mediator is too inexperienced in matters of family law or does not have the assistance of legal counsel, the document might contain mistakes that could render it invalid.
The invalidation of a mediation document can cause all sorts of problems. You might need to go through mediation once again. The throwing out of the agreement might inflame tensions between you and your spouse. You might not find mediation an attractive option any longer and decide to fight it out in court, which can be a messier affair and cost you more money.
For these reasons, retaining your own divorce attorney is an important part of mediation. An experienced legal mind can spot amateurish mistakes that can derail your agreement. Additionally, experienced legal counsel will be aware of what judges expect in a divorce settlement and can steer a client away from composing an agreement that might not pass muster.
Keep in mind that this article is written to educate readers on the topic of divorce and does not offer legal advice.