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The Power of Consultation When Drafting Separation Agreements

Negotiationpic-300x207Legal experts like family lawyers and divorce attorneys can offer today’s clients a lot more than just assistance with litigation. While one of the most common ways to work with a lawyer is to hire them to help fight your case in court, it’s also possible to explore alternative ways to benefit from the insight and expertise an attorney can give.

For instance, legal professionals can act as a consultant for people attempting to generate the best possible outcomes from a separation agreement or divorce case. If an individual decides to pursue mediation as a tool for planning a separation agreement, they can avoid some of the complexities and emotional hardships associated with litigation.

However, a mediator is an objective party, unable to give direct guidance or advice on how a specific party can serve their own interests in a case. As such, clients are usually advised to seek out support from a review attorney during the mediation. The review attorney can provide legal advice and support to the client, without necessarily taking on the role of litigator.

Lawyers can also be used as separation agreement legal consultants and professional sources of guidance in other circumstances too. This is something we’re going to explore in this, and future blogs.

Legal Consultation when Self-Representing in Separation Cases

Outside of working as a consultant during mediation sessions, legal professionals like family attorneys and family lawyers can also act as a valuable source of support during other cases. For instance, there are times during family law cases when a litigant may choose to represent themselves, rather than having an attorney represent them in court.

In general, it’s not advisable to represent yourself in court when you could access the professional services of a lawyer instead. There are many reasons why representing oneself is rarely a good idea. For instance, the average person doesn’t have the years of training a lawyer receives. They may not understand how to navigate the rules involved with collecting and presenting evidence, and may end up having important information dismissed by the court.

What’s more, representing yourself in court, whether it’s for divorce or something else associated with family law, can sometimes lead you to say things accidentally which harm your case. Despite this, there are occasions where self-representation might feel like the only available option to a litigant, such as when financial issues make it impossible to secure the services of a lawyer.

If an individual does choose to represent themselves in court, one of the best ways they can improve their chances of presenting a successful case, is to access the support of a professional attorney as a consultant. Consulting fees can be significantly lower than legal fees and may offer a useful alternative to hiring an attorney for some clients. Certainly, having the advice of a legal professional makes it far more likely you’ll be able to side-step some of the common mistakes people make when representing themselves in separation agreement cases.

Leveraging Behind the Scenes Legal Consultants

As a mediator, and family law attorney, I offer a range of services to my clients to help them navigate complex cases involving separation, divorce, and child custody. In the inadvisable situation where a client chooses to represent themselves in a separation agreement case, my office may be able to help as a behind-the-scenes legal consultant.

Negotiating a separation agreement, which can be done outside of court, can be a complicated process for non-matrimonial law professionals. Legal consultation during this journey ensures individuals can ask questions about how they should approach the negotiation, pursue specific outcomes, and address common problems. Without a legal consultant for guidance, a client who chose to represent themselves would need to come up with their own ideas on how to negotiate the outcomes of issues relating to spousal support, equitable distribution, and so on. The problem is that people don’t know what they don’t know, if that makes sense.

This can lead to a lot of mistakes on the behalf of themselves, particularly if they’re influenced by emotion during the negotiation procedure. With access to a legal consultant, an individual can write down and record all of the details of a negotiation session, and work with their consulting attorney on crafting the correct legal responses.

In these instances, because the name of the self-representing party, rather than the name of the attorney, will be at the bottom of all correspondences, they can maintain in control of the entire experience and how much time and money they spend with their consultant. However, it’s a good idea to highlight that the correspondences with the other side are for settlement purposes only, and not to be reproduced in any court environment.

In some cases, it’s even possible to work with a consulting attorney to ensure as much of the drafting work associated with the settlement agreement is shifted to the lawyer on the other side, with the consulting party (yourself), suggesting changes and edits based on the feedback of your consultant.

Leveraging the Power of Consultation

Working with a legal professional as a consultant in your separation agreement may not be as valuable as simply hiring a family law professional as an attorney. However, it is a much better option than relying on your own knowledge and research alone to navigate a case.

A legal consultant can help you to sort through a range of complex issues, from child custody and parenting time agreements, to maintenance, equitable distribution, and many other concerns. With the right guidance, you should be able to avoid common problems and mistakes could harm your best interests.

If you want to discuss your options around consultation and legal support during family law and separation agreement cases, you can contact my office at your earliest convenience. A free initial consultation is available for up to 30 minutes to explore potential services.

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