Should You Hire a Mediator or an Attorney?

All of the attorneys of Cairns Rabiola Vance, LLC are registered domestic relations mediators in Indiana. If you face a situation where you need to resolve your family law dispute, how do you know whether you should hire us as your mediator or as your attorney? 

While most registered domestic relations mediators are attorneys, you do not have to be an attorney to be a mediator, and the role of a mediator and attorney are significantly different. It’s important you know which role is best for your situation!

Mediation vs. Representation

Mediation: a process where the mediator assists both parties in resolving their case. 

  • The mediator is a neutral party which means she does not represent either party in the legal proceeding and, most importantly, means she cannot give legal advice to either party. 
  • Mediation is typically scheduled for one day where both parties can appear at the same time (currently, most mediations occur via videoconferencing)
  • If the mediation is successful, the mediator and the parties will complete an agreement representing the terms and the agreement is filed the same day as the mediation.
  • If the mediation is for a divorce, one of the parties files the petition for dissolution at least 60 days prior to the mediation. A final agreement cannot be filed until at least 60 days have elapsed after the date of filing of the petition. The mediator does not assist in filing the petition for dissolution.
  • A mediator is primarily involved in your case for one day. She cannot consult with either party prior to mediation (although our staff can certainly answer any procedural questions you have prior to scheduling the mediation).

Attorney Representation: 

  • As an attorney in your case, Jaimie, Tara, or Kelsey represent you specifically in your legal dispute. 
  • We give you legal advice particular to your side of the case and your situation. We only represent you in the action and our relationship to the other side is as your counsel.
  • If your spouse/opposing party is represented by counsel, we may only communicate with their counsel; if they are unrepresented, we can communicate with them directly (we generally prefer to communicate via email so that the correspondence is preserved in writing).  
  • As your counsel, we work with you to resolve your case outside of court and communicate your offers to the other side via his/her counsel or directly to he/she if they are unrepresented
  • We draft and file any necessary court paperwork (including the initial divorce petition.) If discovery is served on you, we assist you in responding to it; we can also draft and serve discovery on the opposing party.
  • While most of our cases resolve themselves prior to litigation (and some prior to mediation), if mediation or litigation is required, we prepare you and represent you during any proceedings. 
  • Prior to retaining us, we offer thirty minute phone consultations where we find out what your situation is, talk about how (and if!) we can resolve it, and go over the details of how you can retain our counsel.
  • As your attorney, we are with you for the length of your case – from the time you hire us until your case is resolved and everything you need is taken care of!

There are situations where you just might need a mediator and there are situations where you need to hire an attorney (and then maybe a mediator later.) The attorneys at Cairns Rabiola Vance, LLC can help with either scenario, depending on your needs!

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