SOURCE: Law Offices of Mark B. Baer
LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Aug 16, 2012) - In June, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation enacting historic cuts to the State court system budget resulting in 56 court closings in Los Angeles County, three involving Family Law Courts. With the subsequent backlog on divorces and other Family Law matters, there is increased interest in mediation and collaborative divorce to resolve such cases.
However, L.A. Family Law Attorney and Mediator Mark Baer urges those using mediators for divorces to make sure they have mediation-friendly family law attorneys close at hand to advise them throughout the divorce process. While he views collaborative divorce and mediation as beneficial in resolving family law issues, Attorney Baer points out that spousal support, child support and division of property should involve family law attorneys -- or somebody might get hurt.
"Mental health professionals, accountants, financial advisors, and others untrained in the law are acting as family law mediators," notes Attorney Baer. "While some are well qualified to do so, in some instances they are either advising clients to reach agreements without consulting family law attorneys or are involving attorneys merely to draft agreements after crucial, long-term decisions have been made.
"Is it wise for people to mediate their divorce or family law matter without properly consulting with family law attorneys?" Baer asks. "No -- I see multiple problems in this scenario. Family law is an interdisciplinary process that involves many aspects: family, finances, emotions and the law. I have been very outspoken about the fact that lawyers are not trained to properly deal with emotions, finances and family dynamics. By the same token, non-family law mediators don't have the knowledge or understand the consequences involved in reaching legal agreements.
"The word 'Law' is part of 'Family Law.' At a minimum, family law attorneys should be involved in every effort to avoid possible unforeseen negative consequences of legally-binding agreements. After all, we can predict how people will behave in the future as a result of agreements they make today.
"The role of a mediator is to help people in dispute resolve their conflicts. Since the mediator must remain neutral in reaching this goal, resolution does not necessarily mean a 'fair' or otherwise equitable resolution for both parties, so family law attorneys are crucial when it comes to leveling the playing field."
As a mediator, Baer believes the best scenario is to have mediation-friendly family law attorneys present at the mediation to represent each party. If such attorneys are not present in the mediation sessions, then the parties should consult with them before discussing any financial matters. They should also review all agreements before they are finalized. By involving mediation-friendly attorneys in such a manner, both parties will more likely remain satisfied in the future from mediated agreements reached today.
Mark B. Baer is a family law attorney, mediator, and collaborative law practitioner practicing law for over twenty years with an office in Pasadena, CA. His firm represents individuals on issues regarding family law, divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, restraining orders, paternity actions, and domestic partnerships. For more information, please visit: www.markbaeresq.com.