Mediation clients often ask: why do I need a review attorney? Mediation is becoming ever more popular as people realize the value of having help in making decisions about their split; however, they do not want to “lawyer up” and risk having an adversarial situation. The mediator does not represent either party and will be able to assist the parties in coming up with solutions that work for their situation. A mediator with knowledge of business and finances can also help ensure that each party will be able to start over with as much of a financial cushion as possible.
After the mediation process results in an agreement, both parties have the opportunity to have an attorney review the agreement and advise them as to whether the agreement is favorable for them or not. The role of the review attorney is to review the agreement, and discuss with the client how they might fare under the law. For instance, they will point out whether the maintenance provisions in the agreement sync with the maintenance guidelines, whether the equitable distribution is in fact equitable, and where the client may have given up something they were entitled to, but received something else in return that they might not have been entitled to.
When they refer their clients to review attorneys, mediators tend to send them to “mediation friendly” lawyers who understand that the person for whom they are reviewing the agreement wanted to stick with mediation, rather than have a lawyer tell them “I can get you more.” Most review lawyers will give you a written summation of the parts of the agreement they would like changed on your behalf. When both parties have had the agreement reviewed, they generally go back to their mediator with the comments from their review attorney. Then the mediator can proceed to finalize the agreement and finesse the outstanding issues as pointed out by the review attorneys. This ensures that each party can sign the agreement with the confidence that they have an agreement they can live with.
Deborah E. Kaminetzky, Esq.
Kaminetzky Law & Mediation, P.C.
132 Spruce Street
Cedarhurst, New York 11516