Why shouldn’t I just hire a mediator?

Clients often ask us, why shouldn’t they just hire a mediator to do their divorce or other family matter?  Why should they consult a lawyer in addition to or instead of a mediator?  Mediation is often a good way to resolve a family matter such as divorce.  However, a mediator is a neutral person and is not allowed to give legal advice to either party.  The mediator’s job is to find an area of agreement.  If you are unaware of your legal rights — or just do not understand them — you might agree to something that would be bad for you.  Or you might miss a chance to agree to something you had not even thought of.  You will nearly always get a better end result if you consult a lawyer before you go to mediation.  The lawyer can help you figure out whether your issue is appropriate for mediation, or what preparation you ought to do before mediation, or if you should bring a lawyer to mediation with you.  Consulting a lawyer is not a commitment to go to court.  In fact, a skilled lawyer can help you to avoid court.