Divorce proceedings have a reputation for being stressful and overwhelming. Quite a few people are eager to take whatever steps are necessary to avoid the potentially protracted conflict of a court-based divorce. Filing an uncontested divorce can help you secure a more affordable divorce with terms that you and your ex maintain better control over.

Many couples see divorce mediation as an opportunity to reduce the cost of their divorce and speed up the process. Those who are particularly frugal might even consider trying to go through divorce mediation without an attorney, but doing so often proves to be a dangerous mistake. There are at least three very compelling reasons why you want to have an attorney representing your best interest in a mediation session.

Your spouse may capitalize on your lack of representation

If you don’t have your own attorney advocating for you, you may be more vulnerable to underhanded tactics from your spouse. Someone who did not hesitate to manipulate or control you in marriage will likely take a similarly abusive approach toward your divorce proceedings.

Particularly for those who experienced abuse during their marriage or who acknowledge a substantial power or intellectual difference between them and their spouse, mediation without an attorney could leave them vulnerable to an outcome that is not fair.

You may not have the ability to push for true compromise alone

Both you and your spouse will likely show up to mediation with wishes and desires regarding the outcome. Those who don’t have an attorney representing them may struggle to adequately negotiate or argue their side of the situation in front of the mediator.

Consulting with an attorney about your preferred outcome and how your ex will approach mediation can help you adjust your requests so that there is some wiggle room that allows for compromise later on in the process. Asking for exactly what you want immediately may seem straightforward, but it will not leave you with many opportunities to negotiate.

Minor mistakes could invalidate the entire mediation process

The whole point of mediation isn’t just to reach an agreement but rather to codify that agreement in a written contract signed by both parties that the courts can review and approve. As with any legally-binding contract, mediation agreements are subject to mistakes on the part of the people signing it.

Illegal provisions, such as agreeing to waive child support, or missing signatures could be all that it takes to invalidate a mediation document that you spent hours of your life and thousands of dollars to produce, leaving you vulnerable to court-based divorce proceedings. An attorney can review the entire process, ensure nothing illegal makes its way into the agreement and double check all of your signatures before you submit anything to the courts.