Review Counsel in Connecticut Divorce Mediation

  •   |   Meghan Freed

What Is Review Counsel in a Connecticut Divorce Mediation?

Mediation keeps you in the driver’s seat.  It also allows you to come up with a tailor-made solution that considers all members of the family.  The goal is to find the best possible solution under the circumstances. Unlike a judge, who might decide for the parties, the mediator acts as a neutral guide. Your mediator will help you communicate your individual needs and concerns and assist you in reaching an agreement.  That said, your mediator will not make decisions or provide legal advice to you or your spouse.

Although mediators are frequently attorneys, in the mediator role, they are a neutral third party.  That means that a mediator cannot give individual legal advice or comment on the agreement’s fairness. Therefore, you should still hire an experienced mediation-friendly divorce attorney to provide independent legal advice. We call this independent attorney “review counsel” or “consulting counsel.”

The purpose of having independent review counsel is not to start a conflict.  However, having an advocate focused on your best interests, needs, and concerns is important.  This is a crucial component to help ensure a fair and equitable outcome.

Read: ADR & Divorce

Read: Settlement & Divorce

What Does Review Counsel Do?

  • Guide all stages of the divorce mediation process, as needed and requested.
  • Explain how the mediation process works and what topics to discuss.
  • Share essential information on the law and subjects, such as alimonyproperty divisioncustody, or child support.
  • Provide background support throughout the mediation process. Although they don’t typically attend mediation sessions with you, review counsel can help you prepare for your upcoming mediation sessions.  This often involves answering questions you prefer not to ask at a mediation session and exploring different settlement options.
  • Assess your situation and explains the law as it pertains to you to help you make informed decisions.
  • Offer advice on the fairness of the agreement you and your spouse reached and whether it aligns with your goals.
  • Make sure you understand what you are signing.

Read: What Is Mediation in Divorce?

When Should I Involve Review Counsel in a Connecticut Divorce Mediation?

Before or at the Beginning of Mediation

Including a lawyer before your mediation begins or in the initial stages is beneficial.  That way, your review counsel can explain the norms in Connecticut so you are well-prepared for mediation. In addition, you will discuss your goals and concerns so that your review counsel can help you determine which decisions should be made immediately. Your lawyer can also answer questions, give you feedback between mediation sessions, and help you evaluate your options to make informed decisions.

To Review Your Final Mediation Agreement

Minimally it would be best if you involved review counsel in the final stage of mediation so they can review the divorce agreement drafted by your mediator. Your review counsel will “translate” the legal language of your understanding into plain language so that you know exactly what you are signing before you sign it. They can also flag whether your agreement is missing any essential points. Your review counsel may ask challenging questions you may not have considered while mediating. Importantly, your counsel can also advise you about how your agreement may vary from the law and whether this agreement meets your goals. Your divorce agreement is important and will affect your life for years. It would be best if you took the time to review it in detail and understand every word.

Read: Understanding the Role of Review Counsel in Divorce

How Do I Find the Right Connecticut Attorney To Serve As My Divorce Mediation Review Counsel?

  • Your review counsel should focus their practice on Connecticut divorce and family law. There isn’t a formula for either alimony or property division in Connecticut. Therefore, you will have a lot to consider and a lot of options.  As your guide, your review counsel should be well-versed in the current matrimonial and family law status in Connecticut.
  • Your consulting or reviewing counsel should be mediation-friendly. Often, your attorney also serves as a mediator or is on a legal team with lawyers who mediate and understands the mediation process and what you want to accomplish. If you choose a lawyer who doesn’t understand mediation, they might be litigious and want to fight instead of support you in reaching resolutions.
  • Your mediator may be able to recommend good and experienced attorneys to serve as review counsel for you and your spouse.

Read: Connecticut Virtual Divorce Mediation Lawyer

Why Should I Use Review Counsel?

Your mediator may be excellent at helping you talk through your family’s concerns and fears and drawing up a peaceful agreement for your divorce. In addition, your mediator may be able to give you some basic, relevant information about divorce laws. However, even if your mediator is a lawyer, a mediator must remain neutral and thus cannot give you legal advice.

While mediation is meant to be neutral and cooperative, it’s still important to have an advocate focused on your best interests, goals, needs, and concerns. Your attorney is there to assess your situation explain the law as it pertains to you, answer questions, give suggestions, guide you through, and help you make informed decisions. Your review counsel helps ensure that your divorce agreement is well-informed, fair, enforceable, and accurately reflects what you and your spouse agreed upon. You understand it — saving you time, frustration, and money in the years to come.

Read: Mediation, Collaboration, or Litigation? 


The attorneys at Freed Marcroft guide select clients through the legal aspects of divorce while remaining mindful of their overall wellness, including as mediators and mediation review counsel.  To discuss our helping with your situation, contact us here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC