Recently there has been an increase in parties representing themselves (Pro Se) in divorce and child custody cases.
Whether this is due to the costs of hiring a lawyer or whether the parties feel they can represent themselves adequately does not matter. The fact is that people are choosing to represent themselves, however, in most of these cases mediation is still required. Parties representing themselves often have a good understanding of their needs in these cases and can make reasoned arguments for their position.
You May Still Need Mediation
Whether the case is a divorce or a child custody situation, the same issues are present regarding the children. You still need to resolve decision making, conservatorship, visitation, and child support. Not having an attorney does not change the need for mediation to resolve these issues.
Further in divorce situations there is still the need to divide property to determine a just and right division of the marital estate. Mediation helps the parties work through the issues to reach an agreement.
Mediation for people who represent themselves is the same as for those who have attorneys representing them. The parties still sit in separate rooms while the mediator travels from room to room learning about their situation. The parties still create their unique solution to their situation. The mediator still provides suggestions to the parties. The mediation process is still confidential and private.
However, the one difference is that when mediation results in a non-standard Order, the parties may need an attorney who can draft the final order for them. When non-standard Orders are created, special language may be needed to ensure that it is enforceable in the future. Even when the order would be a standard Order, the parties want an attorney to draft the final order to ensure it is accurate. A mediator is unable to draft the Order for the parties as it would defeat the neutral role of the mediator. However, the mediator can, and I do, provide the parties with a list of attorneys who will assist them in preparing the final paperwork.