Referrals: Info for Divorce Lawyers

All Divorcing Parties Should Have an Attorney

It is recommended that all of our clients are represented by an independent attorney. At a minimum, we encourage our clients to have their mediated Marital Settlement Agreement and MSA reviewed by a divorce attorney. Certified Mediators are ethically mandated by the Virginia Supreme Court to recommend attorney review. We take that requirement seriously at Graine Mediation.

In Virginia, Certified Mediators are permitted to give divorcing parties legal information only. We are not permitted, nor would it suit the process, for us to give clients legal advice. The divorce mediator’s role, when it comes to the law and other matters relevant to separation, divorce, and custody, is to ensure that the clients have all of the information necessary to make informed decisions. This includes information relevant to:

  • Virginia divorce law,
  • Child support calculations,
  • Pendente lite spousal support calculations,
  • Federal tax law and rules,
  • Federal and Military law and rules,
  • National and local trends in the law,
  • Possible effect of divorce on property rights (real, monetary and tangible),
  • Information related to the impact of divorce on children,
  • Information related to the impact of divorce on family relationships,
  • Career planning and job training,
  • College financial planning,
  • Possible effects of divorce on certain basic inheritance rights and beneficiary status, and
  • Any other area in which the mediator feels that he or she has knowledge, including referrals to appropriate professionals (e.g. CPA's, financial planners, business valuation experts and actuaries).

We are an excellent referral source when:

  • A client requests, or you determine, that a mediator would be appropriate as per Rule 1.2 of the Virginia State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, Comment 1: “... a lawyer shall advise the client about the advantages, disadvantages, and availability of dispute resolution processes [other than litigation]...”
  • Litigation is doing emotional harm to children and/or parties.
  • There is a court order for mediation.
  • There is a single issue that is holding up settlement.
  • A third party neutral might be helpful in “reality testing” with the client.
  • You are “burned out” from a client, but the court will not allow you to withdraw your appearance.
  • It is determined that it is best for a family to bifurcate (as much as possible) matters of custody and matters of finance.
  • Parties are mandated to mediate pursuant to their Marital Settlement Agreement and MSA/Final Order of Divorce (Post Decree work)
  • Clients have run out of resources for litigation (financial and emotional).

Divorce lawyers, with whom we share clients, are always welcome to attend mediation sessions. The sessions, however, are client-driven and most sessions are conducted with both clients in the same room (with not a lot of "shuttle diplomacy"). Also, because a certified mediator is required to do his or her best to ensure that the "playing field is level", we only accept cases where either both parties have counsel in the room, or neither party has counsel in the room.

When it comes to disputes involving custody and visitation, courts tend to favor mediation over litigation. When a judge orders parties to mediate their disputes, Graine Mediation is an excellent choice. Our track record is stellar and Robin Graine, JD, CDFA has years of professional experience when it comes to helping clients make the best custody and visitation decisions for their children.

Prior to opening Graine Mediation, Robin was a divorce attorney specializing in "financially sophisticated litigation" and she was also a child abuse hearing officer (Chicago courts) and a Guardian ad Litem. Robin was divorced in Fairfax County when her children were 7 and 9. At that time, she had to reestablish herself as a divorced professional after several years out of that field. Robin is a good role model for clients in terms of both successful life transition in middle age and as a friendly co-parent with her former husband.

At Graine Mediation, we keep up with what the experts are saying about the effects of divorce on children. In real life, we learn from our own clients, every day, what works and what does not work for children and their parents in a co-parenting situation. We bring all of that knowledge with us when we are working with clients to help them resolve their custody & visitation disputes and we know how to keep parents focused on their children's best interest at all times throughout the sessions.

We are here to help all of your post divorce clients who are required, pursuant to their Final Order of Divorce, to make a good effort to settle their post decree disputes in mediation.

We always do our best to help these parties figure out creative ways to work with one another within the framework of their current situations. When appropriate and desired by the parties, we also work with clients in finding ways to build bridges to better co-parenting in the future. Our track record is excellent.

Graine Mediation is certified by the Virginia Supreme Court as eligible to mediate all divorce, custody, child and spousal support cases at the J&DR and Circuit Court Level. Click here

Relevant Statutes from the Code of Virginia

SEC. 20-124.2. Court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements.

A. In any case in which custody or visitation of minor children is at issue, whether in a Circuit or District court, the court shall provide prompt adjudication, upon due consideration of all the facts, of custody and visitation arrangements, including support and maintenance for the children, prior to other considerations arising in the matter. The court may enter an order pending the suit as provided in Sec. 20-103. The procedures for determining custody and visitation arrangements shall insofar as practical, and consistent with the ends of justice, preserve the dignity and resources of family members. Mediation shall be used as an alternative to litigation where appropriate. When mediation is used in custody and visitation matters, the goals may include development of a proposal addressing the child’s residential schedule and care arrangements, and how disputes between the parents will be handled in the future.

Sec. 20-124.4. Mediation.

In any appropriate case the court shall refer the parents or persons with a legitimate interest to a dispute resolution evaluation session to be conducted by a mediator certified pursuant to guidelines promulgated by the Judicial Council at no cost and in accordance with the procedures set out in Chapter 20.2 (Sec. 8.01-576.4 et seq) of Title 8.01. . . .

Robin Graine, JD, CDFA is on the list of approved mediators pursuant to this section for Fairfax County Circuit Courts.

Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, Comment to Rule 1.2: Scope of Representation:

Both lawyer and client have authority and responsibility in the objectives and means of representation. The client has ultimate authority to determine the purposes to be served by legal representation, within the limits imposed by the law and lawyer's professional obligations. Within those limits, a client also has a right to consult with a lawyer about the means to be used in pursuing those objectives. In that context,*a lawyer shall advise the client about the advantages, disadvantages, and availability of dispute resolution processes that might be appropriate in pursuing those objectives. . . .

General Dispute Resolution statutes: Sec. 8.01-576.4-12; Sec. 8.01-581.21-26