Someone asked me this week if I can provide legal advice. I responded “I am a mediator, not an attorney, therefore I cannot provide legal advice, only legal information.” What is the difference between legal advice and legal information, and what does that mean to the average lay person seeking information about obtaining a divorce?
Legal information is available to everyone. Not everyone wants to spend the time and effort to find it, but that’s what I’m here for. I can provide you with information from the legal statutes pertaining to divorce. Have a question? I can show you the statutes so you can determine whether or not it applies to you. And as a neutral and impartial party, I will also provide the information to the other party in your case. My job is to level the playing field so both parties can make well informed decisions with all of the resources available to them at the time.
I can answer following types of questions because the answers are available to the general public: “Can I file for divorce in the state of California?” “What are the factors considered in regards to alimony?” “What are the tax ramifications of child support versus alimony?” “Are we required to split everything 50/50?” “Can we develop our own Parenting Plan?” “Do we have to go to court for a dissolution of marriage?” “Do I need an attorney for an uncontested divorce?”
Interpreting the statutes and telling you whether or not they apply to you is giving legal advice. Sharing knowledge one has acquired from an in-depth study of the law is offering legal advice.
I cannot answer the following types of questions: “Is it better for me to file for divorce in California or Arizona?” “How much alimony should I ask for?” “Is it more advantageous for me to receive child support or alimony?” “Should I try to get sole custody of the children?”
Get the picture? Questions that pertain to the population at large are requesting legal information. Questions that pertain to what is best for you because of your particular situation may be a request for legal advice. If you need legal advice, the one piece of advice I will give you is to call a reputable attorney in your area, or do your research to understand how the law applies to your situation.
Peace Plan Divorce
CC photo courtesy of Dan4th via Flickr