i want joint custody but mother most likely not agree and fight it
No. In fact, attorneys do not participate in the mediation itself, but often prepare their clients on what to expect before the mediation occurs. I am including links below which may be of some help. Good luck.
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Estate Planning Attorney
I agree with the helpful advice provided by Attorney Norton. I would like to emphasize that although you do not need an attorney for mediation, it is often helpful to meet with an attorney before the mediation, especially since you expect that the mother will resist joint custody. If possible, try to find out if the mother has met with an attorney or if she plans to bring an attorney to the mediation. If she has been preparing for the mediation with an attorney, it would be a good idea for you to do the same.
This answer is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and may not be relied upon as legal advice. A careful examination of the facts is necessary before a legal answer may be relied on. You should consult your own attorney before taking or refraining from any legal action.
It is not necessary but I routinely go to mediation with my clients so that the terms can be understood and facts given to the mediator in the most clear fashion.
If you cannot afford counsel then it is wise to seek time with counsel for prepare for the mediation. The more you know about what the law looks for the better you will do.