Marriage counsellors are seeking to have guidelines issued for lawyers acting as divorce mediators to avoid a confusion of roles. A three-year pilot scheme will be launched by the Judiciary this month to enable couples seeking a divorce to go through mediation rather than litigation. Mediators will help couples settle issues such as child custody, visiting hours and the division of properties and assets. They will be able to draft legal documents recognised by the courts. The aim is to save divorcing couples from the huge fees and painful experience of resolving touchy matters through the rigid legal process. But voluntary group the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, which has been offering the service since 1988, is concerned that lawyers who became qualified as mediators would confuse their roles. 'Lawyers are supposed to be impartial, whereas the role of a counsellor or a therapist is different,' council executive secretary Rita Chiu Lo Chiu-pak said. 'Once a mediator has established a relationship with his clients, he can't be impartial. Also, a mediator serves to facilitate both sides, but a lawyer can only represent one side.' She said the Law Society should issue guidelines to prevent possible conflicts of interest. The society said it had no plans to issue guidelines for its member lawyers as a handbook published by the Judiciary already covered the issue. A Judiciary spokeswoman said a mechanism was in place to ensure clients were aware of what they were entitled to. They were required to sign a certificate with their lawyers after they agreed to mediation. More than 1,000 couples will benefit under the $6 million trial exercise and the results will be evaluated by a university.