What Is the Difference Between a Divorce Lawyer and a Mediator?
If you and your spouse have decided to part ways, you may be wondering what the best course of action would be: hiring a divorce lawyer or taking your chances with a divorce mediator. While the two professionals will both work with you towards the same goal – end of marriage, there are several differences between the two that you need to take into account before choosing one over the other.
What Is a Divorce Mediator?
A divorce mediator is a neutral professional who helps both parties in a divorce to negotiate critical issues that need to be agreed upon after ending their marriage, including child support and custody, finances, and division of property.
Unlike a divorce attorney, a mediator doesn’t take sides. He or she might discuss with each party separately or might talk with both parties simultaneously when helping them negotiate the critical issues and reaching the best decisions for them and their children, if any.
Divorce mediation is preferred by many couples because it is cheaper, faster, and more child friendly than a traditional divorce lawsuit. Another benefit of divorce mediation is that the spouses have full control over the settlement that they are working together on.
Also, divorce mediation is a better way to end a marriage for spouses that care about their privacy and would rather not make public their private lives in a court of law.
Divorce Lawyer vs Divorce Mediator: Which One’s Better?
When choosing between a divorce lawyer and a divorce mediator, you need to consider your specific situation:
- Does your spouse want a divorce too?
- Is he or she cooperative?
- Do I want my children to be summoned in a court of law or expose them to ugly private matters that should stay only between me and my spouse?
- Do we afford the full costs of litigation?
- Does one of us hold more emotional or financial power than the other?
- Is my spouse likely to withhold critical info which may turn the scale in their favor?
- Do I trust a mediator to stay completely unbiased in our current situation?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you will find which one is right for you: a divorce attorney or a mediator as there are several differences between the two that you need to take into consideration.
Key Differences between a Divorce Lawyer and Mediator
Mediation is cheaper
Divorce mediation is considerably cheaper than traditional litigation. While a divorce lawsuit may cost you from tens of thousands to a few hundred thousand dollars, divorce mediation costs usually sit around $10,000.
A mediator is supposed not to take sides
Unlike an attorney, a divorce mediator won’t fight for you as he or she is supposed to be neutral and help the parties reach a fair settlement for both sides through negotiation and compromise.
This downside is divorce mediation’s Achilles’ heel because the final settlement may not be fair for you especially if your spouse withholds important information or outrightly lies about your private or financial life.
What’s more, even though mediators are supposed to stay neutral, because of the emotionally charged nature of a divorce, they may favor your spouse over you if your spouse manages to get the mediator’s sympathy.
Mediation is more child-friendly
Since both parties have full control over the settlement they are supposed to reach through mediation, divorce mediation offers more flexibility when negotiating the amount of child support, child custody, and time spent with the children by both parents.
In addition, what you and your spouse discuss with the mediator is confidential, which means that your children won’t be exposed to an additional emotionally taxing experience beside the separation from one of their parents.
Mediation is faster
While a divorce lawsuit may take up to a few years to complete, divorce mediation should not take more than 6 months for completion.
A mediator does not offer legal advice
This one’s another major difference between a divorce lawyer and a mediator. While some mediators are also attorneys, they are not allowed to offer any of the parties they counsel legal advice.
This may work against you if you don’t fully understand your rights. So, it is a good idea to discuss with a lawyer too before reaching a divorce settlement to fully understand how it will affect you and your children in the long run.
While mediation could mean less hassle in a complicated divorce if the parties have remained on good enough terms to reach amiable decisions together with help from a divorce mediator, it is always a good idea to ask for a divorce attorney to watch your back. Divorce mediation is faster, cheaper, and more kid-friendly than a lawsuit, but the divorce settlement may have legal or financial ramifications that not always work in your favor.
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