How Is A Divorce Mediator Different Than An Attorney?

Law Blog

When going through a divorce, it's a good idea to have counsel. People tend to think of divorce as an inherently adversarial process, but there is an alternative approach called divorce mediation.

As you might guess, there are some major differences between mediation and the traditional process of divorce. You might wonder how the role of the divorce mediator differs from that of an attorney so let's take a look at what you should know.

Support for Both Parties

Arguably, this is the biggest difference between divorce mediation and the adversarial approach. When you hire an attorney in a standard divorce proceeding, that lawyer has to serve as your counsel and only your counsel. They can't provide actionable legal recommendations to your ex. Instead, they must be a zealous advocate for your rights and interests.

It's easy to imagine how that tension, especially if both sides lawyer up, can make divorce harder. The goal of divorce mediation is to defuse that tension by stationing a mediator between the two parties. A divorce mediator is allowed to provide actionable advice for each ex-partner, too, rather than just acting as a go-between.

When Is Divorce Mediation a Good Idea?

Generally, mediation is ideal when both partners are sure they want a divorce. Likewise, they shouldn't be too far apart on dealing with the big issues, such as child support and custody, alimony, and the division of assets and liabilities.

Notably, you can start out in mediation and break it off if the process isn't working. Divorce mediation doesn't become binding until both sides sign the paperwork. Up until that point, the divorce mediator is there to facilitate legal work and advise the two parties. Neither side is under any legally-binding obligation to accept the outcome of mediation unless they opted for a binding process from the beginning.

When Is It a Bad Idea?

Mediation is a bad idea in two specific scenarios. First, there is the scenario where at least one side is spoiling for a fight. Some folks need time to face the facts about divorce, especially the notion that it only takes one person declaring irreconcilable differences to end a marriage. It's probably best to not encourage mediation until everyone has had a chance to process what's happening.

The other scenario occurs even in otherwise amicable divorces. This happens when there's just too much in dispute, particularly in terms of property.

How Long Does Mediation Take?

In some cases, a single session over a few hours will do the job. More complex cases may take days or weeks.

If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, look into hiring a divorce mediator to handle things. 


25 August 2020

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