Family Divorce Mediator or Lawyer: Which is Right For You

Family Divorce Mediator or Lawyer: Which is Right For You?

By Lisa RisnerSeptember 6, 2021

If you are in the midst of marriage dissolution, you may be wondering whether divorce mediation is a good option for you. Many people choose to go to a mediator, but some situations are better left to an expert lawyer.

How can you decide which option is right for you? There are many differences between hiring a lawyer and going through divorce mediation. Here are some things to keep in mind that are necessary for a successful mediation session. 

What Does a Mediator Do?

A mediator is a neutral party who will help you and your spouse make important decisions about your divorce. They do not make decisions for you, but they do help you keep conversations on track.

Mediators are trained in helping people communicate across differences. Even if you and your spouse have trouble getting along most of the time, this process might be worth a try. You will have the help of a person specifically trained to keep conversations productive and relevant to the subject at hand.

At the end of your mediation process, you should reach an agreement on important issues in your divorce. Your mediation can help you put this agreement in writing as a Memorandum of Understanding.

To finalize this document, you’ll need an attorney who can put your agreement into legal terms. If your mediator is also an attorney, they can take care of this step for you and streamline the process.

What is Mediation Vs. Litigation?

The main difference between mediation and litigation is that mediation is a voluntary, informal process. It isn’t a legal process, and instead gives you the freedom to discuss your personal needs, financial and otherwise.

The process is mostly oriented around a discussion between you and your spouse. The mediator is there to facilitate discussion, help you see each other’s point of view, and ask important questions.

Mediation allows the three of you to come up with creative answers to your needs. They don’t need to adhere to the courtroom standards. Instead, you can customize your agreement and make sure it suits you.

Litigation is a formal legal process for resolving disputes. If you and your spouse want to take your divorce to court, each person gets an attorney to represent them in court and make demands on their behalf.

Litigation takes place on the courtroom’s schedule. There are many regulations to keep in mind as the trial progresses, and trials can take months or even years.

Can You and Your Spouse Compromise?

Discussion and compromise are two of the biggest aspects of mediation. Your mediator’s role is to keep the two of you talking about the most important issues in your divorce. Communication between the two of you is essential throughout the mediation process.

It’s a common misconception that your mediator can help you reach a decision, but in fact, you and your spouse will need to make all your decisions on your own. A mediator can only make you aware of your options and guide your discussion.

Communication is also an essential aspect of mediation. Your mediator will help, but it may be a problem if you’re a high-conflict couple. Possible solutions include digital mediation.

In situations where there is a history of abuse, it’s important to communicate with your mediator, who can offer advice on the best way to proceed with mediation or even give an opinion on whether mediation is a good option.

Each person has their own goals, but chances are, each of you will have to give and take. Your mediator may be able to evaluate your agreement to ensure it is fair to both parties. 

How Important Is Confidentiality?

A major benefit of mediation is the privacy it affords. When you take a case to court, there is a public record of everything said and done during the trial. Some couples may be invested in avoiding a public affair that potentially exposes personal details or the details of their finances.

Meditation is entirely confidential, and mediators will sometimes even have you sign paperwork agreeing to keep the information discussed during sessions private. It cannot be used in future court dealings if the mediation is unsuccessful.

Many couples feel more freedom talking about their assets and property in private with their spouse and a neutral third party. It may be easier to reach an agreement this way, speaking honestly in a small group instead of in a public courtroom.

Additionally, a trial is far more public and time-consuming than scheduling informal meetings with your spouse and a third party. 

Are You Working Within a Budget?

Legal fees are notoriously expensive, and taking a divorce to court is no exception. A divorce in California costs around $400 to file, but the attorney fees and other legal costs often add up to more than $10,000.

The cost of a divorce is subjective according to how many issues there are to settle, how much time is spent in court, and more. A long, messy trial tends to add up quickly.

Mediation is known to be more affordable than the numerous legal fees that come with a trial. The longer your case takes, the higher your fees will be. It’s much easier to control the cost of mediation than the cost of taking a case to court.

Ask your mediator about their rate. Some ask for a retainer, while others charge by the hour. A flat-rate mediation service can save you money in the long run.

Divorce Mediation for Better Settlement

If you are trying to minimize the financial impact of your divorce, consider mediation as an option that will save thousands of dollars.

Divorce Mediation of California can help you settle your divorce out of court for a fraction of the price it would otherwise cost.

Our divorce mediation specialists Costa Mesa help with every step of your divorce, including filling out the paperwork, reaching an agreement, and filing paperwork with the court.

For a free consultation, contact our team at Divorce Mediation of California today.

369 San Miguel Dr #100, Newport Beach, 
CA 92660, USA
© 2024 Divorce Mediation of California, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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