How to Handle the Divorce Process

July 18, 2023
Legal Custody

The decisions you make about divorce will impact your life for many years to come—including the decisions you make right up front about how to divorce. Many people are torn between two main options when navigating the legal process of divorce: mediator vs. lawyer. 

While divorce lawyers and mediators can help you have a good divorce with a successful outcome, they have different approaches and roles. Understanding the differences between a divorce mediator vs. lawyer is crucial before deciding how you will divorce. 

In this article, we will break down the key differences between a divorce mediator and a lawyer, so you can make an informed decision about which option is best for you.

Divorce Mediation: Definition and Process

Divorce mediation is the process of negotiating a divorce settlement with the help of a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator helps both parties reach an agreement acceptable to both. The mediator is not a judge and cannot make decisions for the parties, but instead helps them communicate and compromise to reach a resolution. 

The process is generally less formal and less expensive than going to court and can be a good option for couples who want to maintain control over both the process and outcome of their divorce. Mediation is non-binding and confidential so nothing discussed during it can be disclosed in court.

Process With a Divorce Mediator

Divorce mediation usually begins with the mediator meeting either individually with each spouse or together with the parties to discuss the issues that need to be resolved. The mediator will then work with the spouses to come up with a plan that will meet the needs and interests of both. 

Throughout the process, the mediator will help the couple communicate effectively, brainstorm ideas, and find workable solutions. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft a settlement agreement that outlines the terms of the agreement.

The parties take that agreement and review it with their individual divorce attorneys, or “adjunct to the mediation,” to ensure they fully understand it. After they confer with their counsel and confirm that they believe the agreement is fair, equitable, and in the best interests of their children, they submit it to the court for review and approval.

The length of the mediation depends upon the complexity of the issues involved, both spouses’ commitment to move forward proactively, and their willingness to work together. It is important to note that while divorce mediation is a good option for many couples, it may not be the best option for everyone.

Advantages of Divorce Mediator

One of the most significant advantages of divorce mediation is that it is generally less expensive and less time-consuming than relying on the court to make decisions. Additionally, because the parties are working together to reach a resolution, they are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome. This can lead to a more amicable divorce and a better co-parenting relationship.

Another advantage of divorce mediation is that it allows the parties to maintain control over the process and outcome of their divorce. This means they have a say in decisions, rather than leaving those decisions up to a judge. This can be particularly fulfilling for couples who want to maintain a good relationship and work together to co-parent their children in the future.

Limitations of Divorce Mediator

While divorce mediation can be an effective way to resolve divorce issues, it is not always the best option. For example, if there is a history of domestic violence or abuse, mediation may not be appropriate. Additionally, mediation may not be appropriate or successful if one party is unwilling to negotiate, compromise, or openly share information.

Additionally, a drawback to mediation for some people is that, though they have their own lawyer to consult with on the side, mediation review counsel generally doesn’t attend mediation sessions with their client. In other words, mediation sessions are most commonly just the mediator and two spouses.

Finally, a limitation of divorce mediation is that, while some divorce mediators are often lawyers, they cannot provide legal advice. This is why it’s so important for both spouses to consult with their own lawyers to confirm that their legal rights are protected and that the court will likely approve the agreement. You should not skip this step.

In other words, when people decide between a divorce mediator vs. lawyer, what they typically are trying to decide between is using a divorce mediator to try and finish their divorce outside of court, versus filing a litigated divorce with the court.

Now you know that you should work with your own divorce attorney even when you and your spouse decide to mediate and resolve your divorce outside of court.

Divorce Lawyer: Definition and Role

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When people decide between a divorce mediator vs. lawyer, they are typically trying to choose between an out-of-court resolution vs. a divorce litigation. “Divorce litigation” is when you initiate your divorce by filing it with the court. Just because you begin the divorce with the court does not mean you won’t settle. Negotiation is very much a part of most divorce litigations.

A divorce lawyer is an attorney who focuses on divorce and family law. The role of a divorce lawyer in litigation is to represent one party in the divorce proceedings and to provide legal advice and guidance throughout the process. They also advocate for clients in court to help them achieve an outcome in line with their goals for the future.

The lawyer runs the discovery process, reviews relevant documents, and develops a strategy for the case. Throughout the divorce litigation, the lawyer will represent their client’s interests and negotiate on their behalf to achieve an outcome in line with their goals for the future.

Advantages of Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

One of the most significant advantages of hiring a divorce lawyer is that they can provide legal advice and guidance throughout the divorce process. This can be especially important in cases where there are complex legal issues or where one party is uncooperative.

Many clients find that working with an experienced divorce litigation attorney helps them keep their focus on moving forward and rebuilding their life.

Limitations of Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

A limitation of divorce litigating is that you will be subject to the court’s timeline unless you reach resolutions outside of court. That said, not every divorce litigation is a high conflict litigation.

A high conflict divorce litigation is when the parties can’t reach out-of-court resolutions through negotiations and need judges to decide on their behalf. Generally speaking, high-conflict divorce is adversarial, and the legal fees are higher than in mediation.

Choosing Between a Divorce Mediator vs Lawyer

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when choosing between a divorce mediator and a lawyer.  The decision will depend on the specific circumstances of your case and your personal preferences.  However, some general guidelines can help you make an informed decision.

If you and your spouse are able to communicate effectively and are willing to work together to reach a resolution, divorce mediation may be a good option. This is especially true if you want to maintain control over the process and outcome of your divorce and if you want to minimize the emotional stress and conflict. Many people find that the tenor of meditation and the communications skills it enhances and teaches help set you up for successful co-parenting in the future.

If, on the other hand, there is a history of abuse or violence, or if one party is uncooperative, hiring a divorce attorney for a litigated divorce may be the best option.

At Rigden Lieberman, LLC, our divorce attorneys can be very helpful in making you make the decision between mediation and litigation. We can give you a thorough understanding of the pros and cons based on the particulars of your situation and goals for your future.

Next Steps in Divorce: Mediator vs Lawyer

When it comes to divorce, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you choose divorce mediation, hiring a divorce lawyer, or collaborative divorce will depend on the specific circumstances of your case and your personal preferences. 

It is important to take the time to consider all of your options and to consult with an experienced divorce attorney before making a decision. With the proper support and guidance, you can achieve a successful outcome and move forward with your life.

By Alexandra “Lexie” Rigden

Alexandra “Lexie” Rigden understands that family law clients face unique challenges mentally, emotionally, and financially. Rigden Lieberman, LLC handles all stages of family law litigation, including trials, emergency court motions, as well as pre and post judgment applications. Every case is different, and Lexie Rigden & Ronald G. Lieberman will work to achieve the best outcome for clients whether it involves litigation or settlement. Request a consultation to discuss your case further.

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Gillian
Divorce & Restraining Order
Lexie has been my attorney since 2018. I retained her when I filed for divorce and again when I needed to obtain a restraining order. She is the best of the best. She is professional, honest, and thorough. I would highly recommend her.
February 15, 2022

Gillian
Divorce & Restraining Order
Lexie has been my attorney since 2018. I retained her when I filed for divorce and again when I needed to obtain a restraining order. She is the best of the best. She is professional, honest, and thorough. I would highly recommend her.
February 15, 2022

Gillian
Gillian
Anonymous "J"
Do yourself a favor and hire Alexandra
Alexandra came as a recommendation from an attorney friend and she was spot on. Alexandra kept me informed through every step of the process during such a difficult time in my life. She explained things in detail and always had my best interest in mind, even when I may not have realized it. As my title says, do yourself a favor and hire Alexandra.
September 7, 2022

Anonymous "J"
Do yourself a favor and hire Alexandra
Alexandra came as a recommendation from an attorney friend and she was spot on. Alexandra kept me informed through every step of the process during such a difficult time in my life. She explained things in detail and always had my best interest in mind, even when I may not have realized it. As my title says, do yourself a favor and hire Alexandra.
September 7, 2022

Anonymous "J"
Anonymous "J"
Ryan D.
True 5 star Lawyer
Alexandra is by far the best lawyer I retained. She did not waste anytime with me or try and drag out the situation for more money. Straight and to the point. Alexandra knows the facts that count for your case and is prepared and ready to fight every inch for you. She also is passionate and listens to you in completely so she can better understand what you are going through. I absolutely recommend Alexandra Kardon Rigden for family law or a DV case.
May 5, 2022

Ryan D.
True 5 star Lawyer
Alexandra is by far the best lawyer I retained. She did not waste anytime with me or try and drag out the situation for more money. Straight and to the point. Alexandra knows the facts that count for your case and is prepared and ready to fight every inch for you. She also is passionate and listens to you in completely so she can better understand what you are going through. I absolutely recommend Alexandra Kardon Rigden for family law or a DV case.
May 5, 2022

Ryan D.
Ryan D.

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