Divorce Mediator Versus Lawyer: How To Choose

A divorce is never easy, even if you and your spouse plan to leave your marriage on good terms. If you’re considering getting a divorce, know that you have options. While many couples think they need to lawyer up, that isn’t always the case. Another option is to hire a divorce mediator. This is an excellent choice if you and your partner want to leave courts and legal fees out of the equation. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between a divorce mediator versus a lawyer.

What’s the Difference Between a Divorce Lawyer and a Mediator?

There are many differences between a divorce lawyer and a mediator. For one, a lawyer only represents one person or party and fights for the best interests of that individual. On the other hand, a mediator acts as a neutral third party who helps a couple reach a mutual agreement. Mediators also encourage couples to make their own decisions instead of giving legal advice. Mediation tends to be much more peaceful and private as well.

What’s more, taking the mediation route is much faster and less expensive. A litigated divorce with lawyers can range from $50,000 – $100,000+. Mediation is a fraction of the cost in most cases.

Is it Better to Use a Mediator for Divorce?

When should you use a mediator? It depends on your relationship with your spouse and the amount of money you are willing to spend. Mediation is much more affordable than hiring a lawyer, and many couples consider mediation simply for the price. However, mediation should be reserved for couples dedicated to the process. They must be willing to compromise, have discussions in good faith, and have a level playing field. Mediation isn’t the best option if one spouse is withholding important information or preparing for an all-out battle; or if there are issues of abuse or safety.

What Questions Should I Ask a Divorce Mediator?

Choosing the best divorce mediator starts with knowing which questions to ask. This will allow you to understand the mediator’s process and decide if it’s a good fit. Here are some good questions to ask a divorce mediator during an interview:

  • What is your educational/professional background? A divorce mediator should have an understanding of family law, family counseling, child development, and the mediation process. The ideal divorce mediator would have extensive experience as a mediator, be a licensed attorney, and be a therapist.
  • How many cases have you handled? A divorce mediator should be handling multiple mediation cases all the time. In fact, it’s better to have a mediator whose only focus is on family mediation.
  • Do you prepare all legal documents?  If your Divorce Mediator is a licensed attorney, they can prepare all your legal documents. Having a mediator with a licensed attorney on staff can make the mediation process smoother and faster.
  • How much will mediation cost? There are plenty of mediators who offer free consultations only to demand a large deposit and a high hourly fee once you’ve made your decision. Ask them upfront if they bill hourly or at a flat rate. If they do bill hourly, ask them for an estimate of time and cost. Most mediation sessions with an experienced mediator should not exceed 8-10 hours.

Is Mediation Better than Going to Court?

Mediation is better than court because it is faster and more affordable than filing a lawsuit. However, mediation is only a viable option if a couple can agree to compromise, act in good faith, and dedicate themselves to the process.

Divorce Mediation in Arizona

In 2019, over 21,000 marriages were dissolved in the state of Arizona. The majority of these couples probably ended their marriages through expensive lawsuits. But how many of them could have saved time, money, and stress by hiring a divorce mediator?

At Affordable Mediation, we have a team of fair and compassionate mediators with counseling and legal backgrounds, as well as a divorce coach. Our mission is to provide affordable mediation services to couples in Arizona that are going through a separation or divorce. Download our free Divorce Mediation Preparation Checklist to learn more about divorce mediation. And, if you are ready to hire a mediator, give us a call at 602-714-7447.