You want a peaceful and quick divorce, but you also want all of your expectations met. Sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t!
Deciding to get a divorce can be a long, drawn-out and stressful process, but the action of deciding HOW to get divorced doesn’t have to be. Two of the most popular, yet seemingly different options, include mediation and traditional divorce lawyers. Both have their place but are beneficial to two different types of couples.
Before we dive into what type of couple you are, let’s first discuss the differences between using a divorce mediator and lawyer.
What is a Divorce Mediator?
A mediator is an unbiased third-party professional for couples looking to file an uncontested divorce. This non-adversarial alternative allows spouses to end a marriage amicably. The mediator helps resolve the same disputes a lawyer does.
What is a Traditional Divorce Lawyer’s?
A divorce lawyer is hired by each spouse to represent and gain access to their specific client’s wants and needs. It’s common to hire an attorney in a contested separation where the couple doesn’t agree upon finances or child-custody issues.
Now that you know who they are, it’s time to understand what they provide. Let’s go a step further and dig into the micro-differences between each option.
Mediator vs. Divorce Lawyer Roles and Regulations
- Mediator – Spouses who opt for a mediator share 1 unbiased professional to oversee their divorce.
- Divorce Lawyer – A divorce lawyer is responsible for one client’s needs, so each partner must hire their own attorney to represent their case. This means you’ll hire 2 people to handle the divorce.
- Mediator – As mentioned before, a mediator is a neutral third-party. Their objective is to represent both parties and deliver them with a mutually beneficial result.
- Divorce Lawyer – Because each spouse hires their own attorney, their objective is to win the case. The goal usually isn’t to provide benefits to both sides, rather to get the most for their one client.
- Mediator – Think of mediation as a kind of divorce therapy. They want you to understand your motivations for the separation and desires post-split to empower you to make peace-focused decisions.
- Divorce Lawyer – Similar to what you see on TV, a lawyer often listens to their client’s wishes and responds with legal advice and representation.
Time until completion
- Mediator – Couples attend 1-5 mediation sessions together on average until conclusions are drawn. Within those parameters, the divorce process takes anywhere from 2 to 6 months to finalize.
- Divorce Lawyer – In a traditional case, both parties often work against each other until they finally reach an agreement. This often draws out the divorce and can take between 18 months and 3 years to officialize.
Client’s Out of Pocket Costs
- Mediator – The cost of mediation depends on how many sessions you complete before finalization. In most divorces, total sessions top off around $5,000 to $9,000.
- Divorce Lawyer – According to a HuffPost article, divorce lawyer fees are $15,000 to $30,000, with hourly rates typically running from $150 to $1,000. Keep in mind lawyers charge for ANY time spent on the case. This includes calls, texts, document organization, etc.
After reading this list you may know right away which divorce style you fall into. If you need an extra layer of guidance, it’s helpful to understand what type of couple you are, and which profession best suits your arrangement.
Types of Couples who Benefit from Mediation
- There’s no chance of reconciliation. Both parties are in agreement that they are better off separated from one another and don’t wish to ever mend the union.
- On the same page financially. Each spouse plays a role in the family financials and understands their budgets, bills and outstanding debts.
- The decision to divorce is mutual. The pair makes the decision to consciously uncouple together.
- The divorce is no one’s fault. Both parties take responsibility for their roles in ending the marriage and avoid playing the blame game later on.
Does this sound like you and your spouse? If not, you may be better suited for a divorce lawyer.
Types of Couples who Benefit from a Traditional Divorce Lawyer
- Unequal financial standings. One partner’s income is significantly different AND they disagree on how to allocate and spend money.
- Infidelity played a role. A spouse was unfaithful or perceived to be unfaithful in the marriage.
- One party is disabled. One party is incapacitated in any way and unable to properly communicate their self-interests. Disabilities can include an addiction or mental impairment.
- Custody disagreements. Children are involved and visitation or custody isn’t agreed upon by both spouses.
What’s right for YOU?
After reading about what a mediator offers vs a divorce lawyer, you should be confident about the course of action you and your spouse need to take in order to achieve a successful divorce. No matter what category you fall into, stick to these two guidelines.
First, keep it peaceful. Divorce can become three long years of being dragged through the mud if you make it that way. Luckily, you have control over how you react and interact throughout the process, so choose peace. Not only will this save you from a major headache, it’ll also end up saving money and time. Who doesn’t want that?
Second, focus on the children. If you have kids, the center of every divorce decision you make should be your child’s happiness and well-being. Think about how your actions affect the entire family unit to keep yourself on the path of positivity.
Whether you choose a divorce lawyer or divorce mediator, make sure they suit your budget, timeframe, and mindset.