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Is a Divorce Mediator Right for You?

If you and your spouse have decided that you both want a divorce, you might be good candidates for divorce mediation. In mediation, the two of you sit down with a divorce mediator, who serves as a neutral facilitator, to reach mutually agreeable decisions regarding your divorce.

In divorce mediation, you and your spouse would meet with the mediator, who would help you try to negotiate issues such as the division of property, spousal support, and child support and custody. Each divorce mediator has his or her own preferences for how the mediation takes place. You, your spouse and the mediator may sit down in a room together, or the mediator may prefer to meet with you and your spouse separately, then act as a go-between in the negotiations. Divorce mediators do not make decisions or rulings about legal issues.

It is important to remember that the mediator does not represent you or your spouse in the divorce, so you should still have a divorce consultation with an attorney. Your lawyer can review the final terms of the divorce settlement and help you understand its legal ramifications.

Divorce Mediators vs. Divorce Lawyers

What are the differences when using a divorce mediator compared to an attorney?

An attorney represents you, not your spouse, and acts as your advisor, ally and negotiator during your divorce. A divorce attorney will advise you on specific aspects of the law and argue on your behalf during settlement negotiations and in court.

A divorce mediator works with both you and your spouse but does not take sides. Even if the mediator is a lawyer, he or she should not offer legal advice. The mediator helps the two of you communicate with one another and reach an amicable resolution.

Advantages of Divorce Mediation

If you are a good candidate for divorce mediation, you'll find that it offers several advantages over a divorce that is decided in the courts. Mediation will usually reduce your total legal fees. Mediation can be much faster. And mediation gives you the opportunity to come up with a creative settlement, if it's appropriate for your situation.

Disadvantages of Divorce Mediation

Although divorce mediation is appropriate for some couples, it is not right for everyone and it has several disadvantages compared to traditional divorce. Mediation is inappropriate for divorcing couples where one spouse has significantly more power than the other spouse. Mediation is also inappropriate in divorces where there has been physical, mental or emotional abuse. In addition, while mediators are supposed to be unbiased, it's common for parties to a mediation to feel as if the mediator is favoring one party over another. Finally, if your spouse withholds information during the mediation, you don't have the legal recourse that you might otherwise have in court.