One of the reasons you put off filing for divorce was that you knew it was going to be a headache. Now that you have finally agreed to separate, you and your spouse have no idea how to proceed: what should you do before you are legally separated to avoid making decisions that will affect you for years into the future?

Do I Need Mediator or a Lawyer?

If you and your spouse are on friendly terms and want to work out the details of your divorce together, a mediated divorce is probably the best option for both of you. However, you should understand that the role of a mediator is different than that of an attorney. For example, an attorney can only represent one of you in the divorce case, so each of you may have an attorney as well as a mediator throughout the process. A mediator, on the other hand, does not represent either party. A mediator helps both spouses resolve their differences and works to find solutions before filing the divorce paperwork.

Benefits of Choosing a Lawyer to Serve as Your Divorce Mediator

While practically anyone can provide mediation services, it is a good idea to choose a mediator who has extensive knowledge of divorce law. It is worth noting that many attorneys offer divorce mediation, but not all mediators are lawyers. Here are just a few benefits of using an attorney to mediate your divorce:

  • No conflicts of interest. Since the mediator is a neutral party, both parties can get the benefit of the attorney’s knowledge and opinion without worrying that the attorney is “working for” their ex.
  • Faster results. A mediator may have to work with other parties—such as accountants and real estate managers—to get financial information in your case. Attorneys have experience requesting protected documents and following up if the information is not coming quickly.
  • Field experience. A good divorce attorney will have been “in the trenches” a few times, and has come up with creative solutions to difficult problems before. He will likely have helpful suggestions if both of you want to live in the house, are not sure how to split season tickets, or have other problems that the two of you have been unable to solve on your own.
  • Give legal insight. A typical mediation involves trading properties and assessing values. While you may have agreed to swap the car for the boat, the costs may not be even once you consider insurance, repairs, taxes, and storage and dockage fees. An attorney should have knowledge of all of the property laws that could affect the true value of your assets.
  • Prepare paperwork. Once you have finalized your decisions, a mediating attorney can prepare the divorce documents for your signatures and evaluate them one final time before submitting them to the court.

Most of all, a mediator should be able to provide answers that are specifically tailored to your family’s needs. Browse our testimonials page to see how we have helped others through their separation, or fill out the short consult form to tell us about your case.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington