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Divorce Lawyer or Divorce Mediator: What Is the Right Choice for My Divorce?

Divorce Lawyer or Divorce Mediator: What Is the Right Choice for My Divorce?

You know that the marriage is over, and that you are definitively getting a divorce. You may be relieved, or you may be crushed emotionally, but the next step is to decide how the divorce will be handled. In Virginia, you have the following options for divorce:

  • The traditional option of each party hiring a divorce lawyer and litigating the divorce in court.

  • Collaborative divorce where each party hires an attorney and they all enter into a “Participation Agreement,” and sometimes additional professionals join the team, and where all agree that if they are unable to reach a settlement, the lawyers withdraw from the case and they will not represent their clients in the litigation.

  • Divorce mediation, where each party works with a neutral third party to develop the divorce agreement (though each party should review the agreement with an independent attorney by requesting a consultation so that he/she have the perspective of an advocate).

The litigated divorce is the most (potentially) adversarial model, and it is the most expensive, time consuming and public option. Collaborative divorce is an alternative dispute resolution model, and the goal is to arrive at the best resolution possible in a collaborative manner working with each party’s attorney and other professionals.

Divorce mediation is the ADR model that operates apart from the court. It involves the two parties working through and resolving the obstacles to an agreement under the guidance and facilitation of the mediator. Even if the mediator is a family law attorney, they may not offer any legal advice to the parties during the negotiations (though they may provide legal information).

Therefore, both parties will be encouraged to consult with a separate family law attorney to advise them before any agreement is finalized. Each party can work with an attorney apart from the actual mediation proceedings getting advice, guidance and coaching throughout the process, if they desire and they should review the agreement before it is finalized to get an experts opinion regarding its fairness, the alternatives if they do not agree and any rights they may be waiving.

When might mediation not be the right choice for a couple?

If one party is committed to conflict and is absolutely unwilling to compromise or play fair, there is little chance that these two will be able to come to an agreement. That does not mean, however, that you should not try. You and your spouse can set up an initial meeting with divorce mediators to see if the experience is worth attempting. Our team will inform you if we believe that the mediation is not going to be successful, so that you do not lose time, or have any added expenses. In this scenario, a divorce lawyer may be the better option for you. We have been successful in numerous cases where the parties didn’t think they could sit in the same room with each other.

If it is your soon-to-be-former spouse who has floated the option of mediation and you are trying to find out what it entails and if it might be an option you can work with, you can call Divorce Mediation Associates, Ltd. and schedule a consultation with your partner so that you can get all of your questions answered and make an informed decision.

Making the decision that it is time to end your marriage is difficult enough, then you must decide how you are going to handle the divorce process. You have heard all the talk about how divorce is ugly, and painful and soul-crushing, but you are sure that there is a better way. At Divorce Mediation Associates, Ltd., we are committed to facilitating a safe, respectful, and efficient environment to support you as you move through the divorce mediation process. If you have questions, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to learn about the services we provide, please call 703-665-7592, or use our contact form.