If you are planning to get divorced in Massachusetts, you may be considering whether you want to hire a mediator or a lawyer. You may have noticed that the most popular divorce mediators are lawyers, so then that can easily make you wonder, “What’s the difference?” or even, “Is there a difference?”
There is. The biggest difference between a mediator and lawyer in divorce is the role you hire them to play in the process. Let’s see how it works in practice.
What Does a Lawyer Do in Divorce?
When you hire a lawyer to help you during your divorce, you acquire an advocate. Your attorney works for you. Their main focus is to achieve the most favorable outcome for you.
The method of achieving this outcome will vary depending on the type of divorce. Regardless of whether your attorney works to reach your goals through litigation or an alternative process, they are still focused on protecting your interests throughout the proceedings.
What Does a Mediator Do?
Even if mediators are licensed attorneys, when they are hired to serve as mediators, they do not act like lawyers. They do not advocate for one position over another. They are committed to remaining neutral throughout the process.
Mediators might be able to explain the law to the parties, but they cannot give advice. Instead, they try to help both parties find common ground and reach compromise solutions.
Because a mediator is a neutral third party, many people assume the mediator acts like a judge. However, the mediator has no authority and does not issue decisions the way a judge does. A mediator is a well-informed counselor, trained to help parties work together to reach their own solution. But if the parties refuse to cooperate, the mediator may not be able to help them reach any agreements.
Using Both a Lawyer and Mediator
Because a mediator is not an advisor, many people hire an attorney to serve in an advisory capacity even if they want to resolve all issues out of court through mediation. They might work with an attorney to understand their legal position before starting mediation, so they can develop realistic goals. Or they might simply ask an attorney to review the terms of a settlement agreement before they sign it.
Many Attorneys Are Skilled at Advocacy and Mediation
Many family law attorneys are quite proficient at advising clients and advocating on their behalf as legal counsel and also good at serving as neutral mediators. Because they have so much experience in both roles, they understand how to make the process work well.
When you hire an attorney or a mediator, however, remember that they can only do one of those jobs for you, even if they are skilled in both. They are bound by the rules of ethics to serve in one capacity only.
When you are looking for experienced assistance, the team at Koiles Pratt Family Law Group can help with advocacy and mediation. Schedule a consultation to learn more about how we could help you achieve your goals.