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Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer for Divorce Mediation?

Jim Robenalt Dec. 13, 2023

Did you know that there are over 630,000 divorces in the United States each year? That’s, unfortunately, over a third of the number of marriages that happen each year. This isn’t meant to scare you, it’s meant to let you know that divorce is quite common.

And if you’re experiencing a divorce, Cleveland divorce mediation might be right for you. Yes, we know, most people automatically assume they’ll need a lawyer. In fact, most people going through a divorce will wonder if they need to hire a lawyer. 

The answer to this question depends on the situation. In some cases, hiring a lawyer is necessary, while in most cases, divorce mediation is a much easier and more cost-effective option.

Keep reading to learn more about when you might need a lawyer for divorce mediation and when it’s fine to simply work with a Cleveland divorce mediator.

What Is Cleveland Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a process where a trained professional, called a mediator, helps divorcing couples come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce. 

The mediator does not take sides or make decisions for the couple, but rather facilitates communication and helps them reach a mutually agreed upon divorce settlement. 

This sounds useful, right? If you live in Cleveland, for example, Cleveland divorce mediation can be used to resolve disagreements. This includes issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and division of property.

This makes it often quicker and less expensive than traditional divorce litigation. It can also be less emotionally charged since the couple is working together to reach an agreement. 

While not all divorces can be successfully mediated, it can be an effective way to settle disagreements and move on with your life.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Divorce Mediation?

Okay, so you’re going to opt for mediation instead of going through the regular divorce proceeding. Do you even need a lawyer then? Nope, you technically don’t!

However, you might want one. While mediation is often successful, there are some instances where hiring a lawyer may be necessary. If you have complex financial issues, if there are issues of domestic violence, or if you simply feel uncomfortable mediating without legal representation, then you should consider hiring a lawyer. 

A lawyer can help to protect your interests and make sure that the mediation process is fair. In the end, whether or not you need a lawyer for divorce mediation depends on your individual situation. If you have any doubts, it is always best to consult with an attorney.

Ultimately, the goal of divorce mediation is to help do away with the need to hire an expensive attorney, though.

When Is a Lawyer Recommended for Divorce Mediation?

So, you definitely don’t need a lawyer for divorce mediation, but when might it be necessary?

When both parties have something to lose in a divorce, it may be best to seek legal counsel. This can help them protect their interests.

Likewise, when there is a significant disparity in the earning potential of the spouses, or when one party owns most of the assets, it is advisable to have an attorney represent you in mediation.

Custody battles can be particularly tricky as well. When custody of minor children is an issue, it is also important to have an attorney to represent your interests and those of your children. 

In addition, when there are issues of domestic violence or substance abuse involved, it is best to have an attorney present. 

The bottom line? When both parties are in agreement on the terms of the divorce, mediation can be a cost-effective way to dissolve the marriage. However, when there are complex issues at stake, it is best to consult with an attorney before proceeding with mediation.

Benefits of Divorce Mediation

What are the benefits of divorce mediation compared to regular divorce proceedings? Whether you hire a lawyer to be present and help guide you through the process or not, mediation is often faster and less expensive than traditional divorce proceedings

In addition, mediation gives both parties more control over the outcome of their divorce. Rather than leaving decisions up to a judge, who may not be familiar with the unique details of your case, you and your spouse can work together to reach an agreement.

When working with the right mediator, this agreement best meets both of your needs. If you are considering divorce, mediation ultimately may be a good option for you.

What to Expect During the Divorce Mediation Process

The divorce mediation process can be a confusing and stressful time for couples who are splitting up. However, by understanding what to expect during mediation, couples can help make the process go more smoothly.

So whether you hire a lawyer or simply work with an attorney-turned-mediator, what can you expect from the Cleveland divorce mediation process?

During divorce mediation, a mediator will meet with the couple to help them resolve their differences. The mediator will listen to both sides and help the couple come to an agreement on issues such as child custody, property division, and alimony. 

It’s important to know that the mediator won’t make decisions for you as the couple, but rather helps you reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

How to Select the Right Divorce Mediator

Now that you know that you don’t need a lawyer for Cleveland divorce mediation, how do you go about selecting the right mediator to work with? Well, it helps to understand that most mediators were previously lawyers or currently still are.

At Next Page Mediation, for example, our mediator and founder Jim Robenalt is a practicing attorney in Ohio. He went to Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and was the Chief Managing Editor of the Ohio State Law Journal.

This isn’t the case for all mediators, though, which is why it’s important to choose wisely. When you can, choose to work with a mediator that has legal experience. This will further help both parties reach a fair agreement in a way that is legally beneficial to both.

Aside from legal know-how and experience with divorce law, what else should you be looking for?

First, it is important to choose a mediator who is impartial and objective. Additionally, you should select a mediator who has experience mediating divorces. 

Experience is key as this type of mediation can get quite emotionally charged and a great mediator will know how to diffuse situations with professionalism and ease.

Likewise, you should choose a mediator who is a good communicator and who has the ability to help you and your spouse understand each other’s point of view. This means that they should be comfortable with conflict and who can help you and your spouse resolve your differences in a constructive way.

By considering these factors, you can be sure that you select the right divorce mediator for your needs.

How to Get the Most Out of Divorce Mediation

Thinking that working with a divorce mediator instead of a lawyer sounds right for you and your partner? Here are four tips to help you determine if mediation is right for you and how to get the most out of the process.

Understand What Mediation Is

We’ve gone through this above, but mediation is a process in which a neutral third-party facilitator helps divorcing spouses reach agreements on various issues.

The mediator won’t make decisions or impose solutions. This is a common misconception that most couples seem to have. Instead, they help the couple communicate and negotiate with each other to reach mutual understanding and agreements.

Determine If Mediation Is Right For You 

Mediation is not right for every divorce; some couples are simply too far apart on key issues to benefit from the process. Mediation is also not appropriate if there is a history of domestic violence or other coercive behaviors. 

If you are unsure if mediation is right for you, consult with an experienced divorce attorney or divorce mediator who can help you assess your situation.

Find a Qualified Mediator

Not all mediators are created equal; it is important to find a mediator who is experienced in handling divorces and who has received training in mediation techniques. Try first following the tips laid out above.

Or, you can ask your attorney for referrals, or look for mediators who are certified by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers or the Association for Conflict Resolution.

Be Prepared to Compromise

In mediation, each spouse will need to be willing to give up something in order to reach an agreement. If you go into mediation with the mindset that you must have everything your way, you’re going to be disappointed. 

Instead, try to focus on finding solutions that meet both of your needs as much as possible.  

When it comes down to it, mediation can help reduce stress, simplify paperwork and save time and money. However, that’s only the case if both parties are committed and willing to communicate efficiently throughout the process.

Mediation Is the Future of Divorce

Mediation can be a peaceful, cost-effective form of ending a marriage. If you’re interested in Cleveland divorce mediation services then please get in touch. 

We offer free 30-minute consultations where we’ll assess your situation.