With the heightened emotions (and sometimes anger) that accompany the end of a marriage or de facto partnership, many people believe that hiring a lawyer to put on the proverbial boxing gloves and to fight for them is the only way to go proceed through the maze of family law. Nothing could be further from the truth. The objective of resolving a family law dispute is to get in and out as quickly as you can with an outcome that you can live with.
That said, there are of course circumstances where this isn’t going to happen and you’re in for a long and expensive road ahead.
So, if you’re in the former situation, what’s best a divorce lawyer or mediator?
Mediation or Litigation
It is important to note that having assertive and smart legal representation can aid parties in limiting the points in dispute and empowering clients to feel comfortable settling matters, resulting in a good outcome. It may be the case that all you initially need is some legal advice.
So, what’s the best option for you? We’ll look at the variations in definitions and techniques when deciding between a divorce lawyer and a mediator in this post to help you figure out what’s best for you.
What is the function of a mediator?
A mediator is a professional third person (typically a family law solicitor or barrister) whose role it is to smooth discussions between the parties, encourage conversation, and ensure that they are working towards a mutually acceptable result.
However, mediators do not give legal advice to the parties. People going through a family law dispute can hire a mediator or have lawyers engage a mediator on their behalf. At Mediations Australia, we have both. This is unique because our family lawyers and mediators work together to work out what’s the best option in the circumstances.
In what circumstances would a mediator be the best option?
A mutual agreement on the desired goal is the first requirement for a successful mediation. This is what we mean:
- Both parties can have a friendly relationship throughout the process, but they must understand that a negotiated conclusion means forsaking their “best-case scenario” in order to achieve a compromise.
- Second, the parties should be able to negotiate amicably. This is a less combative procedure, even if they don’t have to be best friends. As a result, the parties must establish a baseline of commitment to an overall settlement in order to avoid deviating from the main purpose.
- Finally, all parties must be happy with the level and quality of the information provided in private mediation. Settlements in family law cases are most common when both parties feel empowered and have a complete understanding of their financial situation.
People frequently participate in mediations when they are unprepared or under-equipped. This can lead to a worse result than if mediation had not taken place at all. When there is an information imbalance (for example, one party controlling finances and not sharing all required information to comprehend financial concerns), the parties are not on a ‘level playing field,’ and the outcome is likely to be unsatisfactory.
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What is the difference between a divorce lawyer and a mediator?
Simply described, a divorce lawyer is a person who acts as an advocate for one of the parties. Their task is basically twofold:
- They give legal counsel to a party about their rights and the range of legal options available,
- as well as preparing and presenting their client’s case in court or mediation, depending on the situation.
In what circumstances might be hiring a divorce lawyer to be the best option?
It’s important to understand that hiring a divorce lawyer does not rule out the prospect of family law mediation. In truth, any expert in family law would evaluate all options for resolving a conflict.
A party in a dispute may not always provide all of the essential financial information. Mediation should be avoided in such situations. A lawyer can help a party get all the required facts so that their client fully comprehends their financial situation.
Similarly, the parties may be at odds, and a lawyer is required to ensure that each party is fully empowered to present their case.
Which is better for you: a divorce lawyer or a divorce mediator?
Finally, both mediators and lawyers have the same goal: to help parties going through a divorce reach a conclusion and move on from what is often a difficult and trying time in their lives.
Their key distinction is in their approaches:
- A mediator’s primary purpose is to find common ground and facilitate parties reaching mutually accepted conclusions;
- whereas, by presenting their client’s case, a lawyer seeks to empower, advocate, and secure the best possible outcome.
Each has a distinct function to play, utilising both methods and methodologies as required.
Ultimately, we recommend that if you and your former partner are amicable, then each seeking independent legal advice will provide not only a useful framework, but will take care of all the elements regarding disclosure of all financial information. Once this is all in hand, having a family lawyer that is prepared to hand the matter across to a mediator for resolution is the best outcome.
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What Should You Do Now?
At Mediations Australia, our family lawyers and mediators work collaboratively in order for you and your former partner achieve the best results in the quickest amount of time and importantly, with the least amount of expense. We have a team of family lawyers and mediators who can assist you in Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and all other locations in Australia. Get legal advice from us today!