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Specialty tag(s): Divorce Mediation, Contested Divorce, Divorce, Pre-Divorce Guidance

Divorce Mediator vs. Attorney: Which Do You Need?

Lindsey Obenhaus | April 7, 2023

Woman lawyer talking to client

Divorce is an emotionally charged and stressful time, and there are several different ways the process can play out. Important aspects of your life, such as your children, your business, most valuable assets, and many other factors can all impact how your divorce will unfold. For these reasons, among others, it’s important that you understand the differences between hiring a divorce lawyer vs. mediation professional when choosing how to proceed.

Divorce Mediator vs. Lawyer

Before deciding whether a divorce lawyer or mediator is the right decision for your unique situation, it’s helpful to know what separates the two processes from one another. Both approaches have value and can produce drastically different outcomes for your divorce. Understanding the unique situation of your divorce can help you decide between divorce and mediation.

Contested Divorce

A litigated or contested divorce occurs when the spouses can’t agree upon how best to settle their issues to the point that they may require court intervention to resolve them. This could include contentious matters, such as child custody, spousal support, the division of assets, or the fate of a business. When debates over subjects such as these become heated and it’s clear that the spouses won’t be able to resolve their problems on their own, a hearing request (either a motion or a notice of trial) will be filed with the court.

This pleading is a way of asking for the court to decide these matters, either temporarily or permanently. Eventually, this will result in a trial presided over by a family court judge. While it is possible for each spouse to represent themselves during the trial, many of those going through a contested divorce make the wise choice to hire an experienced attorney to advocate on their behalf.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method and involves couples talking through their disagreements through a mediator who is trained in negotiating complex family law issues. When spouses enter into divorce mediation, they do so with the objective of resolving their issues amicably. Mediation may also be a less expensive approach compared to taking a divorce to trial. During mediation, spouses discuss the important matters at hand and attempt to come to an agreement on how they should be handled.

What’s the Role of a Divorce Mediator Vs. Attorney?

While divorce mediators and attorneys both attempt to resolve divorce issues, they do so in two different ways.


A divorce mediator acts as an unbiased third party during divorce discussions whose goal is to resolve, or perhaps narrow, the disagreement gap between the two spouses. They can negotiate agreements on behalf of both spouses. Though mediators will assist in these discussions to obtain information and ask questions, they cannot provide either with legal advice. It is up to the spouses to decide on final agreements during mediation.


Unlike a mediator, divorce lawyers only represent their client, not both parties, and it’s their job is to secure the best possible outcome for that party. This can involve providing their client with expert legal advice on how to proceed or engage in negotiations with the opposing party’s attorney. Divorce lawyers are widely used during contested divorces because their knowledge of the law and any legal proceedings pertaining to divorce is necessary for achieving a favorable outcome.

Choosing Whether a Divorce Lawyer or Mediator is Right for You

Choosing a divorce lawyer vs. mediator can be a difficult decision, but it’s an important one that can have a long-lasting impact on your life. If you and your spouse believe you can come to an agreement over important aspects of your lives, then it may be best in your situation to hire a mediator for the negotiations. However, if you feel that mediation would be unproductive, you may want to hire a divorce attorney who can litigate on your behalf. This will give you a better chance at achieving your desired outcome for the divorce.

When considering a divorce in Texas, contact Goranson Bain Ausley for a legal consultation. Our skilled family law attorneys in AustinDallas, Fort Worth, Granbury, and Plano will always put your interests first and work diligently to get you the outcome you deserve.

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