The Differences Between Divorce Lawyers & Divorce Mediators

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys in Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsThere may be many reasons that couples opt to go for a divorce. Typically once they have decided to end their marriage, there are only two major ways to set about ending their relation. One is through litigation in court while the other is through divorce mediation.

The two most important individuals in a divorce case in those two respective ways mentioned above after the parties and the judge are a lawyer and a divorce mediator. Both of them though similar in importance are poles apart from one another in all other aspects.

Here is a comparison of the two leading professionals in different types of divorces.

How many are needed in a divorce case?

  • In a case of divorce mediation, there is a need for only one mediator.
  • However, a case of litigated divorce will need at least 2 lawyers.

What roles do they play in the divorce process?

  • The fact that there are two parties and two lawyers in a case of divorce highlight that each of the party is represented by a different lawyer. Their job quite simply put is to fight on behalf of their client in front of the judge using arguments to ensure that their party gets the best possible result.
  • A mediator on the other hand is neutral. They are not tasked with taking sides of either party. Instead the word mediation comes from the word middle, i.e. they need to stay neutral throughout the conversation between the two spouses. They are tasked with keeping the spouse on track and working for the solution. However they cannot influence or dictate the solution in any way.

How do they approach their job?

  • The task of a lawyer is to advise their clients as to the legal steps or actions that they should take and what they should do.
  • The task of a mediator is simpler; they only have to provide the clients with information as to the rules of divorce and financial information about the parties to help the spouses reach a mutual decision.

Time period for completion

  • A divorce that is fought by lawyer in the courts will typically type anywhere around 12 months to 36 months to complete.
  • On the other hand, a mediated divorce is typically much faster and can usually conclude in 4 to 6 months depending on the issues before the parties and their level of disagreement.

Outcome Certainty

  • When you go into a lawyer-driven divorce, there is absolutely no guarantee of which side will win and which side will lose, since the decision depends on one man only and he or she is the judge.
  • In a divorce that has an Orange County divorce mediator, there is no one winner. Both the spouses are in charge of the final decision and hence both parties end up winning. 


    To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, “What is Divorce Mediation.”