Every year, four to five million people in the U.S. tie the knot. However, about 42% to 53% of those marriages end in divorce.

But despite what some may believe, not all divorces are so messy they end in the courtroom. Most settle before they go to trial, saving both parties thousands of dollars.

If that’s the outcome you want from your divorce, a mediator or a divorce lawyer can help.

But what exactly are mediators and divorce lawyers? What do they do, and which one should you hire?

We’ll answer those questions below, so read on.

What Is a Mediator?

A mediator is a neutral party who facilitates negotiations between a divorcing couple. They don’t advocate for or represent either of the spouses.

Instead, a mediator encourages both sides to discuss disagreed-upon matters. Their goal is to help both parties reach a mutual divorce settlement agreement.

When Should You Hire a Mediator?

Consider hiring a mediator if you and your spouse want a divorce but can’t agree on child custody. A mediator can help by making suggestions on custody and parenting time.

You and your spouse may also want to hire a mediator to assist with marital property division. In this case, the mediator can help by encouraging both parties to be open about the property they want most. They may then suggest that you split the properties based on those preferences.

What Is a Divorce Lawyer?

A divorce lawyer is an attorney whose job is to advocate for and be on their client’s side. In addition, they specialize in providing legal advice, unlike mediators who can’t.

A lawyer can also help you throughout the entire process, from divorce filing to settling. They can also take your case to trial if mediation doesn’t work.

When Should You Hire a Divorce Lawyer?

If your spouse is unwilling to negotiate, a mediator won’t be of much help. In such situations, filing for divorce with the help of a lawyer may be in your best interest.

Hiring a divorce attorney is also a better option in marriages with a history of domestic abuse. In this scenario, one spouse may be too afraid to speak up against the abuser during mediation. A lawyer can help the abused party file for divorce and request a temporary protection order.

It’s also wise to hire a divorce attorney even if you believe you’ll have a successful mediation. In this case, your lawyer can confirm you’re getting a fair settlement and not giving up too many rights.

Also, consider retaining an attorney if you suspect your spouse is hiding assets. That’s against divorce law, which requires both parties to disclose all asset-related information. If found guilty, your spouse will likely pay you a share of the hidden assets and even face fines or a perjury charge.

Your divorce attorney can help “unhide” those assets during the discovery process. They will ask your spouse questions called interrogatories. They may also recommend a forensic accountant to do the digging for you.

Hire a Mediator and a Divorce Lawyer

As you’ve learned, a mediator is a neutral party who can help you and your spouse reach an agreement. Conversely, a divorce lawyer works for you alone and gives you advice based on your best interest. And while you can go into mediation without an attorney, it’s still best to hire one to help protect your rights.

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