Two main types of professionals that offer divorce mediation services are family law lawyers and therapists/social workers. A skilled divorce mediator must be comfortable diffusing tense discussions and situations. Sometimes (but not always) trained therapists may have the edge over lawyers in familiarity with this skill. However, you are still better off hiring an experienced divorce lawyer to be your mediator.
Because divorce mediation is not counseling. Divorce mediation is essentially the negotiation of the dissolution of a marriage “in the shadow of the law.” If a therapist-divorce mediator has no idea what judges do in the particular court where your divorce will be on issues like alimony, child support and property division, he or she will be unable to be very helpful in giving the legal information so crucial to reaching a fair and reasonable result.
Why is a fair and reasonable result of mediation important?
Because, at your divorce hearing the judge will not approve any mediated separation agreement that the judge does not feel is fair and reasonable. Thus, a couple could spend many hours and alot of money on a mediated separation agreement that a judge in that court would never approve. An experienced divorce lawyer would know how to prevent this big problem.
The other big reason why hiring an attorney-mediator is the better choice is because the mediator also drafts the “separation agreement”. The separation agreement is a legal contract and it is very important to have it written correctly. If a non-lawyer drafts this contract, there will likely be mistakes and things that are unclear. Any problems with the agreement can become unfixable or very expensive to fix after the divorce judgment incorporates it.
In short, if you are looking for marriage counseling to save the marriage you should hire a therapist. If you are looking for help in getting divorced, the best choice is a lawyer-mediator.