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Should I choose a divorce attorney or a mediator?

If you and your spouse are Virginia residents contemplating divorce, you can choose to each hire an attorney or you can together hire an impartial mediator to help you resolve your issues and arrive at a mutually agreeable divorce settlement. In its Divorce Handbook, Fairfax County explains that mediation addresses the economic and parenting issues you face, such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, and the division of marital property.

One of the advantages of mediation, however, ultimately can become its greatest disadvantage as well. That is the fact that you and your spouse are in control. The mediator can help you negotiate with each other, but cannot force you to reach agreement. Should you fail to arrive at a mutually satisfactory divorce settlement, including custody, visitation, and support of your children, you will have wasted your time and money and have to start from scratch with private attorneys.

Another mediation disadvantage is that since the mediator is impartial, (s)he cannot give legal advice to either of you or explain how you might best protect your individual interests. Nor can (s)he draft the actual separation and property settlement agreement or the parenting plan. The Divorce Handbook recommends that you consult with an attorney when going through mediation.

Whether seeking an attorney, a mediator, or both, you will want to find out how much experience they have, their credentials or references, if they have the time required to handle your case, and their approach to any disagreements that may arise between you and your spouse.

This information is provided for educational purposes, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: 703-836-3400
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