You might think it’s a little predictable of me to say that in most instances, you are well served using both, but let me explain why within the context of an amicable divorce or separation.
A mediator is someone who is trained to help you reach an agreement about your divorce and property settlement, arrangements for children and defacto relationship settlements and both parties can use the same mediator.
A lawyer, on the other hand, will give you advice about your entitlements and likely outcomes if the matter went to the Family Court and will provide information and strategies to assist you to reach an amicable settlement. Each party must use a different lawyer.
It is really lovely to hear of separations where neither are required and both parties walk away satisfied with the outcome (or as satisfied as you can be when your relationship breaks down). However most people find value in having both independent, strategic advice and a trusted third party to assist and guide the process of agreeing arrangements. I have worked in Family Law in Perth and Western Australia for over 20 years. I have seen that if people are looking for an amicable solution, with the right legal advice and a good mediator, most couples can work out a fair solution.
If you both see an experienced family lawyer and get advice before you see a mediator the process is usually easier and less costly. The mediator is there to help you reach an agreement, not to give you legal advice or tell you what to do. If you haven’t had legal advice before mediation you may feel uncertain about making decisions.
Legal advice and mediation go hand in hand. We always have on hand a group of trusted mediators that we recommend to our clients depending on their circumstances and personalities. Ask your Family Lawyer if they know a good mediator and with this process you may end up avoiding court and hefty legal fees.