What You Need to Know About Your Divorce Mediator

In California, there is no requirement for a divorce mediator to be an attorney. A divorce mediator needs at least 3 years of experience in social science, family law, or counseling services. Here is what you need to know about whether your divorce mediator should be an attorney.

Mediators and attorneys are distinct professions, so it is not mandatory for a mediator to be an attorney; all that is required of a mediator is knowledge of the law. The most effective mediators are those who have been professionally trained in mediation, are neutral parties in the divorce, know divorce law, and are knowledgeable in resolving sensitive matters surrounding divorce.

Related: Divorce Mediation in California: What You Need to Know

Mediator vs Attorney for a Divorce

There are several differences that exist between using a mediator versus an attorney for a divorce. Here are some of those differences:

The number of professionals

In divorce mediation with a mediator, only one mediator is necessary. When using attorneys in mediation, there must be at least two attorneys (one for each party).


Attorneys frequently give legal advice, while mediators encourage the couple to make their own decisions and agreements.

Related: Can a Mediator File Divorce Papers in California?

Time to finalize the divorce

Typically, divorces in which an attorney is used for mediation take about 18 months to 3 years to complete. In divorces that use mediators, this time frame typically lasts from about 2-6 months to complete.


A standard divorce with an attorney can cost about $20,000-$30,000. If the divorce case goes to trial, a divorce with an attorney can cost up to $200,000. The cost of a mediated divorce typically costs from $7,000-$10,000.

Certainty of outcome

A lawyer-driven divorce is risky due to the fact that there is no guarantee that a judge will rule in favor of one side over another. Attorneys can use strategies to confuse or manipulate the opposite party, which could result in undesirable outcomes for the divorce settlement. In a divorce that uses a mediator, the couple outlines the terms of the agreement, and both individuals are able to have a direct say in their divorce agreement.


Using a mediator for a divorce is a cooperative effort between the parties, which makes the divorce process simple. Using an attorney for a divorce on the other hand is typically not a stress-free experience, and can cause the couple to have to deal with many frustrations.


Using a mediator for a divorce is totally private and confidential. Using an attorney, on the other hand, is a matter of public record which can compromise privacy.

Contact Us

If you have any more questions about whether your divorce mediator should be an attorney, contact us. Get your free consultation with one of our experienced Divorce Mediation Attorneys to discuss other options for your unique legal situation!