I am not an attorney. I know quite a few, though, and I have come to understand the way that they are taught, and the way that being an attorney shapes the framework for how they think. Things for an attorney are very binary – either something is legal or it is not. A person can get away with doing something or they cannot.
There is little grey area in such a world view, and yet for many people, life happens in the grey areas between absolutes. Because this is true, dealing with emotional, difficult and life changing situations in a binary, black or white way can often leave people without a solution that meets all of their needs.
This is the role I fill. I am someone with a deep knowledge of the legal process but without the procedural commitment to it. I can work with people to achieve the goals that they have within the grey areas to create a lasting, satisfying resolution.
In divorce cases, an attorney can take two parties who hate each other and who want the other to suffer, and use the power of the Judge and the courtroom to force a conclusion. Sometimes this is necessary. Most times, however, parties simply want to have as painless and as fair a conclusion as they can.
If fair and painless describe the situation in which you want to find yourself, mediation may very well be better for you than going through attorneys.
It is certainly cheaper, and mediated agreements tend to work better than court mandated decisions, because people are choosing for themselves how they want to shape their lives. They make an affirmative choice, rather than being told by some higher authority what they have to do.
When it comes to costs, mediation can often be a better choice as well. Attorneys will often cost between $5,000 and $10,000 for EACH PARTY! In particularly contentious cases, or with some attorneys, the total cost for a divorce can be over $100,000. This can be ruinous, especially at a time where families are trying to set up a new living situation and to get themselves stabilized.
By comparison, a mediated divorce can often be completed for somewhere between $1,000 and $2500. This includes up to 4 sessions of mediation and time to complete the documents involved in the divorce process. This varies, of course. Some are significantly less expensive and some are a bit more, but that range usually covers most cases.
Since mediators are trained and ethically bound to be neutral, only one mediator is needed. This also dramatically reduces the costs – parties are not paying two professionals at a high rate to handle their case, but rather one professional at a lower rate to achieve the same or even a better result.
Alex Tillson is an experienced family mediator in the Portland, Oregon area. He specializes in domestic relations issues such as divorce, custody, parenting time and other family disputes. You can reach him by phone or email: