Hiring both a lawyer and a mediator will not double your costs, because the lawyer and the mediator assist you with different parts of the divorce. In a traditional (non-mediated) divorce, lawyers give legal advice, draft court papers, and negotiate or litigate the terms of the divorce. Mediation replaces the lawyer’s need to negotiate or litigate the terms of the divorce.
Negotiation or litigation, and the related process of “discovery,” are the most expensive parts of the legal process. By making the divorce decisions in mediation, you will save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in legal fees. In most cases the total cost for hiring both mediators and lawyers will be less than the cost of hiring attorneys alone.
You have substantial control over both mediator and legal costs. If you can reach agreements with your spouse, both types of fees will be less. If a traditional lawyer-negotiated divorce would cost you (in round figures) $4,000, and instead, you spend $2,000 on mediation (which you split 50/50 with your spouse) and $2,000 on legal services, your total cost would be $3,000. For $1,000 less, you have a better quality agreement and a better basis for your future relationship. Your actual cost will, of course, depend upon the fees charged by your mediator and your lawyer, the complexity of your divorce, the number of disputed issues, and the difficulty of reaching agreement.