While a mediator does not have to be a lawyer, there are benefits to using one who is.
Attorney/mediators do not represent either party. They cannot provide legal advice. It is entirely appropriate, however, for them to provide legal information. Legal information could include how child support is calculated using the Virginia Guidelines or what custody factors the judge must consider per statute or an explanation of the legal terms routinely used in courts. The goal is to be certain that the parties understand what they are discussing and what they may be agreeing to.
Attorney/mediators who practice law actively will be aware of any recent changes in the law. This is important because such changes could have significant financial impacts.
In the Family Law realm, a properly drafted mediated Agreement can be used in your divorce case. For this reason, you want to have it prepared by a lawyer who practices in the local courts. This will avoid the need to have the document redrafted or corrected prior to presenting it to the court.
Lawyers also communicate daily with a varied group of people. They, in fact, are trained in communication. They specifically are trained to bring out the important facts in a case. For this reason, lawyers are great facilitators in mediation. Lawyers who are mediators encourage mediation. In order to make mediation available to more people, most lawyers charge a lower rate than their usual hourly fee. It may cost you no more to have a practicing lawyer conduct your mediation.
If you are considering mediation, consider using a lawyer.