The cost of divorce mediation can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you are getting into or how to go about it in a frugal manner. Divorce mediation cost is affected by many variables which you need to understand properly.
One of the first questions many spouses going into a divorce usually ask is – how much does divorce mediation cost? While there is no specific amount for this, you will get a clear idea of the cost for divorce mediation at the end of this article.
Make no mistake. Hiring divorce lawyers for both parties can increase the overall cost of splitting up. Divorce mediation is a long-standing alternative option toexpensive divorce court proceedings. The advantages are spelled out here.
Why Pay For a Divorce Mediation?
Instead of hiring divorce lawyers and going through a divorce court to settle child custody, property distribution, and other divorce-related issues, you just go through a mediation process. The whole point of mediation is to get both sides to reach an agreement regarding points of contention.
The divorce mediation process is entered into with an implicit understanding between parties that they’d instead save costs and take a less contentious path to resolve their differences. A divorce mediator doesn’t need to be a lawyer because this person isn’t going to be making decisions that will be binding on both parties.
Instead, the mediator is simply a coach that seeks to be neutral while opening both sides up to potential compromises and settlements. As you can tell from the framing as well as the initial assumptions of divorce mediation, it not only costs less time and money but also provides a calmer and less aggravating approach to resolving issues in a divorce.
What Factors Affect the Total Value of Divorce Mediation?
Going by a well-planned divorce mediation checklist, it’s easy to understand the factors that affect the average cost of mediation services.
Divorce mediation rates aside, you may be wondering what do people go to divorce mediation for?
Benefits of Paying For Divorce Mediation
Four key issues often arise in divorces that divorce mediation can resolve. First, it can get both parties to settle regarding matters of child and spousal support, also known as alimony. It can also be beneficial in terms of child custody and determining which parent keeps custody of the children.
When it comes to assets and liabilities under dispute, divorce mediation can help both parties come to a mutual agreement regarding some sort of equitable distribution of marital properties and debt obligations.
Finally, divorce mediation starts as a negotiation process, but once both sides see eye to eye and are on the same page regarding who gets to keep what and what rights go to which former partner, the whole agreement is given the force of law through fundamental contract law.
Mediation can resolve divorce disputes much better than court litigation because it can reduce costs of court processes, expand possible solutions, reflect more complete information on the parties’ preferences, and foster cooperation rather than conflict.
How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost?
The cost of divorce mediation will depend on which type of mediation service you use or the mediator you contact. Also, it depends on where you will find the divorce mediator.
Note that all fees pertaining to the mediation such as management, documentary requirements, legal filings, and safekeeping of files will be charged by the mediator.
When you look at the totality of divorce mediation amount, there is no one-size-fits-all. But at the end of this article, you will see that divorce mediation cost range from $3,000 to $8,000, depending on different factors.
Types of Divorce Mediation Services And Their Costs
There are primarily three types of Divorce mediation services used in divorce mediation. The particular type you decide to use will impact on your average cost of mediation services.
Depending on resources available, you may choose to engage the services of a professional divorce mediators or settle for free divorce mediation or cheap community-based mediators.
Where both spouses may have a disagreement on what services to use, the court may order a mediation, whose methods will determine the total cost of divorce mediation.
1. Private Divorce Mediation
They are regarded as professional divorce mediation service providers. You and your spouse will choose an impartial, trained mediator in private divorce mediation. You could also use a divorce mediation agency, which would assign you a mediator.
Instead of deciding for you (as a judge would) or arguing for one side or the other (as your attorneys would), the private mediator will work with both of you to find solutions to challenges that need to be resolved in your breakup that is acceptable to both parties
Cost of Private Divorce Mediation
Generally speaking, a private mediator can charge anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour. The overall cost of private divorce mediation is usually between $2,500 and $8,000, however it might vary depending on the circumstances. Some private mediators will charge you an initial fee upon setting up the relationship
The cost of a private mediation is determined by two factors: the mediator’s rate (typically hourly or by the session) and the number of hours of mediation required to come to an agreement on the problems in your case. There are other components that go into each of these basic factors.
Per Hour or Session Cost of Private Divorce Mediators
The total amount you will have to pay for a private mediation service will depend on the professionalism of the divorce mediator. Prices differ from attorney-mediators and non-artonney mediators.
Using a lawyer or another type of professional to mediate your divorce has benefits and drawbacks. You should inquire about the mediator’s additional credentials in any case.
This may include specialized training and expertise, such as divorce mediation experience in your state. You should also inquire about if you’ll be required to pay a retainer charge (similar to a deposit) and, if so, how much it would cost.
Here are the various ways they charge for their services:
- Flat Fee – Which entails charging a flat rate based on the estimated time it will take after studying the intricacies involved in the divorce.
- By the hour billing – In this case, you pay an agreed fee per hour spent during the divorce mediation until an agreement is reached.
- Per session (Pay-As-You-Go) – Each session may comprise anything from 2 to 4 hours.
- Retainer Fee – A retainer is a lump sum payment required before a mediator may begin working on your matter. Your mediator will draw from the retainer, then request further money if a deliverable or milestone is met, such as once the memorandum of understanding is delivered.
Attorney-mediators typically charge a higher hourly rate of $250 to $500. The hourly amounts charged by divorce mediators who are also attorneys vary significantly depending on their expertise, specific training, and region.
2. Community-based Mediation
What is a Community Mediation Center? They are non-profits, or they’re associated with churches or some sort of charitable agency. When you can’t afford private arbitration or choose not to use court-sponsored mediation, see if your local community organization offers divorce mediation services.
Since community mediation does not require that you have an ongoing divorce case in the courts, it could be a cheaper option after your case is settled if, for example, you and your spouse have a shared custody disagreement and want to avoid going back to court.
On the National Association for Community Mediation’s website, you can look for a local community mediation center. Other nonprofits that provide mediation services may also exist.
Cost of Using Community-based Mediation Centers
If you satisfy their conditions, community-based mediation is usually free or on a very low cost. Some organizations that use volunteer mediators (who may or may not be layers) will simply charge a nominal fee to cover cost of administration.
These types of mediators can charge you much less. In fact, in many cases, they provide their free divorce mediation services at no charge because they get their funding elsewhere.
3. Court-ordered Divorce Mediation
Also refered to as court-sponsored divorce mediation, this type often comes handy when both parties are unable to reach an agreement through other means, court-ordered mediation is provided through the state or county court system.
Just because you’ve been ordered to mediation by a judge, you can always choose to hire a private mediator or mediation agency rather than one given by the legal system, as long as you can afford the fees.
This could be a more effective approach to handle all of the disputes in your divorce in one go, especially if some of them are interrelated (for example, when the spouse seeking primary physical custody of kids also wants to live in the couple’s home with the children).
Cost of Court-ordered Divorce Mediation
Depending on the state, a court-sponsored mediation programs may provide services for free, at a reduced rate, or on a sliding scale based on your income. Most of these programs only offer mediation for child custody and issues of visitation, and the amount of hours provided is usually limited.
If there is a fee, you can normally ask for a waiver if you cannot afford it. In some states or counties, you may be allowed to request free or low-cost court-sponsored mediation even if it is not mandatory. This service is usually limited to once you’ve filed for divorce.
Other Costs Associated with Divorce Mediation
No matter the type of mediation service used, there may be other costs that will come up during the mediation process. Most are associated with the private divorce mediation.
- Session cancellation
- Making and filing documents
- Mediation request filing
- Mediation sessions written record-keeping
- Case management fee
- Other miscellaneous costs
Divorce mediation packages and processes adopted
Level of animosity or understanding between the spouses
How complex your case is
In-person vs Remote versus mediation
Extra services and charges
The thoroughness of the mediator’s process
Who Pays for Divorce Mediation?
Oftentimes, one spouse pays the entire amount (where there is understanding) and is refunded once the settlement funds are available.
But in reality, since both parties would have to agree to go through mediation, it follows that both will have to pay the amount to facilitate and pay for the divorce arbitration cost. This is mostly the case where issues are in serious contest.
How to Save Cost While Paying For Divorce Mediation
Inquire about a payment plan. Check with your mediator about making monthly payments over a longer period of time.
Include the cost in your agreement. If a property or other assets are to be sold, the money can usually be used to cover the expenses.
Make use of a credit card. A promotional 0% interest card over 12-18 months could be a suitable option, allowing you to offset the fee interest-free.
Request a loan from relatives or friends. Although pride is swallowed, it is a frequent way for younger couples to afford divorce.
Paypal Credit is a financing option. This is a surprisingly quick way to receive a 6-month loan with no interest and no payments to help you go forward with your divorce.
How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
On average, cases are resolved in 2-3 mediation sessions. Put simply, both sides are allowed to present the items that they’re negotiating about and what their positions are, and once they see eye to eye after 2-3 sessions, a resolution is reached.
This scenario is not always the case. If there are many complicated issues or things are slightly heated, it can take up to maybe ten or more sessions, assuming they even come to an amicable agreement.
Please understand that divorce mediation is an alternative to divorce court proceedings. It is not a replacement. If for whatever reason, this option falls apart for you, you can always go through a divorce court.
Should I Pay to Consult a Divorce Mediator?
Since you may be planning or already in the process of getting a divorce, you are left with just these options. It’s either you and your splitting partner agree to see each other and come to an agreement and get it formally signed by a judge or you file in the court and slug it out.
In the end, you realize that the cost of the mediation is far cheaper than court proceedings. But as stated, divorce mediation is a cheaper and non-acrimonious option for getting a divorce. So, it seems very advisable that this option should be considered first since it’s also a legal option.
Then, considering the average cost of mediation services, it’s only reasonable to choose the type of divorce mediation which you can afford.