Why Divorce Mediation Saves Money
the past 20 years, many couples have used divorce mediation because it
minimizes animosity and provides more control over the divorce process.
However, today even more people are seeking to use divorce mediation,
primarily because it saves them money.
The Overall Cost
In divorce mediation, the cost is usually between $1000 and $5000 -- depending
on the complexity of the issues involved and the level of disagreement
of the spouses. From my experience, and that of several other San
Diego divorce mediators, the average cost appears to be around $2500.
It is rare to exceed $5000.
divorces, the sky is the limit. Each party usually pays their own
attorney a retainer of at least $1500, and fees go up from there.
It is common for litigated divorces to cost between $10,000 and $50,000
-- for each party.
divorces, or a paralegal "typing" service, you may only spend a few hundred
dollars. However, you will not receive full legal information and
may end up in court later on -- fixing mistakes or addressing issues you
did not anticipate -- at a much greater cost.
In most divorce mediations, you pay for each mediation session at the
time of the session. Then you pay for the preparation of court papers
before each document is prepared. Some mediators require a small
retainer at the beginning to cover costs which arise between sessions.
approach, parties can proceed with the divorce at the same pace as their
finances allow. For example, after some parties have made all of
their decisions, they decide to wait a month or two before paying to have
the Marital Settlement Agreement prepared.
Usually, each party pays one-half of the cost of the mediation.
However, there are also many cases in which one party agrees to pay all
of the cost, or a higher percentage than the other. In some cases,
one party pays for the mediation as costs occur, then gets reimbursed
for one-half in the final property division.
divorces, the cost is often driven by one party -- who can force deadlines
for discovery and hearings on the other party. This drives the other
party's costs upwards.
See is What You Get
In mediation, most of the cost is for mediation sessions -- with the parties
and the mediator. The Marital Settlement Agreement is the main document,
which contains the terms created in mediation sessions. Revisions
of the MSA also involve direct discussions between the mediator and the
divorces, much of what you pay for you never see, including: legal
research, preparation of numerous documents, telephone calls between attorneys,
driving to court, copying and organizing documents. While many family
law attorneys try to keep their fees reasonable for these services, the
client may still feel left out of most of the process for which he or
she is paying.
of Fear and Anger
Much of the cost of a litigated divorce is driven by one or both parties'
fear or anger. This may be because of an affair, bad financial decisions,
substance abuse, or other issues which caused mistrust. However,
a party can still use mediation for decision-making, while using a consulting
attorney to advise the client, examine financial documents, and review
the Marital Settlement Agreement to protect the client's interests.
This is much less expensive than taking the whole case to court because
of fear or anger. Counseling can also help remove the emotional
issues from financial and legal decision-making.
As divorce mediation is a pay-as-you-go process, there is little financial
risk in attempting to use it even if you are skeptical. At worst,
you might spend a few hundred dollars on mediation and end up in court
anyway. However, there is a greater likelihood that you will finish
in mediation if you start. In that case, you may have saved yourself
tens of thousands of dollars.
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