“How much does it cost?” is, typically, the number one question potential mediation clients ask me. The second is “How long will it take?” It depends. That’s always the answer, right? There are many different ways to go through the divorce process. As a mediator, I’m going to talk about mediation, for the most part.
The Parenting Plan
If your married and have children you will need to have a Parenting Plan created. In my mediations, the Parenting Plan is, typically, attached to the Separation Agreement. Most Parenting Plans take 2 hours in mediation to complete. However, sometimes they take longer. Why? Because the clients don’t agree on something. As a Mediator, it’s hard to access, on first phone call, just how much both spouses will agree. The more spouses agree the less it’s going to cost. After my 18 page Parenting Plan is complete I have to write up the document and send the draft to both parents to ensure I capture every intention they expressed and everything they agreed to. If not, I have to make changes. Also, sometimes clients change their mind about an agreement, at this point.
Next, the financials are considered. The appropriate legal financial disclosure documents are created and the financial mediation takes place. This discussion is about who keeps what, who had what before marriage and other considerations and exceptions that may take place once the mediation starts. By the end of the financial mediation clients understand how they are going to split their assets and who is going to pay who support, if any.
As far as cost goes, if you don’t have kids then you only have the financial mediation costs. If your children are grown then they will, likely, not be considered, so costs will be less.
The Cost Range
I can’t tell clients how much they will agree and how many financial disclosure items we will have to consider on their disclosure documents. I can tell you that I’ve done mediations for as low as $2,000 and as high as $10,000. I assume that mediation costs are shared so the cost would be $1,000 per client up to $5,000 per client for a total agreement.
The End Result
Some caveats to this pricing is that not all mediations end in 100% agreement. Sometimes, we agree on Parenting Plans and how assets and debts will be divided but we don’t agree on support issues. If there is a general feeling that we can’t resolve unresolved issues in mediation, the clients are referred to their lawyers to finish the negotiation. Sometimes, to avoid costly legal fees, clients will come back to mediation and work hard at resolving anything that is unresolved. Generally speaking, my mediation do end with a 100% agreement in place, between my clients.
Lastly, you have to have your mediated agreement written up as a Separation Agreement. For this you both need independent lawyers. While most of the heavy-lifting is done in mediation, the final Separation Agreement is a legal document that is binding. So anticipate some legal fees after the mediation.
If You’re Interested In Exploring Mediation
I do provide a half hour, no-cost, consultation if you are interested in discussing whether mediation is the right process choice for your family.