Divorce Mediation Costs: What is the REAL Price of Mediation?

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Cost is frequently one of the most pressing concerns for individuals who are in the midst of pursuing a divorce. In many cases, the perceived cost can prevent some couples from ending an unhappy marriage. The specific method that you use to pursue the finalization of the end of your marriage can drastically affect the overall cost. In particular, mediation can significantly lower the cost, compared to other methods — including litigation.

What many couples really want to know is how much mediation will actually cost them. Unfortunately, there are several aspects that need to be addressed to determine the real cost of mediation. Finances certainly have to be considered, but your relationship and emotional tolerance also need to be addressed.

So what does mediation really cost? A few of the expenses are listed below.

Financial Obligations

Spouses who are willing to participate in mediation will typically find a lower overall cost for several reasons. First and foremost, mediation is frequently less time-consuming and costs less than attorney’s fees. Especially compared to litigation, the professional costs of hiring a legal advisor to assist you with mediation are substantially lower.

In some situations, there is even the possibility of working through mediation without an attorney. Tricky situations and legal scenarios may require the assistance of an attorney, and you may still want to consider enlisting one to help you get all that you are entitled to.

However, some couples find that they are able to undergo mediation, and it solves any potential marital disputes about assets and finances without legal representation.

What does mediation cost?

Mediators will typically charge an hourly fee in the same way that attorneys do. In a similar fashion, that fee will vary from individual to individual, and differences in education, experience, and skill level play into the cost.

However, opting for the cheapest available professional may not put you in the best position for a secure financial future. You should seriously consider the qualifications of the expert that you and your spouse choose, as this person will come up with your proposed settlement.

In addition, you may want to consider finding a mediator who can put together your final documents for you. Professional mediators who are unable to provide this service may charge less, but you will still need to hire a drafting attorney to prepare your documentation.

As a result of these factors, determining a specific price range for a mediator is difficult. Many of them charge anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per hour. Overall, the cost of hiring a mediator could be just a few thousand dollars, in comparison to the tens of thousands that are often associated with litigation.

Emotional Obligations

While many couples are eager to consider the financial implications of mediation, they tend to ignore the emotional and relational benefits of this method. Because mediation between cooperating spouses can be resolved in a timelier manner, it takes less of an emotional toll on the two of you. Certainly, it is less emotionally stressful than litigation, which requires you to wait for a judge to determine the final outcome.

Mediation can be completed so quickly that some couples are able to do it in just a single day or session. Others may require multiple sessions over the course of several weeks or months. During this time (however long it may be), both spouses are given the ability to hear the other’s point of view about the critical items in the settlement. When the lines of communication are open, it is significantly easier to come up with a solution that is beneficial to both spouses, as well as any children involved in the dispute.

Particularly when children are involved, mediation takes less of a toll on the relationships among family members. Mediation sets the stage for teaching both spouses to begin working on their communication skills in their new post-divorce relationship; that is a critical skill when there are children involved. Therefore, an ongoing relationship will be necessary. Aside from keeping these lines of communication open, mediation allows you to work through difficult issues regarding custody, visitation, and providing a safe space for the children.

Determining the REAL Cost

The ability to use this method of divorce is contingent upon your ability to keep communication open. Situations that involve bullying, abuse, or intimidation will not be able to effectively use mediation to come up with an agreement that ensures a secure financial future for both parties.

No matter what the reason, the breakdown of a marriage always has a hidden cost that can surpass the financial obligations. Though both aspects need to be considered, mediation has the potential to be a more cost-effective solution for many couples.

Perhaps the cost of divorce is keeping the two of you in an unhappy union. If so,  consider the lowered fee associated with mediation, but only pursue it if it is possible to speak openly and discuss potential issues.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.