As you consider the divorce process, one of the questions that you will ask is about mediation and whether it will work for you. Mediation is a lower cost alternative to divorce attorneys and litigation, or it may be a part of your attorney’s process for divorce. Some states, such as Florida, require the parties to attend a mediation session prior to the courtroom procedures.
Conceptually, if you can resolve the problems within the mediation process, your costs will be lower, you will make the decisions, and you will guide the progression of the meetings. Within the legal courtroom system, the judge drives the process and is the decision maker. Which way is best for your situation becomes a function of what you hope to gain via the courtroom process compared to what you will gain via the mediation sessions. Mediation is not an easy process and requires diligence and time. Like anything else in life, it is what you put into it, which will help determine your outcome. If you are willing to devote the time, the period of negotiation with your spouse, quite possibly attorney fees if necessary, and the mediator fees, it then becomes a route that could be very successful. If you plan to go into the process expecting the work to be performed by others, with little preparation or facts, then mediation may not be the solution for your situation.
When looking at mediation as an alternative to lawyers and the courtroom, one of the major questions has to be costs, or, “what will the mediation cost me in comparison to the lawyers and courtroom scenario?” While this is also dependent upon the assets which you may have, such as children, homes, cars, 401K’s, and personal possessions, since each of these areas need to be dealt with be it in the courtroom or in mediation, generally mediation costs approximately $250-$400/hour. If the problems could be resolved in 8 hours, then the costs may range from $2000 – $3200 plus the cost of the Agreement, which averages about $500, and court costs, which are approximately $500 as well.
So, within mediation, it is possible to get divorced and resolve all the marital issues for approximately $3000 – $4200. If we compare this to the litigation road, the initial down payment for many of the attorneys will be $2500, and that would be multiplied by both husband and wife. So before the process starts, each side’s attorney will almost get the equivalent of what it would take to resolve the issues and walk away with an agreement under mediation. General costs on litigated divorces have been significantly higher, dependent upon the net worth of the couple. As we all have read, the higher the net worth, the more expensive the divorce.
So, will divorce mediation work for you? If you can put aside your anger, frustration and differences to sit down with your spouse and work out the Parenting Agreement, Financial Agreement, and the “who gets what agreement” then mediation may be able to work for you. But, if you can’t get over the frustration, anger, and bad feelings that dealing with your spouse brings, then maybe the court road is in your future. Don’t forget, the money that you give your litigators are the monies you could be giving your children, or using for your retirement. That choice is yours!
Howard Chusid, Ed.D, LMHC, NCC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board Certified Professional Counselor. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Circuit Civil Mediator and a Qualified Arbitrator. Howard works with a group of caring professionals who offer a cooperative approach to divorce and other family disputes. Each professional provides the support services necessary to navigate the many complex issues people face during the confrontational times that break up creates.
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