The economic downturn left deep financial wounds in many families. The young investments bankers of Wall Street may be buying their first Bentleys but often the average American has not recovered enough to buy a new Kia.
Clients I work with often select mediation as their vehicle to divorce because is cost-effective. Frankly mediation is much less expensive than traditional divorce with each party retaining separate attorneys.
Mediation clients can facilitate a settlement agreement- how to divide their assets and debts, how to arrange custody if they have children, how to share pets, how to co-parent, weekly schedules and any number of other details. My mediation rate is $250.00 per hour vs. legal fees generally starting at $300.00 per hour. Mediation is usually paid for equally by the parties effectively costing $125.00 per hour as opposed to each party paying an attorney $300.00+ per hour.
Mediation encourages divorcing couples to collaborate together to create a settlement they -and their kids- can live with and support. I recently worked with a couple who had divorced last year. They were both still making monthly payments to their attorneys to pay off their legal fees. They both had thousands of dollars left to pay for the divorce. They were not making ends meet and falling farther into debt. They came to mediation to discuss selling the house the wife had been awarded in their divorce. She was barely able to make the mortgage payments, her utilities were about to be shut off, his lease was up for renewal and his rent had jumped up $200.00 to $1,000 a month plus utilities. He needed dental work done, his car needed repairs and her credit cards were maxed.
Both of them were working opposite but shifts which had become an issue with parenting time and transferring their kids. As we started exploring their options they came to a surprising but very workable solution, or at very minimum, a option to try-out.
They decided he would move back into the home as a roommate, not a spouse. He would live in the finished lower level of the house and she would remain in the master bedroom. He would pay $ 500 “rent” – in addition to child support- which would go towards groceries, car repairs, the dentist and monthly expenses. She would pay the mortgage herself as the house was in her name. The kids would no longer need summer full-time daycare or after school after care. The summer daycare saving alone would be over $ 2,000 a month.
Together they both would benefit financially, they could begin to get out of the financial holes they both were in and the children would have both access to both parents every day. She worked traditional hours and he worked 3:00 pm to midnight. They would rarely be home together during the week. Weekends would be an adjustment for them, especially if either begins seriously dating someone.
They both were very supportive of the concept and the financial benefits and were willing to become “co-parenting roommates.” I hope it works for them and their children. Perhaps they only lasts a month, perhaps this will be a long term solution. Time will tell.