When a server narrates a special entrée or a featured dish but does not state the price I have an internal cringe moment. “How much does it cost?” I want to ask but I dread asking. My younger daughter just got her first job. I asked her what she would be paid and I saw in her the same cringe moment. “I did not want to ask, it felt too weird.” she replied.
The cost of a meal, a car or a service matters and is a factor in our decision-making process. Price is an element of the cost benefit analysis we all perform many times a day. We all do this but rarely talk about it. I know this is a taboo subject for many potential clients considering mediation. They are often very emotional, sometimes desperate, scared, tired, weakened or angry, just to start a list. How do you weigh the potential savings of mediation while wondering where your kids are or if the joint savings account is suddenly empty?
You certainly may retain an attorney before, during or after you begin mediation or not at all. I always create a written summary of the mediation session and forward that exact same email with the attachment to both parties. You may then forward that on to your individual attorneys or a drafting attorney.
A working estimate of mediation sessions schedules would be an initial two-hour session to review the working arrangement you have in place, identify and review issues or unaddressed areas and create goals and expectations. A second two-hour session would be financial arrangements and considerations. I encourage people to also consult an accountant or tax attorney. A $ 35,000 car does not equal a $ 35,000 IRA in the eyes of the IRS and I really believe professional financial advice is helpful and necessary when settlements with property or tax exposure are involved.
Two two-hour sessions with hardworking and focused parties can yield an incredible amount of progress. If you have no minor children that eliminates an often large area of conflict. Many separating couples can finish the process in two sessions.
Mediation sessions are “Pay as you go”. I collect my fee of $250.00 per-hour ($500.00 total) at the beginning of the session. The fee includes the summary report of the session, all my time outside of the session and any additional correspondence necessary. I do not collect a retainer nor invoice you additionally. I do have both parties sign a mediation agreement which creates a privacy shield for the mediation process. What is stated in mediation stays in mediation.
If appropriate for your situation, I do have different attorneys I refer clients to who prepare the actual court papers and petitions. They charge only for their time to prepare the paperwork. You can represent yourselves in court confidently.
Attorney fees typically range from a $ 500.00 to a $ 1,000.00 fee depending on how complicated the settlement is.
Here is the math: 3 sessions of 2-hours each total $ 1,500 + attorney fees of $500.00 to $1,000 is a range of $2,000 to $2,500 total plus the court fees. Your mediation process may be a bit lower or higher but certainly very reasonable.
Honestly it can be the cost effective. Every case is different obviously. I had a couple with over a $3,000,000 net worth finish in 75 minutes and I have seen couple go for three sessions. It all depends.
You have a high quality and supported settlement because both parties designed it and understand why it is sustainable.
Mediation fees should never be an internal cringe moment.