How long does it take?
Every divorce is unique and so the time spent in mediation can vary. Typically, each mediation session is scheduled for two hours. Most divorcing couples, especially those with children, need between three to five sessions to work out the terms of their divorce. The amount of time between sessions depends on what works best for you – how much time you need to gather and process the information required to make informed decisions. If moving forward quickly is important to you, I can work with your to make the process as efficient and rapid as possible.
How much does it cost?
My hourly rate is $210 and I typically spend somewhere between six and twelve hours working with clients and preparing a memorandum of understanding. I do not charge a retainer, but rather bill clients for each meeting and for any drafting required. So the cost of mediation is usually somewhere between $1,200 and $3,000, depending on the complexity of your situation and how well you can communicate and cooperate with your partner. In addition, there is a $220 court filing fee and the cost of the state required parenting class if you have minor children (the class is $80 per parent). A lawyer is needed to draft your separation agreement. I can provide a lawyer to do that or you may want to use your own attorney.
Do I need a lawyer?
Some couples choose to complete the mediation process without consulting lawyers at all except for the drafting of the separation agreement (which must be done by an attorney). Some couples will work through the mediation process and then each will have their own attorney review the agreement they have reached before they sign it. Other couples will consult with attorneys throughout the mediation process, sometimes even having their attorneys attend some or all of the mediation sessions. The mediation process gives you the opportunity to use attorneys in the way that works best for you and your family. The choice is yours — but I usually recommend that, unless your family’s financial and parenting issues are very basic, it is best to have an attorney review your agreement before you sign it. I can recommend “mediation friendly” attorneys who will review your agreement appreciating the fact that you and your partner have chosen the less adversarial process of mediation.
What happens if it doesn’t work?
Mediation is voluntary so if the process is not working for you, there is nothing to prevent you from switching to a new process. You can each hire traditional lawyers to negotiate for you and to take you to trial if necessary. You can also select the collaborative law process, where you and your spouse each have the support and guidance of your own lawyers who are committed to a process that is designed to use cooperative strategies rather than traditional adversarial tactics and litigation.