A mediated divorce saves clients many thousands of dollars. In a typical adversarial divorce using lawyers you can expect to pay each lawyer an initial retainer of from $1500 to upwards of $10,000 just to begin the case. Even though almost all divorces are settled by negotiation before trial, most attorneys approach every case as if it was going to have to be tried. If it settles before trial, fine. If not they keep preparing for trial, a process that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. So you pay to prepare for a trial that is not going to happen in close to 99% of divorces.
Today, the average conventional divorce, using an attorney for each spouse, costs roughly twenty thousand dollars.
When you choose mediation there is no retainer to pay. I charge $250 per hour paid as you go. The average mediation is resolved in less than eight hours of work. Most cases cost less than $2000 to complete the mediation. And if you consult with an advisory lawyer, you pay for each consultation instead of paying a retainer. Then, you pay the lawyer to prepare the final separation document and put the divorce through the court. The fees for both parties for this phase are generally less than $1500. So in the typical divorce the total professional fees for the entire process are generally about $3000, less than most couples pay for the initial retainer fees. That is why mediated divorce usually saves couples from $17,000 and up.
There is an important second reason that mediation can save you a lot of money. We know that about half of lawyer mediated settlements break down within two years requiring a return to court to fight about children and money. Each time this happens can cost thousands of dollars for each party. And this does not include the emotional toll this post divorce conflict take on you and your children. The reason so many of these lawyer negotiated settlements break down is that they are not real agreements between the couple but rather grudging concessions worked out by the lawyers. The result is that the level of true commitment to the agreement by the parties is low. And a low level of commitment results in a high level of willingness to breach the contract.
Mediation requires the parties to negotiate directly with each other until agreement is reached. A good mediator keeps you working until you are both satisfied that the agreement is fair. The result is a much higher level of commitment to the terms of your settlement and a greater willingness to abide by the terms. We know that less than five percent of couples who mediate their settlements return to court within two years. Compare this to the fifty percent of couples whose divorces are negotiated.
Call me anytime you have any questions about North Carolina divorce law, custody issues, or separation and settlement agreements. You are under no obligation and it would be my pleasure to answer your questions.