This information is intended to assist you to maximize your mediation experience. My goal is to assist you to most effectively and confidently represent yourself in mediation. In mediation, you will be making all of the decisions. Thus, it is important for you to consider how you can best represent your interests as well as get the results that you want.
How long will the mediation take?
Unfortunately, it is hard to predict with precision how long a mediation will take as it is based on numerous factors including the issues which are required to be resolved, the amount of external information or external assistance being received by one or both parties, ability to schedule sessions based upon the availability of the parties and/or the mediator, how agreeable the participants, and so on. Generally, for divorce and family mediation, we might meet between two and six times for approximately one to two hours each meeting. And could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
How much does mediation cost?
The cost of a comprehensive mediated agreement will generally range between $1,200 and $3,500, sometimes more depending on the hourly rate of the mediator. For certain types of mediations, such as HOA or landlord-tenant, this can be much less.
Though I do provide an hourly rate of $150/hr, which is a very competitive rate, I will usually provide my clients with a flat fixed fee (which is discounted from my hourly rate). The flat fixed fee is based upon a set number of sessions and a maximum number of hours of work I will provide outside of the sessions. There is a 25% deposit required at the time of signing the Agreement to Mediate. Thereafter, invoices are provided as work is completed at the 50% and 75% intervals with a final invoice provided prior to the final Settlement Agreement. In the event that additional hours or sessions are needed, these can be provided at an hourly rate or as agreed to by the mediator and the parties.
It’s a reasonable and straightforward method because it provides you an understanding of what you are receiving for the upfront cost as well, because how it is structured, you only pay for work as it is completed. With this built-in incentive, it allows you the ability to save money if both parties are able to work together in order to reach a resolution sooner.
For example, the below scenario would cost $1,530 and would include:
Two (2) individual online introductory sessions (max 30 minutes each),
Three (3) joint online mediation sessions (max of 1 hour each),
Eight (8) hours of work, including document review and preparation, party communications, session prep, and final documentation, etc.
Discounts are available as well as flexible payment plan options.
What if we already agree on lots of issues?
Great! The first thing that we want to do in mediation is to identify what you already have agreed upon and we use those points of agreement as a foundation for your overall Agreement. The standards that make sense to you on certain “easy” issues can often be applied to resolve other issues. We will want to be sure that your Agreement is well-informed and that you are aware of the many issues that you may want to consider. What is included in your Agreement is up to you. My goal is to support your well-informed decision-making.
What are our chances for success?
According to most statistical data regarding mediation success, approximately 80% of mediating parties reach a comprehensive resolution. The success rate increases as does the motivation of the participants to reach an agreement. Even better than this, approximately 90% of mediating parties will choose mediation, when dealing with another dispute in the future, rather than other dispute resolution methods.
What if we don’t reach agreement?
In mediation, all discussions and materials, with very few listed exceptions, are confidential. If no mediated Agreement is reached, evidence of the mediation discussions, mediation materials and any draft mediation resolution will not be admissible in court or any other adversarial proceeding.
What if we cannot agree on something during the mediation?
Disagreement during a mediation is not uncommon. It would be uncommon if there wasn’t disagreement on one aspect or another. When disagreements arise there are various techniques and strategies which can be used to help overcome these kinds of obstacles and allow the parties to find a path towards resolution. Being right or wrong doesn’t matter much in mediation. What matters is finding a way to resolve the issue so that both parties feel satisfied with the decision made.
Who pays for mediation?
Responsibility for mediation fees is an issue to be decided by mediation participants. Participants are encouraged to consider sharing fees to some extent so all will benefit from expeditious and economic resolution.
What about our own attorneys?
As a mediator, I am ethically bound to advise you to have any mediated Settlement Agreement reviewed by individual legal counsel prior to your signing that Agreement. In practice, I have found that it works best for mediating parties to obtain one to four hours of individual legal advice throughout the mediation process. This legal advice may be best obtained early in the mediation, by legal counsel’s review of a near-final draft Agreement, and by counsel’s review of the final Agreement. This level of consultation will dramatically elevate your comfort and confidence in the final agreement.
What about utilizing experts?
It may make sense, in a particular case, for mediation participants to retain mutually trusted experts. For example, participants may desire a trusted valuation of real property, personal property or a business. It is also not uncommon for mediating parties to choose to jointly consult with a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA), accountant or tax expert. Mediation participants with parenting concerns may find it beneficial to obtain the thoughts and recommendations of a trusted child psychologist. Mediation participants may choose to jointly retain an impartial advisory attorney who, based upon an agreed-upon set of facts, may render an advisory non-binding opinion on how a court might resolve any of the identified issues.
What if I have on-going co-parenting issues? Can mediation help with this?
Though mediation is not usually the standard method for individuals dealing with co-parenting issues, I know that conflict does arise and it can be difficult. Thus, I have begun offering assistance for individuals who need such unique or special considerations for these one-off occasions. Contact me directly to discuss various options and pricing structures that will help you work through these situations as they arise.
What else can I do to prepare?
Perhaps the most important thing any mediating party can do to ensure a successful mediation experience is to prepare for the mediation discussions by seeking full understanding of ones’ desired outcomes and perceived standards of fairness. Stated otherwise, “What do you want?” and “How will you know that it is alright to agree to a certain option?”
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