If you did not have a chance to read Part One about the range of fees for divorce mediation, please do so or be prepared to be confused.
The answer is X-Rays. Yes, that is right, X-Rays.
My dentist can see what is going on underneath the surface of my tooth and has a clear picture of what is involved. The roofing contractor can only see the outer layer of shingles, but cannot tell what lurks beneath the surface. Perhaps there is rotten plywood that needs replacement, or perhaps not. Either way, the roofing contractor needs to let his customers know that if there is plywood to be replaced that it will cost more. Hard to argue with that.
So, is divorce mediation like getting a crown or new shingles? Well, once again it depends. As the divorce mediator, I can ask questions early in the process about your kids, house, credit card debt, income, length of your marriage, etc. That is all helpful info, but I lack an X-Ray machine to examine the emotions that exist just under the surface. These emotions can sometimes prolong settlement. Other times, someone may not be sure what they want, or may want not want to get divorced at all. These issues can be worked through, but they may not be visible at the point I am asked the big question. We may have to repair some plywood.
That being said, I offer my prospective divorce mediation clients options when it comes to their mediation fees. For those who want to remove (most of) the unknown from the equation, a couple can select a flat fee option, or as I call it the comprehensive divorce mediation package. This plan includes up to six sessions, one full meeting with a divorce coach, detailed financial analysis and reports, and drafting the court paperwork and the divorce agreement. The cost of this program is probably about what a week in Disney World might cost if you stayed at one of the better resorts. It is also about half of what two attorney retainers for a litigated divorce would cost in the Medway, MA area where my office is located.
Some clients prefer the hourly option. I believe there is a tendency on the part of some people to underestimate the amount of time required to work through all of the details of their divorce and transition to a new beginning. I think this could be part wishful thinking and part not realizing the amount of detail that a well-crafted divorce agreement should contain. Using the hourly method, your mediation could range from a shorter stay at Disney World in a less fancy resort (2,500.00) and up. If you are uncomfortable with the “and up” part, then the fixed fee option is worth a closer look. Many of my divorce mediation clients that have a full range of issues to work through select this plan and are pleased with the value it provides.
Neither option is as fun as a trip to see the mouse, but the money you could save by using the mediation process in lieu of litigation could certainly pay for a nice vacation to unwind when you are finished.