Divorce mediation series wrap-up: Final agreements and the cost of mediation

A Divorce Mediation Case – Part 5: Agreements Reached & Review of the Costs

Bill and Angela have come a long way in handling their own divorce. We have been with them through their consultation with a mediator and their first four mediation sessions. Today we will be with Angela and Bill as the mediator helps them deal with remaining issues, and we’ll conclude this series by taking a look at the money the couple spent on mediation.

Dealing with remaining issues

March 14 – Session #5

After getting a value for the house, the spouses talked about other matters regarding the home. Now that the question of how much the house was worth had been answered, a serious disagreement remained about how much of that value belonged to Bill and to Angela respectively; Angela was arguing for a 50-50 split, while Bill believed that he was entitled to a higher percentage due to work he had done on the house, and the increased value that resulted from that work.

Angela said that Bill was just making things difficult; that he knew she could buy him out at a 50 percent split, but couldn’t at any more than that. Bill denied this.

The mediator asked for additional information. The information was shared, but no agreement on the house was reached.

The mediator brought up other matters, including: filing taxes, whether or how to share in the case of a tax refund or an audit; how to handle costs for writing the agreement, review attorneys, and the court filing fee. Angela and Bill reached agreements on these issues relatively easily, although both were still upset, and Angela especially was concerned about dealing with the house.

March 21 – Session #6

In their last session, Bill and Angela reached an agreement on the house, and tied up the remaining loose ends. Bill acknowledged the importance of the house not only to Angela, but to the children as well. He said that since Angela would probably be keeping the house for many years, during which time some expensive repairs were likely, he could come down on the percentage of the value of the home that he was asking for. Angela expressed appreciation for the work Bill had done on their home, and for his willingness now to accept a lower percentage (than he had demanded earlier).

Angela proposed that either:

• Bill walk away with more of the assets than they had already agreed upon.

• Bill take a small percentage of the house upon its eventual sale, which would likely be after their younger child graduated from high school.

The spouses reviewed their assets and talked further, ultimately deciding that Bill would take a greater share of the assets.

And so, the mediation ended.

[As previously mentioned, a separation agreement will need to be written. Bill and Angela have been advised by the mediator to each meet with a lawyer to review the separation agreement with them before signing it, which they have agreed to do. Shortly after that, the separation agreement can be filed with the court.]

Costs of divorce mediation

So what did it all cost?

Mediation fees:

$50 consultation

$3,300 for 11 hours at $300 per hour

TOTAL: $3,350

Other expenses:

$1,500 for separation agreement (needed whether people mediate or not)

The fee charged by an attorney to review the separation agreement should be relatively low, as this review is the only job that the lawyer will be doing for the client. There are no court motions, no depositions, no trial, etc.

Court filing fee (needed whether people mediate or not)

In mediation (as in litigation), there can be other expenses, such as when spouses decide to hire an expert, such as a financial planner. But when you contrast a mediated divorce with a litigated one, the difference in cost is often quite dramatic.

New York City and Long Island-based divorce mediator and collaborative divorce lawyer Lee Chabin helps clients end their relationships respectfully and without going to court. Contact him at lee_chabin@lc-mediate.com, (718) 229–6149, or go to http://lc-mediate.com/. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lchabin.

Disclaimer: All material in this column is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.