No one, regardless of how extensive their financial resources, wants to spend any more than necessary on legal matters. This is another reason mediation is a good alternative to litigation. Mediation costs a fraction of a traditional, adversarial divorce. Costs of a contested divorce vary widely, but some experts estimate that traditional divorces start at approximately $20,000 and go up from there.
A NJ or NY mediated divorce can cost less than half of even a simple litigated divorce, with most mediations costing well below $10,000. Additionally, the payment structure afforded mediation clients is simpler and more manageable than for their litigation counterparts.
Divorce mediation clients pay as they go, at the end of each session, instead of paying substantial retainers up front and receiving monthly invoices. The mediation payment structure provides clients with both immediate transparency and control. Clients can manage costs as they are incurred, and have an ongoing awareness of the time and money spent on their matter. Sessions are scheduled around the clients’ preferred timeline, and can be spaced out over time, so parties can control their monetary outlay in a way that matches their cash flow and comfort level. Importantly, mediation participants finalize their divorces without facing a daunting balance of accumulated legal fees.
Litigation can often be so costly that it drives parties deeply into debt (encumbering their savings and children’s college funds). In a mediated divorce, resources are conserved so the future can be funded as intended – for the furtherance of the family’s goals! This is one of the ways that mediation protects families and follows a client-centered model.
Why is litigation so much more costly than divorce?
Once engaged in a contested divorce and well before trial approaches, most litigants find it necessary to retain counsel. Now they are paying two professionals versus one mediator, doubling or even tripling costs. The court becomes involved immediately, requiring responses, filings and appearances, all of which take preparation, travel, waiting and attendance time. The attorneys enter into written and verbal communication both with one another and their respective clients, toggling between the two, duplicating communication, all of which is billable, and much of which may not lead to any substantive forward movement towards resolution. Costs mount regardless of whether resolution forms.
Ironically, most of the early court involvement is structured to encourage clients to mediate a resolution. Had the litigants started with mediation rather than prematurely involving court and counsel, their efforts could have circumvented extraneous processes and been invested directly toward negotiating a settlement.
Time: Saving it. Timing: Empowering clients to manage it.
Once litigants are on the adversarial track in the NJ or NY court system, they are bound by the court’s schedule. The court system operates by its own calendar, procedural mandates and deadlines. Parties must conform to formal rules of court. Litigants will receive notices for obligatory meetings, filings and hearings. In NJ and NY, requirements include the filing of pleadings and answers. In NJ, shortly after pleadings have been filed, the court schedules a Case Management Conference, then an Early Settlement Panel, and so on.
Court dates are set during normal business hours, requiring parties to take time off work or reorganize parenting time whenever necessary. Litigation takes precedence over all other obligations, disrupting parties’ normal schedules and activities. Navigating the system and its administrative nuances is taxing enough, but when all the major marital issues are as yet unaddressed and unresolved, litigants can experience extraordinary pressure and a sense that their lives are veering into chaos.
During this period, parties proceed with discovery, which is the production of extensive financial documentation requested by the adversary. Litigants respond to interrogatories also demanded by the adversary, made up of a multitude of written questions, many of which are surprisingly broad. Each party is responsible for requesting and responding to discovery.
Mediation is different.
Alexander Mediation Group understands the maelstrom even a good divorce brings. We appreciate that our divorcing clients are facing enough disruption without further burdening their time or complicating their calendar. By offering evening and weekend appointments, we aim to accommodate clients’ work and parenting commitments and help return order to their schedules.
There is no one-size-fits-all divorce. Our client-centered approach respects each individual for their intricacy and their humanness. With guidance and care, our clients are empowered to progress toward a future of their own design.
Divorce involves ongoing relationships, particularly when spouses are also parents. When children are involved, clients can expect to interact with former spouses regularly, often for the rest of their lives.
The ease of these relationships can significantly impact the overall quality of post-divorce life. By promoting respectful interactions throughout the divorce process, mediation fosters healthier ex-spousal relationships. This is an important outcome with far reaching benefits.
Perhaps one of the greatest kindnesses a parent can do for a child is to maintain a thoughtful relationship with the child’s other parent. Experts inform us that the most damaging aspect of divorce for children comes from parental opposition and animus. Such discord often reverberates with children long after the legal action is final. A workable relationship between parents is, in fact, primarily for the benefit of the children.
Many couples find that, over time and with changed circumstances, the terms of their divorce need to be revisited. When ex-spouses have good working relationships, making future changes can be peaceable.
Alexander Mediation Group supports clients through their divorce and throughout the years ahead; as children grow, employment or finances change, and adjustments to divorce agreements are needed. Mediation offers a problem solving approach whatever the terrain of the road ahead. Our clients need never face post-divorce challenges alone. We remain available. Click here to learn more about post-divorce mediation.