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23 Jul 16

Is Mediation Less Costly Than Retaining a Lawyer?

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Needless to say, when a couple chooses to seek a divorce, the costs to the relationship can be extreme. Along with the couple’s finances being rearranged, the emotional costs to them and any children involved can also be quite high. In order to minimize the emotional as well as the financial costs involved in these situations, more and more couples are turning to mediation to resolve their divorce cases. However, is mediation less costly than retaining a lawyer?

Retaining an Attorney
In divorce cases that are not expected to be amicable and have very complex issues at hand regarding division of property, child custody, child support payments, and other issues, most people are advised to retain an attorney. While these issues can be worked out through mediation, it’s often best to have an attorney on your side who has substantial experience negotiating settlements involving these and other matters. If this route is taken, most people can expect to pay a minimum of $25,000 for the attorney’s services, and even more if the case goes to trial.

Collaborative Law
For some couples who want to have the services of a lawyer who can work out the terms of their divorce without going to court, a novel approach is having both spouses hire a collaborative lawyer. However, while this is slightly less expensive than traditional litigation, the costs can still be substantial. In addition to using the services of an attorney, each spouse will also be paying for the services of an accountant, divorce coach, child development specialist, and other professionals. Costing an average of $20,000, this approach can sometimes be time-consuming as well as costly.

Mediation
While focused on cooperation and full disclosure between both spouses, mediation is very similar to a collaborative divorce. However, while both parties are usually encouraged to consult with attorneys as needed throughout the process, the cost of mediation is far less than traditional legal methods. Because the role of attorneys is extremely limited in mediation cases, the overall costs are much lower. On average, a person will pay less than $7,000 for mediation proceedings, making it a far less costly alternative to other negotiation methods.

Court-Ordered Mediation
If both spouses have been ordered by the court to participate in mediation, the good news is that it will be offered free of charge. In these cases, the court will assign a mediator that has been screened and approved by the court, with the mediator often being a retired judge, mental health professional, attorney, or family therapist.

Mediation Clinics
Due to the popularity of mediation across the United States, more and more of the country’s larger cities have created mediation clinics to help those who are having disputes. Like court-ordered mediation, these community-based clinics offer their services free of charge to clients. However, these clinics are recommended only for people who have what are deemed as simple disputes, such as ones between neighbors or landlords and tenants. Therefore, if you are involved in a divorce or other dispute that has numerous issues, it’s best to work with a private mediator or even an attorney.

If you are involved in a divorce that you believe can be resolved in an amicable manner, then the less-costly mediation approach may prove to be one of the best decisions you’ll make. Consider hiring a NYC divorce lawyer today.

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