running the numbers

Running the numbers: Mediation vs the Rest

How much cash would you save by using Mediation?

Meet your alternative — Litigation

Your alternative is to use an expensive, in-court process where each spouse becomes a “party” and hires an attorney to help you fight each other. A judge then issues a decision on various issues, which becomes binding on both of you whether you like it or not. This is called “litigation”.

Any litigation holds the potential for costs to spiral out of control. But the worst part may be when you realize just how little you actually get for your money.

By far the most time in litigation is spent during the “discovery” phase. That simply means the exchange of factual information between the parties. Let’s take a look at how wasteful and pointless discovery really is:

Discovery is a highly formalized process, where your attorney charges an hourly rate between $300 and $500 per hour to carefully draft various documents, including requests for certain documentation, and a series of questions called “interrogatories.” This takes time because the wording has to be just right, and they have to do legal research (which you pay for) to find the right citations that root their requests on a basis of law. Now the other side also has an attorney, and their job is to do their own legal research, and object to the form of the questions asked – to fight over the amount of information they are willing to disclose by raising legal objections to the way the questions were worded and their underlying legal precedent. Your lawyer is then in a position to do more research and do more drafting, while the other side does more research and more objecting. And of course, their side wants information from you as well, and the process repeats itself. For years. Do you see why litigation is always the most profitable route for your attorney, but the worst option for you?

Bottom line: $73,000. $350/hr for 4 hours per week, 50 weeks in a year. Don’t forget to add your $3,000 retainer fee!

Collaborative Law: Your 2nd best option

“Collaborative” doesn’t just mean trying to get along. To lawyers it means something specific — This method is governed by Chapter 61 Part 3 of the Florida Statutes, “the Collaborative Law Process Act” and requires at a minimum, the use of an attorney on either side and a neutral mental health “facilitator” of your divorce settlement negotiations. Attorneys in South Florida will cost an average of $350/hr, and a facilitator will cost around $250/hr. So this method means paying at least 3 professionals, with each of them charging you their regular hourly rate. Two attorneys and a facilitator could amount to $950/hr or more for the duration of your settlement negotiations.

Additionally, in cases that have some financial complexity, it is often recommended by the collaborative group that you also include a neutral financial professional, or “NFP,” who typically costs around $300/hr. They will likely charge you to be at every meeting your team holds, even the ones where they don’t say anything or do any calculations. You can read more about the value of these professionals here. An entire team of professionals may be useful in a lot of cases, and its always better than litigation, but the price tag can be anywhere from $950/hr to $1250/hr or more. An average collaborative case takes 4-6 months.

Bottom line: $19,000. $950/hr for 1 hour per week over 20 weeks.

Mediation: Cheaper, Faster, Smarter

People are tired of wasting money on a process that does more harm than good and is more expensive than it needs to be. Mediation is the lean, efficient alternative to settling disputes in court. Whether you are on the high or the low end of the income range, whether you have many complex assets or none at all, whether you have children or not, mediation will settle your divorce case faster and for less money, and with less stress and conflict than if you went to court. It just makes sense. And at Fair and Friendly Mediation, no retainer fee is ever necessary.

How can mediation be so much less expensive? We respect your time, have no hidden fees, and use a transparent, easy-to-understand cost structure. Mediation uses just one professional — the neutral mediator. We don’t divide you into teams. We cut out the lawyers entirely (unless you really want them to be there). We have no formal discovery process. When it comes to dividing up the assets or calculating the child support, you get a straight answer when the law is clear, and we work together on creative solutions for everything else.

Of course, you will want to make sure the mediator has the necessary qualifications to be able to do a good job. Most mediators will charge around $350/hr. An average mediation will last around 6 hours total over the course of one or two days. At Fair & Friendly Mediation, we include help with your document preparation. We make sure you know where to go next. We also talk to you on the phone for free and are always available for follow up questions both before and after the mediation at no extra charge. We are with you from start to finish, and the only thing we charge for is time spent actually mediating. The rest we see as an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to excellent service.

Bottom line: $2,100. $350/hr for 6 hours over the course of one or two days.

Visit Fair & Friendly Mediation to learn more! Or call us at 954-998-3247.