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Can Parties in Litigated Cases Afford Mediation?

Recently, I was reviewing a discussion between family law attorneys about the costs of peacemaking (namely, mediation). I was expremely disappointed in what I was reading.

Some of the comments included the opinion that the courts should be awarded more funding for the administration of free mediations for litigated cases. Or in the alternative that the court system should maybe pay mediation fees to mediators because the parties are unable to pay attorneys fees, spousal support, child support and two households and then add on mediation to the litigation process.

I disagree wholeheartedly. It is completely up to the family law attorneys to set the tone and educate their clients that it costs far less to attend mediation and stay out of court whenever possible. If the parties pay for mediation in the beginning before the mud-slinging begins, there is a good chance that the parties won’t have to pay their attorney retainer fees AND replenish the retainer fees. Attorney’s fees can cost anywhere between $20,000 and hundreds of thousands on average – PER SPOUSE!! Mediation and collaborative divorce may cost between $5,000 and upwards of 35,000 per family depending on the complexity and ability to communicate and compromise. If parties cannot afford mediation fees, then they certainly cannot afford to spend their income and assets to pay 2 litigation attorneys to make court appearances.

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