You are in charge with mediation
As we have noted in other articles cited here, the mediation process empowers clients to make their own separation/divorce agreement. This is true not only regarding the content of the agreement, but also with respect to the cost of the process.
In a traditional litigated divorce, each spouse hires their own lawyer and is responsible for the payment of a retainer fee to that lawyer. This payment is made prior to the start of the negotiations between the lawyers and can range in price in New York’s Capital Region between $3,000 and $5,000. These fees are used to cover discussions between the client and his lawyer, between lawyer and lawyer, court appearances and preparation of documents. After the retainer fee is used, clients are billed on an hourly basis, and this fee often can range between $300 and $500 per hour. Before long each party has legal expenses that can exceed $10,000 each.
With mediation you control not only the process, but you also control the expenses. In mediation clients generally pay a fee at the end of each mediation session. As of this writing, our customary fee at Capital Region Mediation is $120 per session. In addition, you and your spouse determine the time and date of each session. The parties usually are able to conclude the mediation and have the information necessary for a DRAFT separation agreement after three sessions.
The DRAFT separation agreement provided by Capital Region Mediation generally costs $1,200 to prepare, and you and the mediator determine when you want that to be created. A final copy is produced after you review and are given the opportunity to make changes in the DRAFT agreement. The final copy can be filed for an additional charge of approximately $900 (including court fees) when you are ready to take the final step.
Take note of the numbers. Conservatively, parties in a traditional litigated divorce end up with legal expenses that could exceed $10,000, and they have very little input in the final product. With mediation your costs are significantly less, and you are in control throughout the process.