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MEDIATION FEES – STRUCTURED or FREE-STYLE?

HOW MUCH STRUCTURE DO YOU WANT IN YOUR MEDIATION?

One thing to think about is how “structured” or how “free-style” you want to be about your mediation process. One extreme provides highly structured, highly scheduled package fees, aiming for 12 hours and it’s done, (including your settlement agreement) if you don’t have minor children, or 14.5 hours if you do have minor children. At the other end of the spectrum is a more leisurely “Mediation When Convenient” approach that I call the “Free-Style Approach” to mediation fees. The leisurely approach to mediation is usually more expensive than the structured approach because it takes more time.

WHAT IS THE “FREE-STYLE” APPROACH?

Two examples of what I call the “Free-Style” approach may be seen in Family A and Family B. Family A had 11 mediation sessions over a two-year period for a total of 17.4 hours, plus 6 hours for their settlement agreement (23.4 hours). The primary wage earner of the family was in the high earner category. Over a similar 2-year period, Family B had 8 mediation sessions for 12.3 hours, plus 5 for their settlement agreement (17.3 hours). In Family B, one spouse was in the “very high earner” category. Both of these families needed the flexibility provided by a “mediation when it is convenient for us” model, and both families developed unusual provisions for their settlement agreements. It is also true that such flexibility simply costs more because more mediator time is used.

The STRUCTURED MEDIATION, PACKAGE FEES, and The THIRD WAY

It is totally possible to finish, and each year some of my client families actually do finish their divorce mediations within the parameters of the Package Fees as designed. But – completing your divorce within the time allotted for a package requires a fair amount of self-discipline to be exercised by both parties. Maybe one spouse is simply not ready for mediation yet, or maybe you or your spouse might need more time to complete a task.

With the THIRD WAY, you will start out with a Package Fee and then relax a bit, as needed. After the Package Fee is completed, you will have as much discounted mediator time available to you as you need to complete your mediation. Three-hour blocks of prepaid mediator time are $630.

If you and your spouse fit somewhere between a “Highly Structured Approach” and a “Free-Style Approach”, you will probably be best served by the “Third Way”. Whichever way you choose to mediate, when the process you choose is comfortable for you, you are likely to be well satisfied with the outcome.

Georgia Daniels, J.D., Mediator
725 Plymouth Rd, Claremont, CA 91711 | 909-414-2721

Los Angeles Mediator and Pasadena Mediator disclaimer: The California divorce mediation, estate planning mediation, family business mediation, or other family mediation information presented in this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a mediator/client relationship. Please contact Georgia Daniels for a consultation on your particular situation.

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