What are the Costs of Separation / Divorce Mediation / Family Mediation?
NO retainer is required when you mediate with Nancy Caplan, Esquire. Mediation with Nancy Caplan, Esquire, at Maryland Divorce Mediation and Legal Services is charged at her reasonable hourly rate privately, or at the rate provided by law if the mediation is ordered by the court. The same hourly fee applies to time spent drafting your agreements into a written format. The total cost of mediation depends on the amount of mediation session and/or drafting hours necessary to complete the matter. The time requires obviously depends upon the complexities of the issues and the motivation of the parties. Call or email Ms. Caplan to inquire about her current hourly rate.
Parties entering mediation are not necessarily “friendly” however, if they both voluntarily enter mediation, it seems such couples are more focused on resolution than conflict. That alone makes such couples more cost-effective minded. Couples with minor children typically attend 2-4 sessions of mediation; Couples without Children typically spend 1- 3 sessions of mediation. Couples who want to review their written agreements before the attorney review will require an additional shorter session. Sessions tend to last between 2-3 hours.
Drafting the document for attorney review “typically” varies between 2 and 8 hours. The lower end of that scale usually involves the most issue-free cases with no children, few assets and mutual waivers of Alimony and Retirement assets who are seeking a Mutual Consent Divorce and therefore require a Marital Settlement Agreement. The higher end of that spectrum often involve more detailed custody agreements, alimony and/or retirement division matters; or the parties may simply have many assets or debts. Not every case is “typical” and sometimes a simple case evolves into a more complex case. Divorce can cause a lot of volatility and cases are often unpredictable.
Other costs incurred in separation and divorce mediation in Maryland include the costs of appraisals of real estate, personal property, business valuations. If there is a non-IRA retirement account, the cost of the order required to divide these accounts are typically $500/order and are completed by an attorney who practice includes drafting these orders (often called Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDROs).
The “typical” custody matter has typical conflicts but it is rarely conflict-free. It is common to have a difference of opinion about the Child’s overnight schedule. Cases in private mediation fall outside of the “typical” time estimate category where there is “high conflict.” Some examples of “high conflict” involve relocation of the Child to a place where sharing physical custody is impractical. “High conflict” cases also include those where open adultery is happening and the paramour is a prospective step-parent or will be living with the Child a part of the time.
Adultery, in and of itself can cause high conflict negotiations even where there is little to argue about. That said, it is worth the extra mediation negotiation time to diffuse, to the extent possible, such a volatile situation. Although it is true that many lower conflict separating and divorcing parties do seek out mediation, contrary to popular belief, the higher the conflict, the greater the need for mediation! Does a high conflict matter benefit from the introduction of adversarial attorneys who will escalate the conflict? Remember, it is not the adversarial attorneys who create the conflict, they are hired as adversarial, professional negotiators by the parties. It is the parties who choose their separation and divorce process, that choose to escalate their conflict by hiring the adversarial process instead of hiring a diplomatic negotiation process, like mediation.
An emotionally volatile spouse (or both) can delay settlement and take the matter out of the “typical” range. People tend to be less emotionally volatile as time passes. However, many couples seek the certainty of binding contractual rights prior to or soon following separation and therefore may feel waiting is not a good idea. Those couples may need to deal with the protracted time it takes to deal with an enraged or distraught spouse in mediation. If so, patience with the length of mediation process is sensible given the extreme costs of adversarial attorney-led negotiations and litigation. The enraged or distraught spouse may also gain emotional closure by being his or her own advocate in mediation.
A financially complex circumstance often requires a lengthier not typical mediation process. See also this website under: How is Divorce Mediation / Family Mediation Utilized in a Large or Complex Financial Situation?