Mediation is a process where the parties try to reach an agreed-upon resolution of their situation with the assistance of a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who has been trained in the mediation process. There are a lot of different mediators out there. There are mediators that have been approved by the courts and work with the Office of Dispute Resolution Services. Those mediators charge $120 an hour, and that’s typically divided equally between the parties. There are some very skilled mediators that work with ODR. Other mediators are attorneys who have been practicing family law for a long period of time, and they can charge as much as $300 to $350 an hour, depending on their skill level. We typically use those mediators when there’s a lot of assets that need to be divided, or there are really hairy child custody issues that we have to hash out.
Mediation is ordered in almost every case, unless there is a domestic violence component. If there is domestic violence in the case, the court may waive the mediation process. Mediation usually occurs fairly early on, because if you’re able to reach an agreement, you can memorialize in a separation agreement and parenting plan, and your case can be closed once the waiting period has run. So I encourage people to approach mediation with an open mind. Most cases get resolved in mediation, and it really is an efficient way to resolve your situation. I have great success with mediation; in fact, I just resolved a difficult case today. So come in and talk to me about this option, and we can get a plan for you moving forward.