mediator should make the Parties aware of the
importance of consulting other professionals to help
them make informed choices."
NJAPM Standards of Conduct for Mediators
look forward to working with your attorney on your
case. While the choice of attorney is your
decision, your case will usually go more smoothly if
you retain an attorney who is supportive of
Being supportive of mediation includes not
duplicating the efforts of the mediation process,
advising you between mediation sessions, having a
willingness to attend joint mediation sessions if
necessary, providing you with a realistic view of
your case, and having a focus toward a fair
settlement versus a win-lose scenario
maintain a list of mediation-friendly attorneys;
there are never any referral fees or financial
benefits to us from a referral. Please feel
free to email us for a copy of that list to
You might find our article,
Choosing a Matrimonial Attorney - A Mediator's
Perspective, helpful. Here are some
quotes: "It is recommended that you interview at
least three law firms before choosing an attorney...
Selecting the wrong lawyer can cost you untold
aggravation and expense. You are paying the
bills and you will have to live the results...
So be a smart consumer and do your due diligence
before you make this important decision"
Be wary of guidance from the Greek chorus advising
you to retain the most aggressive SOB... if you need
convincing, read Lee Borden's
Open Letter from a (Gladiator) Divorce Attorney
Howard Yahm's addresses the issue of the adversarial
legal process and "divorced induced regression" in
Divorce Induced Emotions and the Healing Paradigm
also visit our
Resources page for links to other divorce
sites that provide information about attorney choice
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mediation Including
Fees and Legal Representation
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a court-approved
process in which an impartial trained person, called a
mediator, encourages and facilitates the resolution of a
dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal,
client-centered, non-adversarial process, with the objective
of helping parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary
agreement. 90% of clients who voluntarily choose mediation
are able to come to an agreement. Mediation clients
self-select to succeed. Why not you?
What is the Role of the Mediator?
A mediator is a neutral third
party trained to help facilitate a resolution to a dispute. The
role of the mediator is to help clients explore options and
their consequences. The mediator brings
knowledge and experience that can provide a context for
decision making. The mediator does not make decisions for,
or impose decisions on clients.
What is the Role of the Attorney in Mediation?
The role of the attorney is to
advise their client and also prepare their legal documents.
In some cases, clients retain representation during or after the mediation, while in other cases,
clients come to mediation following retaining an attorney.
In most cases, clients meet with the
mediator, but confer with their attorneys between sessions
or following the mediation.
However, there are cases where the attorneys play a more
Each case is different. You can work with the mediator
and your attorney to decide which model of mediation makes
sense for your case.
Why Shouldn't the Mediator Also Serve as Attorney?
In New Jersey and New York, an
attorney can only represent one party to a dispute.
Even if your mediator is an attorney, if he/she mediates
your dispute and then represents one of you (since he/she
cannot represent both parties), there would be a
conflict of interest about who is his/her client. In
this situation, you would also never get the benefit of a
second set of eyes to review your agreement for accuracy.
And, if you had to return to mediation at a later date,
there would always be a question of the mediator's
neutrality after he/she has represented one of you in court
Why Shouldn't I litigate?
Nearly all cases (97+%) settle
sooner or later without going to trial. And, for both
family/divorce and business/civil disputes in New Jersey, in
all likelihood, the court will order you to attend private
mediation at some point in your case. You can save
yourself tens of thousands of dollars of legal costs by
starting the mediation process early. Does it really make sense to
invest large sums in a litigation process that will
eventually lead to a similar resolution, but with financial and
emotional costs that may never be recovered?
What are Some Advantages of Mediation?
Mediation helps promote cooperation and self-determination -
results that will continue to reap benefits well past the
period of controversy. The process helps eliminate the
win-lose atmosphere that is part of many disputes.
Other advantages of mediation over litigation include:
is generally faster and less costly
is voluntary, private and confidential
facilitates creative and realistic solutions
allows parties to control their agreements
eliminates a win-lose atmosphere and result
provides a forum for addressing future disputes
fosters communication and helps mend relationships
What if I Am Already Involved in a Litigation?
It is never too late to move
from the litigation process to mediation - to use mediation
to address those remaining issues that would benefit from a
focus on interests not positions. It is never too late to
change the tenor of your dispute resolution process to one
that treats the other party with respect and
dignity. There is no benefit to throwing good money
after bad. If the litigation process is not working
for you, please consider coming in with your former partner for a free consultation.
What Fees/Costs Can I Anticipate from Mediation with Your
Our affordable billing rate
of $360 an hour for new cases is below the industry average
and reflects our active efforts to manage our overhead
costs, and our commitment to providing cost-effective
services. You can compare billing rates for mediators
on the Family Court Roster of Economic Mediators by clicking
www.njcourts.gov/courts/family/family-econ-mediation#toc-mediators-by-county. Because we know what we are doing and
because of our
structured but flexible
approach - with almost all chargeable hours except the
drafting of the Memorandum of Understanding from session
time, we will facilitate your case with the minimum
number of billable hours. We aim for total
transparency and invite your questions on fees/costs as well
as other concerns you may have.
Please see our
Divorce Mediation page for more details on this process
and deliverables. The cost of your mediation will
depend on the number of hours worked on your case; this in
turns will depend on a number of factors including the
complexity of your case, the timely production of
your documents, the level of conflict, and your willingness to come
to an agreement. We have
handled divorce cases with assets from $0 to $12 million, and
annual earnings from minimum wage to $5 million. In
mediation, there are no retainer fees, and you pay for each
session on a pay as you go basis, allowing you to maintain
control of the expenses of your case.
What Savings Can I Anticipate from Mediation?
The total cost of mediation
combined with lawyers' fees is often less than one-third the
cost of a divorce settlement negotiated by counsel.
For middle-class W-2 employees
total mediation fees are
usually in the $2,000 to $3,000 range. This includes
four to five 90-minute sessions,
preparation of child support guidelines and a parenting plan,
a description of the division of your division of assets and
liabilities, and the time to write your Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU). If you don't have children, you might be able
to complete the mediation process in three sessions; if you
have a complex case, you might need more than five sessions. We have
found that attorneys charge lower retainer fees for mediated
divorce cases, with retainer fees typically in the
$1,500 to $3,000 range for W-2 type cases. Your fees with your attorney
independent of your mediation fees, are set by the attorney, and are paid directly to the
attorney you choose. We can provide your MOU to your attorney in
Word or text format so that they can use the information to prepare your Property
Settlement Agreement (PSA) efficiently, but in the format
◊ The Boston Law Collaborative's
analysis of 199 divorce cases found that a mediated
including legal fees, had a median cost of $6,600,
followed by $19,723 for a collaborative divorce,
$26,830 for a divorce settlement negotiated by
counsel, and $77,746 for a litigated divorce.
American Bar Association Journal,
December 20, 2007
Average cost of a traditional divorce, including
counsel and court fees - $20,000. Money Magazine, September 2001
Average cost of a mediated divorce, including
mediation, counsel and court fees - one-third the
cost of a traditional divorce. Anju D.
Average cost of a modern day
wedding - $20,000. Emily Post Institute, January 2001
annual household income - $53,100. (Our Note:
That is about $37,170, after
Social Security and other taxes).
Kiplinger Magazine, January 2001
who design solutions to their own conflicts are more
satisfied with the outcome, and have a stronger
commitment to maintaining their agreements...
Mediation teaches them new ways to deal with future
conflict and new ways to communicate."
Report of the Supreme Judicial
Court/Trial Court Standing Committee on Dispute
◊ "A study of 120
mediated cases and 120 litigated cased found that
parents who mediated were more pleased with and more
likely to follow their agreements than parents who
went to court." Jessica Pearson and Nancy Thoennes,
Denver Custody Mediation Project
◊ We all pay an incalculable price
for conflict. We pay a financial price... a
physical price... and an emotional price... In
addition to these, we pay an unseen spiritual price.
How much of your "one wild and precious life" are
you prepared to waste on unresolved conflict." Kenneth Cloke, The Crossroads
◊ Negotiations can take place when the parties to a
dispute recognize they have a dispute, agree on the
need to resolve it, and actively engage in a process
designed to settle the dispute." John Haynes,
Family & Divorce Mediation
"The laws of physics hold in conflict resolution -
for every action, expect an equal an opposite
reaction. Conflicts can escalate out of control by
one misstep Take high road and focus on the
issues rather than your anger." Anju D. Jessani