While divorce is never easy, many couples find they are able to resolve their differences through divorce mediation. Since litigated divorce can be costly, some couples pursue mediation as a cost-saving measure. In Texas, certain counties even require couples to go through mediation as an effort to resolve more divorces outside of court. Whether you and your spouse choose or a court orders mediation, the cost of mediation may be a concern for you.
So, how much does divorce mediation cost in Texas?
If you are indigent or can’t afford to pay the full cost of court-ordered mediation, you may be able to take advantage of resources provided by the state of Texas to help resolve your case. For example, you and your spouse could try seeking assistance from a dispute resolution center in Texas, many of which provide mediation and dispute resolution services for free or at a low cost.
If you are not indigent, how you approach mediation is critical if you’re concerned about how much does a mediation cost for divorce. We’ll provide insight on how to prepare for mediation and choose a skilled mediator—the two best ways to keep the cost of mediation in check— later in this post. In the meantime, let’s cut to the chase.
The cost of mediation varies anywhere from free (as noted above) to tens of thousands of dollars. In general, you can expect the average divorce mediation cost to run about $3,000 to $4,000 per person in Texas., which includes the fee for the mediator’s services (about $1,500/per full day on average) plus attorney fees (which vary). However—and this is a big however—if your issues are complex in regard to property, child custody, child support, spousal support, alimony and other issues OR the relationship between you and your spouse is contentious, you may end up paying a whole lot more.
You could also pay more if you hire a mediator whose style or skillset isn’t the best fit for your case because mediation could drag on (the more mediation sessions you have, the more you will typically pay) or end up in a stalemate. If you try to resolve your divorce through mediation and fail to come to an agreement, and you need to take your case to court, you’ll likely end up spending thousands more in legal fees.
What factors have an impact on divorce mediation costs?
If you decide to go the mediation route (or the court has ordered you to do so), you will need to pay fees to file the petition for divorce, divorce decree and other related issues (same as you would with a litigated divorce), as required by the county where your dispute will be mediated. In addition, you will need to pay the mediator for services rendered, as well as attorney fees if you choose to hire a divorce attorney to represent you during mediation (something we highly recommend).
So, how much does a mediator cost for a divorce in Texas? In general, the cost of a mediator largely depends on his or her skill set and how in demand the mediator’s services tend to be at the time. Some mediators charge by the hour, some charge by half-day or full-day, and some charge additional expenses for travel and the preparing and filing of paperwork pertaining to the divorce settlement.
If you’re wondering how much does a divorce mediator cost when charging by the hour, you can typically expect to pay between $300 to $600 per hour on average in Texas. If you want to know how much is a mediator for divorce if you pay by the day, for a good mediator, you can expect to pay $800 to $2,500 per side, for a full-day mediation.
Is it worth it to pay for a higher-priced mediator?
When it comes to paying a high-end rate for a mediator, it’s important to understand why that mediator is able to command a higher price. For one, mediators who have practiced and are licensed to practice family law (highly recommended), will generally charge more compared to a mediator without legal experience or a law license.
If you have a complex divorce, it’s critical to consider the mediator’s experience and seek out a mediator who has regularly been involved in high-conflict, high-net-worth, complex type of divorces, as well as the trial aspect of divorces that are complex.
In other words, when you hire someone to help divide up a $100 million state, that person needs to understand the components involved with complex property division. Mediators with that type of experience typically charge more for their services. We understand that “How much do mediators cost?” is a valid concern for many people. However, the cost of a mediator’s services should be less of a concern compared to how capable the mediator can be in helping you come to an agreeable resolution in your type of case.
Do I need an attorney for divorce mediation? I don’t want to pay legal fees
As alluded to earlier, our firm highly recommends each party hire his or her own divorce attorney to help navigate divorce mediation, unless a couple truly has an uncontested divorce, where the two spouses agree on everything. If that’s the case, they can hire a divorce mediation attorney to help execute and finalize the necessary documents to complete the divorce.
Some people assume they can save money and forgo the costs of a divorce attorney by hiring a divorce mediator. Granted, you won’t pay legal fees if you go this route, however, you also won’t receive any legal advice. Divorce mediators in Texas are required to be neutral, which means they cannot legally or ethically provide either party an iota of legal advice.
Do you really want to go into divorce mediation without legal advice? Without legal guidance, you won’t have a full understanding of the settlement options available to you. What you save in legal fees could quickly be lost (and then some) if you are unable to negotiate the settlement you want on your own. And the more complex and acrimonious the case, the bigger the risk you take.
How can I find a mediator who will be a good fit for me?
For one, you don’t want to hire a mediator based on their name or advertising alone. Just as divorce attorneys have different styles, personalities and skill sets, so do mediators. After more than 15 years of practicing family law in Texas, I can tell you, there are no one-size-fits-all mediators out there.
Our firm works with a number of reputable mediators in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, and we help our clients choose mediators based on our experience working with different mediators over the years. If you hire a family law attorney to help mediate your case (again, highly recommended), he or she will be your best resource for finding a mediator who is a good fit for you.
For example, experienced attorneys know what credentials various mediators have, such as financial background, accounting knowledge, family businesses, trial experience, child custody negotiations, etc. They also know which mediators do a good job based on a client’s specific needs, their different styles and approaches to mediation, and most important, what legal strategy to take going into mediation based on a certain mediator’s approach.
If you do decide to forgo legal representation, be sure the mediator you hire is an attorney who has experience practicing family law. While most mediators are attorneys, there are some who are not. Even though mediators are not allowed to give you legal advice, an experienced attorney-mediator will understand the various areas of law they can use to allow for different settlement possibilities to play out.
Most important, you don’t want to have a non-lawyer mediator preparing legal documents when they don’t have a full understanding of the language necessary to ensure your divorce settlement is binding, enforceable and irrevocable.
Whether you go into mediation with an attorney to guide you or not, hiring a mediator who understands the intricacies of your type of case is essential if you’re hoping for a swift and cost-efficient mediation.
The best way to save on divorce mediation cost? Be prepared
One of the biggest mistakes people make going into mediation is going into mediation unprepared from both a documentation standpoint and strategically. If you get to the mediation, you don’t have your ducks in a row, you don’t have all the documents you need, and you don’t know how to navigate the waters of mediation strategically, you will just end up wasting time and money.
A good attorney can help make sure you gather and organize all the important documents that are relevant to your divorce and create a proper inventory of your estate. This advanced preparation is a must because you need to get an accurate picture of your estate in order to set the stage for negotiating a fair divorce settlement.
Before going into mediation, you should also take time to think through other aspects of your divorce. This includes deciding where the parties will each live following the divorce (i.e., who keeps the house or will you need to sell it?) and any spousal support or alimony to be paid, as well as thinking through desired parental rights and duties, child custody arrangements and child support in Texas.
Your family law attorney can walk through the different scenarios available to you, as you develop a strategy to take into mediation. Thoroughly preparing for mediation can also help untangle the emotional aspects of divorce, as expectations for the future become clearer. If you jump into mediation too soon—before thinking things through—emotions can run high, which may stall the mediation process.
Learn more about divorce mediation and how to prepare in our recent blog, Divorce Mediation Checklist: 10 Critical Steps to Take.
Have questions about divorce mediation cost and options in Dallas / Fort Worth?
The experienced divorce mediation attorneys at the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth are here to help. Even if you’re not sure whether you want to hire an attorney for your divorce mediation or not, we encourage you to schedule a confidential case review with an attorney at our firm. During your case review we can help you weigh options from a strategic perspective, provide insight on next steps and answer questions you have about the divorce mediation process.
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