As a divorce mediator and someone who was once divorced, I sincerely believe that you should Dissolve Your Marriage and Not Your Wealth. Your wealth is your money, time and emotion, of which you do not have an endless supply. My divorce mediation approach is called the “3Ps” for Prevent, Preserve and Prepare. I honestly believe that divorcing couples should first use divorce mediation to “prevent” litigation so that (if settled) they can “preserve” their wealth and “prepare” for independent lives. I want to mediate divorcing couples, who sincerely share my belief and divorce mediation approach.
From my experience as an expert witness in divorce litigation matters, a typical litigation takes between one and seven years and the average attorney retainer is between $5,000 and $10,000 per litigant. However, the retainer is not the final cost. It is just the beginning of what can cost between $15,000 and $30,000 per litigant before it even goes to trial. A divorce that goes to trial can cost between $30,000 and $100,000 per litigant, which would take between $42,000 and $140,000 in pre-tax earnings just to pay for it. Plus, if you assign a value to your time and emotion, then the cost of your divorce increases much more. While divorce litigation is expensive, it is “necessary” in many cases.
There are “valid” reasons why divorce litigation is expensive, but uncertainty is the main reason from my perspective. Uncertainty means unpredictability. And unpredictability means expensive. Divorce litigation is uncertain because you have much less control over the people and the process. You can only control yourself and nobody else in the process. However, some litigants have argued that you have no control whatsoever because you have rightfully acquiesced to your attorney the power to voice your opinions during trial (when it matters most). Many litigants have “unfairly” compared the process they admittedly will never fully understand to the Wild West, but the analogy seems to be the most understood. Many litigants have also realized that there could have been a better way (or at least a better first step) only “after” their litigation when they have dissolved their wealth. Therefore, the key to decreasing uncertainty is to increase control. Mediation increases your control.
My mediation practice is limited to the financial issues concerning property division and income for support. To mediate your divorce, in “most” cases, I charge a flat fee between $6,000 and $8,000 depending on the complexity of the financial issues. If you have minor children, I require a parenting plan before I mediate your divorce because I sincerely believe that I can never fully understand and appreciate what is best for your children (and neither can you of mine). While most mediators are attorneys, it is not a requirement. In fact, the Superior Courts in California have mediation services staffed mostly by non-attorneys.
“To be persuasive we must be believable. To be believable we must be credible. To be credible we must be truthful.” (A quote from Edward R. Murrow posted in the vestibule of Judge James Waltz, Orange County Superior Court)