- How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost?
- How Your Mediation Partner Impacts Cost
- Other Factors That Impact Cost
- 3 Other Costs to Consider
- Should You Try and Save Money on Mediation?
Need help reaching an agreement on one or more issues? Usually, you can get there without a lawyer via mediation. During divorce mediation, you and your partner meet with a mediator (an impartial third party) to work through your disagreements and develop equitable divorce terms. Expect to pay between $3,000 and $8,000 for a service like this (usually far less than lawyer fees).
The type of mediation you choose impacts your cost. A private mediation process with an experienced professional is your most expensive option. Community-based mediators charge much less.
The complexity of your case (how many children you have, how much property you own, how much you disagree, and more) can also impact your cost. The simpler your scenario, the less you'll pay.
How much does divorce mediation cost?
Divorce mediation is a short-term process that can help you settle disagreements without engaging in lengthy court battles.
Some states require mediation, especially if couples can't agree on custody decisions. But other couples use this process to help them save money on lawyers. If they can decide matters in mediation, their cases will move faster.
While mediation can save you money, it can also be relatively expensive if you cannot work things out and end up needing several sessions.
In California, mediation experts can charge as little as $150 per hour or as much as $1,000 per hour. The more complex your situation and the more rancorous your relationship, the more you’ll spend on experts to help you untangle the mess.
How your mediation partner impacts your cost
Many different professionals and groups offer divorce mediation. The person you choose to help you settle the terms of ending your marriage, and the type of fees they can charge, can dramatically affect your bill.
Private divorce mediation
Private mediators are attorneys, counselors, or financial analysts who work with divorcing couples. They set their own rates based on demand and expertise.
Your private mediator might charge you in these ways:
- Hourly: Each moment you're speaking with the mediator, you're racking up charges.
- Per session: You create a meeting schedule, and you pay a fee accordingly.
- Flat rates: Your professional might meet with you and determine the complexity of your case and charge one fee for all the work (similar to Hello Divorce's mediation options).
Professionals like this can charge almost anything they like. And the more experience they have in helping divorcing clients, the more they might demand from you.
Find a partner like this through a web search. Most organizations have websites and social media accounts, so you can locate them quickly. If you have a divorce attorney, that professional may have recommendations too.
Some states, including California, offer mediation through the court system. The state picks up some of the fees, which could save you money.
If you live in California, choosing a partner mediator means paying just $150 per hour for the first 2 hours of help. You'll spend more if you can't resolve your issues during this conversation. Find a California court-sponsored mediator here.
Some people are leery of using court-sponsored options, but they can't afford private services. Community mediation could be a good option.
Community mediators charge on a sliding scale to help families in need. They're often in high demand due to their low cost, so prepare to wait for an appointment to open. But if you can secure this type of help, you'll save a lot of money.
The National Association for Community Mediation maintains a searchable list for couples. You could also ask your divorce lawyer for advice about community-based options.
Crafting a divorce budget is hard when you're working with per-hour arrangements. A mediation package is different. You meet with an organization and pay one fee for your entire divorce mediation package.
Two typical types of packages exist:
- Small: $5,000. Couples using this option have few shared assets and business interests.
- Large: $6,500. Couples with more money, more conflicts, and several claims do better with this option.
Don’t think of your package fees as final if you're on a strict budget. Plan for the worst case in that scenario. If you get into negotiations with your spouse and things go terribly wrong, you could expect to pay more.
Companies offering mediation packages are also easy to find with a web search. Just remember to find someone close to you. While some offer mediation via tools like Zoom, others require in-person sessions.
Not sure if mediation will work for you?
Our free download can help.
What other factors impact your cost?
Choosing the right partner can impact your final cost, but so can individual factors concerning your divorce and estate. In general, people with complicated breakups can get frustrated when they try to work things through alone. Mediation helps.
But the trickier your breakup, the more your mediation will cost. You have much more to talk about than a couple with a less contentious, more straightforward divorce.
Couples that can't speak clearly to one another bring those feelings with them to mediation. Instead of working through their conflicts, they may yell at one another, cry, or otherwise work through emotional problems. They may need several sessions to get to critical details like childcare arrangements and spousal support.
The average American family in 2021 contained 3.13 people. Couples with children almost always have far more to talk about than those who don't have kids.
You should discuss where the children will live, who will pay for their education, and how much the supporting parent should pay for child support. All of those conversations take time.
About two-thirds of American families own homes. Some families own multiple residences and might have rental properties, too.
Sorting out property details can take time, especially if both parties have emotional attachments to one piece of property. People who rent don't have this type of complexity.
Some couples have just one problem they can't resolve. Others have several points they can't resolve. The more points you need a mediator to solve, the longer the process will take.
3 other costs to consider
Divorce mediation can be expensive, and some couples struggle to justify spending this kind of money. Know that you'll have other fees involved with mediation, and those can be high, too.
1. Attorney's fees
By the time you consider mediation, you may be hip-deep in divorce proceedings. Your lawyer may have drafted up documents, and your spouse disagreed with them.
Mediation can help you break through this conflict, but you'll still need to pay your attorney for the work done so far. And you may need to pay your attorney to finish your divorce, too.
2. Divorce fees
Mediation moves your divorce along, but it doesn't replace the process. You must also pay filing fees with the state in which you live. And you may still have a court case and fees associated with those proceedings.
Splitting up assets like property isn't easy, especially when you're not quite sure how much things cost. An accountant could help determine the true value of your assets so you can divvy things up fairly. But these experts will want payment for their time.
Should you try to save money on divorce mediation?
About half of all divorced couples have regrets, and many of those problems involve money. While it might seem wise to use a low-cost option for mediation, it's not right for everyone.
An experienced mediator might charge you more per hour, but that professional could help clear up confusion quickly. You could have fewer sessions and emerge feeling less upset.
A more expensive option could also include more help. Some companies file paperwork for couples and otherwise help to push the divorce through. Cheaper companies may not do this for you.
Look for a mediator you trust that offers the services you need. Don't let price be the only driver in such an important decision.
ReferencesManaging Conflict During Divorce. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Mediation FAQ. Superior Court of California, County of San Diego.
Mediator Search. Superior Court of California, County of San Diego.
Locate a Member. National Association for Community Mediation.
Healthy Divorce: How to Make Your Split as Smooth as Possible. (2013). American Psychological Association.
Average Number of People per Family in the United States from 1960 to 2021. (September 2022). Statista.
18+ Intriguing Home Ownership Statistics for 2022. (September 2022). Policy Advice.
What Are the Biggest Regrets of Those Who Divorce? (June 2022). Divorce Mag.