Mediation is a cost-effective alternative to traditional divorce litigation. Unlike a traditional divorce in which each party meets with his or her own attorney, in mediation, the parties to the divorce meet with a neutral third party, who helps them to reach an agreement on such issues as spousal support, equitable distribution of assets, and custody and parenting time. Mediation usually begins with an initial meeting to discuss the process, identify the major issues of the divorce, and to encourage a cooperative and constructive approach that will enable the parties to reach a settlement that reflects their wishes. After several sessions spent discussing relevant issues, the parties will craft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which sets out in great detail the agreement between the parties. At this point, each party may consult with an attorney to get a better understanding of the legal ramifications of the document, and to decide whether any changes need to be made. If everyone is in agreement, the MOU is signed by the parties and becomes part of the final divorce.
There are various benefits to divorce mediation. It allows parties to keep their personal matters out of court, preserving privacy and preventing any public discomfort or embarrassment. Mediation focuses on building new lives, rather than reliving old hurts, and as a result, there is often less anger and conflict among the parties. Additionally, the parties have the power to make important decisions, rather than leaving such choices to a judge who has a very limited knowledge of what will work for the parties moving forward. Finally, mediation saves money. The parties involved in the mediation have control over how much money is spent, and can save money by communicating outside of the mediation and deciding various issues in between scheduled sessions.
The cost of mediation varies. As mentioned above, the parties can lower expenses by doing some of the work on their own. For instance, when the time comes to discuss parenting plans, the parties can exchange important information such as work schedules, school breaks, and vacation plans, and begin to craft a schedule that works for all involved. An Ocean County divorce mediator can review the schedule and resolve any conflicts to ensure both parties are satisfied with the end result.
In most cases, the parties will require a short initial consultation (or intake), several longer meetings, and a final appointment in which the MOU is completed and signed. If the mediator charges $300/hour, the total cost of mediation may be slightly less than $2,000. Again, keep in mind that the charges will vary due to hourly rates, the amount of work the parties can accomplish outside the sessions, and the willingness of those involved to reach an agreement.
Ocean County Divorce Attorney
If you are considering mediation and are concerned about costs, contact the Ocean County offices of Villani & DeLuca today at (732) 965-3404 for a free consultation. We can help you explore your options and decide on the best solution for your budget.