Mediation is a great way to resolve a legal dispute and it typically costs less than going to court. However, it’s important to understand how mediation fees work so you can budget accordingly.
The main cost of mediation is the mediator’s fee, which varies by experience and location. Private mediators charge more than court-appointed mediators, and hourly rates can range from $100 to $300 per hour. A good mediator will take the time to understand the details of your case and how you might reach an agreement. They will also be able to reduce the amount of time your case takes by helping you settle on smaller points and keeping discussions moving forward.
In addition to the mediator’s fee, there may be charges for rescheduling sessions, obtaining a written record of each session, filing papers with the courts, and other administrative expenses. If your mediator has to hire outside experts (for example, real estate appraisers or tax consultants) you will also have to pay their fees.
Some private mediators and some mediation services offer flat rates for mediation, which include a free initial consultation. This is an excellent option if you have relatively simple disagreements and need to keep costs down. However, it is important to remember that the mediator will still need to evaluate your case and provide a billable hour rate if further sessions are necessary.
There is also the possibility that you will need to hire outside lawyers, and those costs will be in addition to the mediation fees. The attorneys will be able to help you with the complex issues that arise during the negotiation process and will be able to answer questions about any legal implications of your agreement.
Another possible cost to consider is the opportunity lost by not resolving your dispute out of Court. Years can pass between a lawsuit and its final resolution in the Court system, while a mediated settlement can be reached in a few hours or over sessions within a couple of weeks.
The level of emotional distress is a significant factor in mediation costs. Whether it is divorce, business disputes, workplace conflict or family problems, the parties are often dealing with highly personal and emotional matters. The mediator helps the parties to discuss these issues in a safe and confidential environment and to explore ways they might compromise and resolve their differences.
Many people come into a mediation expecting that the other side will pay their mediation costs, either because it’s been ordered by a judge or because it has been suggested by the plaintiff or defense counsel. This is a mistake and should not be the expectation coming into a mediation. It is important that both sides understand this from the outset so they do not enter into a mediation with unrealistic expectations. The best way to avoid this is for all parties to address this issue at the outset of the mediation and agree on a fee structure that works for everyone. mediation costs