What does mediation cost?

“Understanding the fee structure was extremely important in helping me make the decision to mediate.”

Q: What does Graine Mediation charge?
A: Graine Mediation's fee is $325 per hour for session time, one-on-one mediator-client conversations, (called “caucuses”), document review and client phone calls and emails. Most cases are resolved in two to three 3-hour sessions. The mediated Property Settlement Agreement is billed at a flat fee between $1,800-$2,600. Most cases are settled for an average cost of $5,000 (or less) per couple. For more information, see our chart below.

Fees
Divorce Mediation
Divorce Litigation

Pre-Mediation Conferences – Your Choice.

Each party is entitled to one free 15-minute Q&A Phone Conference about mediation, fees, process and procedure.

Call 571-386-2806 or schedule online.

For more in depth discussion regarding issues, concerns, temperaments, facts and circumstances, Pre-Mediation Conferences (telephone or in-person) are available at $150 for two 30-minute conferences (one fee for both spouse’s).

Schedule online or with the mediator following your free Q&A conference.

Free consultations are quickly becoming a thing of the past in Northern Virginia family law firms. Some divorce lawyers still provide quick consultations for clients, but legal advice is usually not administered until after a retainer fee is paid.

Hourly Fees

Total Average Cost: $5,000 from Initial Call to Signed PSA

Our Hourly Mediation Fees are $325 per hour. Fees are for mediation session time, one-on-one mediator-client conversations (called “caucuses”), lengthy phone calls and emails, and document review. Most cases are resolved in two or three 3-hour sessions. For sessions beginning after 5pm and on weekends, there is a 20% surcharge.

The Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) is charged at a flat rate: $1,800-$2,600 + some edits.

Attorneys charge between $350-$550 per hour in Northern Virginia. Divorce lawyers usually charge for all of their time, even short phone calls, emails, and basic file reviews. You will also be charged for every minute that your attorney spends waiting at the courthouse for your case to be called. Attorney fees double in size quickly because your spouse will, most likely, have his or her own attorney, too. Litigated divorces take between 1-3 years to complete, depending on the circumstances and the complexity of the case. In the Fairfax and Northern Virginia area, litigated divorces easily cost $20,000 (just to get started) and fees of up to $100,000 per spouse are not unheard of.

Office and Administrative Work

There is very little administrative overhead in mediation. In most cases there are only nominal charges for outside phone calls and emails because the vast majority of the important conversations and document review gets done in the mediation sessions.

Litigation is hugely document intensive and most of the work on your case is done without your presence or, in many cases, knowledge. Divorce litigation is complex and requires a lot of time in document preparation and management, legal research and strategizing. You will not be involved in most of these activities. As a result, many clients find it hard to keep track of what they are being billed for and why that particular service is necessary. There are also many billable hours necessary in communicating with opposing counsel, expert witnesses and court clerks. Most firms in the Fairfax and Northern Virginia area also bill for photocopies and courthouse filing fees.

Discovery and Document Production

There is no formal discovery in mediation. This, in and of itself, saves countless dollars in fees and administrative costs. Parties are required to bring all relevant and necessary information to the mediation in order that both spouses are able to make informed settlement decisions. Which actual documents will be necessary is determined on a case-by-basis. At Graine Mediation, we do not handle cases where either party suspects that the other is hiding assets or income.

Most litigated divorce cases start with a formal discovery process. This complicated and time consuming method of gathering information and documents is very expensive and is, many people think, overkill for the majority of regular divorce cases. In certain types of cases – such as when a spouse is suspected of hiding money, or when he or she refuses to provide necessary financial information -- formal discovery is essential.

Retainer Fees

There are no retainer fees at Graine Mediation. Session fees are due at the end of each mediation session and, since you participate, time spent on your case is easy to keep track of. You only pay for the time that you actually use. The fee for drafting the mediated Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) is paid in advance (100% or 65% deposit, your choice). The PSA is billed at a flat fee rate between $1,800-$2,600. Additional time for phone calls and emails, and edits to the PSA, will be charged at the standard hourly rate of $325 per hour.

Lawyers charge retainer fees in large lump-sum payments. These costs are based on the complexity of your case. In the Fairfax and Northern Virginia area, divorce lawyers’ retainer fees are often $2,000 - $10,000. When the retainer fee is used up, a new chunk of money is then required to keep the litigation in motion. This is standard.

Expert Fees

When you and your spouse reach an agreement, an expert usually isn’t necessary. However, in matters that are particularly complex, or where a third party’s expert opinion is necessary in order for both spouses are able to make informed settlement decisions, one expert is shared between the parties (i.e. no “battle of the experts”). Experts are most often needed in cases where (a) the value and income generating capacity of a small business is sought, and (b) in cases where other unique assets need to be valued by an expert.

Often times, both parties hire their own experts for advice, opinions and as a forensic expert (an expert witness in court). When each party hires their own forensic expert, it is up to judge to determine which expert is “right.” Hiring “dual experts” can get very expensive. In litigation, experts are often hired to (a) comb through voluminous financial documents looking for hidden assets, (b) to offer an opinion as to value of property, assets and businesses, and (c) to offer an assessment of which parent will do a better job at raising the children.