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How to Reduce the Costs of Mediation - Part I

April 25, 2018  | 

{4:00 minutes to read} The mutual goal to reduce the financial costs of a separation is a primary motivation for most of my clients, second only to the desire to reach an agreement with as little rancor as possible. Regarding the financial costs, however, there are steps that clients can take to ensure that mediation fees remain reasonable by limiting the number of sessions that are needed.

Complete Your Work Between Meetings

At the end of my summary of the meeting, I include a “to do” list for the clients and myself.
While much of the work in between meetings centers on the financial aspects of divorce — doing budgets, gathering documents, etc. — there are other tasks that can come up. These are things that either can’t be done at a meeting, or would not be the best use of time, such as: 

  • Researching school districts in different communities if you need to move to a more affordable home;
  • Researching the costs of new housing;
  • Considering employment opportunities if you need to enter a new career.

Taking care of this outside of the meetings will help the mediation progress more quickly.

Think About the Issues

At my initial consultation, I provide clients with a list of terms that need to be addressed in a separation agreement and encourage them to talk about some of these terms, such as a parenting plan, outside the meetings.
 
If talking to your spouse leads to a dispute rather than a meaningful discussion, then don't talk about terms outside of a meeting. Instead, give serious consideration to what is important to you and in the best interests of the children and determine the proposals that you can make in the next meeting to further those interests. 
 
Know When to Hire an Additional Professional 
 

If the mediator suggests you consult with another professional during the course of the mediation — an attorney, a financial or mental health professional — there is usually a good reason for that. Either the issue is beyond the scope of what the mediator should be doing or has the expertise to do, or the time being spent in the mediation is not as productive as it could be. In either case, working with someone else may make the mediation smoother and ultimately less costly.

Don’t Try to Mediate by Email

I know it is sometimes difficult to wait until a meeting to say what is bursting inside you, but try to resist writing an email.
 
The written word can be harsh and without nuance, leading to a response that you may not have anticipated. Even if the issue is resolved, the mediator will need to spend significant time to read through dozens of emails to find the final terms agreed upon. And you will be billed for that time.
 
If it can’t wait, ask the mediator to schedule a conference call. The time spent on a conference call is much more likely to lead to a resolution that works for you both as opposed to a litany of emails over the course of a few days. 
 

In Part II, I’ll address additional ways that you might be able to reduce the costs of mediation. 

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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