A Divorce Mediation Case – Part 4 of 4: Agreements Reached & Reviewing the Costs
By Lee Chabin
Bill and Angela have come a long way in handling their own divorce. We have been with them through: The Decision to Try Divorce Mediation and the Consultation (Part 1); the Sessions on Parenting, Income & Expenses (Part 2); and then the sessions dealing with Assets (Especially the House) and Debts (Part 3) in which perhaps their biggest disagreement emerged, along with the strong emotions that came with it. Here we will a) be with them briefly as the mediator helps the parties deal with remaining issues; and, b) conclude by taking a look at the money the couple spent on mediation.
February 25th, 2016 - Session #5
After getting a value for the house, the spouses talked about other matters regarding the home. Now that the question of how much the house was worth had been answered, a serious disagreement remained about how much of that value belonged to Bill and to Angela; Angela was arguing for a 50/50 split, while Bill believed that he was entitled to a higher percentage due to work he had done on the house, and the increased value that resulted from that work.
Angela said that Bill was just making things difficult; that he knew she could buy him out at a 50% split, but couldn’t at any more than that. Bill denied this.
The mediator asked if they wanted to take a short break; neither one did. Then the mediator asked for more information that might enlighten the discussion. More information was shared, but no agreement on the house was reached.
The mediator brought up other matters, including: filing taxes, whether/how to share in the case of a tax refund, or an audit; how to handle costs for writing the agreement, review attorneys and the court filing fee. Angela and Bill reached agreements on these issues relatively easily. though both were still upset, and Angela especially was concerned about dealing with the house.
The session ended, both still upset, and with Angela especially concerned about dealing with the house.
March 10th, 2016 - Session #6 (the last session)
On March 10th, Bill and Angela reached an agreement on the house, and tied up the remaining loose ends. Bill acknowledged the importance of the house not only to Angela, but to the children as well. And since Angela would probably be keeping the house for many years, during which time some expensive repairs were likely (on things that Bill didn’t have the skills to fix, though he was willing), he could come down on the percentage that he was asking for. Angela expressed appreciation for the work Bill had done on their home, and for his willingness now to accept a lower percentage (than he had demanded earlier).
After further discussion, Angela proposed that either: a) Bill walk away with more of the assets than they had already agreed upon; or, b) that Bill take a small percentage of the house upon its eventual sale, which would likely be after their younger child graduated from high school. Angela agreed that she’d have to pay Bill that percentage from some other source of money that she would hopefully have at that time, or sell the house to pay him while incurring the expenses to sell the house.
The spouses reviewed their assets and talked further, ultimately deciding that Bill would take a greater share of the assets; an amount that Angela agreed she could live with.
And so, the mediation ended.
As previously mentioned, the “separation agreement” will need to be written. Bill and Angela have been advised by the mediator to each meet with a lawyer to review the separation agreement with them before signing it, which they have agreed to do. Shortly after that, the separation agreement can be filed with the court.
So what did it all cost?
$ 50 Consultation
$3,300 11 hours @ $300/hr
$1,500 Separation Agreement (needed whether people mediate or not)
The fees charged by an attorney to review the separation agreement should be relatively low, as this review is the only job that the lawyer will be doing for the client. There are no court motions, no depositions, no trial (and so no trial preparation), etc.
Court filing fee (needed whether people mediate or not)
In mediation (as in litigation), there can be other expenses, such as when spouses decide to hire an expert, such as a financial planner. But, contrast a mediated divorce with a litigated one, and the difference in cost is often quite dramatic.
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All blog posts are for information purposes, and should not be considered as legal advice.