With mediation, trained third-party professionals help resolve disputes and concerns between two parties. Mediators often assist with the divorce and family law process, help resolve workplace challenges, negotiate commercial situations and help with other personal disputes. According to Health & Human Services (HHS) of the US Government, mediation is assisted negotiation. It’s also a far more affordable way to come to a resolution than working with lawyers and going through the courts. Unlike in a court of law, the mediation process is informal and voluntary, states HHS. Several factors affect the cost of hiring a professional mediator.
Many mediation professionals charge an hourly rate for their services. Rates can reflect their background, training, education and experience. Rates also vary according to geographic location and the regional cost of living. Cherri Brown of Neutral Place in Fayetteville, Georgia, charges the following tiered hourly rates, which decrease as more hours are booked:
First hour of mediation: $250
Second hour: $200
Each additional hour: $100
Brown’s tiered pricing structure is applicable to each new day working with clients, and she offers military and educator discounts.
Court-appointed mediators are available, often for a sliding-scale cost based on the client’s income. Some private practice mediators also offer sliding-scale services, based on client income and their own personal business model. Angela Sullivan of Changes Counseling and Mediation in Lee Summit, Missouri, offers sliding-scale pricing. She provides either in-office or in-home services, with a higher cost for sessions that take place in the client’s home. The higher rate covers travel time and transportation costs. The below rates are based on her clients’ household income:
$36,000 per year and under: $60 per hour in-office/$80 per hour in client’s home
$36,001–$84,000 per year: $80 per hour in-office/$100 per hour in client’s home
$84,001–$132,000 per year: $100 per hour in-office/$120 per hour in client’s home
$132,001–$180,000 per year: $120 per hour in-office/$140 per hour in client’s home
$180,001–$228,000 per year: $140 per hour in-office/$160 per hour in client’s home
$228,001–$276,000 per year: $160 per hour in-office/$180 per hour in client’s home
$276,001 and above: $180 per hour in office/$200 per hour in client’s home
Changes Counseling and Mediation does not take insurance.
Lawyers and judges
Attorney-mediators, former commissioners and judges sometimes act as mediators, an unbiased third party to help both parties settle on an agreement. Nick Gottwald a divorce lawyer with Nelson, Taylor and Associates in Salt Lake City, Utah, works with frequently with mediators because of his role with family law. He says fees for attorney-mediators, former commissioners and judges may be higher than for mediators without the same background. He says the range for mediators with those qualifications in his area is about $200–$300 per hour.
Divorce is a common reason to hire a mediator. A trained professional can calmly navigate challenging conversations and keep the two parties focused on resolution. Mediators can help with settling assets, dividing property, negotiating child custody agreements and other potentially contentious issues that arise during divorce. Angela Sullivan of Changes Counseling and Mediation says that, on average, couples in the process of divorce need about six two-hour sessions. After the sessions have been completed, Sullivan writes a settlement agreement that encompasses all the verbal agreements made in the mediation process.