HOW MEDIATION WORKS
Our mediation intake and initial divorce document preparation fee is $1500 and includes:
Our office recommends that you and your spouse split the fees equally (making the intake fee $750 for each of you). However, you are free to agree on a different percentage split, or to have one party pay the entire cost if preferred. All fees are payable in advance of mediation services being provided.
After the initial intake process is complete, we proceed to schedule mediation sessions to resolve one issue at a time on your case. Approximately every few weeks, you and your spouse will each pre-pay $500 to have one of our attorneys prepare for and conduct a mediation session with the goal of reaching a settlement on each major case issue, which may include:
If the time to prepare, mediate and reach a resolution on each of these issues exceeds four hours of attorney time, we will send you a bill for the additional time (billing at $250/hourly). In a hurry to finalize your divorce? No problem - we can speed up this process if both parties are in agreement to do so.
At the beginning of your mediation journey, our office will provide both you and your spouse a clear and easy to understand fee agreement reflecting all upcoming payments and charges, so there are never any surprises as you move through the mediation process toward finalizing your case.
Initial intake and divorce document drafting and filing: $750 plus filing fees
Four mediation sessions (on average): $500 per session
Drafting and filing final orders: $250
TOTAL: $3000 each for both you and your spouse, a savings of $9000-$11,000 over the average cost of divorce! Plus, these costs can be spread out throughout the mandatory 90 day waiting period required by Washington State before your divorce can be finalized, allowing you to budget for mediation fees.
*Your final costs may vary, and depend on the length and number of mediation sessions required to reach settlement agreements in all areas of your divorce.
For parties with straightforward cases (short term marriage, no children of the marriage, no assets and easily divided debts) we offer a reduced mediation fee that includes initial documents plus final orders. Please contact our office for more information.
Sometimes negotiations break down and it becomes apparent that neither party is prepared to settle on a particular issue. When this happens, our office must end mediation for that particular issue, and both you and your spouse may wish to consider seeking independent counsel and proceeding to trial, where the court will decide how to rule on the contested issues in your case.
It's important to consider that even a partially successful mediation may ultimately save you a significant amount of money, as deciding some of the issues in the case in advance ensures that you do not have to go to trial on every single issue (only the ones that remain contested).
Once every major issue in your case is resolved and you have come to an agreement, our office will charge one final $250 finalization fee to you and also to your spouse to cover the cost of drafting and entering final orders. You'll receive your final orders via email to review at your convenience. After you sign them, we will make sure they are entered by the court and send you copies. That's it - you are divorced!
During your initial goal setting meeting, an attorney will review your case and discuss your settlement options. Depending on the issues in your case, you may need to gather documents and reports (such as home appraisals, pension plan information, etc) to prepare for mediation sessions.
Once you have gathered documents and completed any other "homework" assigned by the attorney conducting your mediation, you'll be ready to schedule a mediation session, which is a meeting to address one major area of your case (you do not have to see or speak to your spouse). The goal is for both you and your spouse to reach a settlement in that area at the conclusion of the mediation session. Your agreement will be memorialized in a document drafted by the attorney conducting the session, and then later incorporated into final orders for your divorce.
After you have held successful mediation sessions addressing each major case issue, you will have completely settled your case and will be ready for our office to draft your final orders and finalize your divorce.
For each scheduled mediation session for your case, you and your spouse will submit your goals for the area that is the focus of that session (parenting plan, property and debts, retirement, etc) privately in advance to the attorney conducting your upcoming mediation session and then attend the session.
You will not see or speak to your spouse during the mediation session. In fact, you will not be in the same room, unless you both prefer to do so and make arrangements in advance (otherwise, you will only speak to the attorney conducting your mediation, who will relay offers back and forth). Mediation sessions can also be conducted for one or both parties by Zoom, providing greater flexibility and allowing you to attend from the comfort of your own home. You must be present either physically at our Tacoma office or by Zoom to participate in the session.
During the mediation session, the attorney conducting mediation will go back and forth between you and your spouse, and will spend time talking to each of you separately and often at length about the issues on the table, as they work to help you reach a settlement in the area that is the focus for that mediation session.
The attorney conducting your mediation is far more than simply a messenger helping pass notes between spouses; they are an active participant in crafting a fair and equitable settlement for all issues in your divorce, and will offer their legal perspective, experience and knowledge of the divorce process, help you set realistic expectations, and sometimes provide creative solutions as needed in order to help you arrive at an agreement and avoid the cost and stress of litigation.
No, the attorneys conducting your mediation do not represent you. In fact, they are completely neutral during the mediation process and as mediators cannot act in a way that provides a legal advantage to either you or your spouse. However, as attorneys they are bound by ethical requirements to be truthful and to provide both you and your spouse with an accurate understanding of how the law affects each of you. This helps to provide you with the best information possible so that you can make good decisions regarding settlement offers and your divorce.
In addition, you are free to seek independent legal counsel at any time during the mediation process.
No. If mediation is not successful, our attorneys are unable to represent either you or your spouse in a contested divorce, as they will have a conflict of interest due to having acted as mediators for your case.
Many parties choose to go through the divorce mediation process without their own representation. You are welcome to seek independent counsel at any time, and on rare occasions our attorneys may even advise you to do so due to unique issues in your case. You are also free to end mediation negotiations at any time.
Additionally, our office is happy to work with both you and your attorney to provide mediation services for your case.
The attorney conducting your mediation has an ethical duty to maintain a fair and impartial approach to helping you reach a settlement, and cannot favor one party over the other, or advise one party in a secretive way that would give them an advantage. There may be circumstances where the attorney conducting your mediation may disclose laws or procedures that favor either you or your spouse more than the other party, but will disclose this information to both of you so that neither party can gain an advantage over the other.
Additionally, it's important to acknowledge that mediation involves compromises and negotiating, and some mediators consider it a good outcome if they reach a settlement that leaves both parties equally slightly dissatisfied, as this means both sides successfully reached a compromise on the issues. The goal is a fair and final settlement so that you can finalize your divorce and avoid the stress and costs of litigation, and the attorney conducting your mediation will remain committed to helping you and your spouse reach that goal.