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Divorce Mediation Costs

Divorce mediation costs vary greatly. They can depend on whether you have a court ordered mediator or privately hired mediator. A divorce mediator who is privately hired can charge on an hourly or flat fee basis.

Court Ordered Mediation

In a court ordered mediation, fees are generally set by the court. The time allotted for the court ordered mediation is generally limited. A court ordered family law mediation session is often mandated by the court in a custody case.

Private Divorce Mediation Costs

Many private divorce mediation fees are set on a flat fee basis where one fee is set for a complete package of services and mediation sessions. The range of services that can be included in a flat fee divorce mediation service can cover a number of areas from property distribution, support matters and/or custody, to possible assistance in the preparation of a marital settlement agreement or memorandum of understanding and/or divorce court paperwork.

A flat fee mediation service package generally assists parties in gathering documentation on the areas to be mediated and includes several mediation sessions to discuss and reach an agreement on those issues.

Flat fee mediation can also include the preparation of either a memorandum of understanding or a marital settlement agreement. A memorandum of understanding is simply a non-binding document that outlines the terms and conditions of agreement reached by the parties. The mediator does not have to be an attorney to prepare this document. A marital settlement agreement includes all of the terms and conditions of agreement reached by the parties but it is a legally binding contract that must be prepared by a mediator who is an attorney.

In both situations the parties are encouraged to consult with a separate attorney to advise each party concerning the legal terms and condition of either a memorandum of understanding or marital settlement agreement. The fee for a separate attorney is not included in flat fee mediation packages.

In addition, flat fee divorce mediation can also include assistance in the preparation of divorce documents for the court in order to obtain a final decree of divorce. Filing fees for court, appraisal fees for real estate or retirement funds and the cost for preparation of other court document such as deeds of transfer or Qualified Domestic Relations orders (QDRO) are also generally not included in the costs charged for flat fee mediation packages.

A flat fee divorce mediation package can range in cost from $6,500 to $10,000 depending on the number of issues to be discussed and settled and the complexity of the marital estate to be settled.

Some divorce mediators will offer piecemeal or unbundled services such as one mediation session to discuss one issue like support or custody or as follow up to a previously conducted large scope flat fee mediation where a new issue has arisen. The general hourly rate for such divorce mediation services ranges from $250 to $400 per hour.

Divorce mediation is generally much less expensive than divorce litigation or even the cost of two people each hiring a divorce attorney to help settle their divorce.

A private divorce mediator will often offer consultations either free of charge or for a reasonable consultation fee to discuss your case to help you decide what type of divorce mediation services best suit your situation and the divorce mediation cost for that service.

Contact Divorce Done Differently for King of Prussia Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation costs are typically lower than the cost of litigation and mediation has many advantages, including allowing parties more control over their divorce resolution. As an attorney mediator, I offer creative solutions to meet each client’s unique legal, financial, and emotional needs. To set up a consultation or learn more about available services, contact me today at 215-470-3121.

Want to Know More?

If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at lmjmyers@cs.com.

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Co-Parenting Amid COVID

Co-Parenting Amid COVID

Co- parenting amid COVID has been challenging in so many ways.

In the beginning, some parents took the quarantine restrictions so literally that one parent was often denied any custody by the other parent. Some parents even went so far as to keep children from the other parent simply because the other parent worked in health care and was at greater risk of being exposed to COVID. This breakdown in co-parenting amid COVID led many parents to miss out on precious time with their children until the overburdened court system could step in to set things straight.

Parents also became distrustful of and hypervigilant in how the other parent was following COVID restrictions and guidelines. This led to many disagreements and court filings. As people began to receive more information about COVID and restrictions began to be lifted, parents seemed to ease their fearful grip on their children spending time with the other parent.

Education and Co-Parenting Amid COVID

However, other issues in co-parenting amid COVID started to rise to the surface especially where remote learning became the norm. Not all parents were available to ensure that their child was logging in to attend school. School computers and other school materials had to be exchanged between parents who were not the most cooperative or communicative.

The strain of COVID restrictions also has taken its toll on the children themselves. During COVID, parents have been faced with co-parenting as their children suffered from issues such as depression, anxiety etc. or with learning issues without the benefit of hands-on school supports.

Counseling services that usually have helped to support parents resolve co-parenting issues have been limited or remote during COVID.

Family Time and Co-Parenting Amid COVID

However, it has not been all bad. In some respects co-parenting during COVID has brought out some parents’ better angels. Some parents have been able to focus and work through some communication and co-parenting issues because they had no other choice. For those parents who did work on their co-parenting skills the examples they set for their children added to supporting their children emotionally and in other ways during this crisis. The children got to spend more one-on-one time with both parents during the quarantine and other restrictions.  

Parents who had to work from home were given a chance to be more of the primary caretaker than they may have had an opportunity to be in the past. With a moratorium on extracurricular activities, families were forced to spend time together doing activities to fill their free time rather than engaging in organized activities with a lot of other people. The reduction in activities for the children in some respect reduced the stress on the parents to coordinate schedules etc. Families got a chance to slow down and enjoy each other’s company.

Lastly, co-parenting during COVID has allowed parents and everybody else to take a deep breath and be thankful for their loved ones around them and the time they have had with them.

Contact Divorce Done Differently for King of Prussia Custody Issue Resolution

Co-parenting amid COVID has made some custody issues more complicated, but caring parents can make critical decisions together in a way that offers the best situation for their children. As an attorney mediator I offer creative solutions to meet each client’s unique legal, financial, and emotional needs. To set up a consultation or learn more about available services, contact me today at 215-470-3121.

Want to Know More?

If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at lmjmyers@cs.com.

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Top 5 Questions to Ask Divorce Lawyers

Divorce is a very stressful process. That is why it is important to carefully pick the best ally to support you during this difficult life transition. Here are some points to consider when choosing the right divorce lawyer.

1. Do you Specialize in Divorce?

Is the divorce attorney someone who is experienced and who specializes in family law cases?

An attorney that focuses on one area of the law is often most up to date with any changes in the law or procedures in the court. Also, an attorney that practices mostly in family law court knows the other players – lawyers, judges, clerks. This can help to resolve your case in some ways because of the benefit of pre-established relationships that can move your case toward a fair resolution.

You also want to know how many years the divorce attorney has been practicing family law. Just because an attorney has been a lawyer for a long time does not mean they have been practicing family law the whole time. Again, experience matters. You want an attorney that is not learning on the job.

2. Will You Handle My Divorce Case Directly?

Who will be handling my case?

While a big law firm may be impressive, a lot of tasks are delegated. A lot of work on your case may be handled by a paralegal or a younger less experienced staff attorney. While this may save you in costs, sometimes things get lost in translation between attorneys and their staff. Also, if you want an experienced attorney to handle your case then you don’t want your case assigned to an underling.

3. How Much Will A Divorce Cost?

What will the cost be?

Most attorneys may let you know their hourly rate upfront. However, most attorneys will need to meet with a potential client for a consultation, often for a fee, to discuss their case before they can quote a retainer fee or what fees they will charge to take on their case.

Most attorneys ask for a lump sum payment up front as a retainer to insure their representation of you. Not only will you need to know what the upfront retainer will be but you want to know what charges will be billed against that retainer and at what rate. An attorney is required to give you a written fee agreement with all the terms and conditions of hourly rates and billing and retainers included that both of you will sign before the divorce attorney begins to represent you.

4. How Will We Communicate?

What type and level of communication can you expect from your attorney?

Some attorneys only give you their office number and that of their assistant. They may promise to get back directly within 24 hours or asap through their assistant. Some attorneys give out their cellphone numbers and allow their clients to text them even on nights and weekends. Usually, the access a client may have to their attorney depends on how busy their attorney is. A busy attorney does not always mean they are a good attorney or the right divorce attorney for you.

5. What Can You Tell Me About You?

Divorce is a very personal process. You want to choose someone whose personality suits you and your needs.

So consider all of your needs when choosing your attorney. Not only look at their experience and their fees.

Consider what approach you want your attorney to take in your divorce case. Do you want someone who can help you settle things peacefully or litigate in court?

Some people want a shark who will go after the other person and their attorney. They may want someone to hurt their spouse who has wronged them. While most spouses only have fleeting thoughts like this when choosing an attorney, some do choose an attorney based upon this concept. If you do choose such an attorney with this kind of reputation, you need to realize that such kind of litigation is VERY expensive. Also, this kind of scorched earth mentality takes everything down in its wake. So, in addition to depleting the marital estate, if you have children this tactic can be very emotionally damaging for them. Also, realize that most family lawyers no matter how aggressive they can be in court will try to keep their clients with one foot in reality since the courts don’t generally punish the other spouse as a result of misconduct in the marriage.

In actuality, most people going through a divorce have the goal of reaching a fair settlement that will suit their family from their perspective and that is the goal of most family lawyers for their client as well.

Also consider what you need emotionally, psychologically, and mentally from your divorce attorney as well.

How much individual time do you want from an attorney? Do you want someone who has a lot of assistants to help with your case or do you want someone who is chief, cook, and bottle washer?

Do you need a hand holder? Many attorneys want to just stick to the facts. Do you want an attorney who will spend a lot of with you on the phone supporting you emotionally as well as legally?

What kind of communication style suits you? Do you want someone who is the very bottom line? Do you want an attorney who gives you a broad overview? Do you need an attorney who gives you lots of details or breaks things down for you?

How much control and input do you want in your case? Do you want an attorney who will explain everything to you or one you can just hand over your keys to and let them drive the bus?

Knowing what you need and what to expect will help you have a more positive experience during your divorce process. Choose wisely.

Are We A Match For Your Divorce Needs?

Divorce Done Differently is a committed to helping people find a peaceful way to resolve the conflict by exploring creative solutions to meet your needs and looking at the legal, financial, and emotional things that impact you and your family.

Together we can chart a course that will lead you toward a brighter future apart from conflict. Call me.

Want to Know More?

If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at lmjmyers@cs.com.

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Tree against a blue sky with clouds |Divorce Mediation Checklist | Divorce Done Differently in PA

Divorce Mediation Checklist

10 Steps for Divorce Mediation

A divorce mediation checklist or having a 10 step plan is helpful for anyone going through the process of mediating a divorce. Even in the best circumstances, an emotional component plays a part in the mediation process. Plus, with all the many moving pieces to keep up, anyone can lose track. Please use the following 10 step guide to make sure you have considered everything and are not surprised.

1. Finding the right divorce mediator requires you to do your research

First, give yourself the information and time to choose the right divorce mediator for you.

It is essential to do your research to find the right mediator for you. Divorce mediation is a very personal experience, so you have to find a divorce mediator whose personality fits you and your spouse. Not all divorce mediators or mediation processes are the same. Divorce mediators use different methodologies and offer various services. Some divorce mediators are also attorneys. Make sure you have all the information to pick the right mediator for you and your spouse.

The internet is a great place to start. Read blogs to learn more about the divorce mediation process and what to look for and to expect. Go to different divorce mediator websites to know about that divorce mediator.

2. Meet with a Divorce Mediator

You and your spouse should interview your divorce mediator before you hire them. A meeting will ensure that the divorce mediator is a good fit for the two of you and your needs.

A skilled divorce mediator should be able to tell you about their mediation process. The divorce mediator should be able to tell you the timeline for their mediation process. They should tell you about their fee structure and what it covers. The mediator should tell you about how they succeed with couples in mediation.

3. Hiring a Divorce Mediator

You and your spouse should agree on which divorce mediation process works best for the two of you and which divorce mediator seems to best suit your needs. You and your spouse should also agree on how the payment of the mediator will be handled.

The mediator should have you sign a contract that includes payment information and the number of sessions etc., that the fee covers. Make sure you have covered all the elements of your divorce mediation checklist in the contract agreement.

4. Mediation Mindset

Mediation is a process whereby two people meet with a neutral mediator who helps facilitate discussion to help the parties reach a fair, agreeable, expedited resolution to their issue.

You and your spouse need to go into divorce mediation planning on compromising and succeeding. A “my way or the highway” attitude will not lead to a successful mediation.

A mediator is obligated to be a neutral facilitator. Therefore a good mediator will interject in a mediation process to keep things balanced during the process. The divorce mediator will use different techniques to thwart any power grabs on the part of either spouse.

You and your spouse should both remember throughout the mediation that you both chose this process to reach a fair, peaceful resolution of your differences for the best interest of your family.

5. Information Gathering with a Divorce Mediation Checklist

A skilled divorce mediator will assist you and your spouse in gathering the necessary financial information needed to make informed, intelligent decisions about the division of your assets and debts and the determination of child and spousal support/alimony.

Most divorce mediators will give you a list of financial documents that you need to gather to share with the mediator and your spouse. This list often includes information about assets such as bank statements, investment statements, retirement statements, insurance information, pay stubs, tax returns, and real estate valuations, automobiles, and other valuables. The list also includes information about debts such as mortgage statements, home equity loans, student loans, car loans, credit card statements, etc. At this stage, a divorce mediation checklist is a useful document for managing the collection of information.

If there is unique information needed to decide custody matters, such a school ranking or medical information, or input from a child’s therapist, then the mediator will also instruct you to gather that information as well.

Many divorce mediators will have you and your spouse create a secure online account to share this information, such as on DropBox.

6. Custody Mediation Sessions

A divorce mediator will start a custody mediation making sure that the parents are focused on the child.

A custody mediation session usually lasts 2- 4 hours.

The mediator will instruct the parents that it is healthiest for a child to feel loved and supported by both parents.

The mediator will ask the parents to focus on creating a schedule that best suits the child’s needs as well as giving each parent enough time with the child. Parents need to remember that it is the child that is going back and forth between two households because the parents decided to separate not the child. Parents need to make this transition as smooth as possible for the child.

The divorce mediator will help the parents create a parenting schedule that outlines parent sharing time during the week and weekends and holidays and vacations. The parenting agreement will also address other things like medical, religious, and educational decisions for the child and daily stuff like phone calls. Other considerations include how to introduce a child to a parent’s new significant other. Or what happens when the parent travels or goes somewhere overnight during their scheduled parenting time. Again, having thought thru the process with a divorce mediation checklist prior to making final decisions will help you obtain the best results.

Developing good communication skills is key to a reasonable parenting agreement, so the parenting agreement may include different communication tools to be used by the parents.

The goal of a mediated parenting agreement is to support each parent’s role in the co-parenting process to meet the needs of their child best.

7. Financial Mediation Sessions

Often divorce mediators conduct at least two financial mediation sessions.

A financial mediation session usually lasts anywhere from 2- 4 hours.

Usually, the divorce mediator prepares a workbook that will be presented at the first mediation. It can include an outline of the parties’ assets and debts, support calculations, copies of the divorce laws in the parties’ state and/or any other information that may help the parties have to assist them in the mediation process.

The first session usually focuses on outlining the assets and debts of the marital estate and discussing support issues. There is usually no expectation of reaching any clear cut agreements at the first mediation sessions.

Most people’s heads are swimming after the first financial mediation session. Knowing this, the divorce mediator does not schedule the next mediation session for at least another 10 to 14 days after the first financial mediation session.

This allows the dust to settle and allows the parties to clear their heads or gather additional information needed to make an informed decision.

Spouses may also decide to meet with a certified divorce financial analyst in between sessions to better understand how the division of the marital assets will look long term. A certified divorce financial analyst helps parties consider different scenarios concerning the division of their marital assets and debts, focusing on both short and long-term economic values of their assets and debts and how it can affect the parties later in life. They use specialized software programs to help them analyze assets like property, expenses, retirement accounts, pensions, inflation, life insurance, and child support in order to assist parties in making the decision concerning the division of their marital estate.

8. Decide on the Terms of Final Settlement

The best scenario for a financial settlement is not always an equal division of assets and debts, especially where there are children involved and a disparity in income between the spouses. The ultimate goal of the financial mediation is to create an agreed-upon plan of the marital estate division that will best suit everyone’s needs post- divorce. That does not always mean the same thing as what a court would decide.

The best scenario for a parenting agreement is not always a child spending equal time with each parent. Parents need to focus on what best suits the child’s needs while they transition between two households.

The mediation process allows spouses to create whatever scenario best suits their family as they transition from one household to two. The terms are developed jointly by the parties’ agreement and are not dictated by any judge, lawyer or law.

9. The Marital Settlement

If your divorce mediator is an attorney, they may serve as a neutral attorney who can draft the marital settlement agreement document. If the divorce mediator is not an attorney, they will prepare a memorandum of understanding instead. Both documents will contain all terms and conditions of the marital settlement mutually agreed upon by the spouses.

The marital settlement agreement is a legally binding contract with legal language that both spouses will ultimately sign. The memorandum of understanding is not legally binding. It is simply an outline of the terms and conditions of the marital settlement that have been agreed upon by the parties.

Regardless, after either the marital settlement agreement or memorandum of understanding is created, the parties should meet with the divorce mediator to review the document. They should ensure the documents contain everything the parties agreed upon in the division of the marital estate and/or parenting terms. It is also a good time to review your divorce mediation checklist to make sure you have addressed all concerns. 

10. Review/Preparation of a Marital Settlement Agreement

If your divorce mediator is not an attorney, one spouse will need to hire an attorney to draft the marital settlement agreement document that will include all the terms and conditions of the division of the marital estate that are outlined in the marital settlement agreement. The other spouse should also hire an attorney to review the agreement prepared by the other spouse’s attorney.

If the marital settlement agreement is prepared by the mediator, both spouses are encouraged to hire a mediator friendly attorney for each of them to review the document in order to ensure they understand the agreement and that it clearly reflects what they believe they have agreed upon.

The key with any attorney hired in this situation is to ensure that the attorney understands they are not being hired to undo the agreement but to make sure that the spouse understands the agreement and that agreement says what the spouse thinks it should say.

Want to Know More?

If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at lmjmyers@cs.com.

Let’s Talk

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King of Prussia, PA 19406
Office: (610) 275-1400
Cell: (215) 470-3121

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