Many people assume that the only way to resolve a family law matter is to retain counsel and commence a Court action. This is a wrong assumption. Some cases must be settled with court intervention, although many cases may be settled through alternative dispute resolution.
Litigation is time consuming, emotionally draining, expensive, and unpredictable. In litigation, a judge will make divorce-related decisions regarding child access, support, and equalization. You are never certain of your outcome until a judge makes a decision, which may not be in your favour, not even slightly.
So, what is mediation?
Mediation is an alternative to court. Mediation employs a professionally trained, unbiased and neutral third party called a mediator, who does not judge the case but helps facilitate a discussion, limit the issues, and put them in perspective to assist the parties in resolving the dispute.
Mediation is non-binding, so the parties work toward a voluntary agreement on key issues which is then drawn up into Minutes of Settlement, which is enforceable. Parties participating in mediation have an incentive to reach an agreement because they do not want to proceed to trial to be bound to the judge’s order instead.
Mediation is less expensive, more confidential, and highly effective in resolving conflicts more peacefully than expensive and stressful litigious court battles.
When you retain counsel for a court application, you will have to leave a retainer, which may range from $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 for work to even commence on your matter. Hourly rates for lawyers usually range from $350.00 to $950,00 per hour. It is not unlikely that a family law matter in litigation will cost $25,000.00 to $100,000.00 per party.
Mediation ranges from $250.00 to $300.00 per hour with both parties sharing this cost. A much smaller retainer would be required, more likely in the amount of $500.00 to $1,000.00. The total cost of mediation usually ranges from $1,000.00 to $7,000.00. The cost savings of mediation versus litigation is astronomical to say the least.
The time it takes to get to a family law trial is extensive, sometimes taking years to reach trial. Mediation can be resolved within a day to a week. Which means less stress for each party and returning to a normal life much quicker.