Belacord: Guides Serve As Onramp to Mediation Services

Belacord, a new national dispute resolution company based in Palm Springs, CA, is taking a new approach to the generation of mediation business by offering online and calling clients “guide services.” See Belacord’s concept of offering guides may be the best thing since “Fairly Legal” to simulate new awareness of mediation services.

According to Belacord CEO, Ron Berger, a successful franchisor in the media and food industries, market research shows that most people faced with a possible separation or divorce are initially interested in getting an overview of their options in an affordable and convenient way. Berger’s experience and the premise of Belacord is that, “people facing a possible divorce do not need to win so much as want to be sure that they do not lose.”

Belacord’s guide services, according to Berger, “provide a sensitive ear and act as a clearinghouse of valuable information for those considering separation or divorce.” Callers are assisted to consider helpful articles and resources, such as developing a financial inventory, budgeting and an opportunity to begin building their own marital settlement agreement.

According to Berger, in addition to charging reasonable guide fees (only $30 for 30 minutes!), Belacord, by agreement with mediators, retains 9% of total mediation fees for case management and ongoing promotion. Mediators promise to offer their first 8 hours of service for not more than $2000. Should the client decide not to proceed with the referred mediator at the conclusion of their first session, it is agreed there will be no fee to the mediator. For those mediations that run over the ‘flat fee’ initial 8 hours, the mediator negotiates the rate for the additional time directly with the clients.

It is intriguing that Belacord guides are thus far neither lawyers nor mediators. Their goal is to help the caller navigate the rich resources at the site and to offer an experienced and informed human being to listen to concerns and help recognize, consider, and evaluate options. Belacord guides assist their clients to evaluate their relationship status and re-engage the other spouse to work on improving the marriage, or guides channel clients to a capable mediator for mediation.

While most Belacord mediation referrals are for traditional face-to-face mediation, Belacord also creatively offers ‘remote mediation’ in which the clients never physically meet with the mediator. Clients and remote mediators utilize a variety of communication approaches, including Skype, in which clients see each other as well as the mediator, or the remote mediator may conduct the mediation online via email and/or instant messaging.

According to Berger, once Belacord establishes itself as a leading solution in the divorce sector, he hopes to develop “similar easy access guide & clearinghouse approaches in other substantive areas, such as elder care and workplace issues.”


James Melamed, J.D.

Jim Melamed co-founded in 1996 along with John Helie and served as CEO of through June 2020 (25 years).  Jim is currently Board Chair and General Counsel for Resourceful Internet Solutions, Inc. (RIS), home to,, and other leading dispute resolution sites. During Jim's tenure,… MORE >

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