HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Just like anything else in life, cost depends on what you order or need. If your car needs new brakes the cost will be minimal. If your car needs a brand-new engine, the cost will be high. A Separation Agreement will cost less than $2,000. Mediation will cost a few thousand dollars to $20,000. A full-blown adversarial trial will range between $20,000 and $200,000.
It is important to remember that no one can force your ex to agree. The more agreement there is the less it will cost. The more fighting there is, the more billable hours that are required to fight, and therefore the more it will cost.
Most people would prefer to get along with their ex and enter into a separation agreement without fighting. People pay their lawyer to draft the agreement and sign it with the client, thereafter, if the other party signs it or not, the lawyer gets paid, so it makes sense to speak to one's ex to see if they will sign such an agreement or not before paying your lawyer to draft it.
Mediation usually takes a full day from 8 am to 5 pm with very few breaks. It pays to be knowledgeable in mediation. The more your lawyer knows the better able he/she is to argue a persuasive argument that provides you with a settlement that is in your favor. Paying your lawyer to become familiar with your facts prior to mediation is a good idea.
You and your lawyer (to provide you with on-the-spot legal advice) and your ex and their lawyer (to provide them with on-the-spot legal advice) sit across from each other with a mediator in the middle who is the referee. There are a lot of break out sessions where one party or the other meet outside the room with their lawyer to have secret discussions.
The mediator will join some of those break out sessions from time to time.
The mediator is interested in settlement. It is his role to guide or sometimes push the parties to settlement.
At trial, a judge who does not know you will make decisions as to how things get finalized. In mediation, you are the architect of how things get finalized. That personal attention to detail results in higher rates of satisfaction in mediation than One gets from court.
Trial is the most protracted and most expensive. If one were to ask the court for an immediate court date, usually the 1st available date is 18 months away. Normally a full-blown family file takes 2 or more years to finish due to lengthy court delays.