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Family Law Attorney Stacy Sabatini, Esq.

News and insights about divorce and family law in New York.

What Does Mediation Cost Vs. Divorce Litigation?

One of the most unnerving aspects of a divorce is the expense. Litigation involves filing fees, court costs, attorneys’ fees and other expenses. When a couple can’t agree on how to end their marriage and make child custody arrangements, sparring between their attorneys can drive up costs. The more acrimonious a divorce becomes, the more expensive.

But more couples are discovering mediation to resolve the conflicts amicably to avoid pricey litigation. Even the most adversarial couples can be helped by a mediator who works for a win-win solution. This process can save both parties money as well as reduce the time it takes to finalize a divorce.


The Cost Of Divorce Litigation

How much does it cost to get a divorce? It depends on multiple factors, and no two cases are alike. Some cases are simple and straightforward whereas others are more complex, such as those with minor children, family businesses or property, or other factors.

Some New York divorce attorneys charge as much as $150 for a first consultation while others offer free consultations. After that, expect to pay between $200 and $600 an hour on average (or more) for the services of a New York divorce attorney, unless they offer a “flat-fee” service.

The size of the law firm also determines what you’ll pay. A solo practitioner or small law firm will charge less than a larger law firm. Each attorney will have their own hourly fee. Other factors include the complexity of your case and the location of the court where your divorce will be filed.

Filing your New York divorce will run a minimum of $335, which is also dependent on where in the state you file. There are also multiple filings which have their own fees, including the summons, the affidavit of defendant and the judgment of divorce. The costs will vary depending on your county.

Then there is the matter of working with your attorney. In an uncontested divorce, most of the issues are already decided. Therefore, this divorce won’t take very long to prepare and won’t be extremely expensive. If both parties agree and there is no conflict, the divorce is straightforward, and you may not even have to make a court appearance. You’ll pay for a few hours of their time and some filing fees.

The contested divorce is the most expensive, and frequently involves retaliation by one or both spouses. Both parties must hire their own legal counsel. Issues such as child custody, asset and property division can be disputed for quite some time at a cost that could be avoided.

The divorce lawyer must then spend time gathering evidence through discovery and preparing for court. This can include preparing pre-trial motions and trial briefs, opening and closing statements, witness testimony, and cross-examination. All this is done by billable hours.

Some divorces may require expert witnesses, such as:

  • Forensic accountants
  • Psychologists or other mental health professionals, especially where children are involved
  • Financial analysts
  • Appraisers
  • Actuaries
  • Custody evaluators

All of which will increase the final cost of a New York divorce. This is in addition to the months and years it can add to the process before your divorce is final.

Ultimately, the court has the final say on distribution of property and assets along with child custody and support. Decisions from the court may not be what you expect, and both parties must comply with the order. The judge makes the important decisions on your behalf that determine your future and that of your children. Everything said and done in court is a matter of public record that anyone can access at any time.

All told, a contentious contested divorce can cost upwards of $50,000, in addition to things like the sale of a home, division of pensions and retirement accounts. “Fault” divorces, in which one uses grounds for divorce, can drive the costs even higher, burning through more of the couple’s marital assets.

The Cost Of Divorce Mediation

If there was a way to simplify your divorce process, would you?

Instead of battling your spouse, mediation allows you to have more control over your divorce and avoid contentious litigation. There are still fees and court costs when you take the option of divorce mediation, but not nearly as much as attorneys by the hour.

The spouses choose and agree to a mediator. While both parties may decide to have their own legal representation, they will both work with the same mediator to discuss child visitation, property distribution, and marital expenses. Most mediations take from one to four sessions, but some may need more. Every case is different.

Once both parties have reached a settlement agreement, they’ll enter into a written and notarized agreement that’s filed with the court along with their uncontested divorce petition. This agreement is confidential and isn’t public like the petition and other court papers. Both parties can have their own attorneys review the agreement before signing and filing.

Mediation costs are significantly less than litigation, which can top $50,000, or even more. But a mediated New York divorce can cost less than $10,000. On average, most couples spend between $4,000 and $8,000 to finalize their divorce through mediation. And because it’s filed as uncontested, the time frame is shorter than litigation.

Opting for divorce mediation can save a considerable amount of time, money, stress, and grief. Without the hostility usually associated with divorce, the process is less painful, less expensive, and faster.

Experienced Family Law Mediators For New York Families

At the Law Office of Stacy Sabatini, Esq., we provide an array of family law and related legal services to families in Rockland, Orange, and Westchester counties. Our mediation services can make a difficult situation easier. To find out more about paternity, child support, custody and visitation orders as well as our other services, please contact our office online by filling out our online form or call (845) 243-0295 today!

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