Introducing divorce mediation
Haefner Law Office is excited to introduce a new way for our clients to resolve their issues and find peace.
St. Louis divorce attorney Attorney Mark Haefner has become one of only a few of the family law attorneys in the area who has completed the mandatory family law mediation training and can offer this option for people seeking a way to end the relationship without all the cost and stress of a traditional divorce.
Below is a basic outline to many questions people have about divorce mediation.
What is a mediated divorce?
A Mediated Divorce is when two parties want to simplify the divorce process, but have some issues they have not agreed upon yet, including child custody, child support, maintenance, and property division.
- The mediator, a family law attorney having been trained and certified by the Missouri Bar, is a neutral and unbiased guide to help you settle issues and avoid a contested, adversarial divorce
- When you choose divorce mediation, you and your spouse enter into an agreement that the mediator will try and help them resolve any outstanding issues and allow for an uncontested divorce, or in the alternative, help settle some of the contested issues
- The mediator’s guidance can tell you what will likely happen should the matter be taken before the Court, allowing you to make an informed decision as to whether or not it is worth fighting and entering into an adversarial divorce process
- This will likely save time, stress, and thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars, as well keep the animosity between the spouses to a minimum
- Even if not all issues are agreed upon, it will help to narrow the focus of what is contested, saving a lot of time and money
How much does divorce mediation cost?
At Haefner Law Office, the cost for a full mediation is a flat rate of $2,500, and includes the following:
The cost for a full mediation is a flat rate of $2,500, and includes the following:
- A phone consultation with both spouses describing what the process is, what the mediator needs to try and help resolve the matters, and scheduling of times when they will meet with the mediator (both separately and together)
- An email of the documents each party needs to fill out prior to the meeting and mediation, which can be used and given to their attorneys later should the matter not get resolved in mediation (saving you time and money)
- A one-hour meeting with each spouse to discuss their goals, concerns and answer questions relating to their particular situation
- Value: $350 per hour, for a total of $700
- An in-depth review of the documents provided by each client
- Up to three-hours of joint mediation, where both spouses are present (though there may be some separation if things become heated), where the issues that each party has will be addressed, discussed, given likely outcomes, and possible resolutions to each disputed issue
- If we are close to a resolution, additional hours of mediation can be added for an hourly rate
- If the mediation does not result in a full resolution of issues, the mediator will draft a letter to each of you outlining what was agreed upon, what issues still remain, and references to excellent family law attorneys that will represent them in a contested matter (these references are excellent attorneys that do not litigate for the sake of raising fees, but to try and come to resolutions through settlements after speaking with the Judge assigned to your case)
- If the mediation is successful, there is an additional fee of $1,000 which includes the following:
- A coin flip to decide who the mediator will be “representing” in the divorce so they can file the matter with the Court
- A conflict waiver will need to be signed by both parties
- The drafting of a Limited Entry of Appearance, where the mediator enters on the case solely for the purpose of submitting agreed upon documents
- Should the matter ever become contested, the mediator will withdraw as the attorney of record
- The drafting of all initial and final documents, including any parenting plans, that will be sent to each party to review
- A signature meeting where all documents will be signed at the mediator’s office in front of a notary
- Both initial and final documents will be signed at the same time
- The filing fee the Court charges (usually under $200) will be collected at this time as well
- Submission of the documents to the Court, as well as a final submission 30 days after the initial documents were accepted by the Court
- Likely, there will be no court appearance necessary by the parties, and the mediator will take care of everything after everyone has signed the documents
- Once the final Judgment has been signed by the Judge, the mediator will get the documents to the parties
- If either party is obtaining retirement funds, we will be providing references to Qualified Domestic Relations Order attorneys who can obtain retirement funds without tax implications
- Value: $1,750.00
Mediated divorce vs contested divorce vs uncontested divorce
To some, the difference between a mediated divorce and an uncontested divorce can seem confusing. The simplest way to differentiate the two is the fact that mediated divorces are handled out of court. The only time a judge is involved is when he or she approves the agreed-upon terms you and your spouse have come to.
Contested divorces involve judges and courtrooms and factors such as property division, child custody, and child support.
For more information, read our article Mediated Divorce vs Contested & Uncontested Divorce.
What happens if someone changes their mind and no longer wants to submit the agreement reached in mediation?
If one of the parties involved in the divorce changes their mind about the agreed-upon terms during divorce mediation, the mediator will withdraw as representation in the matter.
The mediator will outline what the previous agreement was in a letter to both parties to share with their new attorneys in an effort to nail down what was and what is no longer agreed to.
The mediator will refer the parties to extremely competent and experienced attorneys who will focus on resolving the issues with the Judge’s guidance (rather than racking up additional attorney fees).
Hopefully, you may be able to avoid a costly trial once the Judge weighs in on the remaining issues.
Who should not attempt a mediated divorce?
- In situations where domestic violence is present, mediation is not usually recommended
- If you choose to proceed with mediation, you need to inform the mediator of a history of domestic violence
- If there is a situation where both parties do not want to attempt to resolve the issues through mediation
- If there is a belief that the other party will hide assets, as the mediator is not going to conduct discovery
- If a party refuses to make any concessions and wants to fight/punish the other spouse
- If you are wanting someone to make the decision for you rather than work it out between the parties
- The mediator is there to help facilitate an informed settlement, not make any rulings or judgments that are binding to either party
Who should attempt a mediated divorce?
- Parties that want to save money rather than proceed immediately to a traditional contested divorce
- Parties that have children and want to avoid a nasty, contested divorce that will stress out everyone, especially the children
- Parties that believe that their spouse will be honest about assets and incomes (tax returns help)
- Parties that would like the divorce to be completed quickly and amicably
- Parties that feel a settlement is possible with some informed guidance by an experienced family law attorney
- Parties that would like confidentiality, as divorce proceedings are public record
- Parties that want to narrow the issues, if not resolve everything
- Parties that would like to remain in control of the divorce process
- Parties that want to have a cordial, if not friendly, relationship with their ex once the process is done
- Parties that would like to try everything prior to entering into a contested divorce where each spouse spends thousands of dollars on attorneys
What is the divorce mediation process and when is the divorce final?
- Once all documents have been signed, the matter is filed with the Court
- At least 30 days after the matter is filed with the Court, the final documents are submitted to the Judge for signature, which usually happens within a week (though it does take some Judge’s longer to sign the documents)
- Generally, a mediated divorce takes about sixty days from start to finish, though it largely depends on the availability of when the parties and mediator can meet
If you have additional questions regarding a mediated divorce, or questions relating to a divorce of any type, please contact 314-200-6101 and speak to one of our attorneys to discuss your options.