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Divorce, A More Perfect Dis-Union

I recently received a comment to one of our blog posts. The commentator was decrying the high price of a divorce. She linked and recommended a local mediation center that I hadn't heard of before.

I looked into the mediation center. They advise that the average divorce takes a year and a half and costs $50,000 to $75,000.00. Yikes!! I had not heard that. Our Firm's average cost for a contested divorce is around $7,500 (though our retainers are far less) and the average time to completion is probably a little bit longer than six months. I hadn't realized that almost everyone else had gotten so out of control. Of course, some of our divorces cost quite a lot less and some of them cost quite a lot more. The greatest variable lies in how hard and long the other side wants to fight. Delay and aggression really drive up costs to ridiculous levels.

This mediation center contends that they charge 90% less than the average divorce. That would put their rate somewhere between $5,000 and $7,500. That is in keeping with our experience, although our average cost usually includes a fair bit of litigation to arrive at a conclusion. Sometimes, when one side is playing nice and the other side is playing nasty, you really need a judge to help sort things out and you need a great trial team to know how best to put together and try your case.

This mediation center uses a process they call "Transitions Divorce." They assert that they are only ones who use this process. They have trademarked it. I haven't figured out what this process entails but if it saves money and achieves a fair result, I'm all for it. Part of it seems to be using their own attorneys which they appoint to you and your spouse (at a cost, I'm guessing). They will appoint an attorney for both sides, but these attorneys apparently contract with the mediation center and submit themselves to this Transitions Divorce process. Perhaps a part of this process involves promising not to fight. In that way, it would be like a Collaborative Divorce which is still somewhat expensive but lovely because both sides have promised not to fight each other. But this mediation center contends their Transitions Divorce Process is not like Collaborative Divorce, so perhaps I am wrong.

Still, it is quite interesting.

As repeated readers well know, our Firm has long decried the out-of-control costs of some divorces, driven solely by angry ex's or retainer hungry counsel. It is inefficient. It is harmful. It is not our way.  We are forever fighting for the less costly, less contentious divorce.  It is our cause.

Further, we created the Justice Café for clients who are looking for an unbundled option. That's even less expensive that our traditional firm, although, as is true with unbundled services, the clients must carry much more of the weight, do more of the leg work. Sometimes clients do not want that burden nor like that uncertainty.

In either event, innovation is good. The law has developed over centuries and is a very sound way of determining truth and resolving disputes. But it is not the only way. We need innovators and I wish this new mediation center all the best as it joins us in the fray to help families afford their more perfect dis-union.

Michael Manely

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