The ins and outs of Hiring a Family Law Mediator


Interested in hiring a family law mediator to help mediate your divorce, but don’t know where to start? The three most common questions we hear when parties are interested in hiring a mediator are: 1) How do we locate a mediator; 2) How much should we expect to pay for a mediator; and 3) How long does mediation normally take? This article addresses mediators utilized to help resolve your overall divorce. Separately, the courts in Southern California all offer free mediation services specifically to help resolve child custody conflicts between parents.

Locating a Mediator
There are three main types of mediators: 1) Court-appointed mediators; 2) Private mediators; and 3) Mediators available through non-profit organizations. Court-appointed mediators and mediators working for non-profit agencies can usually be located by contacting your local family law court clerk. Some family law courts offer free low-cost mediation sessions for those who cannot afford to hire a mediator on their own. However, most courts only offer this service for child custody issues. Either way, by contacting your local family law court they will be able to point you to a mediator or refer you to an agency who can, depending on your financial situation. Some courts and agencies even have a list of well-known private mediators in the community. The benefit of hiring a private mediator over a court-appointed or non-profit mediator is that your number of sessions will not be limited. You get to choose what topics to be discussed and how many sessions you want to take in order to obtain the desired result.

The average private mediator costs anywhere from $150 to $500 per hour. The hourly fee will depend upon the skill, qualifications, and expertise of the mediator you choose. Some mediators only assist with child custody, alimony issues, or dividing the families’ china while others will take on more complicated issues such as dividing retirement accounts, property, or complicated issues for high asset individuals.

Number of Sessions
The number of sessions it takes for you and your spouse to come to an agreement will also determine the price of the mediator. Some mediators charge flat fees, but they are usually accompanied by the risk that you may or may not reach an agreement by the time you have used up your allotted number of sessions. If you’re paying for your mediator by the hour, the number of sessions will be determined by how motivated you and your spouse are to settle, and how complicated the issues are that you need to mediate. For less complicated matters, you should be able to resolve your issues in as little as 1 or 2 sessions. For items of a more serious nature, 10 or more sessions is not uncommon.

Authored by IRWIN & IRWIN.

IRWIN & IRWIN Family Law is located in Fullerton and Newport Beach, California. We provide a full suite of family law services from divorce litigation, divorce mediation, child custody issues, domestic violence restraining orders and representing minors in court. “Every situation is different, and some come with very complex financial issues. Our legal team is here to support you during a very troubling time and prepare you for court, or to at least help negotiate or mediate the issues to establish an equitable legal resolution,” says Kelly Irwin, Senior Litigator at the firm.