How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost in New York?

The average cost of divorce mediation in New York is between $5,000 – $9,000. That price range would includefrom 1-3 mediation sessions, the preparation of a Settlement Agreement, the cost to prepare and file the paperwork for a divorce and filing fees.

The cost of any particular divorce mediation in  New York, however, will mainly depend on four factors: (1) the number of issues involved in the case, (2) the complexity of those issues, (3) the contentiousness of the parties, and (4) whether other expert services will be required.

Divorce papers on a desk in New York with pens and a pair of glasses

The First Factor that Affects the Cost of Divorce Mediation in New York is the Number of Issues Involved in the Case

The more issues that need to be resolved, the higher the price .  Generally speaking, short marriages with no children typically involve few issues. Long marriages, especially those with minor children, usually involve many issues.

The issues that are typically addressed in divorce mediation include marital property valuation and distribution, spousal support, alimony or maintenance, child support, child custody, retirement asset transfers, real estate transfers, and business valuation and/or sale.

Of course, not every case will involve every issue. For example, many cases do not involve child custody, either because the divorcing couple does not have children or the children are grown and emancipated. Most cases will involve at least some property distribution and support (child or spousal/alimony/maintenance), and the majority of cases will involve some real estate valuation or transfer.  Only a minority of cases will involve business valuation or transfers, but those that do are frequently complex.

New York divorce mediator completing complex divorce analysis

The Second Factor that Affects the Cost of Divorce Mediation in New York is the Complexity of the Issues Involved in the Case

In addition to the number of issues in a case, the complexity of the issues in the case will also affect the the cost of divorce mediation in New York.

Cases can be complex for multiple reasons. For example, cases can be complex due to long marriages or long separation periods, marital assets that have been co-mingled with non-marital assets, parties that have not worked for a long period of time or are working below their earning capacity, parties that have significant income from self-employment, stock option and grant valuations, or business valuations, just to name a few.

Complex cases will cost more to mediate, because they will require more time for the divorce mediator to analyze the case.  They usually also take several mediation session to resolve.  Some complex issues, such as business valuations or valuing executive compensation packages, will also require the retention of separate experts.

In comparison to complex cases, simple cases involving short marriages and/or relatively few assets can generally be completed in 1-2 mediation sessions. Occasionally, if a couple has already reached an agreement, it may be possible that no mediation sessions will be required.  Simple cases, such as those, will cost less to mediate than more complicated cases.

African-American New York divorce mediator getting a couple to compromiseThe Third Factor that Affects the Cost of Divorce Mediation in New York is the Willingness of the Parties to Compromise

One of the reasons traditional divorce is so expensive is because divorcing couples frequently have a “scorched earth” policy and refuse to compromise with each other about even the most trivial things. They have the idea that they can “win at their divorce” if they fight hard enough or hire the most aggressive lawyer.  This attitude is the #1 driver of the excessive cost of divorce.

If you are interested in divorce mediation (and reading this blog post), however, you probably do not fall into that category and most likely willing to make compromises during the divorce mediation process. That being said, how willing you and your spouse are to accept the recommendation of divorce mediator and compromise will directly affect the cost of your divorce mediation in New York.  If one or both of your are intransigent, it will drive up the cost of divorce mediation significantly by dragging the process out and requiring more mediation sessions.

New York divorce mediator charging for extra servicesIn Some Cases There May Be Additional Fees that Add to the Cost of Divorce Mediation in New York

In addition to the above factors, there may be additional fees from third-party service providers in some cases, such as real estate appraisals, QDRO experts, business appraisers, etc., that will add to the basic cost of divorce mediation.

Third-Party Professional FeesNew York real estate appraiser appraising house in divorce

In addition to the actual cost of divorce mediation and court fees, the cost of divorce mediation in New York may also involve third-party professional fees. For example, many couples struggle to agree to the value of certain marital property. If the parties cannot agree between themselves, it may be necessary to hire an appraiser to determine the value of certain marital property, real estate or business interests. Some couples will even choose to hire an actuary to determine the present value of a defined benefit retirement plan.

Also, in cases where certain “qualified” retirement accounts will be divided, such as 401(k)s or defined benefit pensions, a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) will be required and the couple will need to hire an expert to prepare the QDRO.

Typically these fees run from a few hundred dollars for real estate appraisals to thousand of dollars (or even tens of thousands of dollars) for business appraisals.

Sign for New York county divorce clerkCourt Fees

Additional fees, such as court fees, and professional fees would only apply to those who choose not to use a divorce mediator that is also an attorney who will process their divorce (and include court fees in their quote), or those who fall under special circumstances. For example, in Westchester County, NY the cost of purchasing an index number and commencing an action for divorce is $210, and the total cost in filing fees for an uncontested divorce starts at $335. A complete list of Westchester County Court filing fees can be found here.

Unavoidable CostsDeed to New York house being transferred during divorce

Of course, there are some costs associated with divorce in general that are simply unavoidable, such as costs associated with actually distributing martial property after a settlement is reached.  For example, transferring a deed for the marital home will require costs to draft and file the deed.

Depending on your specific situation, additional costs can be added by the court if you fail to reach an agreement in mediation. For example, in highly contentious custody cases, the court may appoint a third-party attorney for the child/children or even a psychologist or psychiatrist to conduct a custody evaluation. The inclusion of either (or both) of these professionals can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a divorce.

While it may be tempting to try to avoid some of these costs by representing yourself in a divorce, getting divorced is a complicated legal process that requires knowledge of New York State family law as well as federal and local tax laws. Check out our article, “Is Divorce Without Lawyers a Good Idea?” to see the possible risks of attempting to represent yourself.

Parties often unknowingly make mistakes that end up costing far more to correct than if they had retained counsel in the first place. A mediator is a good option if the couple is committed to having an option mind and remaining amicable. Mediation provides a cost-effective alternative to ligation that allows you to work with an attorney who is well versed in the laws pertaining to your area, and who is committed to helping you make your divorce as simple and painless as possible.  It will be more time effective and less stressful to contact a New York divorce mediator in your area.

The benefit of working with a divorce mediator at SnapDivorce is that every mediator has at least 10+ years of experience, and we offer a flat-fee that includes the price of court fees, as opposed to an hourly rate. Rather than guessing how long the mediation will take, and trying to rack up the hours in your head, you will know the cost upfront.

Expensive New York divorce attorneyDivorce Mediation is Significantly Less Expensive than Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

It is worth noting that divorce mediation is a bargain compared to the cost of being represented by an attorney. Traditional divorce litigation in New York with attorneys costs, on average, $50,000 per couple ($25,000 per side). Divorce attorney retainers in New York generally start around $7,500 – $10,000, and New York divorce attorney charge $400-$600 or more per hour. Those numbers add up quickly, resulting and an extremely expensive process. In cases with contentious parties and/or complex child custody and child support issues, the price can be significantly more. If an agreement cannot be reached without court intervention, ligation costs can easily reach $100,000 or more.

In comparison to the cost of divorce litigation, divorce mediation is significantly more affordable.

New York man saving money through divorce mediationThe Average Cost of Divorce Mediation in New York is Between $5,000 and $9,000

All that being said, the average cost of divorce mediation in New York is in the $5,000 – $9,000 range, including filing fees. At SnapDivorce, we will quote you a flat fee for your divorce mediation after your free initial consultation, once we have determined the complexity of your case and the services you will require.

If you are interested in divorce mediation, contact us to schedule your free 1-hour consultation.

For more great information, tips and insights about Divorce Mediation and the Divorce Process in general, check out our podcast, The Divorce Rulebook Podcast.