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 would include1-4 mediation sessions, the preparation of a marital settlement agreement, and the cost to prepare and file the paperwork for a divorce.

In the beginning stages of divorce, our brains can be flooded with consuming questions. How much is my divorce going to cost? Can I afford it? The short answer is that the cost of divorce mediation varies by state, and even county, making the price individual to each location. So, let’s explore the cost of divorce mediation in  New York.

There are many variables that affect the price of divorce mediation, some are within your control, while others are not.  The cost of a divorce is largely dependent on the complexity of the case and relationship between the couple, resulting in the price to range between $5,000-9,000 – which is the case for the majority of people. The price of the overall divorce will ultimately be lower if you are able to agree on the terms of the divorce without a mediator. Some of those terms include: distribution of property, maintenance (spousal support), child custody and support. If there is a clear understanding of these concepts and an agreement is made quickly and without conflict or assistance, divorce in New York can start at approximately $2,250.

Although possible, it is highly unlikely. Most couples do not initially agree on all of the issues at hand and need the guidance of a divorce mediator. This places the average cost of divorce between $5,000-$9,000. The benefit of working with a divorce mediator at SnapDivorce is that they have 10+ years of experience, and they 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 up front. The only additional costs that may be added to the flat-fee would be if the couple required a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”). This is a court order that allows divorcing parties to divide retirement assets prior to retirement without tax or early withdrawal penalties.

A ligated divorce on the other hand charges for a retainer as well as an hourly rate. In New York, most attorney retainers start at approximately $20,000- for each party, and most ligation attorneys bill up to $300-$500 per hour. These 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 increase even more. If an agreement cannot be met without court intervention, ligation costs can easily reach $100,000 or more.

Additional Fees

Court Fees

Additional fees, such as court fees, and professional fees would only apply to those who choose not to use a divorce mediator or those who fall under special circumstances. For example, in Westchester County, 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.

Professional Fees

In addition to the costs of hiring a lawyer and paying court fees, costs may also stem from professional fees. For example, many couples struggle to decide how to divide their property. In the case that the parties cannot agree between themselves, it may be necessary to hire an appraiser to determine the value of marital property or vacation home. Even some couples choose to hire an actuator to determine the value of a retirement plan.

Unavoidable Costs

Of course, there are some costs that are simply unavoidable. Such as costs associated with effectuating the distribution of the property. For example, transferring a deed for the marital home, or preparing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”). Depending on your specific situation, additional costs can be added. 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 and 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 direct 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 reach out to a divorce mediator in your area.

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