Who mediates? 
  • I usually recommend and utilize the services of a retired Judge or a Certified Family Law Specialist.  An experienced mediator can provide insight to a difficult client and help predict a possible outcome.
How much does it cost? 
  • Hiring a mediator is definitely not cheap. It can range from $350- $500 per hour.  These individuals usually require a 4 to 5 hour retainer deposit.  Trust me, in the long run this is NOTHING.  Remember my example from the above paragraph?  Yes, the hearing that's been continued for 2 years.  My client has spent nearly $15,000.00 associated with my preparation and multiple appearances.
What are the practical benefits?   
  • You can settle your entire case in a single sit down.  This will not only save you money but an endless barrage of court appearances.
  • You are protected by various statutory provisions regarding confidentiality.  What you say in mediation STAYS in mediation. 
  • You can cut through a lot of procedural and evidentiary restrictions.  The mediator can look through hearsay documents and provide his opinion regarding its impact with the case at hand.
  • Save the embarrassment.  Mediation is private and confidential!  This will ensure that none of your dirty laundry is exposed.  Remember, divorce proceedings are public! 

How do we ensure the mediation is fruitful? 
  • Hire a lawyer that understands family law and the pitfalls associated with litigating in Court.  I usually recommend hiring a Certified Family Law Specialist.
  • Treat the mediation date as if it were your trial date.  Simply put, be prepared!
  • Exchange mediation briefs and tentative trial Exhibit/Witness lists at least one week prior to mediation.  This will help ensure that both sides are prepared for the mediation.  Nothing is worse than showing up for a session and the other side being ill equipped to talk turkey.
  • Try to split the mediator's fee.  This helps ensure that both parties have some skin the fight. 
  • Hire a seasoned litigator.  An experienced litigator will be privy to the pitfalls of our judicial system.  He or she should definitely understand the benefits of informal resolution.  In my opinion, litigators quite often make the best participants in a mediation.  They are usually fully prepared and flexible on potentially litigated issues.  The last thing you want is an attorney who has never litigated an issue try to settle that issue.
Can every case be settled by way of mediation?
  • Unfortunately, not every case can be settled in mediation.  Sometimes parties are the roadblocks, other times the issues themselves render judicial intervention mandatory.  However, even in those instances mediation can be useful.  Mediation can help identify and narrow the remaining issues for litigation. 


Patrick Baghdaserians, CFLS


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