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Divorce is expensive. 

There are two ways to pay for a divorce: a flat fee (or fixed fee) and hourly fees. So, which way is best? Let’s explore the differences between flat fee vs. hourly fee divorce.

At Mediation Northwest, we charge flat fees. After asking a few questions, we know exactly how much time your divorce is likely to require (and therefore cost). When choosing a flat fee, you do not have to worry about how much your divorce will eventually cost because you know exactly how much it will cost. When you choose a divorce by-the-hour, you are flying blind and crossing your fingers hoping that it won’t be too expensive. Flat fees take the worry out of your divorce… because a divorce is stressful enough. 

Why are hourly divorce mediator charges worse?

Most divorce attorneys and mediators charge by the hour. A good divorce attorney or mediator will charge at least $400/hour. 

They earn their fee every time they touch your file, think about your file, and tell others to do something on your file. Every email, every phone call, every file review, every time your soon-to-be-ex calls, every time your soon-to-be-ex emails, every time the attorneys call and email each other. Everything. 

So, if your soon-to-be-ex can’t process information quickly, can’t make decisions in a timely manner, and needs more hand holding, you are paying for it. 

If you are a rapid-fire-pace emailer, you are paying for it. 

If your soon-to-be-ex’s attorney takes forever and requires your attorney to continually intervene, you are paying for it. 

I think you catch my drift. It is impossible to manage the cost of a divorce if you are in an hourly model.

Why are fixed fees for divorce mediation better?

If you hire a divorce mediator who charges flat fees, you know exactly how much your divorce will cost. 

If your soon-to-be-ex takes a lot of time, don’t sweat it because it isn’t costing you a dime. You know exactly what you are paying and you know exactly what you are getting. 

Here’s the rub. Although you know exactly what you are paying when you agree to a flat fee divorce, many divorce attorneys engage in a bait and switch. 

They tell their client that if they put down $2,5000, they can handle their divorce. When you compare a $8,000 flat fee compared to a $2,500 retainer, the $2,500 is very tempting.

The problem is that the $2,500 is only a retainer that the attorney will bill against using their hourly rate. (Guess how quickly $2,500 goes in an hourly rate? Quicker than you can say, “GO DUCKS!”)

A fixed fee divorce mediation case study

Marcia came to me after she fired her attorney. She told me she felt her attorney lied to her about how much it would cost. 

The attorney wasn’t lying and handled the BEGINNING of Marcia’s divorce for $2,500, but it didn’t end at $2,500. It cost Marcia $12,000 before she fired her attorney. Her soon-to-be ex-husband told me he spent $15,000 on his attorney, too. 

Let’s do the math. Between the two they spent $27,000 and weren’t even divorced! 

They hired me. They weren’t the easiest divorce, but they weren’t the hardest divorce, either. I handled their divorce for a flat fee of $11,000 TOTAL (or $5,500 EACH).

When making a decision - go with an attorney-mediator you can trust

Here’s the truth about the final cost for the charge-by-the-hour divorce. The “we have kids, a house, retirement, and need to discuss spousal support” couples tend to spend $15,000 – $20,000 each (or $30,000 – $40,000 total) in the charge-by-the-hour divorce model. 

Isn’t it refreshing that an attorney is telling you the truth? 

That’s how I run my practice. I am not going to manipulate you or sell you or half-ass the work. 

Nope. I run a fully transparent practice. 

When I am working on your file, you will know. When I am running behind (which rarely ever happens), you will know. You know exactly what you get when you hire me: someone who wants to do a great job for you and fairly resolve your divorce for a fair price.

So, although there is initial sticker shock when I tell the “we have kids, a house, retirement, and need to discuss spousal support” couple that their flat divorce mediation fee is $11,000, the truth is I am telling you the final cost and the pay-by-the-hour attorneys are telling you the beginning cost. There is no comparison.

Contact Julie Gentili at Mediation Northwest

If you want someone to handle your divorce with fidelity and grace, schedule a consultation to talk to me. I love talking to folks and getting them pointed in the right direction for their specific situation.

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