Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013

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There can be vast variations in the cost of mediation, depending on the nature of the dispute and the way the dispute ended up in mediation. Disputes between neighbors may be mediated by a neighborhood dispute resolution organization that provides free services. For instance, in San Francisco, California there is an organization called “Community Boards” which has been training mediators and conducting free mediations between disputing neighbors for twenty years.

When a court requires litigating parties to mediate, it usually has a list of volunteer mediators who will work for free or for a nominal fee. In other cases, where the parties want a professional mediator, they can expect to pay from $1,000 to $2,000 each (per day) for a mediator. The costs are usually split equally between the parties.

Factors that Affect Mediation Costs

The costs for mediation also depend on the experience and qualifications of the mediator. For instance, many retired judges will offer mediation services at a higher rate and target disputants who would otherwise pursue an expensive lawsuit. Many family lawyers, however, will actually offer discounted mediation services to couples considering divorce in the interest of helping them reach a quick decision that will benefit both parties.

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Considering Cost vs. Value of Mediation

The real way to consider the cost vs. value of a mediation session is to consider its cost compared to that of a trial. On average, the cost of simply filing your initial papers for a lawsuit is between $500 and $1500. This price does not include the fees your lawyer charges for researching and drafting the papers. After this, the attorney will do further investigation and begin filing motions, each of which is usually another $500 to file.

Whenever the lawyers even speak on the telephone to the judge, they must pay court fees. Once your trial reaches the court, and after months of discovery, which is all hours charged by your lawyer, you must pay for a court reporter, expert witnesses, and for the very room the trial is being held in. The total average cost to the losing party of this case would be between $350,000 and $400,000 dollars and years worth of stress. Additionally, even any amount awarded by the court is typically paid in smaller amounts over a certain period of time. This means you’ll still not have the necessary funds to pay any out-of-pocket expenses you’ve lost from the lawsuit.

Totaling Mediation Costs

A mediation, however, costs at most $2,000 per day and most mediations last on average of no more than two to three days. So, the total cost to you for an average mediation is $6,000 and three days worth of stress.