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The Affordable Alternative

Jim Robenalt Dec. 13, 2023

Divorce mediation is more affordable than a litigated divorce.

Estimates on the average cost of divorce vary, but there is one consistent theme: a litigated divorce is expensive. Very expensive.

Back in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported that the average cost of a divorce negotiated by rival lawyers ran about $27,000. A fully litigated divorce that went all the way through trial cost on average $78,000.

The legal website,, conducted a reader survey and found that the average cost of a divorce was $12,900 per person. (Thus, a total of nearly $25,000 per couple.)

Business Insider reported in 2019 that the average cost of a litigated divorce was $15,000 per person ($30,000 per couple), and could be much higher.

The reported a similar $15,000 per person ($30,000 per couple) estimate.

Divorce mediation costs only a fraction of the amounts listed above. The reason mediation is more affordable than litigation can be attributable to simple arithmetic and common sense.

  • With divorce mediation, you hire one mediator rather than 2 lawyers.

  • You share information voluntarily in divorce mediation. In litigation, you must comply with formal rules of discovery which almost invariably translates to lawyers spending more billable hours.

  • With divorce mediation, the two of you do the discussing and negotiating and you’re not paying two other lawyers to spend the time doing it for you.

  • Divorce mediation timetables are set by you and involve a few sessions (typically 3-5). Litigation schedules often drag on for many months, if not years. The longer a case takes to conclude, the more legal fees stack up.

  • When you mediate, you show up for a remote session over zoom from the comfort of your home. In litigation, there are scheduled court hearings that you and your lawyer have to travel to and prepare for.

Mediation is much kinder on your pocketbook. When you keep more money for you and your children, you increase your ability to recover more quickly both financially and emotionally from a divorce.