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How Much Does a Divorce Mediator Cost in Ohio?

By Jim Robenalt

Are you considering a divorce mediator and wondering much one costs in Ohio?

Then this guide is for you.

This article will also discuss divorce mediation as a mechanism to work out disputes between couples. We will also look at the instances when divorce mediation is mandatory in the Buckeye State.

Divorce Rates in Ohio

Did you know there are about 2.5 divorce cases per one thousand residents in Ohio?

This 2020 rate spells a considerable decrease from the 1990s when it stood at 4.7 divorce cases.

Nonetheless, the Buckeye State ranks 42nd of all states, having marriages that last longer. Its average duration is about 21 years of marriage.

Why Divorce Mediation?

It has become a popular method to take the edge off between the parties as well as the cost of the proceedings.

In Ohio, the judge may order divorce mediation at any stage of the case to help speed up the proceedings.

Divorce Mediation Before the Filing for Marriage Dissolution

To streamline the process, the judge may order the parties to submit a divorce settlement agreement ahead of the filing for the dissolution of their marriage.

Also known as a settlement agreement, this document contains all the critical issues involved in the marital conflict.

In addition, the settlement agreement will spell out the following essential matters:

  • how the parties will divide their commonly owned properties as well as incurred liabilities;
  • the document will also lay out the issue of spousal support; i.e., how much one party should give to the other and for how long; and
  • it will also provide for the arrangements for child custody, visitation rights, and support if the parties have at least a minor child.

Commonly, most parties will encounter problems working out their differences as to the foregoing issues. That usually is the case, especially where there are heated emotions on highly contested matters involved.

This is where a divorce mediator can help.

During the mediation process, the divorce mediator will assist the parties in the areas of negotiation and finding solutions to their resolvable conflict. 

Typically, the divorce mediator will help the parties better understand and explore their reasonable options and communicate their interests. Then, with the assistance of their respective attorneys, the parties can reach a solid settlement agreement.

Ultimately, the goal is to arrive at a rational and fair compromise for the benefit of everyone, including their common children.

In addition, divorce mediation allows the parties to plan their individual futures reasonably. All these are done in an atmosphere of mutual respect, rationality, and cooperation.

Parenthetically, divorce mediation and settlement done during the pre-filing stage is beneficial to both parties. Arriving at a custom-made, mutually agreed settlement will contribute to a faster divorce process.

Divorce Mediation During the Pendency of the Case

Parties who have not reached a settlement agreement can still turn to mediation during the proceedings.

The good thing about divorce mediation is that it is an available option at any point in the case. Most judges highly welcome this since this can help the parties work through their conflict more efficiently.

From a contested divorce, the court may then convert the case into a dissolution of marriage given a successful mediation.

And even if the parties have not pursued mediation voluntarily, the court may, at its discretion, require them to give it a try.

This brings us to this question.

What are the instances where the courts will require divorce mediation?

The court, during the pendency of a divorce case, may require the parties to undergo mediation in the following instances:

  • when the parties did not reach an agreement relating to spousal support
  • no agreement as to their common properties and liabilities has been reached
  • they have not agreed on child custody, support, and parenting schedule

Under Ohio law, the court may order the parties to convene for divorce mediation to settle these issues as part of the proceedings. 

It must be noted, however, that local courts have their own rules on how to go about the mediation process. 

These rules merely expand the intent of the state law regarding these matters. In particular, the court may order the parties to settle disputes relating to their finances; i.e., division of their commonly owned properties and allocation of debts.

Divorce Mediation After the Pendency of the Case

It is a widely spread misconception that divorce mediation is only available before or during the pendency of divorce cases.

Quite the contrary, the parties can work with a mediator even if the case has reached its conclusion.

Post-litigation mediation is a straightforward option, albeit an underrated one. 

Settlement of the issues can move forward nonetheless even after slugging it out in the courtroom. Perhaps the parties will only realize that an amicable settlement is the best way to resolve the issues that stand in their way. 

And the court will welcome this development.

Rather than sprinting to the court, the parties are afforded the option to mediate post-divorce. This is a more efficient alternative to judicial intervention. It allows the parties to amicably settle their differences quickly and at a little cost.

Divorce mediation at this stage may or may not involve attorneys. If there are any, the lawyers’ duty is somewhat limited to providing advice and feedback to the party they represent.

Indeed, divorce mediation provides flexibility and a platform where creative solutions are welcome. This is also an avenue where the parties can improve the language used in their agreements, helping to advance their settlement process amicably.

Post-litigation divorce mediation may also offer a break from any deadlock on a pending issue. Perhaps the judge ordered temporary orders; mediation allows an outlet to break down any barriers as the parties aim toward an amicable settlement.

In addition, divorce mediation at this stage can move forward even if agreements were previously reached. It allows the parties to modify, alter, or disregard formerly agreed stipulations, subject to the court’s approval.

Role of the Divorce Mediator

Think of the divorce mediator as a referee. This person does not take any side. 

Rather, his objective is to help the parties resolve conflict and negotiate a settlement in the best interest of both parties and their children.

Typically, the mediation process lets the parties discuss their options rationally before arriving at a sound decision and competent settlement.

Thus, a divorce mediator’s duty is to help the parties understand their rights and communicate their interests, both common and individual. 

So even if the parties are not on the best of terms, they can still enter into an amicable settlement. And that is the role of the divorce mediator.

Benefits of Having a Divorce Mediator

Contrary to misconception, divorce mediation has been used by separating or divorcing couples for many years in Ohio.

This is a preferred alternative to litigated divorce proceedings because mediation is more beneficial. Not only to the contesting parties but also to their children and families.

Divorce mediation is a more affordable option. Because it speeds up the process, the parties don’t have to spend more to have their differences settled and eventually reach an agreement.

Given the nature of divorce cases, it is likely that the parties are heated. Emotions may raise, which can lead to arguments that unnecessarily prolong the process. Now, with mediation, the parties are allowed to communicate their interests properly.

And with sound communication comes cooperation. Mediation encourages the parties to participate in the amicable settlement of their differences to the benefit of their family.

Divorce mediation also gives the parties more control over the outcome of their dispute. They will come to realize that the more they cooperate, the faster and more efficient the process will be.

In addition, divorce mediation allows the parties to make sound decisions for their family. It helps put an end to irrationality, which will likely lead to the detriment of their family.

Of course, the children’s interests are paramount. And this is what divorce mediation seeks to achieve.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Divorce Mediator?

Generally, the cost depends on various factors. 

  • Does the case involve several issues, which are novel or complex?
  • What is the level of the parties’ conflict?
  • How hard is it to request cooperation between the parties?

In Cuyahoga County, the court may charge $250 for divorce mediation in parenting disputes.

Having a divorce mediator on parenting issues in Hamilton County will set the parties back by $150 if obtained after a final decree. However, it is free if the services are secured during the pendency of the divorce.

As for financial mediation, the Hamilton County court will charge $300. The court, however, will waive the fee if the parties file a poverty affidavit.

Private Mediation Services

Parties may opt to secure the services of private divorce mediators. 

Typically, these are also attorneys who charge around $250 to $500 per hour. These rates may increase depending on various factors, including the mediator’s skill and experience.

Private divorce mediation services often charge a flat fee to cover several sessions. 

However, these legal practitioners may also charge extra for supplementary work performed in conjunction with the legal matters on hand. These may include the preparation and filing of paperwork.

In the aggregate, the parties may expect a bill for private mediation services within the range of $3,000 to $8,000 in Ohio. While the amount seems high, the parties usually split the bill.

Nonetheless, the cost of a litigated divorce is considerably higher compared to mediation. 

All in all, the benefits of divorce mediation greatly outweigh litigated divorce.

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