What is Private Mediation?

Private mediation is where the parties agree to hire a private mediator outside of the court. This is usually someone who is highly skilled in mediation and has significant familiarity with family law.

What are the Pros of Private Mediation?

  • The mediator is usually being paid by the hour. This means that the longer they keep you the more they make. Thus, they will want to try and do everything they can to try and settle your case.
  • Private mediators are sometimes retired judges or attorneys who have been practicing for years. They know the law and they know how judges will rule on certain issues if you go to court.
  • They are more invested in your case and the issues. Because of their work history, they tend to have more connection with the clients.
  • You and the other party get to choose who the mediator will be. You and the other party can do a lot of research on fees and experience and ultimately, pick who you feel will be the best for reaching a resolution in your case.

What are the Cons of Private Mediation?

  • It can be very expensive. Hourly rates range from $100 an hour to $500 an hour. There can also be high retainer fees, starting the thousands, depending on whom you pick.
  • You and the other party usually have to decide together who the mediator will be. If you and the other party are not getting along, it may be very difficult to choose whom the mediator will be. Most of the time, the judge will not appoint a private mediator.
  • It can take months to get an appointment. The best private mediators get booked up very quickly. This means you may not be able to see the mediator for a few months. If time is important, then a private mediator might not be the best option.

What is Court Mediation?

Court mediation is through the superior court. Any party can request mediation through the courts at any time. This can be done through conciliation services or at an ADR (settlement conference). If done through conciliation services, your attorney cannot be present, and it is usually held at the courthouse. At an ADR or settlement conference, your attorney is usually with you, and it is usually at someone’s office, not at the courthouse.

What are the Pros to Court Mediation?

  • It can be quick to get into mediation through conciliation services. It usually requires filing some paperwork and getting a date through the court.
  • It is usually very low cost, and most often, completely free.
  • It is in an informal environment either in an office at the courthouse or at someone else’s office.
  • If there are agreements, those agreements will usually be drafted up by the mediator and can sometimes be sent to the judge that day to sign off on.
  • It is easy to get the other party to agree to it, due to the low or no cost associated with it.
  • It can be quick. If you and the other party cannot agree on anything, the mediator will usually cut the meeting short so that no one is wasting time.

What are the Cons to Court Mediation?

  • The mediators are paid little, and some are volunteers. This means they may not be all that interested in helping you resolve your case. They don’t get to bill by the hour, and if they feel that there is even the slightest chance of not reaching agreement, they’ll usually end the mediation early.
  • They may not be completely familiar with family law. Sometimes the mediators are attorneys who practice in other areas of law, or are trained simply to be mediators. They may not know the actual law and cannot provide input on the disagreements.
  • You do not get to pick who will mediate the case. With court mediation, you are usually assigned a mediator. This means you do not get any input on who the mediator will be. Sometimes you can luck out and have someone who is very invested into your case. Other times, it can be someone who is only doing it as a resume booster.
  • The agreements may not be accurately drawn up. Some mediators may put together an agreement that is not fully correct after being submitted to the judge. This can come from a lack of experience or laziness.