Mediation Myth: It’s Usually Expensive

By Jennifer Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

There are three common mediation myths:

1. Mediation is mandatory.

2. Mediation is usually expensive.

3. Mediation is just deal-making.

This article will focus on Mediation Myth #2: It’s Usually Expensive.

There are expensive mediators, true, but many counties and private organizations offer free or low-cost mediation services, too. The trick is knowing where to locate them.

mediation costsYou should start with a county list of mediators. Most courthouse clerks keep a list of approved mediators, who sometimes meet licensing and training requirements depending on the county, with office locations, hours and hourly rates.

Do not shy away from the more expensive mediators, as they may have a success rate better than the cheaper ones. Why spend $200 per hour for four hours with a cheap mediator to get the same result you can get in one hour with a mediator who charges $350 per hour?

You should, of course, pay particular attention to attorneys who are members of a domestic relations association and/or who practice family law.

Ask your attorney for recommendations. Who has the attorney used for other cases like yours? What was the attorney’s success rate with that mediator? What was the average cost and the cost for cases similar to yours?

You can also ask these questions of friends, co-workers, etc., who have been divorced, but always take their comments with a grain of salt; if there were unhappy with the fact of divorce altogether, that will reflect in their appraisal of the mediator.

You can also seek private organization mediators. The Association of Attorney-Mediators Online Database is a helpful place to begin your search. The AAM is a non-profit trade association of more than 300 attorney-mediators throughout the country who must meet stringent licensing and ethics qualifications.

You can search for mediators by case type, location, number of mediations, and even language, at

Read the series of articles on mediation:



Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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