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How much does a divorce mediation cost?

Mediation is a cost effective way of solving a range of disputes, however the fees of mediators can vary tremendously due to many factors. In this post, I will attempt to describe the different factors that influence the overall cost of a mediation.

When it comes to booking a mediator, you usually get what you pay for. Like with any service or product you are buying, it is important to use reputable brands and people with good references and the necessary qualifications. Mediators in South Africa are usually accredited under the DISAC standard but many other institutions offer mediation training.

The qualifications and experience of the mediator will typically determine the cost of the session. For instance, divorce mediators normally practice as attorneys, psychologists or counsellors in addition to being mediators. The amount of experience these professionals have, coupled with their experience as mediators will determine their fee. Nonetheless, some mediation practitioners practice solely as mediators and their lack of an undergraduate degree or secondary profession does not necessarily mean that they are any less of a mediator.

Based on this experience the divorce mediator’s fee can range from around R500 to R5000 a session. The median however, is about R1500 per session. A divorce mediation session lasts for approximately 90 minutes as they can become quite emotionally draining and spouses may need some time apart between sessions to get the necessary information to make informed decisions. A mediator would require approximately 5 sessions to finalise the divorce mediation and come to a settlement. The process is also flexible and sessions can be arranged after hours to accommodate the busy lives of the couples.

Using the median as a guide a couple could pay approximately R7500 for all five divorce mediation sessions although the issues can be settled in fewer sessions and thus decreasing the total cost. Couples can decide to split the cost of the mediation upfront which consequently increases the cost effectiveness of using mediation.

When a couple decides to litigate on the issues in the divorce, it may entail costs in excess of R100 000 when advocates, attorneys, candidate attorney and disbursement fees need to be paid for. Even if a couple were to use the more expensive service providers for mediation, they would stand to save a substantial amount of money and time. In any event, should the mediation fail, nothing prevents parties from continuing with the litigation process.

By Ebrahim Patelia

Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Trainer

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