Texas divorce and custody mediators generally charge by the hour. Ironically, you could spend way more on a lower fee mediator if your only consideration is the mediator's hourly rate. The most important question is how much will you ultimately pay for all professional legal services from start to finish, including mediation? The answer isn't what you might expect. Your final, overall, cost of Texas divorce or child custody depends on when and how you choose to use a mediator - and they aren't all created equally.
The people who ultimately pay the most for Texas divorce or child custody are those unlucky enough to see a traditional mediator who is a divorce attorney or retired family judge for the first time only after adversarial lawyers have been involved for a year and a half or two years and stirred up controversy at a cost of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to each party.
That's the way traditional Texas mediators work. But not this mediator.
What if you choose a Texas lawyer with over 30 years in practice who is a skilled and experienced, private, professional divorce and child custody mediator who designed Texas mediation differently than any other? A professional who educates, informs, and guides you through the same decisions a judge would make but without lawyers if you don't want them? Would you be interested in a mediator whose structured agreement-reaching process focuses all your efforts, time, and money on resolution at your pace from the beginning rather than in a late stage, marathon mediation when you are close to having a trial where you'll give up all your decisions about your money and your children to a judge or jury? A mediator who informs each of you of your rights and responsibilities without taking sides, and even guides you to complete final court paperwork that incorporates all your agreements? Would you select a mediator who believes and knows from experience that providing the best information and educating clients about their options allows them to make well-informed decisions together for their family's needs - decisions a judge would make for them if they were to litigate?
You can do this at Detente Mediation. 99% of clients attend Detente mediations without divorce lawyers, even if they have them. Detente Mediation makes it possible to represent yourselves, feel confident, and stay entirely out of litigation and physically out of court. Judges started during COVID court closures approving and signing agreed divorce, child and spousal support, and/or custody paperwork. This is something we expect the courts to continue doing after re-opening. With early mediation at Detente you both have control over all the costs and decision-making, and you can get it over and done in a matter of months at far less cost than hirng lawyers, litigating, and using traditional mediation.
Here is what you absolutely need to know before you check out our pricing below.
More client "doing" means dramatically lower expenses all the way around. Mediators must have complete information to be effective. The cost can be reasonable or extraordinarily expensive for mediation participants to gather information that forms the basis of agreements about separate and community property assets and debts, support, retirement, and parenting plans. What makes the difference in cost? The mediator!
Detente Mediation is early and comprehensive: Detente has perfected affordable, efficient, "self-contained" mediation that does not require couples to go through divorce lawyers first or at all unless they want to. Couples save tens of thousands of dollars by avoiding costly formal "discovery" used by lawyers (interrogatories, disclosures, request for production, request for admissions, depositions, subpoenae, and hearings). Detente works directly with the clients together during the Detente mediation process to guide them to informally gather and exchange at little to no cost the same relevant information they would provide in litigation to each other separately through their divorce lawyers. They will swear in writing under penalty of perjury each of them has fully disclosed all community and separate property assets and debts. More importantly, the personalized interaction lets your Detente mediator get to know you, your family, and what you consider most important as you negotiate well-informed, legally binding, agreements that truly meet your family's unique needs.
In contrast to Detente, traditional mediation usually happens close to trial and requires extensive lawyer preparation and high costs whether you reach agreements in mediation or not. A traditional mediator's information comes from each spouse or parent's lawyer who has had extensive involvement and incurred many hours of high fees to investigate the case long before mediation happens. Traditional mediators in Texas usually put a party and his or her lawyer into a room separate from the other party and his or her lawyer. The traditional mediator goes between the rooms and uses damaging information and evidence each lawyer developed in the course of litigation against the other side to try to create so much fear of losing at trial that the parties feel compelled to settle rather than risk it. Unfortunately, the predictable consequences of such tactics are escalated conflict which makes it that much harder to settle in mediation, and potentially long term, divisive, resentment between former spouses and parents.
Unlike in Detente where clients mediate in two-hour or three-hour sessions, a traditional mediation is usually an eight to twelve hour marathon during which the mediator and each of the lawyers charge hourly fees. A traditional divorce mediator's fees in the Metroplex may range from $200 to $750 per hour. Each divorce lawyer may charge between $250 and $800 or more per hour. Using these numbers, the fees for a traditional mediator and two lawyers in an eight hour traditional mediation (not a Detente mediation) may range from $5600 to $18,800.
Because it is too late to get ready for trial if a traditional mediation fails at that late stage, the lawyers must prepare for trial from the first day a client hires a lawyer. If each lawyer were to do only ten hours of discovery and ten hours of trial preparation (which is very little time), each party would also have paid his or her lawyer $5000 to $15,000 before ever getting to traditional mediation. Each of you will have already paid for that expensive trial preparation whether you reach agreement (settle) or not in traditional mediation.
Instead, Detente offers clients a structured and focused opportunity to find resolution sooner. Most clients enter mediation before they file a petition for divorce and/or custody and they represent themselves without their own divorce or custody attorneys. Detente mediation goes at the clients' pace. Many complete mediation and the court process in two to four months at significant cost and time savings. If they should so desire, parties at Detente also have the added benefit of being able to tap into Detente's independent professional resource network of neutral communication, parenting, tax, mortgage, and financial planning professionals to help them become well educated about their options before they decide what to commit to. No worries, everyone has separate businesses and a Detente mediator does not share fees with anyone else.
Total Detente Mediation costs are driven by two factors: conflict and complexity. Many of Detente's mediation clients gather their information, evaluate their options, complete negotiations, receive a mediated divorce or custody settlement agreement, and finish court paperwork for less than the initial retainer one divorce lawyer quoted just to get started. Lower conflict and complexity requires fewer hours; the opposite is also true. In a free consultation your mediator will make a good faith estimate how long it may take you start to finish and how much it will cost for your individualized situation based on the information you provide.
Mediation is inevitable; save time and money by doing it first. Unless there is family violence, virtually without exception a judge will order parties to attend mediation before the judge will decide at a trial the issues on which the parties disagree. Detente Mediation is serious about quality, value, and efficiency while at the same time ensuring you have enough time to be well informed and educated before you make any decisions. When you are ready to separate, divorce, reconcile, or work through custody, child or spousal support, or post-divorce issues, just click the free consultation button. Detente divorce and custody mediation is also available if you are already involved in litigation and/or are already scheduled to mediate with someone else.
Two Part Detente Mediation Fees: In Session and Out of Session
1. Fees per Hour of In-Person Mediation
2. Outside of Session Services Paid by Deposit
Your mediator continues to work for you outside of mediation sessions. In addition to the in-person session hourly fees that are paid at the end of each mediation session, the mediator collects money hold on deposit for services performed outside of sessions to:
- Draft a legally binding settlement agreement
- Document agreements after each meeting
- Respond to emails and phone calls
- Coordinate with other professionals and attorneys if necessary
So you are not receiving bills for mediators’ out-of-session services as they occur, for your convenience the mediator accepts a refundable and replenishable deposit depending on the complexity you specify at the consultation. The mediator applies the out-of-session service fees against it. The mediator's hourly fees cover both of you - it is not a per-person rate. The mediator charges a one time getting started fee for materials which covers the cost of all the preparation, filing, and educational materials we send you for the sessions. Preparing in advance when you are not paying a mediator makes the sessions cost effective when you are paying the mediator. Session fees for your professional family mediator are paid separately at each session, not from the deposit (which means Detente holds less of your money and gives you the ability to budget and plan a schedule for sessions).
Mediation is voluntary. If you decide to leave mediation or you have any deposit money remaining at the end of mediation, you get it back. It is also private and confidential.
3. Court Paperwork
Parties who represent themselves ("pro se") in Texas will need to file with the court a "petition" to start a divorce or custody case and either a "waiver of service" or an "answer". Most Detente clients choose to have the Detente attorney mediator guide them through filling out and filing these initial documents which are fairly straightforward and uncomplicated. Later, after all the agreements have been made, they will also need a divorce decree or an order on the custody case to present to the judge to sign to end the marriage and/or to establish custody between them. The mediator can guide the parties to completing these documents themselves which saves money.
In between, a Detente mediator will write for the parties a mediated settlement agreement that includes all the terms of their divorce or custody which is legally binding when both parties voluntarily sign it. After that, for a flat fee the amount of which the Detente mediator will show them at the consultation, the mediator can assist parties who represent themselves to complete the decree, custody, or modification order by incorporating the provisions of the mediated settlement agreement into a customized form the judge approves and signs. Or, the parties can hire attorneys (at least one) to do this for them and present it to a judge and pay the attorney(s) separately. If parties hire attorneys they will not need to pay the mediator to do this for them.
How much does it cost and how long does it take for a litigated divorce in Texas?* Much more and much longer than at Detente.
The greatest savings from using Detente Mediation is you avoid the expense of paying lawyers to do what you can do yourselves with a Detente mediator's help. You are not required to have a lawyer to divorce; but divorce lawyers are welcome to join you in mediation sessions at Detente. Having the choice about how or whether divorce lawyers participate while you mediate means you control lawyers' fees. If you choose a mediation-friendly family law attorney who participates offline to help develop solutions, review your agreements, and do legal paperwork, that is fine too! We are happy to refer you to attorneys who encourage amicable solutions for families and will not create unnecessary conflict or you may find your own. Detente does not receive referral fees or share fees with any other professionals.
Peace of Mind
Your Detente attorney-mediator will tell you what the law is, analyze legal issues, and discuss your choices without taking sides. If you have your own attorney, he or she can give you individual advice and recommendations for what you should do on any specific issue if you also need that help. Please remember the mediated settlement agreement the mediator writes is legally binding when the two of you sign it. If you wish to do so, please consult with an attorney of your own choosing before you sign any final settlements so you will have the peace of mind of knowing your decisions were smart and well-informed.
To get the greatest satisfaction, value, and save the most money, make Detente mediation your first choice. Call us today at (817) 283-5100 to schedule a free consultation or click the free consultation button.