Educating potential clients about the value a mediator provides is an important part of the cost quote process
An experienced mediator knows their worth; the act of bringing two adversarial parties together to successfully resolve conflict requires skill, tact, and patience, as well as knowledge about legal matters, the art of negotiation, and, well, human nature.
However, potential clients may be ill-informed about the role of a mediator and the ultimate value of such services. Their sole focus often involves resolving the issue at hand, and they may see mediation as a costly, obligatory roadblock instead of a valuable tool that facilitates resolution. As a result, discussing fees for mediation services requires you to educate consumers on your policies and services while understanding their position and perspective.
When discussing costs with a potential client, you’re not just communicating fees—you’re also explaining the inherent value of mediation and educating consumers on how the process works. Keep the following points in mind as you craft the conversation about mediation costs.
Anyone familiar with mediation knows that avoiding litigation generally translates into significant savings of time, money, and emotional energy.
“The mediation process allows the parties to stay in control of the decisions made and the ultimate outcome. Instead of arguing your position against each other, you work together to reach a solution that satisfies both of your interests and the bests interests of your children,” explains Lori Frio-Walker, an attorney who specializes in family law, custody litigation, and mediation.
Although it may be difficult for potential clients to imagine a collaborative effort with their ex-spouse, it’s important to remind the involved parties that their relationship will continue as co-parents. And mediation can help them develop new communication skills while resolving past issues.
The value of time
The cost of mediation involves more than just an hourly rate. The competence, skill level, and experience of the mediator have more of an impact on the final cost than many consumers initially realize.
A good mediator is able to guide opposing parties through complex negotiations while offering a variety of settlement options and ideas. The ability to do this successfully requires experience, a thorough understanding of legal and financial matters, and knowledge of the social and emotional issues that surround divorce and custody issues.
An inexperienced or incompetent mediator may offer a lower hourly rate, but the ultimate price as it relates to more time needed—or a less agreeable settlement—may come at a higher cost.
A well-developed process
It can be helpful for potential clients to fully understand the process and how this influences cost. From their perspective, it may seem like a mediator is paid handsomely for simply listening and steering the conversation away from conflict.
Take the time to explain your role including any prep time, paperwork, or behind-the-scenes research that you regularly employ as a mediator. For instance, an organized mediator prepares for a productive negotiation by making sure all parties are aware of any documentation to be submitted for review and by having an organized agenda for the appointment.
Also, be upfront about your policies and fees so that clients take the process seriously; for instance, the possible consequences of not being prepared as instructed or charges for missed appointments.
Mediation is a valuable service. But it’s a service that most people don’t need frequently in their lifetime, and as such, many consumers are uninformed about the positive impact it can have on not only their legal issues but their future as co-parenting partners. Take the opportunity to educate potential clients on the benefits of mediation when communicating your fees, and make your job and the overall process a smoother experience for everyone involved. Family Plan is committed to empowering parents after divorce or separation by helping with organization, improving collaboration, and simplifying payment obligations to reduce stress and eliminate potential conflict. Download our app to get started.