Our Proven Process
Common Ground Mediation VS. Going to Court with Attorneys
The Common Ground Way
We will meet with you and educate you about the steps of mediation. You will get to know the staff at Common Ground and be able to make sure you have a good chemistry with your mediator. This session is generally with both the husband and wife together however there are situations where that may not be possible and exceptions can be made.
After you have completed the Divorce Complexity Assessment we will be able to tell you the approximate costs and time frames to complete your divorce if you were to litigate your divorce with attorneys. We will then determine if you have a good case for mediation and discuss the amount of time and money you will save if you mediate. If your case qualifies for a our Flat Fee billing option we will discuss how much that will be. We will also provide you an evaluative unbiased opinion on the areas of concern in your divorce and what the trends are in the courts regarding your specific divorce issues.
You will be given the opportunity to consult with the mediator individually to express any concerns you have or to get an evaluative opinion on your specific ideas of fairness. You will be able too ask the mediator about the various laws regarding all aspect of divorce such as custody, child support, debts and assets, and alimony. The mediator will also ask you questions and provide you some coaching on how to manage any potential emotional problem areas for you. All of this communication will be strictly confidential. You will have a voice in the process and we will make sure we provide you a safe place emotionally.
We have the simplified the divorce process considerably by creating simple tasks that you will complete prior to the mediation session. These “Homework” assignments will ensure that we have all of the information we need prior to the mediation session which is how we are able to complete your divorce so quickly. Included in your homework will be a case manager app that you will down load on your phone. This is where all of your documents will be uploaded and where you will correspond with you case manager, mediators, and the paralegal team. Part of your homework will also include signing an “Agreement to Mediate” which outlines all of the expectations of each of the parties. As soon as we get your paper work, a document preparation specialist will begin putting together all of the legal forms needed prior to your case being signed by a judge. Most of this will be happening behind the scenes. You will be amazed at how quickly and efficient our staff is. You will never set foot in a court room or see a judge if you follow our proven process.
After your evaluations are completed you will attend a mediation session that will last between 1 and 5 hours depending on the complexity of your case. Very rarely does a mediation session require more time primarily because of how much we prepare you for the mediation session. The mediator will create an agenda that will be closely followed and every divorce topic that applies to your situation will be discussed and an agreement formed. This will be a long day but we will take several breaks and ensure you are comfortable.
Before you are required to sign any documents you will be given a rough draft of the agreement by your mediator to review. Most of our clients do not feel the need for an attorney however if you do want an attorney to be involved, this is when you should involve them. Pay the attorney 500.00 for a review consultation instead of a 10k retainer! After you both have approved the rough draft, our document preparation team will upload your final document to the case manager app and you with instructions on where to sign.
Our goal is to reduce your stress. That means keeping you both away from courthouses and attorneys. If you follow our process you will never have to deal with either. We will take your documents to the Judge and get all the signatures. We will ask the Judge to waive the waiting periods and all hearings. Depending on how busy the courthouse staff is it normally takes 2 weeks or less to get all the signatures from the Judge.
Total Cost $500-$4500
Timeline 3-4 Weeks
Going to Court with Attorneys
Here the attorney will limit your time to an hour or less. They will identify the areas that you are the most afraid and they will prey on that fear. They will tell you that that they are going to “win” for you and cause you to believe that without them you will not get a “fair deal”. They will not likely even mention that you are required by law to have a mediator.
It is important to know exactly what a “retainer” means. The is amount that you will pay is NOT how much your attorney is going to charge to to complete the divorce. This is just the down payment on their services. You will be required to pay much more depending on how successful your attorney is at persuading you to fight. The average retainer amount is $2500.00 for less experienced attorneys and $8000 for attorneys that are more experienced. They may or may not tell you at this stage that you must still have a mediator try to help you get to an agreement before a judge will make any decisions.
This is often where most of the contention is created in a divorce. The attorney will file a document at the court house called a petition. It will contain language that is usually not a representation of what is fair or what the final out come will be. It is the attorneys job to get you the “most” on all topics. The most parenting time, the most money, the most child support etc. This means asking for everything under the sum. Then your spouse will get “Served”. This means that a constable will show up at your spouses work or another embarrassing place and hand them a copy of this very scary document. Upon reading this they normally become very scared then angry and they go find their own attorney and pay a retainer and the war begins.
Because the divorce process in court takes so long your attorney will likely advise you to have a hearing as soon as possible to establish some temporary terms until the judge makes the final ruling on all the divorce issues which won’t likely happen for several months or even years. Here the attorney will ask the judge to award temporary custody and temporary housing and temporary financial obligations like child support and/or alimony. By the time this hearing is over you will likely have used up your entire initial retainer. Remember every email, phone call, or text will be billed at the attorney hourly rate which is usually $250-$500 per hour. Your attorney will be asking you for more money now and you have not even started.
Each of your attorneys are going to file motions demanding that each of you provide detailed lists of debts and assets and account for how money has been spent etc. They may demand that expensive professionals like forensic accountants (average cost 20k) or custody evaluators (average costs 8k) or appraisers to get involved.
Your attorney will want to depose your spouse and ask them questions. This is called a deposition. Your spouses attorney will do the same to you. A deposition costs an average of 10k for each party. Usually by now your attorney will inform you that before you can go to court you need to “try mediation”
It has been several months since you first filed and your attorney will inform you that the law states you have to at least try mediation. The attorneys will select the mediator who will most defiantly be another attorney or a retired judge that they both know well. The attorneys and parties will meet at an office and be separated into different rooms. The mediator will shuttle between the parties with offers and counter offers. Most of the time the offers do not go anywhere because the attorneys claim they can’t agree to anything until the discovery is completed. This type of mediation has less than a 50% success rate and is normally a waste of time and your money. It is not collaborative. It often creates even more contention. NOT THE SAME AS COMMON GROUND MEDIATION.
Less than 2% of divorce cases actually go to court and are decided by a judge. The time it takes to prepare for day long trial creates a huge legal bill. By now you have spent tens of thousands of dollars and you are no closer to your divorce being done. Your relationship with your spouse is so fueled with hatred there is not likely any chance you would be able to sit next to them at a parent teacher conference. You will be so broke and tired emotionally that you will tell your attorney to “just settle”