Area of Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) - Arbitration and Mediation
Answer # 0529
How much does family mediation cost?Region: Ontario Answer # 0529
1. Government funded family mediation
For parties in court, the government funds free mediation on the day they are in court. This is known as ‘onsite’ mediation and it is available in the Family Law Information Centres in the courts. It is provided by government-regulated service providers (mediators).
Offsite mediation fees are government-subsidized and are based on each party’s income and number of dependants. The fee range is as low as $5 per hour for those with an annual income under $14,999, to $105 per hour for those with an annual income of between $59,000-$59,999 and no dependants. Fees for those with an annual income above $59,999 and no dependants can be negotiated. Visit the Ministry of the Attorney General for full list of fees.
2. Private family mediation
Fees for private mediation may be charged on an hourly basis or as a flat rate and are generally shared by the parties as they may agree. Some mediators require up-front deposits; others do not. Each mediator establishes their own billing arrangements with the parties.
It is important to note that many of the steps required in the court system and by lawyers will also be required by mediators. Full financial disclosure, for example, is essential for effective family mediation. Advice from lawyers, accountants, child specialists and others is often needed.
But in mediation, parties avoid the costs of preparing a court case, which can quickly escalate into the tens of thousands of dollars or more.
Going to court is very expensive and usually involves:
- Many meetings with your lawyer,
- Getting your story and position down in affidavit form,
- Reviewing and putting together disclosure materials that would include many financial documents, letters and correspondence from each party and from third parties, notes, and assessments,
- Drafting the originating process, such as the petition for divorce, application or statement of claim,
- Research for the relevant legal issues,
- Drafting, serving and filing information statements for the judge in addition to the pleadings,
- All attendance time at court, including waiting time, which could be hours, and
- All court filing fees, where applicable.
By comparison, the average cost of a mediated settlement is under $5000. And for those parties who have lawyers, those lawyers tend to charge their mediation clients far less than their litigation clients.
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