Fees and Procedures
Except for the initial consultation which is at no charge, a rate of $250 per hour will be charged for family mediation. This will apply to time involved in preparing for a mediation, time during the mediation session(s) and time spent following mediation. Before and during a session, this may include the preparation of a written mediation narrative for the parties’ signatures, plus emails and conversations via telephone or face-to-face with the parties (or their counsel). Following a mediation, additional time typically is spent in conversation with or corresponding with the parties (or their counsel) and editing the mediation narrative. A minimum charge of one-tenth of an hour will be billed for phone calls or correspondence; after the first 6 minutes, time will be rounded, either up or down, to the nearest quarter hour. Payment is due at the end of each mediation session. Unless the parties have agreed upon other arrangements, it is assumed each will pay half of the fees due.
A one-time, nonrefundable administrative fee of $100 will be charged for time spent setting up the mediation file, distributing initial documents (if any), scheduling sessions, and for secretarial assistance and office overhead. This charge is not refundable, even if no mediation session is conducted.
Family mediations are scheduled as minimum four-hour sessions at an hourly rate of $250 unless Heartland Family Mediators waives the minimum.
Most sessions will be conducted at the Heartland Family Mediators office. If the parties or their attorneys wish to conduct the mediation elsewhere, the cost of renting a location will be billed as an additional expense. Miscellaneous expenses at such a location – such as telephone, copying and similar expenses exceeding $25 – are payable by the party incurring such expenses.
Scheduling a Mediation:
To schedule a mediation following the free initial consultation, the administrative fee and the minimum session charge (unless waived) must be paid. If payment has not been received at least three business days before the scheduled mediation, the scheduled mediation will be postponed or rescheduled – except in unusual circumstances – until payment has been received. To avoid postponing a scheduled mediation, the mediator may require the parties to take a certified check or money order to the mediation. If your mediation has not been canceled or rescheduled, your payment of the minimum session charge will be applied to the last two hours of your final family mediation session. Unless other arrangements have been made in advance, payment for the mediator’s time is expected at the conclusion of each session.
Minimum Session Charge:
A minimum charge of $500 (two hours at the hourly rate) will be billed for a family mediation session, even if the mediation ends or is terminated before the end of the two-hour period.
Cancellation or Rescheduling of a Mediation Session:
If a session is canceled or rescheduled less than three business days beforehand, the minimum session charge will be forfeited, unless another mediation can be scheduled to fill the time reserved for yours. If you reschedule more than three business days before your appointment, your payment will be credited to your next session, if the mediation can be scheduled within three months of the original appointment. After three months, the minimum session charge is forfeited. The minimum session charge is not refundable.
If a session is canceled less than three days ahead of time because of problems beyond the control of the parties (illness or weather, for example), the parties will not forfeit the minimum session charge. But if the mediation is not rescheduled for a date within 30 days of such an occurrence, in most cases the minimum session charge will be forfeited. If a party fails to appear at a scheduled mediation and such an absence is not caused by sickness, weather problems or other circumstances beyond that person’s control, that party will be responsible for paying the entire fee for that session.
It is assumed that if a session is canceled, both parties will divide the fee equally. If the parties make other arrangements, they should tell the mediator at the time the session is canceled or rescheduled. The parties are responsible for working together to resolve any disputes over sharing mediation fees.
If a payment is not made when it is due, the mediator may stop all work on behalf of the parties – including scheduling future sessions, providing forms or drafting or distributing the mediation narrative agreement – and withdraw from the mediation.
Billable time begins at the start time for the session. At that time, the mediator will be prepared to dedicate uninterrupted time to your mediation. A telephone call advising that you will be late is appreciated, but you still will be charged from the time your mediation was scheduled to begin. Remembering your scheduled mediation time and date is your responsibility; the mediator generally will not call or e-mail you to confirm appointments.
Collection of Fees:
If collection or court action is required to obtain fees and expenses due, the mediator will be entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred. (For example, if the parties provide a check for payment that is returned because of insufficient funds in the account, that requires time for the mediator or someone acting on his behalf to obtain payment for the amount owed.)
If more than one day has been reserved for a mediation and the extra day or days are not required, $500 will be charged for each unused day.
The first hour of travel time by the mediator (per mediation session) will not be billable; travel time that exceeds one hour (per mediation session) will be billed at $75 per hour ($18.75 per quarter hour).
The parties agree to be jointly liable for the mediator’s fees and expenses. Unless the parties agree otherwise, each is responsible for half of the charges incurred.
Income-Based Mediation Rates:
For those who may have reduced means, discounted mediation services are available based on a client’s income. Generally, the rates are based on the poverty guidelines updated periodically in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 9902(2).
If parties together make: Percentage of normal $250 fee to be paid at discounted hourly rate:
$25,000 or less 50% $125.00
$25,001 – $30,000 63% $157.50
$30,001 – $37,000 75% $187.50
$37,001 – $44,000 88% $220.00
$44,000 or more 100% $250.00
A similar pro-rata discount is applied to the $100 administrative fee. As an example, if your income is equal to (or less than) the minimum amount of $25,000, the administrative fee would be 50 percent of the normal amount, or $50. Similarly, at the 75 percent level ($30,001-$37,000), the administrative fee would be $75, and at $44,001 or more, the regular $100 fee would be payable. Income-based mediation fees are intended to be revised annually based on the federal government’s poverty guidelines.
The mediator reserves the right to revise this schedule and to limit the number of clients receiving the discount at any given time, taking into account other clients presently being served. You may be asked to provide proof of your income to qualify for these rates. Generally, a copy of your tax return for the previous year will be sufficient.
So where do you go from here?
If you want additional information about mediation or if you wish to schedule a free initial consultation with a Heartland Family Mediators professional, click the box to the right and see if mediation as a solution can be in your future.