Using mediation to negotiate a divorce agreement is almost always going to take less time, cost less, and result in a more satisfying agreement than using a lawyer to take the same case through the courts.

When you are going to have an ongoing relationship with your ex-spouse, such as when you have kids together, mediation can help to improve communication and make your future interactions easier. Lawyers ask for retainers anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 per person, so a couple will pay $10,000 to $16,000 up front just to begin their divorce.

Lawyers' hourly fees range from $250 to $400 per hour, so a couple might be paying, on average, $600 per hour for a divorce. Even when lawyers settle out of court, the expense is usually in the tens of thousands of dollars.