Mediation is an opportunity. Mediation is a proven process which affords the parties an opportunity to resolve their differences beyond and outside the pressures of a family courtroom proceeding, and it provides parties with control over the outcome and a quality of resolution which best supports the parties’ long-term emotional and financial well-being.
I have created and established an office which will provide attorneys and their clients with an array of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services [e.g., conducting mediation at a pre-commencement or post-commencement litigation stage, and/or conducting binding arbitration proceedings pursuant to a family court order authorizing arbitration].
FAMILY COURT LITIGATION SUPPORT SERVICES – FEES FOR FCLSS
Several years ago I created “Family Court Litigation Support Services” for my fellow family law attorneys which has now proven to creatively, effectively and efficiently assist them in formulating their family court-related litigation strategies and planning, beginning with the client’s earliest, pre-hearing stages and continuing throughout all of their subsequent litigation stages.
With that stated, Family Court Litigation Support Services should provide my fellow family law attorneys throughout South Carolina with a variety of family law-based services, the nature, duration and extent of which will remain fully controlled by those attorneys who elect to engage my services.
The fees for these litigation support services will be billed at the rate of $125.00 per hour. The client will be charged for my time involved in the following services requested and/or authorized by the client’s attorney(s)
1. Telephone calls and all communications with the attorney’s office (and/or other professionals involved in the litigation process), including, but not necessarily limited to, e-mails and letters sent to the client’s attorney(s)
2. Preparation of documents (e.g., motions, briefs, memoranda of law, or any and all other litigation-related documents) as specifically requested by the client’s attorney(s);
3. Review and analysis of all litigation materials forwarded by the client’s attorney(s);
4. Attendance at attorney-client conferences as requested by the client’s attorney(s);
5. Attendance at any in-court proceedings requested by the client’s attorney(s).
For all cases which require that I travel outside of Anderson County, I will also charge the prevailing “per mile rate” approved by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
FEES FOR MEDIATION
Unless the mediator’s fees are established and set by a family court order, then my fee for the mediation conference will be billed at a total one-time fee of $500.00 per party, plus the ADR-approved mileage (this “mileage rate” is adjusted annually and is based on the IRS-approved business mileage rate as of January 1 of each year) regardless of the length of time involved in completing the initial mediation conference. The “one-time” mediation fee shall be due and payable prior to the start/beginning of the mediation conference, and the attorneys for the parties shall be required to give assurances to this mediator that this fee shall be paid at the scheduled mediation. The mediation conference shall not begin until all named parties have paid their mediation fees in full. [Important note: if the case is fully resolved at mediation and the attorneys for the parties request that I prepare a draft of the final settlement agreement, I will not charge the parties for this additional service.]
My one-time fee includes the time incurred by me for any pre-mediation preparation (e.g., scheduling the mediation conference, review of the mediation materials, pre-mediation telephone conferences with the attorneys and, if applicable, the Guardian ad Litem).
EARLY NEUTRAL EVALUATION (ENE)
On the family court side, early neutral evaluation (ENE) provides party-litigants and their attorneys with a process for “test-driving” their respective positions before a selected ENE “evaluator” and to receive, among other things, “in a family court case…the likely result of a trial of all issues”. The ENE process is also an ADR hybrid which can combine certain elements both of mediation (for example, private caucusing with the parties, confidentiality, informal presentations, settlement objectives) and non-binding arbitration (e.g., the parties and attorneys shall receive a “non-binding evaluation of the matters in controversy by an evaluator”…in other words, an evaluation which measures and grades the relative strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case).
We have created a professional group comprised solely of retired South Carolina Family Court judges. If you choose to engage our services, then we will provide you with two members of our group who, together in tandem, will meet with your client(s) and you in an intensive work session which will be structured to provide you with ab analysis, objectives, and anticipated results.
1. If you have engaged our services after the family court litigation has been commenced, then we will, among other things (1) evaluate and identify our considered “weaknesses” or “deficiencies” in your case and offer our opinions for addressing, rectifying, and strengthening those deficiencies; (2) provide you with an array of suggested settlement options; and (3) provide the attorney with a “litigation outline” which will meld or blend the specific facts of your case with the statutory and case law supporting your fact pattern.
2. If you have engaged our services prior to the commencement of family court litigation, then we will provide your client and you with a pre-litigation evaluation of a potential array of family court “outcomes”, using your fact pattern, while identifying and addressing your case’s potential problem areas.
3. If you have engaged our services to conduct a mediation-styled ENE, we shall make the necessary arrangements with the attorneys for the parties, and provide the attorneys/parties with our Letter of Engagement which shall include, among other things, a list of any pre-ENE documents we shall need to review in preparation for your ENE.
FEES FOR EARLY NEUTRAL EVALUATION (ENE) SERVICES
Although you will be engaging the services of two of our evaluators, you will be billed at the total rate of $250 per hour. There will be no cost either for our travel time to and from your office, nor for any “mileage rate”, nor for any “pre-evaluation preparation” (i.e., for our reviewing any materials which we may request in advance of the evaluation), nor for any post-conference preparation of an ENE memorandum or litigation outline. Stated otherwise, you will be billed for the hours invested by us in our actual “in-office” conferences with you (or with your client and you).
There shall be a minimum of $1,000 which shall be due and payable at the beginning of our evaluation (this minimum is payable for the range of hours we spend at this in-office conference anywhere from 1 hour up to 4 hours, and the fee for all hours after 4 hours of time will be billed at the $250 per hour rate). To make certain that your client is charged only for our actual in-office conference, we shall have your client and you sign a separate short form which states the “ENE Conference Start Time” and “ENE Conference End Time”. Payment in full will be due at the conclusion of our ENE conference at your office.