Mediation concludes with a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). Pre-nuptial Agreements (PNA) are created during the course of a facilitated discourse about terms the are acceptable to both parties. Good practice requires that both parties have these agreements reviewed by independent counsel before they are signed. The value of such a review is not measured by the amount of time the reviewing attorney spends on the file. One of the reasons it can be difficult to find a family law attorney willing to review a MSA or PNA is because a fee based on a rate multiplied by the time spent isn’t large enough to warrant the particular nature of the responsibility and the fact that potential liability persists for the life of the client (MSA) or until after the conclusion of divorce (PNA). The service is similar to the responsibilities assumed by a trustee and the fee is determined in the same way. The review will always require at least one three hour session during which:
- The client will be asked for a detailed and extended personal history and history of the case;
- The client will be asked to explain what the agreement is supposed to do and how it is accomplished;
- The mediator’s/facilitator’s file with be studied to trace the history of the settlement;
- The draft under consideration will be reviewed with the client: word-by-word;
- I will give a brief explanations of each provision.
- I will spend whatever time is required to answer the client’s question to his or her satisfaction.
More often than not, the final draft of the agreement is acceptable to the client. Occasionally, the client will agree that some changes in language are desirable or required. Occasionally, the proposed agreement differs from what one or both parties thought it said. In this situation the mediation or the facilitated discussion can be reconvened.
When the content of the agreement meets with the approval of both parties and the other attorney I will sign an endorsement that describes the work done the breadth of my approval.
The fee schedule is somewhat similar to the one used for the Extended (Roadmap) Consultation, but for cases where the Marital Estate exceeds $4M the fee is based on a percentage, as shown below:
Marital Estate valued at less than $500,000 fee = $375
Marital Estate valued between $500,000- $2M = $755
Marital Estate valued between $2M – $3M = $1000
Marital Estate valued between $4M – $10M = .0003 of estate
Material Estate is greater than $10M per agreement
Where the Marital Estate exceeds $500,000, and I have seen the client for one or more previous consultations, there will be a credit of $375 against the amount in the schedule. For example:
- Marital Estate = $3.5M with one previous consultation. Cost of Review = $1000 – $375 for previous consultation credit. Cost of final session = $625.
- Marital Estate = <$500,000 with two previous consultations. Cost of Review = $375, which is, in effect, a minimum fee.
The application of this scale can be confusing. I encourage you to ask for explanations and examples when you call for an appointment. If you have any doubt about the amount of the fee, we’ll approximate the size of the estate and apply the sliding scale before we start the consultation. If the fee is different than what you anticipated you are no obliged to continue with the consultation.