Pros and Cons of Divorce Mediation
Divorce vs. Mediation – And the Winner is…
If you are seeking information regarding the pros and cons of divorce mediation in Maryland, chances are that you’re hoping to end your marriage as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
While most people understand the role that a divorce lawyer plays in the divorce process, many are confused about where mediation comes into the picture. Often, divorcing couples are aware that the option of mediation exists, but do not necessarily understand what it is, or what it does. One common misconception is that mediation and representation by a divorce attorney are mutually exclusive options in the divorce process in Maryland. As a matter of fact, one of the most commonly searched terms in Google related to this topic is “divorce vs. mediation,” which is not a proper comparison. A more accurate comparison would be “divorce litigation vs. mediation.”
In all likelihood, the root of this discrepancy is the mistaken assumption that choosing to have a lawyer represent your interests during the divorce process will ignite a contentious, heavily-litigated courtroom battle. While those situations certainly do occur, it’s far from the norm in Howard County, Maryland. In reality, when properly utilized, mediation and legal representation by an experienced divorce lawyer work in tandem.
If you are facing separation and divorce in Maryland, it is in your best interest to seek representation by an experienced divorce lawyer as soon as possible so that you understand your rights and responsibilities prior to starting the divorce process. The earlier you speak to a divorce lawyer about what lies ahead, the better off you will be.
3 Common Questions about Divorce Mediation in Maryland
Below are answers to three of the most common questions regarding divorce mediation in Columbia, MD and beyond. If you have questions or concerns that are not addressed here, please give Coover Law Firm a call at (410) 995-1100 and schedule an initial consultation to discuss the specifics of your unique situation.
1. What is divorce mediation?
Simply put, mediation is a process that helps divorcing couples resolve the issues related to divorce. Mediation serves as an alternative to “fighting it out in court.” Instead of having a judge make decisions for them, the divorcing spouses can enlist the help of a skilled mediator to help them come to an agreement amongst themselves. If both parties act reasonably and communicate effectively, mediation can often result in resolution at a lower cost in terms of time, money and emotion.
2. Do I need a lawyer for divorce mediation?
As mentioned above, one of the common misconceptions about mediation is that using a mediator negates the need for a lawyer. In reality, mediators can, and often are, lawyers themselves. However, the difference is, where a divorce attorney represents the interests of his or her client alone, a mediator serves as an impartial third party. A mediator’s job is not to decide who’s right or who’s wrong, but rather to help the parties reach agreement on tough issues. Mediation is not court; there are no judges.
A good divorce lawyer –- one that truly has his or her client’s best interests at heart — is not going to keep you from participating in mediation. In fact, they are probably going to encourage it. If you decide to participate in mediation, your attorney can be there with you -– not so much as your advocate, but as your guide. For more information on how to select the best divorce lawyer for you, please click here.
Mediation is typically most effective later in the divorce process, once the parties have identified the issues requiring resolution and have begun to work towards a solution. For this reason, it is almost always in your best interest to consult with a divorce lawyer early in the process, even before separation. Your divorce lawyer will help you gain a better understanding of your situation and guide you in making the best decisions given your unique circumstances. Should you decide to pursue mediation as a means of conflict resolution, your lawyer can help you select the best mediator to use. Your divorce attorney can offer insight that you may not otherwise have, including in which court your divorce might occur, and which mediators are your best options in this jurisdiction.
3. What are the benefits of mediation? Cons of mediation?
Some of the potential benefits of divorce mediation include:
- Promoting direct communication and cooperation between the divorcing spouses
- Laying the groundwork for conflict resolution in the future
- Encouraging the expression of emotion and clearing the path to resolution
- Saving money by helping to reduce legal fees
- A greater sense of control, as the parties are making decisions for themselves, as opposed to a Judge deciding for them
Some of the potential downsides of divorce mediation include:
- The mediator is not able to offer legal advice to either of the parties
- In some cases, such as situations involving domestic violence or where one spouse could be hiding financial information, mediation may not be an appropriate option
- With urgent matters, such as those regarding child custody, the mediator will not be able to assist in the same manner as the court in providing fast, temporary orders.
Making the Best Decision for You and Your Family
While there are both pros and cons of divorce mediation, in almost all cases involving separation and divorce, it is in the best interest of both parties to reach an agreement rather than relying on the courts to resolve their issues. It’s really not a question of whether to use a mediator OR a divorce lawyer. If the divorcing spouses don’t go to mediation on their own and one party files in court, the judge is likely to order them to go to mediation anyway.
Divorce lawyer Fred L. Coover, Esquire of Coover Law Firm, LLC has been practicing family law in Howard County, MD for over 30 years. He always keeps his clients’ best interests at heart and, as such, is a strong believer in mediation. He has seen first hand how mediation can help families save money in legal fees and avoid draining their nest egg, the kids’ college funds, etc. If you’re facing separation and divorce and need guidance, contact Coover Law Firm, LLC today at (410) 995-1100 to schedule your initial consultation in our Columbia, MD office. We look forward to serving you!
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general educational & informational purposes only. It is not intended to convey legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.