Using Mediation to Reach a Divorce Settlement in Maryland
The Role of Mediation in a Divorce Settlement in Maryland
The process of reaching a divorce settlement in Maryland can be a traumatic experience for both parties with high expenses and unpredictable outcomes. Often, this can result in the spouses feeling resentment and anger toward each other. This deleterious environment isn’t good for the divorcing couple or their children when caught in the middle of feuding parents. In Maryland, there is an alternative to the traditional litigation; divorcing couples can choose mediation, which can offset the cost of divorce and help alleviate some of the stress associated with such an adversarial process.
Mediation helps divorcing couples discuss, negotiate, and reach a settlement. It is similar to traditional litigation in that it still helps resolve the typical separation issues—marital property division, child support, custody and visitation, and alimony. However, what sets mediation apart from litigation is its non-adversarial atmosphere. Unlike litigation where a judge makes the final determinations, mediation can assist you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse in reaching your own decisions and aiding in conflict resolution. Mediators are skilled in resolving conflicts and can make the impossible seem possible.
There are five elements that distinguish divorce mediation from court litigation:
- Mediation can occur at a location agreed upon by the parties. It doesn’t need to take place in a public courtroom.
- Mediation is conducted by an impartial professional without the intimidation of a black robe and gavel. The parties, with the aid of their family law attorneys, typically choose the mediator rather than simply being assigned to a judge’s docket.
- Mediation tends to cost less overall. Lower fees and lower court costs are always a positive.
- Mediation proceedings are private and confidential, causing most participants to be more honest and comfortable in their dealings with one another.
- During mediation, the parties can agree to include terms in a settlement that are beyond a court’s power; however, once an agreement is presented to the court, it becomes a binding and enforceable court order.
As with most complex processes, several meetings with your mediator may be required before you are ready to reach a divorce settlement in Maryland. You and your attorney will need to set aside a considerable amount of time for each session, as the issues to be resolved tend to be multifaceted and complicated.
Mediation is voluntary if agreed upon by the parties, but be forewarned: mediation works best with parties who are willing to cooperate and work together to reach an amicable settlement. Divorce is notorious for being an emotionally charged process, so bear in mind that only civil individuals stand to gain from the use of mediation.
Parties in divorce litigation can opt for mediation at any time before or during litigation. However, it is important to understand that a mediator cannot provide legal advice. Therefore, mediation is not a substitute for a dedicated family law attorney who will represent your individual interests throughout the divorce process. To discuss your needs with an experienced divorce lawyer, contact Howard County, MD, attorney Fred L. Coover, Esq., of Coover Law Firm, LLC, at 410-995-1100.
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.