Maryland Family Law Attorney Discusses Mediation
Divorce Mediation In Maryland
Today I am here to talk about mediation. First I wanted to tell my audience what mediation is. Mediation is an intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, and a settlement or compromise. That’s what mediation is.
I also do a lot of mediation where there is a business involved. A business divorce is a situation where the parties have a business, and they’re going through a divorce. They want to separate that business, and it is considered marital property. The reason I can assist you in that process is that I have a strong business background in finance and economics.
I also have an MBA, and I can analyze all the number crunching that’s involved, come up with different proposals for you, as a client, and different ideas on how we can structure the dissolution of the business, and get the parties their marital share. Or come up with different ideas on how the business can be divided up between spouses.
Mediation Identifies Issues And Disputes To Solve
Now, mediation. The goals of mediation are to identify any issues or disputes that can be solved during a mediation session, that’s one of our goals. The other goal that we have is we try to open up the pathway for communication between the spouses to ensure productive solutions and address issues that can be resolved during the mediation.
Communication is very, very important during the mediation process. The other thing that we try to do is we try to present practical solutions, like I was saying a few minutes ago, based on the specific mediators’ experience, and expertise, you can come up with solutions that will be effective, and then also practical solutions to resolve an issue that you have to deal with in a divorce situation.
The other thing that we try to do in mediation, which is another goal, is to instill a spirit of cooperation that will lead the way to getting an agreement created. With a mediator, the point is to bring the parties together, allow them to talk in a safe environment, and come up with solutions with the assistance of the mediator. The background of the mediator that will apply the law and help you need to come up with solutions is very important. So those are the goals.
Why Choose Mediation Over Litigation
What we need to do today is try to help you decide if you should choose mediation over litigation. The first and most practical reason would be the cost. Litigation is roughly 10 to 20 times more expensive than mediation is in any type of case that I’ve handled over the last 30 years.
The other thing is that the result of mediation and the solution that you figure out can be a solution that you and your spouse have come up with. It’s not a solution that the court has given you. Most of the court resolutions are things that parties have to stick by the court order, and they don’t take into account your day-to-day life. The different finances you have, and different expenses that you and your wife or husband may have, are things you can understand in negotiating.
So we come up with plans that both parties can live with and that are more specific to you. When you go to litigation, you cannot do that. The other thing that mediation does is helps family relations. This is probably one of the best reasons you should do mediation, in my opinion, especially when you have children. The relationship between you and your spouse is a lot better.
When you come to mediation, you work together, and you feel better about each other. Instead of going through a litigated case where you’re fighting, you’re talking bad about each other, you have witnesses that are attacking each of the parties, and you walk away with a lot of animosities.
Mediation tries to bring parties together and improve the relationship after the dissolution of the marriage. The last thing that I will say is another big factor on why you should choose mediation is that mediation is less likely to end up with people coming back and requesting a modification in the future. If you have a judge giving you a court order and you didn’t have any say in the outcome, the chances of either party going back and asking for a modification are higher. The likelihood of that happening is less when you have a mediated settlement. The other reason is the terms and agreements in mediation settlements are fashioned in a way that enables the parties to have a standard settlement.
So when you look at these specific benefits to mediation, I would tell you, and I strongly encourage each client of mine that comes into my office to do mediation, the only time that I don’t encourage it is if there is a history of domestic violence. Or if one party has a criminal record, and their behavior or actions would be negative. I would tell the client not to go through the mediation process in that case.
The only other time I would tell a client not to go to mediation is if he or she does not have a substantial amount of the information, financial information. He or she would not feel at the same level of knowledge going into the mediation. They would feel like they would not be able to do that because the other party is not honest and straightforward.
The Mediation Process
Now what I’d like to do lastly is discuss with you what the mediation process looks like, first of all, what happens is the parties call me. And what we do is come up with a time and place and location for the mediation.
Since COVID, we have been doing a lot of Zoom mediation. We can continue to do that, but I always encourage the parties, if they’re healthy and they’re able to, and the distance to my office is justifiable to them, to come in and meet. I think that is a lot more productive, instead of meeting on a Zoom call. The other thing is that we usually set that schedule up, if it’s Zoom, or if it’s in person, we then sit down and we introduce ourselves.
We set ground rules in the mediation. Then what happens is I give a chance for both parties to provide a background on their relationship. They have the opportunity to tell me what they’re looking for, what the issues are, and any other information that they think is relevant that I need to know. Both parties have that opportunity. Then what I do is go into further detail, asking specific questions about the party’s background, occupational level, income levels, or asset levels, and any information that I think would be useful for me to help them mediate a solution.
Then, I try to caucus with both parties separately, and then we caucus back together with the parties. After meeting with them both individually, I come up with solutions that the parties have told me that they might want. We give them practical solutions on how to go forward. We then draft an agreement and present it to both parties.
What I always encourage my clients to do is to hire independent counsel to review their agreement. At certain points, the parties do not want to incur the fee, and they don’t feel like they need it. They feel very comfortable and understand all the terms and they waive their right to seek their own counsel, then we proceed to have the parties sign the agreement.
Who Pays For Mediation?
Now, one other thing that people always ask is, who pays for the mediation? Generally speaking, mediation fees are resolved between the parties before they come. I tell them my fees prior to them coming in, and a lot of parties split the fees, some parties say that one party will pay it and is willing to pay it. So those terms, generally speaking, are decided between the parties before they come to mediation. These several things that are brought up in the mediation process are just to give you a general feel of what mediation is, how it works, and how I can benefit you in choosing me as a mediator.
Contact Our Maryland Divorce Mediation Attorney
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact my office at 301-315-0001 and we can schedule a mediation. We will gladly answer any other further questions I didn’t answer for you today. I look forward to hearing from you. Go to my mediation page on our website, which is Maryland-law office.com, Thank you.