Why You Should Consider Mediation Before Litigating A Divorce
Divorce is highly emotional, stressful, and often expensive. While divorce will always involve emotional pain, mediation can help reduce the timeline and cost. Mediation also may lower your stress level, as many contentious divorce issues are resolved without litigation.
Learn more in this article about why mediation should be attempted before going to divorce court. If you have questions, our Maryland divorce attorneys at Shah & Kishore can help.
Mediation vs. Litigated Divorce
A divorce is contested or litigated when the parties cannot agree on the most contentious issues. One can file a divorce complaint with the Maryland court if mediation does not work. You can do it yourself, but hiring an attorney to represent you is always best.
When you file a divorce complaint, you ask the judge to determine the outcome and end the marriage using the state’s legal procedures. These divorced procedures require both parties and the court to take specific steps. There are due dates for each legal step.
A fully litigated divorce ends after a trial overseen by the family court judge. You can represent yourself in court, but hiring a divorce attorney is best. You and your spouse can settle the divorce anytime, which may lead to an uncontested divorce. It is best to go to divorce mediation before heading to court.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation allows separating spouses to meet with a neutral third-party professional to resolve common divorce disputes without litigation. Depending on the situation, your divorce attorney may or may not be involved in the mediation process. Mediation is often preferable to divorce litigation because it is faster, less expensive, and usually less upsetting.
Further, mediation gives you and your spouse more control over the process. For example, suppose you go to divorce court to litigate your disputes. A Maryland judge will decide vital aspects of your future, such as alimony payments and timeline, child custody, child support, and property division. Therefore, it is usually better to agree with your spouse in mediation about addressing these critical issues.
Any mediation agreement you make with your partner will be binding in court. So, you and the other party maintain control and power over the split without the court telling you to do things you do not want. Many couples do not like handing over control of the divorce outcome to a judge.
How Does Mediation Work?
The divorce mediation process begins when you agree and choose a mediator. Or, the court can select a mediator for you. In Maryland, the courts can order you to go to mediation, but they cannot force you into an agreement. Also, mediators cannot be told to testify in court about what was covered during mediation sessions; mediators are supposed to keep these negotiations private.
Mediation can be effective if both parties are willing to negotiate over contentious divorce issues. The mediator will set the first appointment in a neutral venue. Next, the spouses will discuss their problems, including asset division, child custody and child support, and alimony.
When first meeting with a mediator, they will quickly be able to grasp if divorce resolutions can come through the process. The mediator may keep the spouses in separate rooms to ensure a peaceful initial meeting. If the initial meeting is fruitful, additional sessions can be scheduled. Sometimes, all of the outstanding divorce issues can be handled in a single meeting.
Divorce mediation does not have a time limit. You and your spouse can work with the mediator until a divorce agreement is reached. Or, the process can be terminated by either side if a resolution is impossible. Of course, if the marital issues are too complex for mediation, you can always go to litigation. But mediation is almost always cheaper than litigating a divorce in court. You might save thousands of dollars and significantly reduce stress and pain.
Cost Differences Between Mediation And Litigation
In either case, you must pay divorce court filing fees. But other than that, divorce litigation is usually much more than mediation. The largest expense in mediation is the mediator fee which you will probably split with your spouse. Divorce mediation fees often range between $3,000 and $8,000.
If you go to court, you must pay your attorney’s legal fees inside and outside the court. The longer the divorce case, the more legal fees you will pay unless you attempt to represent yourself. Even if you do not have a lawyer, do not expect the judge to go easy on you; they will expect you to know the law and court rules and procedures.
Who Is The Ideal Candidate For Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is a good choice if you and your spouse want to save money and can agree on significant issues. However, each party must be willing to compromise. Mediation may fail if you or the other party wants to exact revenge in divorce.
Furthermore, mediation also means having a level playing field. If there is domestic violence in the marriage, mediation will not work. Mediation also will be ineffective if your spouse has narcissistic traits and cannot admit fault. When either or both spouses do not like to tell the truth or are trying to cover something up, mediation is not an option, either.
However, mediation can still work even if you do not think you can agree on significant divorce issues. Agreements are possible outside of court if both parties go into mediation with an open mind and do not seek revenge.
Contact Our Maryland Divorce Attorneys
Divorce is one of the most painful experiences a married couple can go through. But there are ways to reduce the cost and emotional strain of the process. If you are considering divorce in Maryland, it is best to consider mediation first. You can save considerable time and expense with mediation instead of going to divorce court. Please contact our Maryland divorce attorneys at Shah & Kishore today at (301) 315-0001 if you have questions about your divorce.