Mediation is a confidential meeting between the parties in matters of separation, divorce, and child custody, including all property issues, spousal support, child access, and child support. The information that the parties provide in mediation is kept in confidence, both by the mediator and by the parties, as almost all of the information discussed in mediation cannot be used against a party in court.
Mediation promotes and improves communication between the parties.
Mediation allows both parties’ input, along with the mediator, into resolving problems and providing the best possible solution for their various issues and concerns.
Mediation allows for constructive ways to identify problems and issues and provides both parties the opportunity to work through those issues.
An Alternate Approach
Mediation is a confidential process allowing individuals to seek fair and mutually agreeable solutions outside of the process of contested litigation. It is generally less costly, less time consuming, and less emotionally draining than litigation.
Mediation can offer a confidential and private setting that provides couples the opportunity to work together to reach an amicable resolution of their disputes.
Family law mediation is used to resolve disputes concerning:
How Long are the Sessions?
Each mediation session is two hours in length. During the session, the mediator assists the parties in addressing the issues of child custody, child access, child support, spousal support, and division of marital property. Successful mediation usually requires two mediation sessions.
What Happens when an Agreement is Reached?
After an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft the written Agreement. It will be sent to the parties generally within one or two weeks of the conclusion of the mediation sessions. Each party should consult with their own attorney concerning the proposed Agreement, as the mediator cannot provide the parties with legal advice. Each party’s attorney will have the opportunity to review the proposed Agreement and to make suggestions as to changes or modifications.
Once the Agreement is signed by the parties in the presence of a notary public, it will usually be made a part of their future divorce decree or other court order.
What is the role of the Mediator?
The mediator acts as a neutral party and assists the participants in a process that allows both sides to be heard, encourages exploration, and promotes a resolution that reflects the parties’ own solutions to the dispute in a manner that meets their needs and the needs of their family.
What if no is made Agreement?
Though mediation may not resolve all issues, it may help to define and narrow the issues and limit the time involved going to court, reducing overall attorney’s fees. The issues that are not resolved are taken to court for a decision by a Hearing Magistrate or Judge.
Do I need an attorney?
In mediation, each party has the opportunity to voice their concerns about pending issues. However, mediation is not a substitute for independent legal advice. The role of the attorney is to help their client understand the law, make agreements, provide legal advice, and complete the divorce process. The mediator does not represent either party and does not provide the parties with legal advice.
Changes to Maryland Law
A new law took effect in Maryland on October 1, 2018, which eliminates the need for the parties to live separate and apart for 1 year prior to filing for divorce, if:
This new law creates an incentive for parties to work things out. Although the new law changes the timing of a divorce, it does not change the need for parties to make informed decisions. Mediation is an effective way for parties to make informed decisions as to their finances and their property division. Once an agreement is reached, the parties whose matter falls under the new law will be able to promptly file for an absolute divorce.