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Maryland’s authoritative guide to divorce.

Mediation offers a relaxed, informal atmosphere allowing durable settlements which can be obtained more quickly, and which are less costly than traditional litigation. Meditation may take place from the beginning of a case, or by lawyer referral when the matter is filed with the court but cannot be resolved between the parties.

A mediator is not an advocate for either party but rather the mediator listens, helps guide the process and assists the parties to stay focused on the issues. Often mediators are coaches and child specialists, who help the parties work through emotional and child access issues, so that both parties can come to the mediation table to discuss their issues in a respectful peaceful manner, in order to resolve their disputes cost-effectively. Financial neutrals mediate (or co-mediate with lawyers) so help couples work out complex financial issues. The goal of mediation is for you to reach a reasonable and fair resolution with your spouse or partner, one that which meets your needs, and that of your family. Mediation is a voluntary process, and both Parties must be willing to enter into mediation.

Here is what you can expect in a mediation:

Mediation Preparation - Once you and your partner have decided to mediate, you will be provided with a questionnaire which will narrow the issues to be mediated. The mediator will review the information in advance of your initial appointment, which saves you time and money during mediation.
Initial Appointment - During the first session, the mediator will explain the mediation process in detail and discuss your goals and expectations. If you have additional questions that need to be addressed independently, the mediator may set a time to discuss with you one on one. While some mediation is free flowing, the most successful mediation sessions are governed by an agenda, which keeps the parties on track and alerts the parties of issues before they enter a mediation room.

Setting the Ground Rules - Although this is not an official court proceeding, mediation does include several legally enforceable ground rules, including the confidential nature of the meetings, full disclosure of all financial information, and the right to consult with your own attorney during the mediation process.

Reaching an Agreement - After the initial mediation appointment, you will continue to meet with the mediator on a periodic basis until a final agreement is reached. You can expect that you will have homework to accomplish, which will assist you in considering your options and resolving factual disputes. Depending on how you interact and communicate, this could take place in the same room, or separate rooms. Common issues discussed in mediation include child custody, parenting time (visitation), child support, asset and debt division, and spousal support. The parties reach "mini-agreements" as the mediation progresses, helping the parties to reduce the number of issues until all issues have been addressed.

Legal Information -A lawyer-mediator does not represent either party but may present the legal information to both parties when requested, so that you make informed, educated decisions. As a neutral party, the mediator will not offer legal advice to one party, will not make any decisions for you and will not pressure you to agree with any proposal. The mediator will assist you in reviewing your various options so that you may make sound decisions about your own future.

The Final Agreement - Once an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft either a terms sheet or if the mediator is a lawyer, may draft a separation agreement. This agreement sets forth the rights and duties of the parties and puts the parties in a position so that they may move forward with their lives, even if they are not ready for a final divorce. Prior to signing the term sheet or agreement, both parties retain the right to take the agreement to an attorney for a final review.