How does the Maryland divorce mediation process work?

On behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA posted in Child Custody on Friday, December 5, 2014.

People in Maryland who are considering or are in the midst of divorce should probably be prepared for mediation at some point in the process. Mediation is quickly becoming a commonplace method to help divorcing couples deal with child custody disputes, visitation, financial issues and essentially any other area of dispute in a divorce.

The first step for people considering filing for divorce is selecting an experienced family law attorney. Depending on the situation and the issues at hand, an attorney might suggest that the parties attend mediation voluntarily. Couples may be better off by instigating the mediation process themselves, before the case ever comes to court. By voluntarily entering into mediation, the couples can work through all of the details of concern, including financial issues such as property division, spousal support and children's issues such as agreeing on joint custody and a parenting plan. In voluntary mediation, an attorney is not mandatory, but it is always recommended that a person have legal counsel on hand to help them through the process and ensure that their rights are being protected.

Even if a party chooses not to mediate voluntarily, there is always the possibility that the court will order the couple to attend mediation if there is a custody dispute. The court does not want to get involved in a personal, and often messy child custody issue if they do not have to. As a result, they generally send the couple to mediation to work out the issues on their own terms. Mediation is a great opportunity for the parents to work out their issues, but if they are unable to, then returning to the court for litigation may be the only option.

Mediation has benefits over litigation, but it is not always the best solution for every situation. An experienced Maryland attorney can help clients decide if mediation is right for them and help them take the confusion out of the divorce legal process.

Source: MSBA.org, "Divorce and Custody Mediation," accessed on Nov. 30, 2014