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Mediation can be used in divorce cases

Those going through a divorce in Maryland know that it can be a stressful and expensive process. In addition to ending a relationship and the issues inherent to separation, a court process adds to the stress. Contentious hearings can be difficult on parties and costly, and a party never really knows whether a court will rule in his or her failure.

For some wishing to minimize the adversarial nature of the process, mediation may be a solution. Though mediation is often required in a contested child custody matter, it isn't in a divorce. However, many parties are now seeking the benefits of the process.

In mediation, the parties meet with a third-party mediator. The mediator's goal is to reach an agreement between the divorcing spouses. The parties choose a suitable mediator and split the costs. The mediator is usually trained in negotiation and seeking common ground.

To accomplish the goal of reaching an agreement, the mediator will meet with both parties together, with or without attorneys present. After meeting with them together, he or she will then meet with each party separately. Items the parties can agree upon are emphasized, and issues of contention are dealt with individually.

If the parties can agree on the major issues in the divorce, the mediator will memorialize the agreement in writing and have the parties sign. The agreement is then enforceable and can be presented to the court and incorporated into a divorce decree or settlement agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties then go to court and allow the judge to decide the issues.

Many in the legal profession are proponents of mediation in certain situations. An experienced family law attorney may be able to advise clients beforehand as to how to use the process while avoiding an unreasonable settlement. An attorney may also be able to assist with an agreement modification during the divorce process.

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