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Does Maryland Require Mediation In Divorce?


There are several ways to dissolve a marriage in the state of Maryland. Traditionally, parties litigated their divorces in an adversarial format in which they made arguments before a judge. The judge would render final decisions on key issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Today, a backlog of divorce cases has forced the courts to require Maryland residents to try other forms of dispute resolution before taking their case before a judge. In this article, the Maryland family law attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson will discuss mediation, and when the courts can require Maryland residents to mediate their divorce.

Can I be forced to mediate my divorce? 

The Maryland courts can require that Maryland couples attempt to mediate their divorce before pursuing the matter in court. However, mediation is a purely voluntary process and you are not required to sign any agreement. Further, the mediator doesn’t make decisions, and any recommendation they make is not legally binding. If you are unhappy with the direction the mediation is going, you can opt out. The matter would then proceed to litigation where a judge would render any final decisions.

That being said, there are several advantages to mediating your divorce.

Advantages of mediation in Maryland 

Maryland courts can require a couple to attend mediation, but they cannot force them to reach an agreement during mediation. However, there are several key advantages to reaching an agreement during mediation. For one, it saves a considerable amount of time and money. Litigated divorces can take years to settle as opposing spouses present arguments before a judge. Every decision occurs during a court hearing and these can take time to schedule. Litigating a divorce is much slower, requires significantly more attention from your attorney, and drives up the cost of divorce considerably.

Another advantage of mediation is that it is private. Any agreement that you reach with your spouse is confidential. When you litigate a divorce, the courts are forced to step in and make decisions on the couple’s behalf. For that reason, the proceedings are a matter of public record, including financial decisions that are made by the judge. The court must consider your income, assets, and more to reach a decision. Mediation keeps your financial details private.

When you work with a mediator, you and your spouse reach key decisions concerning your divorce together. That means that the ultimate power is in your hands. The mediator will not make any decisions on your behalf and represents the interests of neither party during negotiations. Instead, the mediator helps facilitate an agreement between the spouses. When you litigate a divorce, the judge makes all of the decisions concerning property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. While litigation is appropriate in many cases, it should be seen as a last resort.

Talk to a Maryland Divorce Mediation Attorney Today 

Schaich & Thompson, Chartered represent the interests of Maryland residents interested in mediating their divorce. Call our Bel Air family lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing the mediation process right away.

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