Mediation is the process of meeting with a neutral third party to help come to a consensus on the best course of action for moving forward with a separation or divorce, turning one family into two. Couples can make decisions that are best for their family, without worrying about what the court will determine for them.
Couples can work with an attorney-mediator or private, non-attorney mediator. Court-appointed mediators are usually attorneys in family law, with experience litigating divorce cases. Non-attorney mediators are those who aren’t necessarily in the legal profession but in the business of helping people reach agreements.
Mediation doesn’t always work, but there is still a benefit for couples to work through their disagreements. When you work with a mediator, that person’s job is to talk with you, as two people together, or separately, if things need to be discussed without the other person. They talk with you to find out what you truly need and want out of the situation. They talk about ways to satisfy both parties to successfully handle the issues that the parties have, regardless of what a judge might rule.
A mediator can be an effective tool at helping parties get to the bottom of what they’re really looking for. When you’re getting a divorce, clearly there’s something wrong in the relationship. Oftentimes, people don’t get along and can’t communicate well. Before you take the step of getting litigious and only communicating through your attorneys, it can be useful to go to a mediator to help you communicate effectively to reach a common ground.
You can come up with a full and final agreement in mediation that settles the issues that you have, or you can settle just some of the issues. For example, you might settle your property issues through mediation and then go to court to deal with custody. Mediation is very helpful for parties to work together for a solution that’s going to be good for everyone, before having to go down the road of preparing for trial.
I usually tell clients, even if you don’t reach an agreement through mediation, it gives you something to talk about with your attorney to help your case. Mediation helps you get information about where you stand in the case and what the issues really are.
Will Mediation Produce A Fair And Binding Result?
Mediation can produce a binding result. Typically, in family law mediation, each party has an attorney. The mediator will put in writing the agreement the parties have reached and then give the parties time to confer with their attorneys about it.
Mediation has a lot to do with talking about what the parties want and what makes sense for them—it is less about talking about the law. It’s still a legal open case with attorney involvement, but you want to run your agreement by your attorney. A mediation agreement is not binding in the sense that you sign a full agreement right there in the mediation session, but they put in writing what you’ve agreed to. This allows you to talk to your lawyer before you sign it. An attorney can answer any legal questions you may have or advise you about how your agreement will affect you in the future.
However, for court-appointed mediation, there is a process that makes it more binding. When a court appoints a mediator in a case that’s already open, that mediator will try to help you reach an agreement. They will put that agreement in writing and give it to your attorneys for review, but you have a deadline on this. Typically, from the date of the mediation, the mediator will wait ten days. If the mediator doesn’t hear from one of the attorneys or parties that they have changed their mind or declined to sign, at the end of the ten days they will submit a report to the court. This report makes the agreement binding and notifies the court you’ve reached an agreement.
The goal of mediation is to produce a result both parties are satisfied with. Typically, if you’ve reached an agreement in mediation, it’s because you feel the agreement is reasonable and fair, not because you feel pressured to. You should never feel pressured to sign an agreement in mediation. Mediation is about coming to a resolution that both parties can live with.
For more information on Divorce Law in Maryland, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (443) 300-2335 today.