Mediation or a Hollywood Nightmare
By now everyone has seen The War of the Roses, Kramer v. Kramer, or, most recently, Marriage Story. It seems Hollywood likes to illustrate divorce as being highly adversarial, uncontrollably emotional, and exceedingly expensive. The reality is that most couples are able to achieve a divorce from one another without those negative aspects, especially when both parties are committed to accomplishing same. Most divorces in Maryland occur by way of reaching a Marital Settlement Agreement. The reality is that experienced family law attorneys have the ability to give you a range of potential outcomes if your divorce becomes litigated. Where you fall in the range depends on a long list of factors.
One of the best ways to work towards a Marital Settlement Agreement is to attend mediation with a trained mediator. While a mediator cannot make decisions for you or your spouse, she can provide you with your options and help you to weigh your positions. There are numerous benefits to mediation. First of all, attending mediation, rather than filing a lawsuit, will save thousands of dollars in legal fees. Mediation also allows the parties to come up with creative solutions to their problems. More often than not, parties feel better about terms that they helped to negotiate rather than ones that were ordered by a court. However, mediation is perhaps most effective when dealing with custody and access schedules. Each family is unique, and mediation allows for detailed settlement agreements that cater to each family’s unique set of circumstances. There are often certain holidays or events that matter more to one family than they do to another. Perhaps there are challenging sports schedules, play rehearsals, or other activities that required more detail-oriented solutions. When parties help to create their own terms, it is often easier for them to follow through with those terms. Finally, there is a huge benefit to minor children of a divorce when their parents settle their case in mediation, as opposed to litigation, in which case they are required to complain publicly about their children’s other parent. Children can often pick up on the stress that emanates from their parent, and an agreement reached in mediation allows the parents to reach custody and access schedules that benefit the children the most, causing the family less stress as a whole.