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USING MEDIATION CORRECTLY IN DIVORCE

Mediation can save divorcing parties tens of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees, as well as the uncertainties of trial.

Choosing the right mediator for you and your spouse can be a daunting task, but let's make it super simple.

Often, the most experienced divorce attorneys either (a) are the best mediators, or (b) know the best (and worst) mediators. The most effective divorce mediators can be highly experienced divorce attorneys or retired judges.

As a long-time mediator, I can tell you that it is so important for spouses to make a connection with their mediator to ensure that there is trust. What you need to understand is that different mediators have different styles. Many mediators are unaware of their individual styles. By way of example, my mediation style is called problem-solving mediation. No games, no tricks. We identify all of the issues and work on them, one at a time.

Here are some of the reasons why mediation works:

1. Dividing assets. Unlike spouses in court, spouses in mediation enjoy flexibility in dividing their assets as they agree. You and your spouse can decide for yourselves on issues such as ownership, one another's rights and responsibilities, valuation, and how to handle debts or liens.

2. Alimony. Maryland law outlines several factors for courts, attorneys, and mediators to use in determining how much and for how long alimony should be paid. This can be a tough issue, so take a look at some of my other blogs.

3. Child support. During mediation, parents can determine the appropriate amount of support by using the state child support formula. Outside of court, there is often some flexibility in setting child support. Inside the courtroom, there is often none.

4. Custody. The child's "best interests determines legal and physical custody. There are a myriad of factors Courts look at in determining custody, and a highly experienced divorce mediator knows how to facilitate that conversation.

5. Visitation. When it comes to custody and visitation, things can get touchy between divorcing spouses. It can become too emotionally difficult for you and your spouse to be in the room together. Mediators can reduce emotions by going back and forth between the parties and shuttle information until an agreement is reached.

This is just an overture to a very complicated conversation. Your first step should always be to meet with a highly experienced divorce attorney.

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