Does Mediation Cover all Issues in a Separation, Divorce or Family Dispute in Maryland?
Yes, mediation can cover all issues. In general, mediation is a useful, sensible tool to resolves legal conflicts between parties if the parties will agree to use mediation to try to settle that conflict. It is particularly sensible and compelling in cases involving separation, divorce or other family law disputes. In family law disputes, the parties often remain connected by children and a vicious legal battle leaves emotional scars and resentment. That impairs future successful co-parenting. In particular, a public trial for private marital circumstances is a humiliating experience during a very challenging emotional situation.
In the Maryland courts, where child custody or visitation (also referenced as child access) is in dispute, very often the parties are ordered to mediate. However, the issues to be resolved are limited to the Children. Even a resolution about the children during the court-ordered mediations does not resolve the issues about alimony, distribution of property and allocation of debts.
However, private separation and divorce mediation typically addresses all issues that typically appear in Marital Settlement Agreements. So the short answer is yes, mediation is an appropriate forum to settle the great majority of legal disputes, both in family law cases or in other civil law suits, like automobile accidents. In fact, the economic efficiency of the mediation dispute resolution process is well-known and often used by insurance companies, in construction cases and in every manner of business dispute. That is because money-minded business people understand the financial wisdom of settlement and the impact of legal fees in legal disputes. Emotionally mired families run a great risk at losing site of the economic efficiency due to anger and upset.
If mediation is to be ordered by the judge in a family law matter, why not start the process in mediation to see if court and the corresponding legal expense can be avoided? Therefore if your dispute is only about Child Custody or only about Child Support, mediation is particularly sensible as a choice of first resort.
The topics to be mediated are typically defined by the complexity of the case, the desires of the parties and/or the scope of a court order, if any exists. Many people seek out separation or divorce mediation in Maryland to settle all of the issues relating to the dissolution of their marriage. Where people are unmarried but share children, child custody and child support are very often decided in mediation.
In complex matters, mediation can be used to attempt to limit the issues in dispute. For example, there may be a complicated financial issue in a family law matter which is too complex for parties to negotiate on their own. However, such a case may also involve other non-complex topics, such as personal property division, child custody, child support, etc., and therefore in such a case, it may make sense to mediate only a portion of the case.
In conclusion, mediation has emerged to be a widely used tool to resolve all sorts of legal issues and cases. The technical filing requirements and burdensome but necessary court procedures add an enormous amount of time and cost to legal disputes. Alternative dispute resolution arose specifically to avoid these processes to proceed straight to the core of the conflict. Mediation is one form of alternative dispute resolution.