How Does Divorce Mediation Work and Is It Worth It?

cubist style abstract illustration of two people talking with a mediator involved

Divorce mediation in Maryland and the District of Columbia can be a method of resolving disagreements between spouses involved in a divorce. Mediation can help when emotions are high and can help prevent a divorce from getting “nasty” (or becoming more so). There are several reasons why this is true.

First, it must be noted that mediation can often be helpful even if no compromise can be reached. Sometimes the mediator concludes that “the spouses are too far apart.” Well, that is still valuable information, and now everyone knows what to expect going forward.

It should also be noted that there are two main types of divorce mediation. One type involves a mediator working almost exclusively with the spouses without their teams of lawyers being directly involved. These mediations tend to be very informal and conducted in the mediator’s office. The other type is more like a business mediation, where the attorneys are present and the proceedings are conducted in an office/attorney conference room.

Whichever type, one reason that Maryland/DC divorce mediation can be successful in reaching a compromise is that the process is designed to remove the “face-to-face” confrontational aspects of trying to negotiate compromises. In a no-lawyers type of mediation, the mediator will talk separately with each spouse, with the other isolated in another room — back and forth — to see if there is room for compromise. In the other type of mediation, the “talking” is mostly done by the opposing sets of Maryland/DC divorce lawyers. In those types of mediation, the lawyers provide a non-emotional “buffer” between the spouses.

Further, mediation can help achieve compromise since it involves a third party who is not the judge in your divorce case, and the strict rules of evidence do not apply. Thus, the legal issues can be presented more fully, more directly, and without fear of angering or prejudicing the judge in your case. Your mediator is also trained and/or has extensive experience in negotiating divorce matters between spouses who are in conflict and also has deep expertise in Maryland/DC divorce law. Thus, the nature of your mediator and the process can help the parties come to an agreement.

In addition — and this is a key point — as part of the mediating process, the mediator will state his or her opinions about the LEGAL aspect of the disputed issues. In other words, the mediator might say that it is likely that one spouse will “win” the argument if the Maryland/DC divorce court judge is forced to make a decision. This is very useful information for several reasons:

  • The mediator has deep experience, so the opinions expressed by a mediator are highly likely to be accurate predictors of how your judge might rule — mediators are often retired divorce court judges and/or attorneys.
  • The information is from a neutral source — neither “for or against” either spouse.
  • The information can confirm what the attorneys have been telling their clients — likewise, the attorneys can — during and after the mediation — express their own opinions about the mediator’s opinions.
  • Mediator opinions can help “bring a spouse back down to reality” — sometimes, for various reasons, one spouse will think their position will absolutely “win” before the divorce court; mediation can help moderate that level of confidence.

Maryland And D.C. Family Law Attorneys

Contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and D.C. family law lawyers at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl for more information. We have the skills and expertise you need. We have proven experience with family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD, and Washington, DC.

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