Mediation can be a very powerful tool for couples seeking a divorce in Maryland. In addition to being a necessary step before the divorce can go to arbitration, it sometimes allows couples to handle their divorce without ever setting foot in a courtroom.
That’s not necessarily true for every Maryland couple. It’s important to know when mediation works and when to move onto the courtroom.
What’s the difference between mediation and arbitration?
Mediation involves the couple and a neutral third party who serves as a mediator. This mediator will facilitate the conversation to help the couple agree on how to settle their divorce.
Arbitration involves going to court, where each couple will make their case known to the judge about how something should be handled. The difference is, the judge gets to decide for the couple.
For example, if a couple can’t agree on who gets to take the dog, the judge may decide for them. However, it may not be one that the divorcing couple likes. Returning to our dog example, the judge would most likely order the dog to be sold and the profits split between the couple.
What if you can’t agree?
If you can’t come to an agreement, don’t panic. Mediation can take place over several sessions, and oftentimes does. Most sessions also rely on the help of outside parties, like financial planners and specialized lawyers trained in the mediation process.
But for mediation to truly work, both couples have to be willing to communicate and compromise. Adding other advisors and parties can often help couples make clear decisions. But if one person is sticking their feet in the sand and refuses to compromise, or is otherwise hostile or difficult, it may be time to escalate the divorce and seek arbitration.