Divorce Mediation and Child Access
The decision to end a marriage is a difficult one even when the parties agree that it's the right thing for their family. Sometimes the pain of divorce is so intense the parties involved are unable to come to an agreement on how to divide their property or even what is in the best interest of their children regarding visitation and custody. Traditionally, each party in the divorce engages the services of an attorney and the attorneys advocate for their respective client through a series of discussions until a final agreement emerges. However, this process tends to be expensive for both parties in the divorce and often complicates an already painful experience.
Courts now recommend mediation prior to litigation to encourage parties to resolve their differences amicably, for the good of all involved. Having a compassionate professional to come alongside and walk you through this process can relieve a lot of the stress and pain involved.
Our Divorce Mediation and Child Access services provide families with an opportunity to resolve disputes in a structured, non-adversarial setting. Our experienced mediators provide the guidance and support needed to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement while ensuring that the needs and best interests of the children remain at the forefront. Our mediators have experience in both law and mental health, and can provide understanding and compassion in addition to a neutral space that is conducive to collaboration. By providing unbiased feedback and working with the parties together, a mediator can be an invaluable tool for resolving divorce and custody disputes through teamwork and cooperation. By working together to create solutions, parties can set a tone of cooperation. Furthermore, by using a mediator each party splits the cost of the mediation, which is far more economical than each party paying for an attorney.
How the Mediation Works
Mediation may seem daunting at first, especially if it has been court-ordered. However, understanding the steps involved can demystify the process and lead to greater ease. First, the mediation begins with a mediation contract between the parties. This agreement outlines the responsibilities of both parties and the mediator throughout the mediation process, which involves the following steps:
Once the Mediation Agreement is signed, the mediator will conduct an intake assessment for both parties. This meeting provides a road map for further sessions, and can take place either in-person or virtually. At the intake assessment, the parties can share their current concerns. They will be asked for information about property to be distributed, as well as children and any concerns regarding access and child support.
After the intake assessment, the parties will be given a set of forms to complete to identify all of the financial assets and property jointly owned by the couple. While this may seem daunting, it provides the mediator with a checklist of items to be discussed. However, any areas of agreement between the parties reduces the amount of discussion that must take place for the distribution of property.
The parties will also be asked to share what arrangements they would like to make regarding access to their children. This information provides the mediators with a framework for discussing child access and support.
At this point, a series of mediation sessions will take place. Each session will last for one to two hours, and must be attended by both parties. Sessions will continue until all of the parties’ concerns are resolved.
After the conclusion of the mediation sessions, the mediator will draft a Memorandum of Understanding that details the results of the mediation process. This memorandum will be the result of the collaborative efforts of both parties, and will reflect the solutions that they generated during the mediation.
The parties will review and sign the Memorandum of Understanding.
Filing the appropriate paperwork for your divorce may be completed by an attorney, or, if the parties are in agreement, they may choose to file the documents themselves to avoid the expense of an attorney.
If the parties are represented by attorneys, they are encouraged to have their attorneys review the memorandum, as this document serves as guidance for a settlement agreement, which can then be entered into the court’s final judgment of divorce.
Rates and Fees
The fee for mediation has been set by the Circuit Court of Baltimore City at $200 per hour. The Court requires a minimum of two hours, but the parties may, by agreement, extend the meditation beyond two hours. This fee is divided equally between the parties.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a mediation with one of our mediators, you can call or email our office, and we will be honored to walk through this process with you.
MEET OUR MEDIATORS
Qualifications of Mediator
Maryland General Requirements: A minimum 40 hours of basic mediation training is a requirement for anyone who wishes to mediate in the courts. Other basic qualifications include experience mediating or co-mediating at least two civil cases and completion of four hours of continuing mediation education per year.
In addition to these requirements, our mediators have experience in both the legal field and in the clinical practice of mental health. This gives us a unique approach to your situation, blending our legal expertise with the compassion and understanding that we bring to our clinical practice.