Divorce Mediation in Maryland

Divorce Mediation in Maryland
When to Use Family Mediation in Maryland
Finding a Divorce Mediator in Maryland
Court Referred Mediation in Maryland
Divorce Mediation FAQs.

Divorce Mediation in Maryland

"Family mediation" means the mediation of disputes in actions for divorce, annulment, establishment of paternity, child custody or visitation, or child or spousal support.

Mediation programs can be very beneficial to people who are divorcing as well as to those who have long been divorced but who find themselves in a dispute in their post-divorce relationship. Not only can it save money but it promotes positive dispute resolution rather than adversarial procedures. That being so, it is well worth investigating by any couple facing divorce, a child custody fight, a visitation dispute or other interpersonal conflict.

Mediation is a process that may help you resolve your case so you can have an uncontested divorce. Mediation is particularly useful in situations involving children, since it is in the interests of the children that their parents "get along" even if they will no longer live together as husband and wife. In the State of Maryland, all cases that involve contested custody or visitation matters are referred to mandatory mediation, provided the parties are represented by an attorney and there is no allegation of domestic abuse.

Mediation attempts to change disputes from "win-lose" to "win-win." Mediation is a non-adversarial process of helping people come to agreement on issues like parenting arrangements, support of children and spouses and division of real and personal property. Mediation occurs when a neutral third-party, who has training in dispute resolution, assists you and your spouse and helps you resolve the issues that are causing conflict and to make cooperative, informed decisions.

When to Use Family Mediation in Maryland

Mediation can be used to resolve the entire range of family disputes either before a divorce takes place in order to consummate a marital settlement agreement, as well as after the divorce to resolve continuing disputes that might arise under a marital settlement agreement.

Under Maryland Rule S73A, court-ordered mediation, the issues are restricted to custody and visitation unless both parties agree to include other issues.

A history of abuse or allegations of abuse preclude mediation and the court will not refer for mandatory mediation of child custody or visitation any situation where abuse has been evident.

Mediation should not be used when there has been evidence of domestic violence or abuse or there is a great difference in power between the parties. For the mediation process to work there must be some degree of trust between the parties.

Finding a Divorce Mediator in Maryland

There are professional mediators who earn their living by providing divorcing couples mediation services on all issues. These professionals can be invaluable in helping couples resolve property and support issues but also will assist with custody and visitation disputes. Divorce attorneys and family counselors can often refer families to professional family law mediators. Psychologists, family counselors and social workers may also offer such services

Court Referred Divorce Mediation in Maryland

Under Maryland Rule S73A, the circuit courts have developed mediation programs to assist parties in resolving custody or visitation issues. Each party must have an attorney and a complaint must have been filed. Only custody and/or visitation are appropriate for court-referred mediation. Maryland Rule S73A requires an order for mediation.

Court-ordered mediation begins when a judge orders it and a mediator is appointed by the court. It is not likely that a circuit court will mandate on-line mediation; therefore it is anticipated that the mediations to be conducted by this service will be private mediations.

Mediation FAQ

What is divorce mediation?
Who are mediators?
How mediation can help
Now does mediation work?
Now much does mediation cost?
Does mediation work?
What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

What is divorce mediation?

Until the last 10 years or so, just about the only course for divorcing couples was to hire lawyers to do battle for them. Often the spouses would not even speak with each other, "communicating" only through their attorneys. And attorneys proliferated. The addition of "no fault" to divorce laws has given rise to an emerging alternative for divorcing couples: mediation. Mediation is the process in which the divorcing couple works out its problems, disagreements, and marital issues with a trained, impartial third party - the mediator. The mediator assists the couple in resolving its differences in a constructive way to reach a "win/win" decision rather than the adversative "win/lose" situation.

back to top

Who are mediators?

The mediator may be a marriage counselor, social worker, psychologist, or lawyer trained in family and divorce mediation. At present, mediation is still open turf for any of the above professions to claim. Maryland does not have any licensing requirements for mediators. At any rate, the mediator should have received formal training from a recognized program or institute, such as the Academy of Family Mediators. They should be versed in family budgeting, the law, tax consequences of divorce, and a variety of options and alternatives crucial to contemplating divorce.

back to top

How the Mediator Can Help.

The major differences between mediators and lawyers are that the mediator assists you and your spouse in working out your disagreements together; emphasizes the restructuring of the family from a practical point of view, in addition to the legal side; pays more attention to your emotional needs; and, is impartial, representing neither you nor your spouse, but both. Unlike the legal adversarial system, mediation is more sensitive to the integrity of the marriage. It tries to build on the strengths of the relationship, avoiding the "we'll get him/her" so common with the adversarial position.

back to top

How does mediation work?

As one mediator described the process, "Mediation is neither therapy, nor the law - it's an educational process." Usually, the couple attends an orientation session in which the mediator thoroughly explains the process of mediation such as what the couple should focus on, how they should speak to each other (keep raised voices down), and so on. The session may last for two hours.  

After the initial session, the couple attends three to eight one-and-a-half- to two-hour sessions in which the mediator will guide them to make their own decisions on how they wish to end their marriage. They analyze their budgets and needs, divide marital property, review their children's needs, and reorganize their family and life-style to fit its new structure.  Mediators place special emphasis on providing an acceptable form of continuity where children are concerned and may even include children in the sessions if warranted.

The process allows the parties to analyze their situations and to understand each other's needs as well as those of the children. It may alleviate the anger and bitterness that the couples initially may feel toward each other. It also makes the couple realize that although they may not be husband and wife, they are still parents. It encourages their cooperation with each other in determining their relationship with their children.

Once the couple decides on what they wish to do, the mediator draws up a memorandum of understanding that specifies what issues have been resolved. This statement is then given to the couple's respective attorneys, who will draw up a formal separation agreement based on the statement. Please note that many mediators are not lawyers and, therefore, may not consider all that should be necessary for a good separation agreement.

back to top

How much does Mediation cost?

The cost of mediation varies from $100 to as much as $250 a session. (Attorneys who are mediators usually charge more than non-attorneys). It usually is requested that both parties contribute to the costs, eliminating any possible feelings that the one who pays may be getting preferred treatment. Sessions also may be held with co-mediators, a lawyer and a social worker, for example.

back to top

Does Mediation Work?

Statistics show that court-ordered child support and alimony payments tend to lag after two years and tend to be ignored entirely after five years. Experience so far has shown that people tend to abide by agreements reached through mediation.

back to top)

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

Both mediation and arbitration involve a neutral third party who is not a judge. In mediation, the neutral party -- the mediator -- helps the spouses to negotiate an agreement and has no power to make decisions. In arbitration, the neutral third party -- the arbitrator -- listens to the facts and then decides the case.

(back to top)

Maryland Divorce Forms


Maryland Divorce $59.00
MD MSA $39.00
MD Divorce & MSA Combo (best value) $89.00

Legal Technician-Prepared

Maryland Divorce $149.00
MD MSA $79.00
MD Divorce & MSA Combo (best value) $199.00

Try before you buyStart Now

Special: Now through March 31st take 10% off any purchase! Use promotional code mar10

BBB Reliability Program
Fast, Easy, Affordable Maryland Divorce Forms
Start Now