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Litigate or Mediate, That is the Question?
Remember the time your Dad insisted on pulling out your loose tooth before it was ready? That pain probably pales in comparison to how you felt when you realized your marriage was over. One of the next thoughts most people have is to find a lawyer.
You may be unaware of an alternative, divorce mediation. This is a time-limited, confidential process in which both you and your spouse meet with a neutral third person who helps you decide on the division of parenting responsibilities, where your children will live, how decisions will be made, and the financial issues of property and support. In many, but not all cases, mediation yields a more satisfactory resolution than an extended legal battle. How do you know which is right for you and in the "best interests" of your children?
While every case is unique, here are some broad guidelines:
Choose litigation when:
Choose mediation when:
If you are still are unsure which way to proceed, consider consulting with both a mediator and an attorney. Some professionals offer free initial consultations. Ask questions about the procedure, time frame, costs, payment method, the percentage of cases they successfully settle, other consultants you would need. Remember that you can stop mediation at any time and hire a lawyer to litigate. Or, if you've started working with a lawyer, you can shift to mediation, then return to a lawyer for legal advice and filing your mediated agreement with the court.
Maryland Family Law recognizes eight different grounds for divorce. Adultery, voluntary separation (for at least 12 months), imprisonment (with a sentence of at least three years and at least 12 months already served), and living separate and apart (for at least two years), are among some of the reasons. For the court to grant a divorce based upon any of these grounds, they must be proved in court through evidence and testimony.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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