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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 law requires equitable distribution of property in a divorce. The court determines a fair award of property and debt. Unless the couple can reach a settlement, the court divides the marital property, pension, retirement, profit sharing or deferred-compensation plans. The court considers contributions of each party, the well being of the family, the property value, the economic circumstances of each spouse as well as current situations such as age, mental state, the duration of the marriage, and the interest each party has in the property.
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