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Dispelling misconceptions about divorce mediation

Maryland couples that find themselves having to make the painful decision to divorce may want to explore divorce mediation as an alternative to the traditional courtroom battle that people often think of when they think about marital dissolution.

Mediation offers several advantages to divorcing couples. It usually is quite a bit less expensive than a traditional divorce; a contentious proceeding can cost up to $30,000, whereas an early mediation may cost as little as $3,000. More importantly, mediation sets a positive tone for the couple's relationship following the divorce and puts the outcome of the divorce itself in the couple's hands rather than that of a judge.

Contrary to popular belief, people who use a mediator do not thereby forfeit their right to consult with a lawyer. A lot of times, a person may even want his or her attorney to be present during the mediation. Likewise, people are free to consult with other experts like appraisers and accountants if they so choose; mediation does not mean that a divorcing spouse has to go in to an agreement blind.

Others sometimes confuse the role of the mediator and believe that he or she will make the final decisions or, at least, give legal advice in the same way that a lawyer would. Neither of these beliefs is true. A neutral mediator cannot force a person to come to an agreement, take a person's side or even tell a person whether a proposal is a good deal for that person. Whether an agreement is reached depends entirely on the wishes of the two spouses.

While mediation certainly does not work in every situation, it can be a relatively inexpensive means for a couple to divorce quickly and quietly. A Marylander who is facing the prospect of divorce might want to consider mediation as an option.

Source: Huffington Post, "Mediation myths and misunderstandings that may affect your decisions in divorce," Diane L. Danois, May 10, 2013

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