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Mediated divorce may not work in your situation

Like many in Maryland, you may be considering big changes for the new year. Perhaps one of those changes involves getting out of your marriage. While not an easy decision to make, divorce may allow you the fresh start you have been hoping for in recent years. If you have discussed your situation with friends, co-workers or family members, you have likely heard the suggestion to take your divorce through mediation rather than the traditional litigated divorce.

Mediation is certainly a more peaceful, less contentious method of ending your marriage. You and your spouse negotiate the issues, such as child custody, asset division and support payments with the assistance of a trained mediator. Mediation is often faster, cheaper and more satisfying than going to court. However, in certain circumstances, mediation may not be the best idea.

Is mediation right for us?

Mediation only works if both spouses are willing to work together and compromise. If your spouse did not take it well when you announced your plans to divorce, you may find that he or she is not interested in a fair and peaceful end to the marriage. In this case, trying to go through mediation may be a tremendous waste of time. Other factors that indicate it may be better to skip mediation include the following:

  • Since mediation requires both spouses to be honest, it may not be successful if one of you is unable to express the truth to the other.
  • If you believe your spouse is hiding money or other assets from property division, you may benefit from the discovery phase of a litigated divorce.
  • If you are the victim of domestic violence or a controlling spouse, you may not be able to expect your spouse to negotiate fairly with you during mediation.
  • Your divorce mediator may be bound to report any suspicions of child abuse, so if this situation exists in your home, a litigated divorce may be in your best interests.
  • Your spouse may simply refuse to agree to the divorce or to participate in any methods of ending the marriage, which will make mediation a challenge.

Just because you and your spouse may not be getting along does not necessarily disqualify you from using mediation to end your marriage. In fact, before dismissing the possibility, it is wise to obtain the advice of a skilled attorney who has experience with alternative dispute resolution methods of divorce. You may be surprised how much you can accomplish through mediation, but it is always a good idea to have legal counsel no matter which divorce method you choose.

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