Maryland couples heading for divorce can feel overwhelmed by the legal issues they face. The thought of taking those matters to court and letting a judge decide their most intimate questions is not appealing. Additionally, the elements of a divorce often involve delicate, private matters that become part of the public record when they go to court. Fortunately, there are options for alternative dispute resolution to avoid divorce court.
More and more couples are choosing mediation to end their marriages. Mediation brings both parties together to discuss their conflicts and reach solutions that are agreeable to both. This may include any of the following divorce issues:
- Asset division
- Debt division
- Spousal support
- Child custody
- Child support
With the assistance of an impartial mediator, the spouses create a confidential and nonbinding agreement in a way that is often less stressful, less expensive and faster than going to court.
A method of ADR that more closely resembles court is arbitration. An arbitrator replaces a judge by hearing evidence from both sides and issuing a final, legally binding ruling. The outcome is also private, and, like mediation, the process is often less stressful for those involved, including the children.
Choosing ADR allows spouses to maintain control of the outcome of their divorce. It is critical that both partners are willing to commit to the success of the process, and advocates of ADR recommend each party have separate legal representation. There are additional pros and cons to each type of ADR, so it is wise for Maryland couples to learn as much as possible so they can choose the most appropriate method for their divorce.