There is perhaps no other area of the law that is as emotionally charged as family law. Family law cases are expensive to litigate and can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, it is common for a hotly contested family law case to reach or exceed the $5,000,000 range. A contested family law case can cause people to deplete their savings accounts, retirement accounts, and available credit lines. The cost for the attorneys is just one of the expenses. Experts are often needed in order to evaluate property, pensions, and businesses; perform vocational, medical, and psychological assessments; conduct home studies; and provide investigative services. In some cases, attorneys are appointed for the children. These costs are in addition to the party’s own attorney fees. Most people, however, cannot afford the costs associated with a hotly contested family law case and wisely choose to mediate their case. If the parties successfully participate in mediation, the terms thereof are reduced to a written agreement. Those agreements can be in the form of a full Separation and Property Settlement Agreement or a more limited agreement dealing with only custody, support, or the disposition of property.
In order for family law mediation to be successful, you must retain a mediator who is experienced in family law matters; who is current in the law; who knows the judges’ and magistrates’ individual propensities; and who is insightful enough to understand each parties’ needs and limitations. A mediator must be honest with the parties about their expectations. This is important because the law is based on the principle of equity, which, in its simplest form, means fairness. Because the laws are not written to prefer one party or gender over another, the mediator must educate the parties on concepts of fairness. Many people enter mediation believing that there are gender preferences in custody and alimony cases. This is not the case under Maryland law. Furthermore, it is rare for a court to deny a parent access to his or her child unless that parent poses a genuine risk of harm to the child. Even then the courts can, and often do, order supervised visitation.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a collaborative effort. It requires both parties to be open-minded and receptive to compromise. Emotions such as anger and resentment tend to cause mediation to fail. The mediator must understand these emotions, but at the same time, the mediator must minimize the negative affect these emotions have on the mediation process. Each case is mediated with the hopes of reaching an agreement that is acceptable to each party. It is rare that either party will get everything that he or she wants. It is often said that, “the only good mediation is the one where both parties are unhappy.” At the Law & Mediation Offices of Kirk Seaman, LLC, we do not necessarily agree with that saying, but we do recognize that compromise is not always easy to accept.
- Mediation is much less expensive than litigation
- Mediation resolves the case much quicker than litigation
- Mediation allows the parties to maintain control over their own lives and the lives of their children
- Mediation is less stressful on the parties and the children
- Mediation eliminates the uncertainty of litigation
- Mediation is less bitter than litigation
- Mediation preserves the privacy of the parties
- Mediation saves the children from watching their parents battle each other in court
At the Law & Mediation Offices of Kirk Seaman, LLC, our attorneys are experienced in mediation matters. In fact, Mr. Seaman has been a court-appointed mediator (also referred to as a “settlement officer” and formerly referred to as a “settlement master”) since 1995. If you choose to mediate your case, we pledge to work diligently and patiently to help you reach an acceptable resolution. In family law cases there is only one certainty: going to court is expensive, time consuming, disruptive to the entire family, and unpredictable. Judges often make decisions based on what they feel is best for your family. Those decisions, however, may not always fit into your own concept of what you believe is in the best interest of your family. Mediation allows you, not the judge, to decide your family’s future.
If mediation is right for you, call us today at 410-876-6000. An attorney is waiting to discuss the matter with you.