An Alternative Process

By April 2020, after the Pandemic was in full swing, the interest in divorce had already increased 34% in the US compared to the year prior. Courts are overwhelmed with family law cases, unable to address the underlying conflicts of parents who have inevitably experienced loss, and are working their way through the stages of grief. Litigation leaves couples stuck in the anger/frustration stage, with no hope to move on to the acceptance stage of their new normal. Courts are not equipped to timely address day-to-day conflict that arises from separation and divorce.

There is an alternative the is cost-effective, empowering, and less traumatic. Couples have the power to write their own Divorce and Separation narrative. It does not have to be toxic, but rather can be amicable. Mediation offers a way to resolve all issues arising out of divorce/separation and child custody disputes in a client-centered process. Parties have more time to be heard, and to listen. Parties are guided by a highly experienced professional. We invite you to consider Mediation as an alternative resolution process to promote health and healing for you and your family.

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process for resolving disputes out of Court, with a neutral trained Mediator. Since the process is confidential, the mediator cannot be called to testify or produce records in any Court proceeding. Since the process if voluntary, if either party wishes to terminate the session, he or she may do so. It is an alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) process, to avoid the stress, financial burden, and uncertainty of litigation. Parties can design their own agreements, and reach resolutions that the Court may not have authority to award. Many studies confirm that parties who mediate settlements outside of Court are far less likely to return to Court for future litigation. Mediation offers parties the ability to control their own outcome.

Most parties come to mediation with the goal of having a final resolution drafted and executed, such as a parenting plan, a marital settlement agreement, or a property division agreement. Many agreements include provisions for attending mediation in the event of a future dispute. Parents can attend mediation for any issues that arises regarding their children. The mediator can prepare any agreement for the parties to review.

Unlike having law license, or being a Court Appointed Parenting Coordinator, private mediators have a wide range of training. Laura and Eric have both completed 40 hours of Divorce mediation training, as well as 20 hours of child access mediation training. Laura and Eric are both approved and appointed by the Courts in Maryland as mediators.

The mediator is “neutral,” meaning s/he is not an advocate for either party, and cannot give legal advice to either party. However Laura and Eric each practice the “Problem Solving” method of mediation, whereby they are able to identify all areas that must be addressed and resolved by the Court and help the parties reach resolutions. Many parties entering into mediation do not have any idea what they should talk about. Laura and Eric each provide context regarding custody, property and financial support that the Court will expect to be resolved. They guide the parties through the issues to help them reach agreements.

Mediation sessions are usually scheduled for 2-4 hours. Depending on the complexity of the case, and issues to be addressed, parties will usually need 1-4 sessions to resolve their disputes.

Co-mediation is when there are two mediators working with the parties to help resolve their disputes. Eric and Laura have co-mediated for over a decade. Some find it helpful to have two people and two perspectives. Usually one mediator is guiding the conversation while the other mediator is working on notes, child support guidelines, or drafting the agreement. Co-mediation is $400.00 per hour with Eric and Laura, and individual mediation is $300-$350 per hour.

Attorneys may attend with each party, but it is not required. Most of our private mediations are with the parties only. Parties may take breaks to consult with attorneys during sessions as needed.

If there are financial issues to be addressed, parties can prepare by bringing copies of pay stubs, and tax returns, as well as other relevant financial statements and documents. Parties should mentally prepare by being open to compromising and reaching resolutions.

Parties usually divide the cost for sessions, or determine how Mediation expenses will be divided in sessions together. Payment is made after each session, and upon issuance of any invoice for preparation of documents or services.