Divorces can become messy, ugly, and hostile. For some couples, mediating their disputes may help them resolve all or some of their issues amicably. While this process may not work for every couple, for those who are willing and able to participate in the process, mediation can offer many benefits compared to litigation.

While mediation is a less formal and often less confrontational process, parties will still benefit from legal counsel. A Bethesda mediation lawyer can serve as your advocate and will negotiate on your behalf. Only a local divorce lawyer can help you learn more about your legal rights and options.

How Does Mediation Work?

Mediation involves divorcing spouses or unmarried couples working with a neutral third-party. The mediator will facilitate negotiations and attempt to resolve issues that the parties need to work out as they part ways.

Child custody, visitation, and property division are all factors that the parties can work to resolve through mediation. The individuals may have an attorney help them with the process or negotiate on their own behalf.

At the end of the mediation, if the parties reached a verbal agreement, the mediator can draft a written agreement for the parties to sign and enter with the court, if the parties’ have an active case. Before signing any documents created in mediation, the parties should have their Bethesda mediation lawyers review the terms.

How is Mediation Different from Litigation?

Mediation is a simpler process that does not involve many of the steps or formalities involved in litigating a case. The rules of litigation will involve gathering information through formal discovery and can lead to a trial where a judge will rule on the disputed issues.

Mediators cannot make binding decisions for the parties. The only way mediation will succeed is if the individuals can negotiate terms to which they will both voluntarily agree. Courts can make decisions that will bind the parties.

While a mediator might help the individuals create a custody schedule, the agreement becomes meaningless if one party refuses to sign. A judge can rule on a schedule, and both parties will have to abide by those terms or risk serious legal consequences. It is important that the parties have nearby mediation lawyers who can advocate for their best interests in either situation.

When Does Mediation Work?

Mediation works if both parties are committed to resolving some or all of their issues amicably and out of court, a mediator might be capable of helping them come up with a workable solution. Mediation can be far more cost-effective than litigating a matter, so when possible, the parties should attempt to resolve their issues through mediation.

Sometimes mediation is not the best approach to a case, though. For instance, in situations where a party is abusive or addicted to drugs, the court will not order mediation. In other cases, one spouse might be so unreasonable and hostile that it will be impossible to find any common ground.

However, people are sometimes surprised at what mediation can accomplish. The presence of a third-party might be enough to make even a particularly hostile spouse behave more calmly and rationally. A knowledgeable Bethesda mediation attorney can help a person understand whether mediation might be an option for resolving their case.

Hiring a Mediation Lawyer

The terms that you will agree to in a divorce or when reaching a custody arrangement will become a major factor in your life for many years to come. People often do not consider all of the future ramifications of an agreement. Attorneys who have experience working in family law can often identify issues that might be problematic in an agreement.

Your Bethesda mediation lawyer can help review all of the terms of an agreement and point out issues that still require resolutions. Hiring a legal advocate will help you feel confident that you are treated fairly throughout the process.