Alternative Dispute Resolution

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Alternative Dispute Resolution for Divorce in Maryland

The traditional method of dispute resolution in American jurisprudence is litigation; that is, a trial before a judge. Everyone dons party clothes, raises their right hand and swears to tell the truth, and spends several days telling the judge what they want the outcome of their case to be. At the end of it all, the judge, who knows you only after hours of testimony, takes his/her best shot at making rules for the most important things in your life: your children, your money, your house.  We are all excellent litigators, comfortable and skilled in the courtroom, but we recognize that this method of dispute resolution involves enormous risk to both parties, and often, to your children; you have very little control, if any, and very high risk over the outcome of your case when left in the hands of any 3rd party.

There are other, alternative ways to resolve your case that allow you to weigh and exercise your priorities and afford you more control over the outcome, without the degree of risk inherent in a litigated disposition. The first and most commonly utilized of those methods is mediation.

Mediation in Maryland

Mediation is simply a forum for party negotiation. The mediator does not decide anything; rather, his/her role is to facilitate agreement and help the parties creatively arrive at parenting rules that both can live with. If agreement is not reached with a mediator, the mediator does not issue any directives at all, and has no power to do so. Rather, in the face of failure in mediation to reach agreement, the parties remain on track for a litigated court determination of all issues in the case.

Mediation is actually required under Maryland law for cases involving custody and child access;  it is encouraged as to all other issues. Each courthouse has its own list of approved custody mediators, and if the parties do not have an agreement about using an off-the-list mediator, they will be ordered by the court to mediate with one of the approved mediators. Most often, custody mediation takes place without attorneys present, and when it is successful, the result is an agreed Parenting Plan/Agreement that sets out the terms that the parents have agreed to and by which, once signed, they are both obligated to observe. A parenting plan is usually incorporated into a court Order at the time of divorce or before, so that, if violated, the violator can be found in contempt of court and punished accordingly.

Arbitration in Maryland

Another alternative to litigation is arbitration. Arbitration is very much like litigation in that the arbitrator, unlike the mediator, is empowered to make final decisions after hearing testimony of the parties. However, the parties and their counsel are permitted to choose their arbitrator, usually a mutually respected family law attorney or retired judge who has had significant experience in handling family law cases. Unlike litigation, arbitration is usually conducted in the arbitrator’s law office, and unlike litigation, the rules of evidence are relaxed so that the practical admission of information for consideration by the arbitrator is less formal than that required in a courtroom. The scheduling of the testimony of parties and witnesses in arbitration is arranged by the parties, their counsel, and the arbitrator. An important feature of binding arbitration is that it almost always obviates the option of an appeal, which is important for controlling costs of divorce and its attendant issues. In fact, for multiple reasons, although the arbitrator is privately engaged and paid for by the parties, the costs of arbitration are usually significantly less than those incurred in litigation.

Because of our stellar reputations, the family law attorneys at Trainor, Billman, Bennett and Milko are frequently agreed to as private mediators and as arbitrators. However, you must make an either-or decision as to whether to seek our services as your representative, or as a mediator or arbitrator in your case; a party attorney advocate cannot maintain sufficient objectivity to also serve as a case mediator or arbitrator.

Contact Us to Learn More about Our Alternative Dispute Resolution Services

Our divorce mediators and arbitrators at Trainor, Billman, Bennett & Milko can help you avoid the cost of divorce litigation. While we are based in Annapolis, Anne Arundel, our divorce mediation and arbitration services are seeked by divorcing couples throughout Maryland. Please schedule an initial consultation with our family lawyers to discuss how these alternative dispute resolutions may serve you by contacting us online or calling 410-280-1700.

Alternative Dispute Resolution for Divorce in Maryland

The traditional method of dispute resolution in American jurisprudence is litigation; that is, a trial before a judge. Everyone dons party clothes, raises their right hand and swears to tell the truth, and spends several days telling the judge what they want the outcome of their case to be. At the end of it all, the judge, who knows you only after hours of testimony, takes his/her best shot at making rules for the most important things in your life: your children, your money, your house.  We are all excellent litigators, comfortable and skilled in the courtroom, but we recognize that this method of dispute resolution involves enormous risk to both parties, and often, to your children; you have very little control, if any, and very high risk over the outcome of your case when left in the hands of any 3rd party.

There are other, alternative ways to resolve your case that allow you to weigh and exercise your priorities and afford you more control over the outcome, without the degree of risk inherent in a litigated disposition. The first and most commonly utilized of those methods is mediation.

Mediation in Maryland

Mediation is simply a forum for party negotiation. The mediator does not decide anything; rather, his/her role is to facilitate agreement and help the parties creatively arrive at parenting rules that both can live with. If agreement is not reached with a mediator, the mediator does not issue any directives at all, and has no power to do so. Rather, in the face of failure in mediation to reach agreement, the parties remain on track for a litigated court determination of all issues in the case.

Mediation is actually required under Maryland law for cases involving custody and child access;  it is encouraged as to all other issues. Each courthouse has its own list of approved custody mediators, and if the parties do not have an agreement about using an off-the-list mediator, they will be ordered by the court to mediate with one of the approved mediators. Most often, custody mediation takes place without attorneys present, and when it is successful, the result is an agreed Parenting Plan/Agreement that sets out the terms that the parents have agreed to and by which, once signed, they are both obligated to observe. A parenting plan is usually incorporated into a court Order at the time of divorce or before, so that, if violated, the violator can be found in contempt of court and punished accordingly.

Arbitration in Maryland

Another alternative to litigation is arbitration. Arbitration is very much like litigation in that the arbitrator, unlike the mediator, is empowered to make final decisions after hearing testimony of the parties. However, the parties and their counsel are permitted to choose their arbitrator, usually a mutually respected family law attorney or retired judge who has had significant experience in handling family law cases. Unlike litigation, arbitration is usually conducted in the arbitrator’s law office, and unlike litigation, the rules of evidence are relaxed so that the practical admission of information for consideration by the arbitrator is less formal than that required in a courtroom. The scheduling of the testimony of parties and witnesses in arbitration is arranged by the parties, their counsel, and the arbitrator. An important feature of binding arbitration is that it almost always obviates the option of an appeal, which is important for controlling costs of divorce and its attendant issues. In fact, for multiple reasons, although the arbitrator is privately engaged and paid for by the parties, the costs of arbitration are usually significantly less than those incurred in litigation.

Because of our stellar reputations, the family law attorneys at Trainor, Billman, Bennett and Milko are frequently agreed to as private mediators and as arbitrators. However, you must make an either-or decision as to whether to seek our services as your representative, or as a mediator or arbitrator in your case; a party attorney advocate cannot maintain sufficient objectivity to also serve as a case mediator or arbitrator.

Contact Us to Learn More about Our Alternative Dispute Resolution Services

Our divorce mediators and arbitrators at Trainor, Billman, Bennett & Milko can help you avoid the cost of divorce litigation. While we are based in Annapolis, Anne Arundel, our divorce mediation and arbitration services are seeked by divorcing couples throughout Maryland. Please schedule an initial consultation with our family lawyers to discuss how these alternative dispute resolutions may serve you by contacting us online or calling 410-280-1700.

How Can We Help You?