Just as the iconic song writer and singer Bob Dylan pronounced in his 1965 hit, “The times they are a-changing”, applied then, the same can be said for how society and the courts are treating married couples that are now separating and divorcing!
Contested Divorces Are Expensive Yes, I have to admit that lawyers played a part in “mucking up” how couples got divorced for the last few decades. You have to remember that our judicial system was founded on advocacy and competitiveness. Court rules and court opinions are designed to navigate how the “battle” is going to take place in the courtroom regarding the divorce. In other words, it was almost assumed that whenever someone got divorced it would be a long drawn out scenario with each person trying their best to “get over” on the other to win as many issues as possible.Divorce grounds, Alimony, temporary and permanent custody, property issues, pensions, and any other benefit or issue was almost always contested. Usually, the persons who came out the “top” were the lawyers who handled the divorce and of course, the court system waskept in business.
How hasDivorce & MediationEvolved?
Back in 1982, when theMarital Property act was enacted by the Maryland Legislature, it was the first real step in giving divorced parties the ability to resolve issues between themselves in a meaningful manor. With that legislation, the courts were allowed to give parties authority to enter into certain types of separation property agreements which was previously frowned upon. Around that same time courts merged equity and law allowing one judge to deal with not only the merits of the divorce, but also the distribution of property.
If you analyze closely the history of divorce law you will see that Maryland is really an old ecclesiastic styled divorce state. Meaning, that many of the draconian laws were based upon religious beliefs that hampered and discourage people from separating and divorcing. In fact, the basic premise of separating from the marital home involved a temporary divorce, “a mensa et thoro“, (Divorce from bed and Board) as opposed to an absolute divorce. The thought process was that it was better for people to be miserable, but still keep the family intact making sure that there was a breadwinner patriarch to pay for and take care of the family unit, especially if children were involved.
Maryland has come a long way in the last several decades. The courts are extremely accommodating to couples who can work out their differences and simply effectuate a divorce based upon their own agreement. This is a big change from past decades where a court, meaning the judge had his or her thumbprint on the final decision making about how the divorce is resolved. This was true especially if minor children were involved. Today, the Courts allow divorcing couples to proceed on a uncontested divorce in many circumstances and finalize the merits very quickly.
The answer to that question is because it’s common sense. Why wouldn’t two individuals who have accumulated assets, have children and have lived together for a period of time, simply sit down and resolve their differences in an orderly and cost-effective manner? Mediation saves time, money, heartache, and the many cases allows people to separate and divorce in a meaningful and successful way.
Is all mediation the same?
Absolutely not. Many mediators have a horrible bedside manner and of course some are very good. The method we use here at the Law office ofJames E Crawford Jr. & Associates, LLC., is a overall tact to allow both sides to reach a amicable separation property agreement. That agreement is then incorporated but not merged into the absolute divorce, which becomes the final marching orders.
It is extremely important that you have a mediator who understandsdivorce laws, property rights, alimony issues, child support, child custody & pension issues. Everything you worked so hard for in order to be successful is at stake. Mediation is good because it works! Its successful!
Most meditations take about one-fifth of the time it takes to get divorced. Other meditations may have more issues to deal with, but there is no question that discussing these issues and having an experienced mediator is extremely important in order for you to get this completed!