As we’ve discussed on this blog before, many divorcing couples dread the courtroom battles traditionally seen in divorce cases — especially as represented on TV. Yes, most people have good reasons for ending their marriages — but they don’t want their divorce to turn them into vicious adversaries.

Especially when a couple has children, doesn’t it make more sense to work out an agreement you can both live with, rather than having a judge hand down a ruling one spouse or the other might actively resist?

Mediation starts where you have common ground

As opposed to a traditional divorce, mediation (along with collaborative divorce) assumes starts with your common ground, rather than your disputed issues. A mediator is a trained, neutral person who isn’t on either spouse’s side. Instead, a mediator is there to help you document what you agree on and then facilitate a rational, reasonable discussion of the areas you need to work on.

A mediator can help you work out virtually any agreement you want, as long as it meets the basic requirements of the law. For example, you can come up with your own resolution regarding child support, as long as the amount of child support to be paid is basically in accordance with the Maryland child support guidelines.

Mediation has long-term benefits in conflict resolution

When it comes to child custody and parenting time, mediation has been demonstrated so effective that, like many states, Maryland requires parents to try mediation in child-custody cases except in limited circumstances, such as when one spouse is accused of domestic violence.

Mediation has many benefits, but what may matter most to you are the results. Research has shown that divorced couples who worked out their own, personalized settlement agreements in mediation are more likely to honor those agreements in the long term. Moreover, when changes become necessary over time, they are also more likely to handle those modifications without undue conflict.

If you have kids, the most important thing is for you and your ex, of course, is to be able to parent your kids effectively together. The good news is that mediation can help with that, too. During the process, an experienced mediator can help you each put aside divisiveness and reinforce the conflict resolution skills you’ll need in the future.

Source:, ” What is Divorce Mediation?” Brian James, July 2007