Mediation or Litigation

 

PRE-FILING CONSIDERATIONS

Have you hired an attorney?  We can and do, if possible, make referrals to attorneys familiar with the Mediation process.  Ultimately each spouse will need to retain their own legal counsel.  During the Mediation Process, hiring an attorney might not necessarily be your first priority.  You might only be considering a Separation.  Or, you are in the early stages of a formal separation.  Together, we might determine for instance, that at this time you need a child care specialist or mental health professional.  However, when all is said and done, not having proper legal counsel may impact your ability to attain a fair share of the marital assets.  Barry M. Weissman & Associates, as policy, will not work with spouses sharing the same attorney.  Attorneys represent the best interests of their client; given both spouses, who is the attorney representing?

 A Temporary Order:  The PDL  

Life goes on during the time between the start and the end of your case.  This is a temporary period, but bills must be paid and food must be put on the table.  During this period the couple must reach a settlement as to how to manage their lives.  If they cannot settle, a Temporary Order, also known as a PDL is issued by the judge.  In court you must show both that support is needed and the paying spouse has the ability to pay the amount requested.  Most states require a sworn statement referred to as the Financial Affidavit, detailing living expenses and incomes.  We can assist in developing this Financial Affidavit.  Yes, in order to guarantee Transparency (See Mediation Tab), a Mediation Agreement must first be signed by both spouses. 

Good question:  Without going to court for a PDL, can the separating spouses Mediate an agreement as to the terms, who pays and how much, for ongoing living expenses?  Yes, given a signed Mediation Agreement.  And, if a dispute arises regarding this issue you can always go to court.  And, yes, going to court at this stage is almost by definition adversarial, probably indicating the Mediation process is ineffective in this specific case.  Perhaps Collaboration or Litigation would be successful?

 

I.  Pro Se Divorce 

Cost:  $  (Least Expensive:  1 $ out of the most expensive 4 $$$$)

Time to Settlement:  Days, Weeks, or a Month?  (Shortest Time) [Note:  Without showing “Cause” Maryland requires 1 year physical separation.] 

Number of Advisors:   None.  Just the divorcing spouses.

Spousal Assets:  Typically limited.

Statistically, about half of the parties in divorce proceedings do not hire an attorney.  This is a significant component in a Pro Se Divorce.  The spouses literally settle the issues and complete the filings across from each other, perhaps at the kitchen table or with their families present.  Several problems are associated with the Pro Se divorce.  A few examples include:  Income tax on the transfer of assets, mixing marital and separate assets, and pension plan division.  Under the terms of a signed Mediation Agreement, we work with spouses doing a Pro Se divorce on a pre-paid basis.  Most Pro Se divorces do not involve significant assets, perhaps some equity in a home, a car, small savings, significant credit card debt as a percentage of income, and so forth.  An attorney might be hired to assist in the filings.  All decisions are made between the divorcing spouses.  Sometimes, family and close friends become advisors.  

II.  The Mediated Divorce  

Cost:  $$  Costs are controlled by the Separating or Divorcing couple.*

 *See Fees Tab for full details of our fees and policies.  In Mediation the parties agree to be civil, respectful to the Mediator, and willing to share issues in order to reach an overall settlement including a Separation Agreement, Property Settlement and Parenting Plan.  If Mediation fails, the most likely alternative would be Litigation.  (See Mediation Tab)   We can assist in deciding whether a Mediated or Litigated Divorce process would be the most wise. 

 Time to Settlement:  Typically within 6 months after the signing of the Separation Agreement.    [Note:  Without showing “Cause” Maryland requires 1 year physical separation.] 

Number of Advisors:  A Mediator and perhaps a Co-Mediator.  Spouses control the number of advisors on an as needed/when needed basis. 

Spousal Assets:   Total real and financial assets above $500,000 thousand.*

*The matrimonial home in many cases is the couples largest single financial asset.  In many regions of the country Houses are considered illiquid assets, taking longer than 90 days to sell once on the market. 

III.  Litigated 

Cost:  $$$$…  Only limited by your assets.  What can we say? 

Time to Settlement:  No time limit.   [Note:  Without showing “Cause” Maryland requires 1 year physical separation.] 

Number of Advisors:  Experts, Tax Advisors & CPAs, Appraisers, whatever they need.

Spousal Assets:  As much as you have.

 

 

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