Laurie M. Wasserman
How To Get Divorced While the Courts are Closed
The Maryland Courts are closed through June 5, 2020. However, this does not mean that divorce cases are at a standstill. A lot can be accomplished through Alternative Dispute Resolutions and our team is here to help guide you through this time.
Let’s take a closer look at four options which would allow you to get divorced quickly:
1. No Fault Divorce: the mutual agreement
A “No Fault Divorce” can be obtained while the Courts are closed if you have a signed Separation Agreement and both spouses agree to get a divorce. This does not require a physical separation or a waiting period.
2. Settlement Negotiations: the negotiation
Our clients often choose to negotiate settlement agreements instead of litigating in court. The spouses and their respective attorneys work together to create a legal document that outlines all divorce resolutions.
For example, a Separation Agreement (also referred to as a Marital Settlement Agreement) is used to resolve issues of child custody, child support, alimony, division of property, debts, and other financial issues. With a signed Separation Agreement resolving all issues arising out of the marriage, a client can get divorced without having to wait for a one-year physical separation.
3. Mediation: the confidential, facilitated discussion
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process. The mediator facilitates a discussion to help the parties reach a solution that meets their needs. If an agreement is reached, that agreement will be reduced to writing. If no agreement is reached, then the mediator and the parties cannot testify as to what was said during mediation.
There are many benefits to mediation. First, it can save time and money by getting the dispute resolved without having to go to court. While you can attend mediation with lawyers, you are not required to do so. However, you will be asked to take any agreement reached in mediation to your lawyer before signing.
Another benefit to mediation is that it provides an opportunity for what is important to you and to listen to the other person’s perspective. In doing so, it can help you figure out how both sides can have their needs met. Many people prefer mediation to litigation because mediation allows you to control the outcome of your dispute. A mediated agreement can be much more detailed than a court order.
Finally, studies have shown that many people who mediate do not return to court as often as those who litigate. Mediation gives people the choices, control, and voice they often do not get in court proceedings.
4. Parent Coordination: the cost-effective solution for co-parenting disputes
Many parents continue to have disputes during or after the litigation ends. Without swift access to court, these individuals need a process to resolve the dispute more quickly and less expensively. One way to quickly resolve these disputes is to utilize the services of a Parent Coordinator.
Parent Coordinators (or “PCs”) are non-confidential, impartial individuals trained to assist parties to resolve parenting conflicts outside of Court. PCs are focused on resolving relatively minor issues or impasses that would not warrant court interventions. Unlike counseling, which has the purpose of resolving underlying issues, or mediation, which seeks to reach a consensus, Parent Coordination focuses on a swift resolution and allowing parties to move forward. PC’s have the authority to make certain decisions if the parties reach an impasse, whereas mediation or counseling do not. Also, unlike the confidential process involved in mediation and counseling, PC’s have no duty of confidence to either party and can be called to testify at a hearing as an impartial witness to the parties’ conflicts and decision-making ability.
If you have questions about divorce during this time, please email Laurie Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our main number 410-842-1070. For the foreseeable future, we will be available by telephone and virtually to serve our clients.
Laurie M. Wasserman has obtained certifications in mediation and Parent Coordination. Mediation and Parent Coordination services can be conducted virtually or In-person.