Nancy S. Caplan, Esquire

Nancy S. Caplan, Esquire
Bend Don't Break- Mediate!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Separation & Divorce Mediation in the "Great Recession"

A whopping number of formerly financially solvent people are feeling more than a pinch from the economic downturn in this country. It has been dubbed the "Great Recession" in the news. We all know that Wall Street has rebounded from its lowest point. Unfortunately, both the jobs market and housing market lag far behind that rebound. This means that many people remain negatively affected by ripple-effect of the Wall Street crash of 2008.

As a result, many people are paralyzed in their troubled marriages. "Upside down" on mortgages (meaning more is owed on the mortgage than the house is worth) or having a spouse out-of-work can indefinitely stall plans to separate or divorce. This can create a treacherous emotional dynamic for a family.

Separation and divorce mediation is an excellent place to gain control of all of these issues. Separation and divorce mediation is typically far less expensive than attorney-led negotiations. With the guidance of the mediation professional, families can begin to construct a plan of action to diffuse the anger and frustration and settle pressing issues. Challenging times call for creative solutions. In separation and divorce mediation, creative solutions are generated which may be unavailable in Court. When parties make decisions together, each party is more willing to try to make that solution work. This feels far better than being "ordered" to do something by a judge, or having your spouse's attorney bully you into an Agreement. The very act of attorney-bullying can make an otherwise acceptable solution feel like the wrong solution. At that point resentment builds. Separation or divorce mediation, led by a neutral, settlement-minded divorce professional may guide you to the right solution in a way that sits comfortably with each party.

Don't be paralyzed due to the Great Recession. Life still must go on. Get "unstuck" with the help of a separation and divorce mediation professional, and move on to the "Great Recovery." Beginning with separation and divorce mediation is a positive, healthy first step to resolve issues arising from this overwhelming life change. Still not convinced? Attend a no cost separation and divorce Mediation Seminar and Q & A with Nancy Caplan, Attorney-Mediator. Reserve your space today at Get started rebuilding your family in its new form and resurrecting your individual lives.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Legal Separation" in Maryland

Many people contact me, a divorce mediation attorney, looking for services that will help them obtain a "Legal Separation" in Maryland.

What people usually mean by the term “Legal Separation” is that they are seeking a “Marital Settlement Agreement” recognized by the Maryland Courts. You may hear that term used interchangeably with “Separation Agreement” or “Property Settlement Agreement” or “Voluntary Separation Agreement” or some combination of those terms. The purpose of the Agreement is to settle all questions relating to what happens when parties decide to separate and/or plan to divorce in Maryland. Questions which are addressed by an Agreement include child custody, child visitation, child support, alimony, other spousal support, health insurance, division of household property, automobiles, bank accounts, debts, pensions, retirement accounts, tax filings, tax dependency exemptions, etc.

In Maryland, once a couple is married, they remain married until they are "absolutely" divorced. A married person in Maryland is never "free" to remarry or have a sexual relationship with a third party even after signing an Agreement. The implications or non-implications of committing adultery in Maryland are variable. The term “Legal Separation” in Maryland most closely relates to a Court-decreed “Limited Divorce.” A Limited Divorce may arise where the parties have immediate issues but are unable to come to an agreement privately and do not have “grounds” for a final “Absolute Divorce” (often meaning that the separation time period has not elapsed.) However, people proceed through trial to recieve a decree of Limited Divorce basically have a costly court-ordered equivalent of a private separation and/or property settlement agreement.

Therefore, whether through a costly trial leading to a “Limited Divorce” or through a cost-effective mediated negotiation of a Separation and Marital Settlement Agreement, the goal is the same-resolution of the issues. Property and debts will be divided, child custody, child support, alimony, an etc. all will be decided. A formal Agreement is a legal determination of rights and obligations arising from the dissolution of a marriage, not a “Legal Separation.”



This blog offers legal information, not legal advice. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain general legal principles. However this is not “legal advice.” “Legal Advice” can be defined as the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you must consult an attorney / lawyer.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Separation or Divorce in Maryland- Five Reasons to Mediate

If your family is facing the challenge of separation or divorce in Maryland, be pro-active in your search for the right professional services to guide you through this difficult process.

Separation and divorce mediation offers you the opportunity to negotiate on a level playing field, at greatly reduced costs and conflict, quicker resolution, and an agreement process that you control.

1. Neutrality:
The separation and divorce mediation professional is a neutral third party trained in dispute resolution, experienced in guiding both parties through a process of listening, identifying issues, exploring options and coming to a mutually agreeable solution. There are no ‘sides’ here, the mediator works for both of you; our sole objective is to help both parties find their solution. For the fearful and the fragile the neutral mediator provides a comfortable and balanced negotiation environment.

2. Cost Effective/Efficient:
Battling attorneys chalk up enormous legal fees which devour financial resources. Separation and divorce mediation achieves your goals at a fraction of the cost of negotiating through adversarial attorneys. The separation and divorce mediation process is smoother and faster than the traditional attorney-driven divorce process.

3. Non-Confrontational:
Traditional attorney-driven divorce negotiations and litigation are often conducted in an ugly environment of threats and confrontation. Does this help anyone? Not you and certainly not your children. In contrast, separation and divorce mediators focus on problem-solving, not fighting. Separation and divorce mediators are trained to diffuse the anger at each step of this traumatic process. Why escalate the existing fear and anger in these matters? Negotiating a separation or property settlement agreement is an important step in your new life, with far-reaching consequences for you and your children. You need to keep a rational head. That’s what separation and divorce mediators do, at a lower cost – emotionally and financially.

4. Guide/Liaison:
Your separation and divorce mediation professional can guide you to other professionals who may prove helpful during this process. These include real estate agents, appraisers, divorce financial planners and mediation-friendly lawyers who will review the neutrally drafted Separation / Marital Property Settlement Agreement.

5. Efficiency/Control:
The separation and divorce mediation process is significantly smoother and faster than the traditional divorce process. There are no endless court battles, no imposed directives. YOU control the decisions affecting your family, money and life; you never give up control to strangers or find yourself at the mercy of a judge or other outsider. If your separation and divorce mediation professional is also an attorney, that attorney-mediator, having the best grasp on the issues involved, is able to draft a Separation / Marital Property Settlement Agreement that both parties find acceptable. The separation and divorce mediation is finished only when both of you are completely comfortable with your agreement.

Don't take the chance that you will "lose" important issues in court. Don’t waste your money fighting, use it to help rebuild your life. Begin the process with a separation and divorce mediation professional that will set you on the logical, practical, reasonable, fair and efficient path to resolution - your divorce mediation lawyer in Maryland.

This blog offers legal information, not legal advice. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain general legal principles. However this is not “legal advice.” “Legal Advice” can be defined as the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you must consult an attorney / lawyer.