Nancy S. Caplan, Esquire

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

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Monday, December 6, 2010

How Do You Choose A Maryland Divorce Mediator?

When searching for a separation or divorce mediator in Maryland thoroughly explore the goals of the mediation. Are you looking for a Maryland divorce mediator to assist to negotiate a child custody arrangement to reach a parenting agreement? Are you looking for a Maryland divorce mediator to negotiate a complex financial settlement involving business valuations or a complicated tax analysis? Are you looking for a Maryland divorce mediator to settle support and property issues in a same-sex partnership? Are you looking for a Maryland Divorce Mediator to help you settle routine child custody issues, division of non-complex financial and property issues and to help you agree on alimony?


There are many kinds of separation, divorce and family mediators. Typically qualifications range from attorney-mediators, to psychologists, social workers, and finance experts. What the mediator is qualified to do should be the first line of inquiry.


Attorney-Mediators are authorized to draft formal agreements. However if they do so, the parties must have an attorney review prior to signing the agreement (at least in my practice, other practitioners may have differing opinions, but to me the ethical standards currently in effect mandate this requirement). This process blends negotiating efficiency with protection of legal rights. It remains a fraction of the cost of cumbersome attorney-led negotiations, which are too often fraught with threats of litigation escalating conflict rather than reducing conflict. So long as the divorce mediator is a competent draftsperson, this option is probably the most economically efficient where the financial issues are less complex.


Where there a business valuations or other complex financial or tax issues, an attorney-mediator may still be employed supplemented by consultations with financial experts. So long as the parties grasp the concepts that they are negotiating mediation remains a viable alternative. However, if one party or the other is “lost” in the technical complexities then mediation is no longer appropriate, unless the parties mediate with their knowledgeable attorneys present. Of course the more professionals involved the greater the cost, however, financially complex cases often have most resources available to fund the process. Another option might be a mediator with a financial professional background, or a collaborative law arrangement.


Non-Attorney Mediators are not qualified nor permitted to draft formal separation agreement and property settlement documents. They still may be a great option if they are skilled at helping the parties reach satisfying agreements. If the child custody issue is complex, for example, if one party seeks relocation of the children to a different State or country, or where a party has a substance abuse issue, a psychologist-mediator may be your best guide. However, the drafting portion of the process will then be placed in the hands of attorneys, and the drafts which are exchanged, re-reviewed, revised, etc., may still add up to expensive attorney hours and larger than necessary legal fees, then if the parties started with an experienced and competent divorce attorney-mediator who drafted the document for attorney review.

The goal of seeking to mediate your dispute is financially sound. But the inquiry doesn't stop there. Choose the right Maryland mediator to help settle your family law disputes in Maryland. Nancy Caplan, Esquire is an experienced and competent choice for most typical separation and divorce matters in Maryland.

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