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Don’t Let a Stranger Make the Call in Your Maryland Divorce

In Maryland, a divorce cannot be legal unless approved by a judge issuing a final divorce decree. While judges have a great deal of experience with the law, they do not know the personal needs and preferences of the individuals with the same depth they know themselves. For all intents and purposes, judges are total strangers who insert themselves into a private relationship to decide how their break-up will proceed. No matter how compelling and zealous your attorney might be, your ex will also be represented by an attorney, so the judge will be weighing the facts presented by both sides, and the judge can make their own decisions that differ from the requests of the parties. Fortunately, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, offer paths to divorce that allow the couple more control and more latitude in defining the terms of their divorce. Here are some additional reasons that ADR is preferable to a full trial in a divorce.

  1. Lower Cost

One of the primary advantages of ADR in divorce is the significant reduction in costs compared to traditional litigation. Court proceedings involve attorney fees, court fees, and other related expenses, which can quickly accumulate. While ADR involves cooperation between two parties, who may disagree, at least they know the basics of their relationship. A trial requires an elaborate presentation of the entire case to get the judge up to speed. ADR methods, on the other hand, often require fewer hours of legal representation and can be completed in less time, resulting in substantial financial savings for both parties involved.

  1. Privacy

The judge is not the only stranger involved in a court trial. Short of successfully closing the matter to the public, divorce proceedings are a matter of public record. Given that divorce is often contentious, this means that dirty laundry is bound to be aired by both sides. Since this is the most personal relationship possible, many individuals prefer to keep their private lives out of the public eye. ADR methods provide a confidential and private setting for resolving disputes. Mediation and collaborative divorce allow couples to maintain discretion and protect sensitive information from becoming part of the public domain.

  1. Crafting Your Own Terms

One of the most empowering aspects of ADR is the ability for couples to actively participate in crafting their own solutions. In traditional litigation, a judge makes decisions based on legal precedents and statutes, often resulting in outcomes that may not fully align with the unique needs and preferences of the divorcing parties. This is due to a lack of familiarity with the full picture of the divorcing couple’s situation, full discretion to make decisions neither party has sought, and legal limitations on the power and authority of the court to order certain terms. For example, a judge cannot require the parties to split the cost of college for their children because the judge’s authority extends only to the majority of the children. On the other hand, an agreement reached by ADR that the judge approves can include this enforceable term. ADR methods empower couples to design their own agreements collaboratively, fostering a sense of ownership and satisfaction with the final outcome.

  1. Preservation of Relationships

In order to “win” in a divorce trial, each party has to make a strong case for themselves and against the other party. This inevitably expands on the existing divisiveness, animosity, and opposition that led to the divorce in the first place. ADR methods prioritize communication and collaboration over adversarial tactics, helping to preserve relationships, especially when children are involved. Mediation and collaborative divorce encourage open dialogue and compromise. While the parties may not like one another, the ADR process fosters compromise and cooperation to achieve an acceptable outcome, which sets the stage for future interactions.

ADR methods provide divorcing couples with a more humane, cost-effective, and personalized approach to ending their marriage. The limits of authority, lack of familiarity, and potential biases of a judge in a divorce trial increase the expense, hostility, and risk of an unwanted outcome. By embracing ADR, individuals can navigate the divorce process with greater control, privacy, and efficiency, ultimately shaping their own futures in a way that suits their unique needs and circumstances.

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If you need legal representation in Maryland or the District of Columbia, consider contacting Malech Law. With over 25 years of experience, we are committed to providing excellent service to our clients. Our accolades include the 2024 Family Law American Association of Attorney Advocates recognition, being a finalist in the 2024 Best of Bethesda Readers’ Pick for Best Family Law Practitioner, and winning the same award in 2022. We’ve also been honored with the Lawyers of Distinction Award for Excellence in Divorce and Family Law for the past five consecutive years. At Malech Law, we approach every case with respect, empathy, and a dedication to excellence. Contact us today for professional legal assistance.

Visit Malechlaw.com or call (202) 441-2107.

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