Mediation in Maine
When a couple chooses to divorce in Maine, they have a lot of options as to how to settle disputes such as parental rights and responsibilities, spousal support and child support issues. Often, couples end up in litigation relying on the Court to settle these matters. One option for settling the terms of a divorce is mediation. Couples can choose to try mediation on their own or can be ordered by the court to attempt to mediate their issues before commencing with litigation.
Under Maine's Revised Statutes, Title 29-A, section 251 the court shall refer the parties to mediation before a contested hearing regarding any of the following issues:
- A legal separation
- A divorce
- Parental rights and responsibilities
- Child support
If you are considering divorce in Maine, call WTB Law to speak with a lawyer who can explain more about mediation and all of your divorce resolution options.
Maine Mediation Laws
Under the law, an agreement reached by court ordered mediation must be written down and submitted to the court for its approval. When mediation is required by the court, an agreement does not have to be reached but parties must show that they made a good faith effort during the process. Under section 251.4, if the court finds that either party in a divorce failed to make a "good faith effort to mediate", it may order any of the following:
- Another session of mediation
- A dismissal of the action or part of the action that the party was looking to litigate
- A decision or judgment by default
- An assessment of attorney's fees and costs
- To impose any other sanction the court feels is appropriate
Similar sanctions can also be ordered in a situation where a party fails to appear for court mandated mediation without showing good cause.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a way for couples to settle their divorce and to resolve contested issues without involving litigation. The process involves both parties, as well as their attorneys, meeting with a third party who serves as a mediator. The mediator will help parties discuss their issues and work towards solutions that everyone finds fair. Unlike other divorce options such as litigation or arbitration, the mediator does not make decisions or judgments. Instead, they help facilitate discussion and work towards compromise.
Advantages of Mediation in Maine
Mediation is a good way for couples to agree on terms of their divorce without working against each other. There are many advantages to mediation. Some of the most obvious advantages include:
Faster: The mediation process can be quicker than going to court. It works on the schedule of the parties involved. With mediation, there is no wait for a trial to be set. It also allows parties to avoid the drawn out legal process and taking the many steps that are required to litigate a divorce.
Cheaper: Couples who choose mediation often save money in attorney's fees and court costs.
Fairer: When parties work together to find compromises, they will often be happier with the results then they would be if the decisions were made for them by an arbitrator or judge. When mediation is used, compromises can be reached instead of one party “winning out” over the other.
Friendlier: Many types of divorce processes force parties to work against each other. This can put an additional strain on a couple's relationship which can be an issue, especially when children are involved. By working together to find solutions that work for everyone, couples can avoid adversarial feelings towards each other.
Who Should Use Mediation?
Though mediation is a great way to settle divorce disputes in Maine, it is not for everyone. In situations involving highly contested divorces, parties may not be willing to work together. Mediation relies on parties to work together in order to resolve their issues. When one or both people involved are not willing to discuss ways to compromise, the process will not be effective.
Call a Maine Divorce Lawyer
Even though mediation involves couples working together to agree on terms of their divorce, attorneys for both parties should still be present. Before most divorce issues can be heard in court, mediation must be attempted. A divorce lawyer from WTB Law can represent you during both the litigation and mediation processes. If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Maine, contact our office right away.