Should I Use Divorce Mediation in Maryland?

Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead and move forward with a divorce, the next step is deciding how you want to pursue a divorce settlement agreement. One of the questions that you might ask yourself is whether divorce mediation is the right choice for you here in Maryland.

If you’re getting a divorce in the state of Maryland, the first step is to explore the options that are available to you locally. Did you know that most modern divorces don’t go to court? It’s true. Unless there are issues present that are complicating your divorce and barring you from reaching any kind of reasonable mutual agreement, you probably won’t be needing to hire a family law lawyer to handle your divorce proceedings.

1. Why divorce mediation is a great alternative to hiring a lawyer

If you’re seeking divorce mediation in Montgomery County, you might know that it’s a great alternative to hiring a divorce attorney to handle the proceedings. Why? For starters, divorce isn’t cheap. While the rates charged by divorce mediators and family law lawyers vary by location and different professionals bring with them a different level of expertise, divorce mediation is generally more affordable. Divorce mediators in the US charge anywhere between $100 and $1000 an hour, and the average cost of mediation varies between $3,500 to $7,500 (this is dependent on the nature of mediation services and on how long it takes to reach an agreement). 

2. Mediators are out-of-court settlement negotiation experts

Another reason that many divorcing couples choose to work with divorce mediators over hiring attorneys is that it’s not always necessary for a divorce to go to court. Court is costly in terms of dollars and time spent for all parties involved—you, your soon-to-be-ex, your lawyer, court officials, etc. The fact of the matter is that unless your divorce is hopelessly contested, you will be settling it outside of the courtroom.

The court plays a very small role in uncontested divorces in terms of filing paperwork and submitting fees. Your divorce settlement agreement won’t be legally presided over by a judge but will be recognized and upheld by the court as legally binding. Professional mediators have the expertise and know-how to handle the ins-and-outs of out of court settlements with the same ease that a divorce lawyer can. Both specialize in handling divorce negotiations. Lawyers only provide an edge when the court is involved because they know the court system and can better navigate contested divorces.

3. How to go about choosing a divorce mediator

If you choose to seek out the services of a local mediator, it’s important to do your homework. Ask questions about their mediation process and about the professional expertise that they bring to the table. This will not only help you gauge expectations when it comes to the mediation process, it will provide you with a clear picture of the services you’re paying for.

Looking to explore your options for divorce mediation in the Towson, Maryland area? TruNorth Divorce Solutions can provide divorce mediation packages tailored to fit your needs. Visit our Maryland office or schedule a free strategy session to learn more.

Choosing a Divorce Process: What Are the Available Options?

The complexities of a divorce process depend on a variety of factors, including how long you were married, the residency requirement laws in your state, whether you have children together, own a home together, have significant differences in your income, are self-employed, unemployed, or have debt or joint assets.

If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is! Don’t worry, TruNorth Divorce is here to help you decode divorce. Your first course of action is to understand the different types of divorce processes and then know the right questions to ask as you debate what works best for you and your unique circumstances. In this piece, we go over available options and we’ll address which questions in our next post.


What are My Options for Divorce?


1. DIY Divorce

Most states provide access to free divorce forms online that you can download and fill out on your own. Generally speaking, though, it’s not a good idea unless you have no assets or children. Mistakes can cost thousands of dollars and you only get one chance to do it right. While it may seem like the most simple divorce process, it can end up being the most costly


2. Mediation

Mediation includes the use of a mediator, a neutral third party that does not “pick sides” but rather helps both spouses reach a mutually beneficial agreement without the case going to court. You and your spouse ultimately make the decisions but a good mediator isn’t so much a neutral as she is a “dual advocate.” In this role, she will help both spouses identify an optimal financial settlement and make choices that are most beneficial for you both. Other than DIY divorce, mediation is likely to be the least expensive, fastest, and least stressful of the options. It can be the most streamlined process of all.


3. Litigation

Often thought of as the de facto divorce process, litigating a divorce involves both parties having attorneys and involving the court to make decisions regarding support, division of assets, and custody. Litigation should only, though, be considered a last resort, as it’s lengthy and expensive, stressful, divisive, and you’re giving up control of the process and outcome. Sometimes, though, it’s unavoidable.


4. Negotiated Representation

An option where both parties are represented by their own lawyers who negotiate an agreement between them and minimize court involvement.. Compared to litigation, a negotiated settlement tends to be less expensive, shorter in duration, and is more confidential than a court-led process, protecting you and your family from public scrutiny.


5. Arbitration

This out of court process entails the resolution of a dispute through an award of damages to a party, decided upon by a neutral third party called an arbitrator. Decisions are binding, enforceable by law, and have very narrow grounds for appeal. The advantage, relative to litigation, is that you stay out of court  and maintain privacy.


6. Collaborative Law Process

Collaborative Law is a branded form of a team-supported divorce. Each spouse must be represented by their own attorney and the team includes a financial neutral and mental health professional. While team-supported divorce can be very beneficial, the Collaborative Law process is rigid and dictates that if it fails to produce an agreement on all aspects of the divorce, the couple must start anew with different attorneys.


Which Divorce Process is for me?

I hope that decrypts some of the complexities of navigating which divorce process is right for you. Our next post addresses the questions you need to consider as you decide. If you’re looking for more divorce guidance, please click over to my free ebook, 7 Things to Do Before You Divorce. Otherwise, message me on our TruNorth Divorce  Facebook page.









Should I Choose a Family Lawyer for My Divorce?

family lawyer

When you make the decision to get divorced, you might find yourself wondering how to even begin the process. Do you need to hire a family lawyer? Most of us have seen divorce portrayed in movie scenes with cutthroat attorneys arguing back and forth over the family home and possessions. Affairs are uncovered, crimes are plotted, and things always seem to be very complicated.

But what most folks don’t realize is that this isn’t an accurate representation, it’s Hollywood drama. The divorces of the real world rarely play out like that and would make for terrible entertainment. The truth is, that unless you have personal experience, you probably don’t realize that for amicably parting couples, divorce is largely a financial transaction. Most divorces never make it to the courtroom.

Many divorcing couples choose to work with family divorce mediators over hiring a family lawyer. One of the reasons for this is that it’s often the least cumbersome and most cost-efficient path to an uncontested divorce. Litigation is usually the last choice, but whether you end up in court really depends on how willing both spouses are to negotiate and compromise on sometimes complicated financial and parenting issues.

So, how do you determine whether choosing to hire a family lawyer or hiring a mediator is appropriate for you?


♦ Things are Messy and the Divorce Settlement Process is Involved

If you are involved in a contested divorce filled with pain points and emotional turmoil, hiring a family law lawyer is probably a smart move. Divorce mediation requires collaboration. If you can’t see eye-to-eye and every open dialogue during the negotiation process somehow reaches an impasse, mediation may not be right for your divorce.

♦ There is a Serious Threat of Violence Involved in Your Relationship

Mediation is not recommended if you are exiting an abusive marriage. Breaking away from an abusive relationship presents its own set of challenges. Your soon-to-be-ex-spouse has already demonstrated that they are not concerned about your well-being. The state of Maryland provides some dedicated resources for victims of domestic violence. You can also call 1-800-MD-HELPS for support.


Family Divorce Mediation as an Alternate to Attorney Services

If your divorce is uncontested, mediation may be the right choice for you. Mediators who specialize in divorce should be knowledgeable about state laws and legal procedures and skilled in divorce settlement negotiation. When you separate the emotional aspect from the act of divorce, finances and the division of shared marital assets becomes the focus of negotiation. That’s why some mediators become Certified Divorce Financial Analysts® (CDFA®), refining their skillset to help clients expertly navigate any financial pitfalls when it comes to dividing marital assets. CDFAs® specialize in identifying financially sound and creative divorce settlements that take the interests of both parties involved into account. With a CDFA® you get an optimal settlement that is based on accurate valuations, taxes, and both the short and long term impact on your financial health.

Filing Legal Documents and Retaining a Lawyer

Some divorcing couples work with mediators but also decide to retain a family law attorney to review the final documents and paperwork before officially filing. While this isn’t necessary and many divorcing couples choose to circumvent the process to save money on attorney fees, TruNorth Divorce doesn’t discourage clients from working with a family lawyer as a consultant. 

Processing your divorce does not require that you work with an attorney. At TruNorth Divorce we offer assisted and full-service divorce processing–you will never have to speak with an attorne or step foot in a courthouse!

Additional Support

Going through a divorce can be difficult. But remember, you aren’t alone. As with any stressful life event, it’s good to reach out to your support network. While friends and family offer one such avenue of support, talking to a counsellor or mental health professional and seeking out divorce support groups are healthy paths that can help you through this big life transition. Visit our website to learn more about divorce mediation, explore our resources, or schedule a free consultation.

5 Preparations for Separation

How to Emotionally Prepare for Divorce

Whether you’ve decided to do it on your own or are preparing to work with TruNorth Divorce, there are several things to consider before filing. While there are extensive and pragmatic ways to financially prepare for divorce, much of the emotional preparation is up to you and the daily choices you make during the duration of the proceedings. This guide offers 5 ways to best approach the emotional side of divorce and prepare you for what can be a traumatic event.

The trauma associated with separation, however, is somewhat unique in that it can be planned and prepared for with some healthy amounts of patience and consistency. If you can respond from a more emotionally stable place, you’re going to be able to make healthier decisions in regards to the divorce.

1. Taking Care of Yourself During a Divorce

First and foremost, slow down, pump the breaks, and center yourself by taking care of you. While the phrase has been distorted by Instagram influencers, self-care applies to divorce too. Self-care encompasses the daily rituals or routines we practice in order to nourish ourselves. This includes the messages we send ourselves when we make choices about what goes into our bodies and minds.

Prepare for your divorce by by empowering yourself to make practical daily choices when it comes to your health and wellbeing. This reinforces your sense of self-worth. More reliable than high self-esteem, a strong sense of self-worth allows you to navigate the obstacles and stressors that often arise with divorce more easily.

Things to Do Before Filing For Divorce

So, stock up on fresh foods, arm yourself with supplements that will assist your immune system and combat stress and tell yourself you’re worthy of being taken care of. Find a physical outlet that allows you to let loose, the sillier and more recreational the better.

Setting even 5 minutes aside every morning to meditate can literally be the difference between feeling capable of handling the day or not. Last, do this on a cadence that works for you. The idea is to be compassionate with yourself; you are, after all, going through a divorce.

2. Accepting the Divorce Process

Our strongest cause of suffering is the attachment to our ideas of what should be happening, what we shouldn’t be doing, or most often than not, what someone else should be doing. These elements are entirely out of our control, especially during separation and divorce mediation, and when we cling tightly to a specific outcome, we suffer when our reality doesn’t match up to our expectations.

In the case of court proceedings with divorce lawyers, there isn’t an emotional “winning” or a “losing.” There is only finding the solution that will benefit both parties, children included, for the future. This requires letting go of the narrative of what happened or what your spouse did wrong.

Self Compassion & Divorce

Easier said than done, acceptance is a daily choice. With an attitude of acceptance, however, you can be aware of your triggers and prepare for the subjects that are touchy before the courtroom. Knowing what your triggers are ahead of time and communicating them with your divorce lawyers can save you a lot of self-loathing and feeling emotionally out of control. 

The point is that you are human, and this is a process, one where you will move between stages of denial, isolation, bargaining, rage, and depression before you can fully accept the reality of the divorce. Accept you will have bad days and accept you may need to cry in order for your body to have a release. After accepting it, you can focus all of your attention on beginning your new life.

3. Focus Your Attention on the Divorce In Spurts

There can be a trap of fully immersing yourself into the doom and gloom of divorce papers and landing in a click bait circle of misery. While it is important to research what to expect in a divorce separation in order to fully understand the process, healthy boundaries still apply. An example of a healthy attention goal could be no divorce talk after 6pm. Strive to not allow the divorce to become a defining stick of furniture in the living room of your life; this is not the end, your life is not ruined, and it will ultimately be okay.

There are a myriad of tips on how to prepare financially for divorce, but from an emotional perspective, the object is to not create a story where you are a victim, powerless to choose how you feel. Choosing what you focus your attention on, and away from, can help you feel more empowered throughout the divorce.

4. Preparing for Separation If You Have Children

When it comes to emotionally preparing for divorce, often the greatest anxiety among parents is how this decision will affect their children. This anxiety may not go away for several years, but rest assured to know there are no perfect parents and no one knows exactly the right thing to say all the time. However, as long as you are willing to talk about the divorce and are emotionally available for their fears and concerns, you’re on the right track.

Some key guidelines are not disparaging your spouse in front of them, or using them as a source of sympathy to your stressors; they aren’t the therapist you need to vent to. Another good rule to follow is to not lie to your children about what’s going on. This only further complicates the situation, and will ultimately lead to your child resenting you or feeling as if they’ve been betrayed.

It’s best to keep things as honest as possible while also bearing in mind that your child’s age will have a lot to do with how they handle such a large change. If you feel challenged by talking with your children about divorce, there are a ton of great resources and self-help books that can provide valuable scripts on how to best communicate the changes that come with divorce.

5. Find Divorce Support

Your separation and unlimate divorce can be a tumultuous and incredibly grading stressor on your sense of well-being, not to mention the necessary grief that comes with mourning your previous life. Intentionally seek out support before, during, and after your divorce, even if it means fighting through the uncomfortable feelings of being vulnerable or feeling like you’ve messed up.

There’s nothing shameful about joining a Meetup or support group and talking to others who are also going through a divorce. In fact, having conversations with fellow divorcees can help you feel less alone and far less alienated throughout the divorce process.

Another essential way to prepare emotionally for divorce is to ask your friends and family if they have any referrals for a therapist or contact your insurance company to find out if your policy covers mental health; even if it’s only an online therapist, it’s wise to have a professional guide you through what can ultimately be a traumatic event.

TruNorth Divorce Can Help

These are just some ideas to consider when emotionally preparing for divorce. Taking care of your body and mind first and foremost, like putting on your oxygen mask on a plane before anyone else, allows you to approach the divorce with a greater sense of self-worth and stability.

Use these five best practices to make sure you are emotionally prepared for your separation, before it traumatizes you. If you need some extra assistance, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section. We’re also on Facebook, and if you want to learn more about divorce or want to explore your options, which includes my free ebook, reach out to me. TruNorth Divorce Solutions can help you.

5 Steps to Championing Your Divorce

Divorce is Not for Wimps” is about the realities of divorce and how it too often leads to painful and long-term emotional, financial, social, and parenting consequences. Unless you’re made of steel, pain in divorce is unavoidable. Long-term trauma can be mitigated if you assume the position of a winner or champion in your divorce. There is, of course, no true winning in divorce but there is surviving, mitigating damage, and putting you and your family on track for a better future.

Whichever end you’re on—initiator or responder—you need to decide that divorce will not define you. At the same time, it’s going to be a dominant force in your life for a bit. That bit of time may be short or quite long depending on your circumstances and how you manage the process.

So, what are the essential steps?

  1. Acknowledge that you can’t do it alone. Build your support team. Initially, it might be your best friend and sister or mother. But don’t stop there! Your best friend can’t fix this for you—they don’t have the skills or knowledge.
  2. Build your divorce team. You need emotional, psychological, financial, and “legal” help. A divorce coach, therapist, divorce financial planner, parenting coach, mediator, real estate and mortgage professional who specializes in divorce and maybe a lawyer 
  3. Stop burdening your family, friends, and children. Especially your kids, whether young or adult, don’t want to shoulder your divorce! If they are young or teens, you can create long-term damage for them. Your family and friends will be there for you, ask questions, call to check in, but they can not fix this for you and trashing your soon-to-be-ex is going to grow very old very fast.
  4. Get organized. Gather your financial statements, tax returns, trust documents, will, insurance policies, business documents and financial reports. Put them in a safe place (electronically or physically).
  5. Develop a plan. Do NOT pick up the phone and call a lawyer! You are setting yourself up for an unnecessarily miserable and expensive divorce. Call a divorce coach, a divorce financial analyst, a mediator. Make a plan to champion your divorce. It does not start with an attorney, even if eventually you need the services of a lawyer to deal with a contentious divorce.

You got this. It’s going to be hard but you can do it and you’ll be glad you took charge.