The Role of Mediation in Alimony Agreements
Maryland circuit courts encourage the use of mediation to resolve matters pertaining to family law. Divorce mediation near Glen Burnie is often intended to reach agreements regarding child custody and visitation; however, it’s also a viable option for establishing alimony agreements. A mediator can provide mediation services to help parties establish three different types of alimony.
The first type is alimony pendente lite, also known as temporary alimony. You and your spouse may agree to this type of alimony agreement to maintain the standard of living of both parties while the divorce is pending. It is not uncommon for parties who are unable to resolve all issues for a divorce to make temporary agreements pending the final resolution.
Mediation can also be helpful for establishing an agreement for rehabilitative alimony. This is the most common type of alimony awarded. It is intended to support the spouse of lesser earning capacity or formal education to rehabilitate to help the parties eliminate disparity of income. Usually one spouse will pay the other spouse alimony for a set period of time to allow the other party to complete a degree or vocational training program, or to advance in the workforce.
Less commonly, a spouse may enter into mediation with the goal of obtaining indefinite alimony, which has no distinct ending point. This situation usually occurs when one spouse is a substantial income earner while the other spouse will never be able to reach the same potential.
By using mediation to resolve alimony issues, it gives the parties flexibility and control to resolve this issue which Court does not provide. In Maryland, the Court must look to statutory factors to consider whether to award alimony or deny alimony. By the parties resolving the alimony in mediation, they can look to real issues facing the family, the financial needs and income of each spouse, what is actually needed, and what each party is willing to accept to help support their new dynamic. The parties can also decide whether to make the alimony modifiable or non-modifiable. A court only has the power to make alimony modifiable, which means either spouse could file for a modification at any time in the future (either for an extension or termination). Because no one knows what tomorrow will hold, the parties may agree on how to modify alimony should a party lose a job. The parties can also define when and how the alimony will terminate.
By parties resolving this issue in mediation and without the court intervention, the parties take control of their respective lives and reach a decision he/she can live with. This is better than putting it in the hands of a person you never met before and will never know how his/her decision impacts you and your family.