Stop Fighting Over the Kids BookMany people have heard of mediation. The courts often require people to participate in mediation. What is mediation? How does it work? What are the pros and cons of mediation? What are the costs as compared to collaborative law and litigation? Will the mediator be a lawyer? Can my lawyer be the mediator?

Mediation of legal disputes is a vital tool for people facing legal conflicts. The traditional adversarial system frequently fails to produce satisfying results at a great financial cost. Conflicted parties are frustrated after the case is over. To add insult to injury, families often are paying off their legal fees arising from divorce litigation for years after the case is “over.”

Mediation is part of the better way to divorce, an alternative dispute resolution process which substitutes diplomacy for aggression at a time when escalation is extremely detrimental to families emotionally and financially.

In family law matters, resentment after attorney-negotiated child custody, support and property settlement and separation agreements creates a minefield for future disagreements. Where disputes are resolved by trial and orders of the court, litigants are labeled as winners or losers or both, and negative feelings are amplified. Negative outcomes plus crushing legal debts can be life-altering. Think of Mike Mastracci, attorney, and court approved mediator as your future conflict-avoidance guru. There is a reason that parties who start in litigation or adversarial attorney-led negotiations often lay the foundation of a long period of post-divorce conflicts. End the conflict now and in the future. Dispute resolution in mediation is the better way to handle separation and divorce. If you are looking for a Maryland Divorce Mediator, call me at 410-869-3400.

For families, who often remain connected by children after divorce, anger leads to a continuous loop of contention under threat of further legal process. Old conflicts fester and new conflicts grow fertilized by the old conflicts. Separation and Divorce Mediation is a process structured to break this stubborn pattern. Family law mediation provides a sensible alternative to costly litigation of family law matters.

Since 2000, the State of Maryland incorporated mediation into its processes and procedures to curtail litigation and the unduly aggravating adversarial nature of attorney-led negotiations. In Maryland courts, disputes over child custody and visitation (also called access) are often ordered to mediate. Even if the child custody mediation is successful, the issues of alimony, support and division of assets, allocation of debts are left behind in the hands of the lawyers and judges. Private divorce mediation tackles all the issues in a single setting- the Mediator’s private settlement table. The sensible question is why not begin your separation and divorce negotiations in a private and confidential mediation?

Parties are often shocked by the language and tactics of their attorneys. However, lawyers are sworn to be a client’s zealous advocate in negotiations, and if attorney-led negotiations are chosen, the problem does not necessarily lie with the lawyers, it lies with the choice of process. That is your choice. Choose wisely. Take control over the challenge of separation and divorce. Choosing a family law mediator is your first step to selecting a less stressful approach to separation and divorce.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

Divorce MediationThrough mediation, the parties are directly involved in making decisions for and about themselves and their children, unlike when parties take the case to court. In court, a judge or master decides the outcome for the parties according to the law and the facts presented. Since judges are restricted as to what the law allows them to do, both parties may find themselves unhappy with the judge’s decision.

When working through mediation rather than the court, the ability for the parties to work through their problems without being bound by rules of the court allows more freedom to satisfy everyone concerned. The parties may also be more inclined to abide by an agreement that they have reached together, rather than terms which have been forced upon them by the court.

Sometimes, people try to solve future problems by following the patterns set when they first separated or divorced. If the parties litigated their differences initially, they are more likely to approach future problems in the same way. If the parties resolve their differences through mediation and cooperation from the very beginning, they will most likely cooperate to resolve any other issues that may arise.

However, it does take both parties to be mature enough to realize the importance of working through the mediation process to work things out amicably. It is indeed a process, and to expect long-term feelings of anger, hatred, distrust, and fear of the unknown to be resolved in two court-ordered mediation sessions is often unrealistic.

It is too easy for people to say that “we tried mediation” and it didn’t work. Mediation should be “tried until it works.” The result could save you a lifetime of agony and your children will thank you later in life.


Mastracci’s new service is designed to help couples deal with co-parenting child access and child custody issues. These services are primarily offered to individuals who are in litigation, mediation, or attorney negotiation stages and who are unable to reach resolution because of one or two issues that are presenting as roadblocks. Impasse Intervention Services (IIS) is a unique, brief problem-solving process that focuses specifically on the one or two issues that are resulting in an impasse. While this service is not designed for global resolution it is ideal for identifying and appropriately dealing with obstacles to settlement and resolving those one or two issues so that mediation or attorney negotiation can resume, and a court trial can avoided.

In appropriate circumstances Mastracci will offer his time, talents, skills, and experience in conflict resolution under the IIS model on a flat fee basis!

Types of issues often resolved through Impasse Intervention Services:

  • Legal custody
  • Parental decision making
  • Shared vs. Sole physical custody
  • Child access
  • Dissemination of information
  • Vacation schedules
  • Sharing holidays
  • Sports and extracurricular activities
  • Medical issues
  • Relocation issues
  • Stepparent and significant other issues
  • Special needs
  • Child support
  • Financial issues

Remote Mediation – a new service with practical results and better than being there!

We can mediate all your issues remotely (one-on-one phone calls, conference calls, email, Zoom, video conferencing) without ever needing to have all parties in the same room. It does not matter if you and the other party reside in the same city, town, or state. Remote mediation allows ease of scheduling, less time off from work as well as evening and weekend phone sessions and it is generally less expensive than “in office” mediation. To learn about this service, please give me a call to arrange a fifteen (15) minute complimentary mediation consultation with both parties on the line.

A mediator is a neutral third party who does not represent either participant in the dispute(s). The mediator helps to facilitate positive communication between the parties so that they can come up with their own solutions to their unique situation. The mediator does not give legal advice but may offer a great deal of practical advice and insight. Mediation is generally far less expensive than contested litigation and simply makes sense regardless of the circumstances. Remote mediation fees are equally split between the parties.

My goal is to help people resolve their differences in a private and confidential manner that considers the needs of all concerned. It does not matter if they are already in litigation, have retained lawyers or are just starting the process on their own. There are no winners in contested litigation. I respectfully suggest that, if possible, you need to take control of your own destiny rather than turning your future to a stranger in black robe and wasting possibly tens of thousands of dollars to get there. My unique skill set, and compliment of mediation services might be just what you need. I have an effective style and approach to cut though the things that often hold back a settlement from occurring. Whether attempting to mediate the entire case, utilizing impasse intervention services, neutral case evaluation methods, or simply dealing with a few issues that get in the way of progress; together we can get it done. I offer one on one private phone calls, conference calls and Zoom /video conferencing services. I will explore the dynamics of the communication issues so the together we can improve the interaction between you and the other party.

I have been handling contested litigation cases for over (30) thirty years. Nearly (20) twenty years ago I was a founding member of the Maryland Collaborative Law Association (MCLA) and started concentrating on ways to resolve cases without judicial intervention. I have also been a practicing mediator for over (20) twenty years and founded Maryland’s first and only Child Access Center. If you have not heard of Collaborative Law, please visit There are many times when a mediator can be part of the settlement process even when both sides have attorneys.

In the mid 1990’s, I went through my own divorce and child custody battle that lasted for several years. It wiped me out. So, when I say, “I know how you feel”, I mean it.

Preserving Parent-Child Relationships

Imagine paying just one flat fee per issue(s) and having a skilled attorney, mediator, and collaborative practitioner at your collective service in joint meetings, Zoom calls, and phone conferences until any given issue is resolved or until you and the other parent admit defeat. Together we can solve your child related issues before, during and after separation and divorce, one issue at a time.

Additional Resources

I will personally work your case from start to finish