When you think about divorce in Michigan, your mind conjures up images of lengthy, hostile legal battles involving years of court hearings over the division of property, spousal support, and issues involving children. However, not all divorces have to be such an adversarial fight to the finish. In some cases, mediation may be appropriate as a method of resolving disputes between divorcing couples. It may be possible for you and your spouse to agree on certain issues, or come close to compromise on outstanding disputes – making mediation a viable, less expensive option to settle your divorce. You should discuss your situation with a Michigan divorce lawyer to determine whether mediation is suitable, after reviewing some basic information about the process.
The Mediation Process in Michigan Divorce Cases
Michigan is one of many states that allows divorcing couples to resolve their disputes through mediation, as an alternative to the formal court process. To initiate the process, the parties and their lawyers would select a mediator or the court will appoint a certified mediator through the Michigan Courts Office of Dispute Resolution. Each party prepares a brief on the issues that are in dispute in the divorce, such as division of marital property, spousal support, custody, parenting time, child support, attorney fees, etc.
At the mediation proceeding, the mediator will guide the spouses in discussions on the areas of dispute. These professionals are trained to encourage a productive, respectful conversation between the parties, with a goal to reaching a compromise. The process concludes when the spouses reach an agreement and file the details with the divorce court by entry of a judgement of divorce. Alternatively, if they cannot agree, the parties return to court to allow the judge to decide.
Benefits of Mediation
One primary advantage of mediation in divorce is that it’s less costly as compared to litigation. Other advantages include:
- Mediation can be completed in a short time, often as little as a day;
- The proceedings are informal and less stressful;
- Mediation proceedings are confidential;
- The parties have control over the outcome in mediation, whereas a court would apply legal principles – without considering the wishes of spouses; and,
- The process often leads to an amicable relationship post-divorce, which may be difficult if the parties go through a bitter battle in court.
Mediation may not be ideal in some situations, such as where one spouse is hiding assets. In addition, it may not even be available under the law where there are minor children or domestic abuse involved.
Find Out if Mediation is an Option for Your Michigan Divorce
Mediation may be appropriate for your divorce, but it’s smart to discuss your circumstances with a qualified attorney that has experience and in-depth knowledge of the process. While the benefits are attractive, mediation isn’t always the best fit for divorcing couples. The stakes are high in a Michigan divorce case, and this method of resolving your dispute may have a negative impact on your future. The best strategy is to discuss your options with a lawyer and retain counsel throughout the mediation process. For more information on mediation in divorce cases, please contact attorney Michael A. Robbins. We’re happy to answer your questions or set up a consultation at our Bloomfield Hills, MI office.