Collaborative meditation is an alternative dispute resolution process that is popular among divorcing couples who wish to work out their divorce settlements on their own terms through the use of a neutral third party facilitator rather than going to court. In divorce mediations the mediator is in charge of the process and gently guides the couple (and their attorneys if they choose to retain legal counsel) through various stages, all the while promoting understanding and open dialogue. The aim is to address each issue relevant to the couple’s divorce (for example, division of property, spousal support, child custody, child support, etc.) in turn with the goal that the couple will come to a mutually agreeable resolution on each point. When this happens the mediator either make a tape recording or draws up a divorce settlement that reflects each point of agreement and submits this document to the court for approval. However, if the couple is not able to reach an agreement for each issue on the table that’s okay, they are free to submit the remaining issues to the court for resolution.
If you and your spouse choose to participate in collaborative divorce mediation you can expect that your mediation will progress through the various stages described below. However, please note that your mediator may choose to proceed through the mediation stages in a different order than they are listed here, and that your mediation will likely take place over the course of several meetings.
Stage 1 – Laying the Foundation: First, the mediator will sit down with the couple and explain what mediation is, the rules that must be observed, and the format in which this particular mediation will take place. Next, the couple will be asked what they are hoping to get out of the mediation so that the mediator can begin to create a list of issues that need to be addressed and an agenda for the rest of the mediation.
Stage 2 – Gathering Information: Divorce mediations often involve a lot of paperwork, but don’t worry, your mediator will tell you which documents needs to be gathered in order to have a productive mediation. You will likely be asked to bring in financial statements, tax returns, life insurance policy numbers, etc.
Stage 3 – Framing the Issues: It is important that each spouse is able to express the wants and needs that he/she has in connection with each issue before the parties start negotiating. This stage requires open and honest dialogue so that each spouse can start to understand where the other is coming from.
Stage 4 – Negotiating the Issues: During this stage each issue is negotiated in turn and is only deemed to be resolved when the spouses come to a mutually agreeable resolution that both parties can live with. During mediation you will never be forced into an agreement that you have not agreed to.
Stage 5 – Conclusion: Once every issue on the agenda has been resolved, or as many issues as possible have been resolved, the mediator will draft a proposed settlement agreement that reflects what was agreed to during the mediation. This document will be presented to the couple for their review and then to the court for approval.
Let Us Help You with Your Case
Interested in participating in divorce mediation in Michigan? If so, contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins without delay. One of our extremely experienced divorce lawyers would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of engaging in divorce mediation with you during an initial consultation and, regardless of whether you ultimately decide to resolve your issues via mediation of by submitting them to the court, represent you and protect your interests throughout this challenging time. Contact our Bloomfield Hills office today at (248) 646-7980 to schedule an appointment.