If the parties fail to resolve their differences on the issues, as for example (1) distribution of property (assets/liabilities), (2) child custody and parenting time, (3) child support/maintenance, (4) retirement, or (5) taxes, then the judge in most divorce cases can submit the parties to mediation. A mediator is appointed to assist the parties in reaching a settlement prior to the scheduled trial date. The mediator is usually chosen by the attorneys or by the judge assigned to the case. The mediator is a neutral third person, who has expertise in family law as well as alternative dispute resolution. The mediator helps the parties come to an agreement by acting as an intermediary. He/She may offer an opinion or make suggestions, but at no time are agreements forced upon the parties. Reaching a settlement at mediation is voluntary and usually requires compromise from both sides in order to settle the case. If a case is settled at mediation, the mediation agreement becomes a judgment of divorce and the case does not proceed to trial. Most cases settle at mediation.
Advantages of Divorce Mediation
Mediation Costs Less: You will save lot of money compared to the full traditional divorce and family litigation process, including hearings and trials with experts and extensive preparation, divorce mediation can save money that can be better allocated for the benefit of the family. When everyone prepares for mediation and knows what they really want to achieve, it can be easier to reach an agreement outside of court.
Efficiency – By working with a mediator, couples can make sure all the necessary legal issues are settled, including the division of assets and debts, the allocation of parental responsibility, and the creation of workable parenting time schedules, without the need to coordinate availability for court dates with their lawyers and the judge. A resolution can typically be reached much more quickly using mediation, allowing spouses to finalize their divorce and move on to the next stage of their lives.
Flexibility: Unlike a divorce judge, a mediator does not have final decision-making authority ― you do. In fact, until you reach an actual agreement, divorce mediation is not binding, which means you do not have to agree to anything if it is not in your best interests and the best interests of your family.
Contact our office to schedule a consultation and discuss how mediation can benefit your Michigan divorce or custody case by calling (248) 281-6299.