Divorce Mediation Attorneys in Waterford, Michigan
If you have filed for divorce or been served with divorce papers by your spouse, you may be dreading having to go to court and battle over issues such as child custody or spousal support. Going to court does not have to be a hostile experience, and in some divorce cases, you will not have to go to court at all. Divorce mediation offers an alternative to court that can resolve your divorce in less time and with less stress than going to court. See below for some pros and cons of Michigan divorce mediation, and contact the Waterford & Clarkston divorce mediation lawyers at Clarkston Legal for a free consultation to discuss your options.
How Divorce Mediation Works
Mediation is a process that can be entered into voluntarily by the divorcing spouses, or it may be ordered by the court. Likewise, the parties can choose for themselves who will mediate their divorce, or a mediator can be appointed by the court. In mediation, a trained mediator acts as a neutral third party to help the parties communicate with each other and resolve the issues in their divorce.
A mediation looks very different from a formal trial. The mediator does not act as a judge and does not make rulings or orders. The parties are not limited by the rules of evidence but instead can talk about any subjects that are important to them and bring in any documents that may be helpful. In litigation, parties often stake out positions and use legal arguments to convince the judge that their position is a superior one. In mediation, the mediator helps the parties focus on their interests and needs without being tied to a particular position. Ideally, the mediator and the parties can collaborate on a creative solution that addresses both parties’ interests.
Once the parties have resolved their issues, an agreement is drawn up reflecting their understanding. This agreement is submitted to the judge who will review it for fairness and completeness before incorporating it into the final judgment of divorce. A mediation session is not binding on the parties; if the parties do not both agree on the outcome, they proceed to court without an agreement and litigate their issues in the traditional manner. Hopefully, at least some issues have been resolved, or the parties have a better understanding of where each other stands, which can help the litigation occur more smoothly and effectively.
Advantages of Mediation Over Court
A mediation can typically be scheduled to occur much sooner than courtroom hearings can, and the mediation itself takes less time, so mediation can resolve a divorce much faster than litigation. This also means that mediation will likely be less expensive than litigating a divorce, which typically requires extensive discovery requests, expert witnesses and many hours of legal preparation. Also, parties do not have to deal with the stress associated with going to court, nor the negative emotions that can come with a heated courtroom fight. Mediation can help divorcing spouses settle their differences amicably and even remain friends after the divorce, or at least on positive, productive speaking terms.
Another advantage of mediation is confidentiality. Courtroom hearings are public, but mediation is private. If it is important to keep the details of your marital estate and financial settlement out of the public eye, mediation offers a way to accomplish that. Additionally, parties have more control over the divorce process in mediation and are freer to craft a customized result that meets everyone’s needs, as opposed to the win/lose scenario that litigation sometimes brings. With buy-in and investment from both spouses in the mediated settlement, the terms of the divorce are much more likely to be voluntarily implemented, without the need for one party to go back to court for enforcement of court orders.
What Are the Drawbacks, If Any, of Divorce Mediation?
Despite its apparent advantages, mediation may not be right for every person or every divorce. First of all, both parties must be willing to enter mediation with an open mind and a commitment to the process. If either spouse’s heart is not in it, the process is not likely to be successful or yield positive results.
Even if the parties are committed to the process, the issues involved in the divorce may not lend themselves well to resolution in mediation. Some complex issues may be better addressed through the formality of litigation and the use of discovery tools, such as uncovering hidden assets or tracing the source of funds that were used for separate or marital property in a high-value marital estate division. Also, if the spouses have very different personalities, it is possible for the stronger personality to exert more influence and control over the mediation to the other spouse’s disadvantage. The courtroom may offer a more level playing field in this instance.
Call Our Family Law Attorneys in Clarkston to Discuss Mediating Your Divorce
If you are interested in mediation for your divorce, it is worthwhile to discuss the subject with your family law attorney. An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to counsel you on whether mediation is worth a try in your divorce and should be able to represent you in any setting, from the negotiating table to the courtroom. In Waterford & Clarkston, call Clarkston Legal for a free consultation regarding mediation in your divorce.