Imagine you're in this scenario: your marriage is on the rocks, as the saying goes, and divorce is looming large. You and your spouse already have difficulty communicating, but someone suggests using mediation to iron out your disagreements so that you can reach a divorce settlement mutually.
Do you really want to sit in a room and bear your soul to a third party? Think of the alternative — spending hours or days in court where a judge will decide the direction of your divorce without ever really listening to you or your desires while attorneys fight it out on your behalf.
If you’re considering divorce, have been served with divorce papers, or are already in the process of divorce in or around Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, contact my firm, Dana M. Constand of Family Focus Law, to explore the option of mediation to resolve your divorce. I am an experienced family law and mediation attorney who will provide you with individualized and compassionate counseling and legal services.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Mediation can be used to resolve disputes in many different circumstances. A tenant and landlord may use mediation to resolve issues of back rent. Business partners in a dispute over how to manage their business may turn to mediation to resolve their differences. And of course, it is highly applicable to couples seeking a divorce.
In mediation, no solution is imposed upon the parties involved. A third-party mediator sets the ground rules for the session (or sessions) and encourages productive discussion and interactions. The parties are guided to work through their differences and arrive at a resolution they can both agree to and live with. The mediator is there merely to facilitate the process.
Arbitration is another form of ADR, but in arbitration, an arbitrator listens to everyone and then hands down a solution — or, imposes it, so to speak. Mediation is completely different. The mediator will not impose anything, but rather facilitate the process as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Mediation can be undertaken voluntarily, by choice of the divorcing couple, or it can be imposed by the court. Many courts require mediation as the first step in the divorce process.
The most obvious benefits of mediation are the costs and time saved. If each divorcing spouse hires an attorney and heads to court to fight it out to the bitter end, their attorney fees are going to rise quickly, and the days you spend in the courtroom are going to keep you away from your daily life and responsibilities, including your job.
Another huge benefit is that mediation is completely private. Court proceedings become part of a public record. What you say and reveal in private to a mediator remains confidential. The agreement itself — without the discourse leading to it — will become public only when the court approves it.
Also, mediation gives you absolute control over the outcome. A judge, if asked to decide issues, will rely on standards established by law and not necessarily take into account the needs and desires of each spouse. A mediated outcome is also more likely to be adhered to in the future since both spouses got “what they wanted” through discussion and mediation.
Another form of ADR has come to be known as Med-Arb. Med-Arb begins as a facilitative process, during which the parties attempt to arrive at a mutually agreed-upon resolution, but if matters never get to the resolution stage, then the mediator becomes an arbitrator, who will issue binding arbitration.
Sometimes, the mere prospect of the proceedings ending in binding arbitration is enough to spur the divorcing couple to reach a resolution. On the other hand, it can cause one or both parties to be less than forthcoming for fear that what they reveal could result in a less favorable arbitration decision.
As everyone knows, divorce can be a stressful time. Fighting everything out in court as adversaries can only add to your stress and potentially stir up more raw emotions.
Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution that can soothe emotions and relieve stress so that you and your partner can arrive at decisions that both of you can live with. After all, the results of divorce are something you’re both going to have to live with for the rest of your lives, especially if children are involved. Why not try to reach an amicable conclusion?
Under the revised consent judgment rule that allows for uncontested divorces — i.e. divorces decided outside of court but approved by the court — one attorney is now allowed to advise both parties on mediation. So if you or someone you know is facing a difficult divorce in or around Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, call or reach out to my firm, Dana M. Constand of Family Focus Law, to learn more about the mediation process!
If you’re considering divorce, or even in the thick of it, call me at Family Focus Law today for help. I proudly serve clients in Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Woods, and Grosse Pointe Shores. Together we can sit down and discuss your situation to determine if mediation is a viable option for you and your family.