Divorce mediation is a common process used to help settle cases. Often ordered during a divorce action, mediation serves as a facilitative tool for parties to reach an agreement outside of court.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process where parties and attorneys meet with a third-party neutral. The third party is generally an attorney who is skilled in helping parties reach an agreement on contested issues. He or she does not represent the interests of either party, as the individual is neutral. Rather, the mediator goes through the issues of the case and poses options to each side, in the spirit of trying to settle the case.
How does it work?
Before going to trial, a judge may order or suggest the parties go to divorce mediation. If the parties have attorneys representing them, the attorneys accompany their clients to mediation. Typically, both attorneys can agree to selecting the individual mediator that is commonly and successfully used in the geographic area and utilized for family law.
Generally, the divorce mediation process is held at the mediator’s office. With one party (and representing attorney) in one conference room and the other party with his or her attorney in another room, the mediator goes between both rooms. Prior to the session, attorneys will submit summaries of their clients’ positions and the issues in the case. The mediation summary provides a road map for the mediator for each side.
The mediator will ask questions, pose options, and attempt to bring the parties to a mutual resolution. At times, a client or attorney will share something in confidence with the mediator. The mediator will not disclose confidential information until the client or attorneys says it is fine to do so.
Divorce mediation will typically result in one of three ways. The case cannot be settled for whatever reason and the parties will probably go to arbitration or trial. The second result is continuing mediation, that is, another date is selected for ongoing dialogue and negotiation. Finally, a case may settle. A case settlement is generally the preferred and common outcome.
Divorce mediation remains nonbinding until a settlement is reached. Upon reaching a settlement, the parties are bound to the agreement as if they were in court with the judge. Both parties and counsel are then placed in one room, while the mediator reviews the settlement in full. Parties listen and have the opportunity to ask questions. During the settlement a written acknowledgment of settlement is signed by the parties. The mediator may type a written agreement for signature or simply record the settlement. After the settlement is reviewed in full and agreed upon, the parties are generally asked questions to make sure the settlement is understood and agreed upon. With a settlement in place, parties cannot go back and change it.
What happens next?
With a divorce settlement in place, the terms will be drafted into a Judgment of Divorce, which is the document that divorces the party after a hearing before the judge. The terms are final, agreed upon, and resolves the case. The success of divorce mediation is based primarily on the idea that parties control their own destiny to an extent by coming to a resolution they can live with, instead of an unknown result ordered by a judge at trial.
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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We are compassionate, creative and always prepared. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.
By: Daniel Findling