The traditional model of a litigated divorce, where the two parties face a judge while airing their differences in the often tense, stressful and very public setting of a courtroom, is no longer the norm, especially in Michigan. In fact, non-litigated methods of resolving differences, known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), have been increasingly used over the past 25 years. Nationwide, approximately 97% of all civil cases are now resolved pre-trial through settlement or judicial process.
Rather than the zero-sum approach of litigation, which creates winners and losers, ADR methods provide a civil and more amicable process that encourages compromise while at the same time allowing both sides to come away with something of value. In family law, this is often a desired outcome, especially where children are involved and where the spouses wish to retain a friendly relationship after the divorce is over.
Divorce mediation in Michigan
By far the most often used ADR process is mediation. This method is not only far less expensive that a litigated settlement, it is confidential, as mediation hearings are not a part of public record. In a mediation, a neutral third party, often a family law attorney trained in mediation techniques, works with both sides to find areas of agreement before identifying and working through points of contention that have stalled resolution.
Often meeting with each party in advance of the first joint session, either with or without their attorneys present, the mediator determines the priorities and concerns of each side. Then, when they do meet, the smooth resolution of some concerns where there is agreement will provide momentum for tackling more contentious issues.
By focusing on the needs and interests of each side, the mediator fosters a client-based approach that establishes what each party wishes to get out of the process, which will help them to be willing to compromise down the line. In this way the mediator assists the negotiation process, but also leaves the outcome in control of the parties involved.
Mediation is an appropriate method where both sides wish to have a negotiated settlement, but who are blocked by strong emotion or deeply rooted conflicts that prevent them from giving up a fixed or contentious stance. Mediation is not an effective method where one or both sides is uncooperative or uncompromising, or where there is either a history of domestic violence or if one side has greater power over the other.
For couples going through a divorce in Brighton and throughout Southeast Michigan, having the services of skilled mediators can guarantee that the process will allow a nonbiased and peaceful divorce settlement experience for all.