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Divorce and Family Mediation

divorce decree

What is divorce and family mediation?

Divorce and family mediation is a voluntary process designed to help couples resolve disputes arising from relationship breakups. The issues typically mediated in domestic and family mediation involve property and debt division; child custody; child support; and parenting time. Other issues that may be mediated may involve custody of pets; grandparent, stepparent, or domestic partner visitation, and other post-relational issues.

Why should I use divorce and family mediation?

Divorce and family mediation is both less costly  and much faster than traditional divorce litigation. Many post relationship issues, including the custody of pets, grandparent, stepparent, or domestic partner visitation are difficult or impossible to litigate.

Divorce and family mediation is effective. Mediated cases have a high rate of resolution and compliance. People tend to live by the terms of an agreement that they entered into voluntarily, especially when they created the agreement.

Do I have to be married to use divorce and family mediation?

No. Domestic partners may use divorce and family mediation.

Divorce and family mediators are impartial. They do not take sides during the mediation. Mediators do not give legal advice to the parties. Divorce and family mediators do not make a decision about the dispute or tell them what to do.

Will we be screened for a history of domestic violence before mediation takes place?

Yes. Typically the mediator will interview both parties individually before the mediation takes place to screen for domestic violence.

If there is a history of domestic violence, does this mean we cannot mediate?

Not necessarily. The mediation will need to be arranged to protect the security of the parties and their ability to enter into a knowing voluntary agreement.

Do I still need a lawyer for my divorce or separation?

Yes. The mediator does not give legal advice or draft court paperwork.  You will want to have an attorney review the agreement to ensure that your legal needs have been met.

Who are the divorce and domestic relations mediators?

To be approved for inclusion on a court roster of domestic relations mediators, individuals must be attorneys or family counselors; they must have received 40 hours of domestic relations mediation training and biannual updates and they must have observed and mediated under an approved mediator. (Michigan Court Rule 3.216) A list of mediators meeting these requirements may be obtained from your Circuit Court ADR administrator. Parties may also contact their local Community Dispute Resolution Program.

When can I use divorce and family mediation?

At any time. Many couples use divorce and family mediation BEFORE going to an attorney to file for divorce or separation. Prepackaging the mediation agreement saves time and money and can be incorporated into the court paperwork. Courts may also require or suggest that litigants utilize mediation as part of the litigation process.

Where does the divorce and family mediation take place?

The mediation session(s) take place at a location acceptable to the parties.

How long does a typical divorce and family mediate take?

On average 8 hours or less.

How much does divorce and family mediation cost?

Mediators fees vary widely. Information about all fees and costs should be disclosed to you BEFORE you retain the mediator. The list of domestic relations mediators maintained by the courts includes fees.

Is the agreement reached in divorce or family mediation enforceable?

Yes. The mediation agreement becomes part of the judgment of divorce or is enforceable on the parties to the agreement to the same extent as any other contract.

What about my legal rights?

If you participate in divorce or family mediation and are unable to resolve all of the issues you have the same legal rights as you had before mediation.

Courtesy of Michael Boersma, Esq., November 2007