When a couple divorces in Michigan, they have the option to choose mediation rather than litigation. According to FindLaw, in mediation, the two spouses meet with a neutral third party who helps them to come to an agreement they can both live with.
The mediator does not provide or enforce an agreement. He or she simply guides the process by using dispute resolution and negotiation tactics and offering potentially viable solutions for the couple to consider. There are several advantages to divorce mediation:
- Unlike a court case, mediation is private.
- The couple generally comes to an agreement much more quickly than they would if they had to argue the case before a judge.
- Because the process is faster, it is also usually less expensive.
- The couple makes the decisions rather than allowing the judge to decide for them.
Michigan Legal Help notes that generally, the issues that a divorcing couple attends mediation to resolve include property division, custody and parenting time. The agreement they create is not legally binding until a judge signs it. Usually, though, a judge will sign a reasonable agreement, and it becomes the official divorce decree.
A couple may need several sessions, and they may not meet with the mediator at the same time. High-conflict couples may present what they want in separate sessions, and the mediator may then communicate between them and offer possible solutions when there are points of contention.
Although mediation can work for many high-conflict couples, there are situations when mediation may not be a good idea, such as if one or both parties have a history of abuse, one of the spouses has been extremely controlling of the other, or mediation may put one or both spouses in danger of a health or safety risk.