Of all the ways to get a divorce in Michigan, mediation is one of the most peaceful. Mediation is also less costly and saves more time during the divorce process. Still, many couples are unsure of how mediation works or what they can expect. Unlike other states, Michigan does not require that couples go through mediation prior to entering litigation, but many people still find that it is the best option. If you are about to get a divorce and are considering mediation, it is important to understand how the process works and what your rights are when going through it.
How Mediation Begins
Mediation will always take place in a neutral setting, either in the mediator’s office or in a conference room setting. The mediation process begins with the mediator explaining the process in depth to the couple. During this phase, the mediator will also gather information from each spouse and screen for domestic violence. When a marriage involves domestic violence, mediation is typically not a good option. Each spouse has the right to bring an attorney to mediation sessions, although this is not required.
At the beginning of the mediation process, the mediator will talk to each party so they can become familiar with the situation, the needs of each spouse and any children involved. Each spouse will also create a list of issues they would like to resolve during the mediation process.
Resolving Issues Through Mediation
One by one, the mediator will work with the couple on each issue that needs to be resolved during the process. The mediator does not provide legal advice. They are there only to facilitate compromise and effective communication, brainstorm ideas, help keep the parties on task, and reduce the stress of the divorce process. Sometimes, this part of mediation takes several weeks with the couple regularly meeting with the mediator for a couple of hours every week or every other week. In simpler cases, the couple may only attend one mediation session that is four or five hours long.
When parties can reach an agreement about all terms of the divorce, the mediator will draft a Memorandum of Agreement that reflects the terms agreed upon during mediation. Once both parties have signed this agreement, it becomes a legally binding contract and is submitted to the court as part of the divorce agreement. Both parties are then bound by the terms within the agreement. Due to this, no one should sign these agreements before their attorney has reviewed it and advised on whether the agreement is fair.
Our Michigan Divorce Lawyer can Help You Through Mediation
Mediation is a less contentious way to get a divorce, but that does not mean you should do it alone. If you are considering divorce, call our Clinton Township divorce lawyers at Iafrate & Salassa, P.C. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the mediation process, let you know what you can expect, and help ensure you secure the fairest agreement possible. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation and to learn more about how we can help.