Alternative Dispute Resolution in Family Law

The Use of Mediation and Collaborative Law in Michigan Divorce

When people are able to take an active role in crafting their divorce, property division, and child custody agreements, those agreements are a better reflection of the unique needs and goals of the parties and the clients are more satisfied with the results.

At the law office of Marrs & Terry, PLLC, we offer our clients alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to arrive at divorce settlement agreements. Mediation, collaborative law and litigation — each method has its own unique benefits. But not every method is appropriate for every couple.

If you are interested in learning about these alternative dispute resolution options and which may be right for you and your situation, contact an attorney at our Ann Arbor or Jackson law office to schedule a consultation, or call toll-free at 866-665-8095. We represent clients from Brighton, Howell, Ann Arbor, Milan, Detroit and surrounding communities in Washtenaw, Livingston, and Wayne counties.

Mediation

There are actually two forms of mediation: evaluative and facilitative. The mediation process is facilitated by a neutral third party, usually a specially trained and certified family court mediator. The information discussed between the parties is private and is not entered into the public proceedings of family court. Many high-asset couples find the discretion allowed by mediation to be an appealing option.

In evaluative mediation, the mediator takes a more active role in the process and provides a written recommendation. Some couples choose this method because they trust the mediator and want that greater degree of input. In facilitative mediation, the mediator does not take a directive role but simply facilitates the conversation between the parties.

Collaborative Law

When couples choose to use the collaborative law process, each person hires a lawyer who is trained in the collaborative process. Collaborative divorce attorneys are committed to resolving the issues without going to divorce court. If the couple is unable to reach a resolution and must go to court, these lawyers are dismissed from the case. This ensures everyone has a stake in getting the process to work.

There are several benefits to the collaborative divorce process. Expert resources are often brought into the process to help the couple understand the issues they must decide, but both members of the couple will agree upon which expert to use. They will not pay for two experts or be faced with competing expert opinions. Experts typically include accountants, child custody evaluators, and possible business valuators.

Litigation is always an available option for resolving a divorce and it may be the most appropriate if one of the partners does not want to engage in an honest attempt to resolve the issues. If there has been domestic violence or there is a great disparity in power between the two parties, mediation or collaborative law may not be appropriate.

Contact us to schedule a consultation to learn more about mediation, collaborative law, or our divorce litigation services.