Mediation is a process used to settle contested divorce cases, and can be voluntary or court ordered. In cases involving domestic violence, mediation is typically not appropriate, or must be done in such a way that the victim is not intimidated by the process. Mediation is a process where a neutral attorney (or in some cases if necessary, a mental health professional), trained in domestic mediation, is appointed to hear from both parties and recommend or help facilitate a resolution of the disputed issues in their case. Generally the Plaintiff’s attorney and the Defendant’s attorney will agree upon the selection of a mediator. If the attorneys cannot agree upon a mediator, then the judge will appoint one. Prior to mediation, a summary of each party’s position on the issues is provided to the mediator.
The mediator will read each party’s mediation summary prior to the meeting. Mediators differ in style. Some will start with each party and their attorney in a separate room, and will shuttle back and forth helping them to negotiate a settlement. Others will start with everyone in the same room. The mediator will then attempt to help the parties reach mutually acceptable compromises. Some mediators offer their opinions and make recommendations.
Other mediators’ style is less directive, in that they do not give their opinion, but instead help focus the parties on reaching a logical and acceptable plan of their own. There are many variations on this, and it is important that an experienced attorney not only guide you through mediation, but also help you choose a mutually acceptable mediator whose style fits your case. If mediation is unsuccessful in settling the case, the parties may request that the mediator follow up with a written recommendation. If the parties cannot come to an agreement at mediation or do not agree with the written recommendation of the mediator, the case will be set for binding arbitration or a trial in front of the Judge.
Our Metro Detroit divorce attorneys handle cases in Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Livingston counties. Contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.