In contested divorce cases in Michigan, most courts order mediation, which is a process where the attorneys select a neutral third attorney to sit down with them and help settle the case.
The purpose of mediation is an attempt to resolve your case without the delay and expense of a trial. The mediator’s function is an attempt to reach a settlement. The mediator will do that based upon the factors in your particular case and the mediator’s knowledge of the judge. It is important to note, that the mediator’s purpose is to settle the case, not to do what is right. Therefore, the mediator will attempt to have both you and your spouse compromise in an attempt to reach a settlement that you both can live with. Mediation is completely non-binding. If settlement is not reached the judge will never know what the mediator recommended and the case proceeds as though mediation did not take place. Whether the case is settled is completely up to you and your spouse. The mediator has absolutely no authority to require you to reach a settlement that you are not satisfied with.
Essentially, the mediation procedure starts with the two attorneys submitting a summary which is a brief history of the marriage, income, assets, and other issues to the mediator. On the date of the hearing, usually the mediator will meet with both attorneys first to go over some of the issues. Then, depending upon the mediator, the mediator may talk with your spouse and their attorney alone and with you and your attorney alone. Sometimes the mediator requests to talk to both parties alone, without their attorneys. You are not required to respond to any questions the mediator asks unless you so desire. The mediator has absolutely no authority, other than to attempt to recommend a settlement to both you and your spouse.
If a settlement is reached, it may be reduced to writing and signed by you and your spouse and the attorneys or, you may go in front of the judge in which the settlement is told to the judge “on the record”. In the event an agreement is reached in writing or placed “on the record” in front of the judge, it is binding. You may not change your mind later, if you have second thoughts.
Mediation is considered voluntary. As a practical matter, however, since very few cases result in a trial in front of a Judge, mediation is used to promote a resolution of the divorce action.
Experienced family law attorneys in Sterling Heights
For more information on child custody and other divorce matters, contact Boyer, St. Pierre & Aull, PLLC, 43805 Van Dyke Avenue, Sterling Heights, Michigan 48314-2446. Phone: 888-559-4705, Fax: 586-731-6370, by e-mail: [email protected] or contact us online.