I’ve noticed when you google “divorce Michigan,” some posts pop up warning against mediation, but when you look closely at the authors, you see these posts are written by large firms that practice divorce litigation, so of course they want you to avoid mediating, since that means they won’t get your business. Keep in mind that many of these large, litigious firms charge retainers ranging from $5,000 to $10,000—and that is just what gets them started, so the total cost is likely to be much more!
Do NOT be fooled.
Families going through the trauma of divorce should not further traumatize their families by pitting mom and dad against each other. Pre-filing mediation has many more benefits than litigation and offers you all the support you need to ensure you make voluntary, knowing decisions that will work for you and your children, including mediation-friendly attorneys, financial advisors and divorce coaches. Please click for table comparing Litigation and Early Mediation.
While it is true that some people need to fight it out in court and need a judge to make decisions for them, I believe, and my experience has shown, that most people do not. Despite feelings of anger, betrayal, hurt and frustration, given time and the resources necessary to help them, most people are quite capable of making decisions for themselves about what’s best for their children and how to equitably divide their property.
As an attorney working as a mediator, my job is to use the skills I’ve learned to help facilitate conversations, to help people talk to each other about disputed issues in a way different from the way they have done before. I provide a structured and safe environment, which allows each person to have a voice, to be heard, and to learn to listen as well as talk.
I always conduct a screening with each person, to learn more about them personally and about the relationship, to help determine if I alone will be able to help facilitate the conversation or if other support persons will be necessary as well. The purpose of mediation is self-determination, so you will design the process with me. I have cultivated relationships with attorneys I trust, who are excellent litigators but who are trained in my process and believe in my process, so when I refer them, they understand their goal is to look out for their client, of course, but also to help their client settle in a way that is going to work for the entire family moving forward. I also work with divorce coaches, parenting coaches, financial planners, and mortgage and real estate experts; in other words, any support that is necessary to ensure that you are making knowing decisions that you truly can live with.
In traditional litigation, mediation is generally ordered by the judge (so you have to mediate at some point either way), but it does not occur until the end of the process and is usually very rushed: mediation will often end up being conducted in just one day, because trial is imminent. Unlike the traditional route, my process mediates the entire case, so you have time over the course of multiple sessions to talk with each other, research and get information as necessary, consult with experts as necessary, deal with the emotions as well as the numerous and sometimes complex substantive issues that need to be decided.
When you sign an agreement at the end of my mediation process, you are confident that you are making the right decisions, decisions that are going to work for you and your re-configured family.
If you’re considering hiring an attorney to go to court (to litigate), interview that attorney to learn exactly what you will experience using their process, and then please call a mediator, do the same, and compare your options.