The value of turning to domestic mediation instead of standard divorce litigation is becoming more prevalent due to a variety of reasons.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like mediation are so effective that many courts in Michigan are more frequently ordering intervention for child-related issues and late-stage mediation to settle divorces and other civil disputes. Mediating your family law matter can save you time and money, and give you the tools to resolve future disagreements and to completely avoid the courtroom altogether.
The Value of Mediation
Though often voluntary, mandatory mediation is growing more common in courts, except in cases of domestic violence. Whether by agreement or court order, the mediation process is non-binding. Should the parties fail to resolve their differences, they are always permitted to take the matter back to court. The mediator is a confidential, neutral party – often an attorney – who, by contract and court rule, may not be called to testify about anything that happens during their sessions. The mediator’s job is to “facilitate communication between the parties, assist in identifying issues, and help explore solutions to promote a mutually acceptable settlement.” MCR 2.411(A).
At the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, we appreciate the value well-thought, negotiated settlements bring to our family law clients. Mediated settlements put the parties – not judges – in control of their futures. These agreements tend to last longer than court-established orders because parties know themselves, their families, and their particular needs and concerns better than any attorney or judge ever will. In mediation, you can propose solutions that work better for you, even if it’s not what a judge would do, or what the law might require.
Domestic Mediation Acknowledges Emotions Behind Family Law
Family law (or domestic relations) cases are emotionally intense, often emerging from years of resentment and bitterness. These dynamics can make it difficult for clients to set aside their feelings and find resolution. At the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, we approach every family law case believing it will likely settle – in fact, statistically, 95-99% of all civil cases (including family cases) settle before trial. Therefore, with the exception of cases with a history of violence and/or abuse, we strongly encourage mediation for all our clients and assist them in understanding the value and principles behind the process.
Strong Writing Facilitates Successful Settlement
Effective negotiations and success in mediation depend on the parties’ willingness to be creative and compromise. We know that these goals can be facilitated or frustrated by the words attorneys use in their mediation summaries and agreements, so we focus on the issues and the parties’ interests, rather than fueling their emotional disputes. We pride ourselves on drafting clear and comprehensive settlement agreements when mediation is complete, incorporating foreseeable future challenges and preventing successive trips to court to clarify what various terms and provisions mean.
Contact us to meet our mediator, learn more about the process, and get started on a quicker and more tailored approach to finding a settlement that works for you and your family.
The Peter J. Johnson Law Office provides mediation services on a variety of family law matters. From child support and custody disputes to parenting time adjustments and long-distance relocations, mediation will allow both parties to own outcomes and move on with their lives with confidence. From our convenient location across from the Berrien County Courthouse in Saint Joseph, we handle court-appointed and private mediations for Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren County family cases.
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