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What Happens at a Michigan Mediation Hearing?

Compared to traditional litigation, mediation is often less time-consuming, more cost-effective and more civil. In addition, participants have a better opportunity for their voices and perspectives to be considered.

The mediation process can be used to address a wide range of civil disputes, including those related to divorce. In fact, the majority of divorces in Michigan are resolved at, or shortly after, mediation. Many judges require mediation prior to a hearing. The mediator is an impartial, neutral party who listens to the people on both sides of the legal conflict and reviews evidence relevant to the case. The mediator has no decision-making authority but carefully considers the needs and wishes of both parties before proposing fair compromises.

Many couples across Michigan have used mediation to figure out satisfactory settlements for such matters as spousal support, property division and parenting time. Though the mediation process can vary somewhat from case to case, there is a general structure that mediation can be expected to follow. Mediation involves the following:

  • Prior to mediation, both attorneys, generally, submit a summary of the parties’ assets and pertinent facts so that the mediator can be familiar with the parties and the issues before the session begins.
  • At the start of mediation, generally, the mediator’s will either meet briefly with both parties, or most generally, will meet with just the parties’ attorneys to discuss the issues and go over the assets and liabilities and to try to narrow down the issues and reach an agreement.
  • The mediator will, generally, meet with both the husband and his attorney and the wife and her attorney.
  • In the event the parties reach an agreement, it may be recorded or reduced to written form. If the parties do not reach an agreement, mediation may be adjourned for a few weeks or discontinued altogether.

If both parties agree to the proposed terms of the settlement and sign the written agreement, they are bound by it.  Also, if the parties appear in court and advise the judge the terms of the settlement, they are bound by it. Once signed or placed on the record before a judge, the settlement will not be modified without the consent of both parties.

Preparation is key to successful mediation. An attorney familiar with mediation will prepare a summary listing all the parties’ assets, debts and the main issues for discussion and negotiation. It is also a good idea to have a clear understanding of your own goals and priorities while also knowing the areas in which you are flexible.

Whether mediation is court-mandated or independently chosen, the involved parties are allowed to select their own mediator. If the parties involved in court-ordered mediation do not choose their own mediator within a specific period of time, the court will assign one from a court-approved roster.

Dawson Family Law PLLC offers reliable and effective mediation services to address divorce disputes and other family law conflicts. During my more than 40 years of legal experience, I have helped many of my clients reach favorable outcomes. To schedule your free initial consultation, call my office in Sterling Heights, Michigan at 833-671-4445 or contact me online.

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  • Sterling Heights Office
    43805 Van Dyke Avenue
    Sterling Heights, Michigan 48314
    Phone: 586-731-7400
    Fax: 586-731-6370
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