Q: I would like to mediate my case rather than going through the court system. Is this a possibility?

A: Yes and no. First, you should know that in nearly all counties in Michigan, the courts are referring domestic matters to mediation. In most cases, the court issues a notice of mediation early in the proceedings, after the summons and complaint has been filed. At that time, the parties are required to select a mediator. If they do not agree upon a mediator, the court will often appoint one from the court approved list. After the defendant has been served and filed an answer to the complaint, the parties will be required to sit down with a mediator and try to resolve their differences outside of court. In order to be on the court-appointed mediator list, a potential mediator must complete a 40 hour training course through the state of Michigan. Mediation is not always successful, but many times the litigants are able to resolve some, if not all of the issues in dispute. So you will most likely have a chance to engage in the mediation process.

While mediation will be most likely ordered in your case, and may resolve all of the issues, you will still have to go to court to finalize your divorce, so a trip to the courthouse cannot be completely avoided in a divorce case, even if mediation is successful. But if mediation has resolved the issues, the attorneys will put together a consent judgment of divorce, and the final hearing is just a brief appearance in court to confirm the settlement and request entry of judgment. If mediation is not successful, the courts in most counties are scheduling settlement conferences, where you and your attorney will get another shot at settling the case short of trial, often with the input of the judge. Be sure to discuss the possibility of mediation early in your proceeding with your attorney.

For more information about mediation, click here.