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Michigan family law: How does mediation work?

Traditional divorce can get messy and be a long, drawn out process. Those in Michigan who want to handle their family law issues in a different way can with mediation. What exactly is mediation and where does an attorney fit in to this alternative divorce process?

If a couple chooses mediation over traditional divorce, they are choosing to talk out their divorce settlement rather than go to court. They will do this in a neutral setting with a mediator present. This individual is not permitted to take sides and will simply serve as a facilitator.

Mediation starts with an initial meeting at which both parties will identify the key issues that need to be resolved. An exchange of information will also take place. From there, further meetings will be scheduled in order to go over the issues and negotiate divorce terms. Depending on the complexity of one's case, this can be done fairly quickly or it can take time.

After a settlement is reached, it will need court approval before divorce is officially granted. This will not require a court hearing; rather, it just requires that the agreement be submitted to the court for review. If accepted by the court, it will become a legally enforceable agreement.

Some people believe that mediation serves as a substitute for utilizing legal counsel during divorce. While it is not necessary to have an attorney present during the meetings, most people do. If one goes sans legal counsel, it is still wise to have an attorney review the final settlement before signing just to make sure it truly serves one's best interest.

Mediation can be a great alternative to traditional divorce if a couple is willing to openly and honestly communicate. Disagreements will happen, it is only natural. But at the end of the day the parties share a common goal -- finalizing their divorce swiftly and without the need for litigation. A family law attorney can help those facing these issues in Michigan make this a reality.

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Mediation FAQ", Accessed on May 15, 2017

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