The Family Law attorneys at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP are committed to representing you and helping you resolve your domestic relations matter in the most efficient and timely manner possible. In some cases, the only way to resolve the disputes is through litigation – preparing legal arguments, witnesses, documents and evidence necessary to be presented at trial for an ultimate decision by the judge. However, a vast majority of cases settle without going to trial or perhaps with very little court or judicial involvement at all. Alternatives to trials include mediation, arbitration and collaborative practice
This is a voluntary and facilitative process which involves a trained, neutral third party, the mediator, who convenes a session or series of mediation sessions to hear the respective positions of the parties in an effort to help them reach a negotiated settlement. The mediator does not make recommendations or issue rulings. As a facilitator of effective communications between two disputing parties, the mediator has special training at helping to break impasse in negotiations, applies negotiation principles and processes and works towards the ultimate goal of helping the parties reach a settlement agreement. In mediation, the parties have control of the outcome as opposed to a decision made by a judge and imposed upon the parties. Mediation also provides privacy and confidentiality that is not available in the public setting of an open courtroom. This process usually costs less in professional fees than traditional litigation.
This is a process whereby the parties agree to have a private, third party arbitrator make all decisions in their case instead of the judge assigned to the case. Domestic Relations Arbitration is controlled by the Michigan Domestic Relations Arbitration Act, a set of rules setting forth minimum requirements for arbitrators, directing the process and scheduling of sessions, and setting rules and guidelines to be followed throughout the process. Arbitration provides privacy that is not otherwise available in the public setting of a courtroom. Arbitration is binding and there are extremely limited opportunities to appeal the arbitrator’s decision. Parties select arbitration for a variety of reasons including privacy, control over the scheduling of arbitration sessions and ability to select a decision maker other than the assigned judge. This process usually costs less in professional fees than traditional litigation.
Collaborative Practice cases involve a variety of collaborative, trained professionals including a lawyer for each party, sometimes a divorce coach for each party or one coach shared between the parties, a financial planner and a child expert. A series of sessions are scheduled to address and resolve all issues in the case, including child custody and parenting time, child and spousal support, attorney’s fees, property valuation and division, and all other pertinent issues for resolution. If a collaborative case falls out of the process, the professionals and parties have already agreed in advance that the professionals will not go to court, requiring the parties to engage in new lawyers and experts. This loss of investment of time and money in the case thus far helps to keep parties at the table working in the collaborative model toward a resolution, rather than going to court. This process usually costs less in professional fees than traditional litigation.
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