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Divorce Mediation - A Peaceful Divorce IS Possible
You do not have to go to war with your spouse because you are getting divorced.
In a traditional divorce, your attorney’s job is to put forth a strong offense and a smart defense, with the goal of "winning" your case. Your spouse’s attorney will do the same for your spouse. It’s war.. Right up until a few weeks or even days before the trial date, then it will settle. More than 95% of divorces do; very few actually go to trial. In fact, if the attorneys cannot negotiate a settlement, the judge will order you to go to a mediator. To get to that point, what will it have cost you and your spouse in money, in stress, in the increased anger and resentment you feel for one another after all the battles? What will it cost your children to see their parents go to war with each other?
There is a better way.
Why not start with settlement negotiations? Instead of mediating after months of battles, mediate right away. A good mediator will help you communicate with each other so YOU can decide what’s best for your children and how to best divide your property, instead of having the decisions pushed on you by attorneys or forced on you by a judge.
The mediator meets with both of you, acting as a neutral party, guiding the discussions to make sure you stay focused and rational and that you cover all the issues necessary for your divorce: child custody, child support, alimony (also called spousal support) and property division. Each of you has the opportunity to speak your mind; no decision is made until it is acceptable to you both.
A mediator provides legal information and oversees the exchange of information regarding your property. Mediation stresses voluntary disclosure of all information so you may negotiate with one another in confidence, knowing you are working with the same base of knowledge. You thoroughly discuss the issues and the reasons for each decision, so the negotiated resolution makes sense to each of you.
Once you reach agreement, the mediator drafts, with your input, a binding Settlement Agreement - a contract between you that settles all of the divorce issues. To become divorced, a court must enter a Judgment of Divorce. However, once you have a Settlement Agreement, you have resolved all conflict so the court process is greatly simplified.
By using mediation instead of hiring lawyers for litigation, you avoid the delays, excessive legal bills, and trauma that result from the traditional adversarial court process. Most importantly, you protect your children from the turmoil and divisiveness wrought by litigation. A peaceful divorce is possible.
To file for a divorce in Michigan, the spouse filing the complaint for divorce or the responding spouse to that complaint must be a resident of Michigan for at least 180 days before the complaint is filed. Second, at least one of the separating spouses must have resided in the county where the complaint was filed for at least 10 days before the complaint is filed. If one or both of the residency requirements are not met, then the court does not have jurisdiction to hear and decide the divorce.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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