ADR options may help navigate the emotional terrain of divorce

On behalf of Bebout, Potere, Cox & Bennion, P.C. posted in divorce on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

Divorce and marriage may lie on opposite sides of the spectrum, yet recent innovative approaches are lessening that divide. Specifically, alternate dispute resolution options like collaborative divorce or mediation are attempting to minimize the cost and potential upset of divorce.

When choosing among various ADR approaches, a divorcing couple should heed several considerations. The role of the decision maker is different, depending on the forum.

In divorce mediation, the mediator does not make any final decisions. Rather, the couple must work with the mediator to come up with a divorce agreement. Each party typically meets with the mediator alone before regrouping, although an attorney can also be present. The Michigan courts oversee mediation, including the qualifications of mediators, and a divorce court must approve the agreement before it is final. That court involvement means that an unsuccessful mediation may wind up back in litigation.

In contrast, collaborative divorce does not involve the courts or a neutral mediator. The parties, with their attorneys, try to negotiate a settlement agreement on their own. Other professionals may also be consulted about the discussion, such as financial planners, accountants, child psychologists, and others. If the process is successful, the parties may feel like they are back at the drawing board. However, a couple that is committed to a fair and hassle-free divorce may find this approach the easiest.

Our law firm has extensive experience helping clients through their divorce. Although we are not afraid of taking an aggressive position in the courtroom, we recognize that avoiding litigation may actually be the best for preserving any existing relationships. For divorcing parents that will have to cooperate with visitation agreements, avoiding a scorched earth approach may make future interactions that much easier.

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