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What Makes A Case Too Complicated For Mediation?

Mediation is common in Michigan divorces.  Where the parties have been unable to resolve their issues on their own or with the help of a divorce attorney, family court judges routinely send them to a mediator as an alternative to trial.  This is a confidential proceeding, and the mediator’s recommendations are not binding like a judge’s decision.  For most couples, mediation can work. They can work out their agreements privately with a neutral third party without the need of an expensive trial. However, what makes a case not suited for mediation?

Allegations of domestic violence or other criminal behavior can cause complications with mediation.  In fact, Michigan law requires that judges in these cases hold a hearing to ensure that mediation will not be dangerous for any of the parties involved.

Another situation that complicates mediation is where the parties disagree as to the nature and extent of the assets and liabilities to be divided.  Mediations are often delayed due to missing financial information.  These issues include cases where either party is hiding, overvaluing, or undervaluing assets. The first step of a successful mediation hearing is to sit down and ensure everything is “on the table” to be negotiated.  An experienced attorney will conduct financial discovery such as interrogatories, subpoenas or depositions to get an accurate picture of the marital estate.

Another case that can make mediation complicated is when a business or real estate needs to be valued.  Attorneys are well advised to select mediators that understand issues of valuation and able to intelligently consult with appraisers or other experts to assist in bridging the gap.

Lastly, certain issues are particularly difficult (if not impossible) to mediate such as a request made by either party to change the state in which the children are to live. This is an extremely complicated issue and is more like an "all or nothing" proposition. That said, in the cases where the judge is likely to grant a move, mediation may be appropriate to work out details of parenting time, transportation, and communication associated with the children’s new residence.

Not every situation is appropriate for mediation; however, giving strong consideration to such methods of alternate dispute resolution is always a good idea.  Proper preparation by a qualified divorce lawyer as well as keeping an open mind during the hearing will make all the difference in making mediation successful. 

About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)

The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men.


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