Mediation has been found to be productive in resolving disputes that arise during the course of family law matters. It is also mandatory in the Family Law Division of the Circuit Courts in the tri-county area.
Mediation is a process in which the parties present unresolved issues, such as child custody, child support, parenting time, division of assets/liabilities and other matters relating to family law, to a neutral party in a position to make recommendations and attempt to negotiate a resolution of same. The individual selected to serve as mediator may be appointed by the Court, or selected by the parties through their counsel. Once a mediator is selected, a mutually convenient date and time is scheduled for the mediation session. Each party presents a summary of their version of the case issues to the mediator prior to the mediation date. During the mediation session, the mediator will have a one-on-one conference with each party individually to allow them the opportunity to explain their position in an informal setting. The discussions during these one-on-one conferences are kept confidential. The mediator will then act as a go-between for the parties to negotiate a resolution of the unresolved issues. If a resolution is reached between the parties, a record of the settlement is made, which is final and binding. The greatest benefit of mediation is that the parties maintain control of the issues in their case. Additionally, mediation can be significantly less expensive than litigation and often results in settlements that parties are much more likely to abide by long-term.
The personality, demeanor and knowledge of the selected mediator are vital in making the mediation process successful. Due to his vast knowledge of family law and years of practicing in the metro Detroit area, Donald E. McGinnis, Jr., is regarded as a preeminent mediator in Michigan. He is well known by family law judges and is often selected by family law attorneys to mediate contentious cases. Mr. McGinnis has a high success rate of resolving issues between parties and regards mediation as an essential component of dispute resolution that should be utilized as often as possible.
Arbitration is a process by which parties enter into an agreement to have the issues in their case resolved by a neutral third party, acting in a judge-like capacity. There are several potential benefits to participating in arbitration rather than a trial. First, arbitration offers a private forum in which parties can litigate their dispute without airing all of their issues in a public courtroom. Second, parties may arbitrate certain limited issues without arbitrating every matter in the case. This may help resolve a case that is stalled due the parties' inability to get past certain issues.
Third, although some suggest that cost is a potential drawback of arbitration, it can actually be a benefit in some cases. The parties pay arbitrators, unlike judges. However, sometimes the arbitration process is quicker than a court trial, resulting in lower attorneys' fees. Within the court system it is not unusual for parties to be given a trial date that they must prepare for, and then, when they appear, are not heard by the court for various scheduling reasons. It is also common for a trial to span several days, which may be spread out over a number of months. This can result in thousands of dollars spent on preparation and travel time, which is unlikely to occur in arbitration. In arbitration, you can select your hearing dates without having to compete for court time with other litigants. Moreover, the parties and their counsel can mutually agree to make the arbitration process less formal than a court trial and more conducive to an expeditious and financially cost-efficient process.
Third, the parties, through their counsel have the ability to choose the specific impartial person who will act as the arbitrator. The arbitrator may be a retired judge, an attorney, or any other individual that the parties believe is appropriate to resolve their dispute. The ability to select an arbitrator can be beneficial for a number of reasons. For instance, as a paid professional, the arbitrator is dedicated to your case. When you are scheduled to appear before the arbitrator, he or she will typically be prepared and paying attention solely to your matter for the agreed-upon timeframe. Also, you can tailor the arbitrator to the issues. For example, if you are arbitrating a case involving complex business issues, it may be best to select an arbitrator with a commercial litigation or contracts background. There is no doubt that arbitration, among other methods of alternative dispute resolution, is one of the many valuable tools in family law cases.