Choosing between settlement and litigation in a Michigan divorce
The long-held tradition of marriage is one of life’s biggest moments for many people, with visions of happiness, wonderful moments, a family, and memories lasting a lifetime. Unfortunately, the storybook romance doesn’t always stick to the script and a once-happy couple turns to divorce. In the U.S. alone, the divorce rate still hovers at roughly 50 percent.
Going your separate ways might not appear to be a difficult endeavor but it can in fact be a very complex event rife with stress and potentially butting heads over financial or custodial issues. Michigan law includes recommended time frames within which to conduct divorce proceedings in order to move the process toward completion; however, the presence of disagreement roadblocks can throw a wrench in the works and a couple might find themselves faced with a decision to settle or litigate.
Legal disputes are unfamiliar territory for most people. The legal process can be intimidating and you might be left treading water with no idea how to move forward or even what step to take next. It is often more worrisome and stressful if your spouse has secured a lawyer but you are attempting to manage the procedure on your own. So, is it best to settle your differences or litigate?
Settlement through mediation
A silver lining in Michigan divorce cases is that more than 90 percent settle without court appearances, thanks in large part to proactive mediation. Simply defined, mediation is the assistance of a neutral third party that meets with each spouse to facilitate productive dialogue regarding divorce issues. Mediating the case from the outset, instead of filing through the court, goes a long way in easing the emotional blow of divorce, avoiding steep legal fees and long court processes, and ensuring your children’s best interests.
One of the key advantages of mediation is control of the situation. Both spouses maintain control of information exchanged, timing of the process, and ultimate decisions made. Mediation also saves a great deal of time and money, and is far less stressful than litigation. The end goal of mediation is to talk openly about inherent issues to reach an amicable result.
In more combative divorce cases, litigation is the traditional approach, in which each spouse partners with a lawyer to take the battle to court. The attorneys look for “chinks in the armor” of the other spouse’s case and dialogue is routed through the attorneys rather than spouses. In many cases, attorneys spend several months filing motions regarding child support, parenting plans and custody, financial issues, and other details. There is typically no discussion of settling while information is gathered and dissected, and you pay your attorney to compose motions to submit to the court. Litigation traditionally entails many months of fighting out the issues, with little love lost between spouses.
In the end, keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to reach solutions that are favorable for both parties and meet specific familial needs as best as possible, facilitating a new and positive life chapter.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.