Updated: Sep 21
In western Michigan, many counties require parties to go through mediation to help resolve their case. Mediation is commonly being held via Zoom at this time. I'm often met with questions and fears from clients about mediation and how it works. Mediation can be used for family law cases, estates and many other types of cases. Let's look at some of the common questions.
Will I have to be in the same room as my ex or the other party? No. While some mediators may have you in the same room, I have found it is more successful to use "shuttle diplomacy" and almost always do so with my clients. This means that both parties (and their attorneys) are in separate rooms away from each other, using their attorney and the mediator to "shuttle" between the parties to reach a resolution. Many times, the parties won't even see each other at all.
Will I be able to speak privately to my attorney? Yes. You will have plenty of time to speak confidentially/privately with your attorney to receive legal advice and guidance.
Will I need to make a decision that day? You should be prepared to make a decision that resolves your case on your mediation date as that is the purpose of mediation. Mediation puts you in control of the solution to the case versus letting a Judge decide. Statistics show that those that reach a resolution in mediation are much happier with their resolution versus litigating in front of a Judge.
What should I be aware of to prepare for mediation? Mediation is punctuated by long periods of time where you may be alone in a room while the mediator and attorneys speak or the mediator speaks to the other party and periods where the mediator will come back to meet with you and need an answer quickly. Be prepared to make decisions quickly and be prepared to wait while the mediator works with the attorneys and other party involved. If there are specific issues you want addressed, make sure you write these down ahead of time and bring them with you.
We're never going to agree on anything, is mediation pointless? No! A very large percentage of mediations end up with settlement agreements. Mediation leaves the parties in charge of their legal issues instead of allowing a Court to decide. After looking at the risk of taking your case to trial, it often makes sense to reach a mutual resolution through mediation rather than allowing a Judge to make a decision you may not be happy with.
Can I go to mediation alone without an attorney? Yes, you can, but it is important to know what a mediator is and what it isn't. See my separate article on this here. A mediator cannot offer you legal advice or represent either party. If you don't know the law and what a Court would likely do with your case, how will you know if you are agreeing to a fair settlement? Always consult an attorney and preferably have an attorney with you at mediation.
We're going to use a mediator instead of an attorney since we have an uncontested case, but I have some questions about what to do. I get this statement often in my private practice. Often, a client will come to me thinking they are just both going to "share" a mediator to resolve their case and since they both want the divorce, there is no reason to have an attorney. A mediator is not able to provide legal advice or advise either party. Sometimes I have met with clients that have agreed on something in mediation, not knowing that what they've agreed upon may not be what the law says they are entitled to receive. Again, mediation is meant to happen WITH an attorney representing you, a mediator cannot advise and finish your case for you.
Ready to speak to an attorney? Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr is an attorney and mediator in Kalamazoo, Michigan, handling cases in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and all surrounding counties, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471