Updated: Sep 25
I often meet with people who tell me they don’t want to use an attorney and instead want to use mediation to resolve their case. Mediation is fantastic, it puts you in control of what happens to your case. However, it is important to understand what mediation is and what it isn’t.
What is it? Mediation is when parties meet with a trained neutral third party, sometimes not an attorney, that can help them communicate to reach a mutual decision.
What Mediation Isn't. A mediator cannot give you legal advice. Unless you are well versed in Michigan law, you should not attempt to mediate without an attorney to assist and advise you. A Mediator will facilitate communication and may make suggestions, but cannot represent your personal interests.
Can I do Mediation instead of Court? What many people may not know is that in Kalamazoo, Calhoun and most surrounding counties, mediation is actually a part of the Court process and is mandatory. It is not an “either or” choice, almost everyone will be going through mediation regardless.
Do I need an attorney? Usually a person going through a divorce or custody case should have an attorney with them to attend mediation. Since a mediator cannot offer any legal advice, it is important to know your rights and have an attorney look out for your interests in mediation.
What can go wrong? Some agreements reached in mediation are binding, which means you may not be able to go back afterwards and fix an issue if you discover you've made a mistake. If there is a power imbalance in your relationship, domestic violence or if you feel coerced, do not go to mediation on your own, your legal rights are at stake. Retain an experienced attorney before your case is sent to mediation.