Unlocking Success: Top 5 Benefits of Settling Through Mediation
February 9, 2024 General
In divorce proceedings, mediation holds pivotal importance. While many family courts mandate mediation, some parties voluntarily opt for it. A mediator, a neutral third party well-versed in Michigan family law, facilitates compromise between the parties, often highlighting case weaknesses for a smoother settlement process.
Mediation requires time and shared mediator costs, alongside attorney fees for preparation and attendance. The question arises: Is investing in mediation worthwhile? Here are five compelling reasons why investing time and money in mediation is beneficial.
By settling during mediation, parties are able to preserve an amical or civil relationship, or at least not destroy it further. They also save time and cost, they are in control of decision making, their discussions remain confidential, and they obtain legal certainty regarding the end result.
Let’s dive in and explore each of these reasons.
Mediation Preserves the Relationship and Reduces Conflict
When a judge decides the parties’ dispute, each party will need to provide testimony and evidence regarding certain factors outlined in Michigan law. In courtroom disputes, parties tend to present testimony favoring themselves while disparaging the other, fostering heightened animosity. In other words, testimony presented at trial is emotionally damaging which may hurt your co-parenting relationship or your ability to implement the terms of the judgment.
During mediation, the goal is to reach compromise. The emphasis is not on winning or losing. Often parties are in different rooms which avoids the emotional damage of shared information.
Settling during Mediation is Cost and Time Effective.
Either your dispute is resolved by you reaching an agreement or the judge will decide at trial or at an evidentiary hearing. Most trial court’s dockets are overbooked, and the wait to get a trial date is long. Mediation can be scheduled as soon as both parties have shared or obtained the necessary evidence; which is often months before trial. Mediation can be scheduled when it’s convenient for you; whereas trial will be scheduled based on the court’s availability.
The cost to litigate a case to the point of trial, and the time to attend trial itself, is significant. If parties have limited assets, the attorney fees to attend trial could outweigh the available assets.
Settling at mediation gives you control over decision making.
Once you decide to take your case to trial, the judge is going to make the decision. For example, when you disagree regarding the asset division, the judge will divide all assets, this could mean that you don’t get your favorite car awarded to you.
When you attend mediation, parties can be creative and flexible regarding all disputes. An experienced mediator may suggest some creative solutions to reach a resolution. The process during mediation is much more casual which allows you to go back and forth to ensure that each party’s wishes are not misunderstood, and ultimately you decide whether to accept or reject a proposed resolution.
Settling during mediation provides confidentiality and privacy.
Court proceedings are open to the public and testimony is recorded by a court reporter. This means that third parties can attend the proceedings and listen, and years down the road someone may request the transcript of the proceedings. Contrarily, mediation is private and not recorded.
Settling during mediation provides more finality.
A judgment obtained after trial can be appealed which will delay a final decision by many months. Parties also tend to follow their own agreements which provides for more certainty and reduces stress.
Finally, exploring your settlement options through mediation is always beneficial. It allows you and your attorney to explore the other party’s demands and their reasonableness. It allows you and your attorney to assess your weak and strong points before going to trial.
If you attend mediation, you are in control of the final agreements reached. Based on the cost and time it will cost for you to attend trial, mediation may be well worth your investment of time and money. If you are ordered to attend mediation or you would like to explore mediation, you should prepare with an attorney to determine what is a reasonable settlement range. If you need help, call our experienced family law attorneys at Kraayeveld Family Law at 616-285-0808.