Rebecca McCluskey is a trained general civil mediator and domestic relations mediator. She offers mediation services in Jackson and throughout the surrounding Michigan communities. Learn more below about the types and benefits of mediation.
Litigants are increasingly seeking alternate methods of dispute resolution due to the high cost and emotional burden of time-consuming litigation. Mediation is a non-binding method of dispute resolution where a trained mediator serves as a neutral third party who assists the litigants in reaching a voluntary and mutually agreeable resolution. The mediator is only a facilitator and has no decision-making power. He or she will not give advice or offer an opinion on the outcome of the conflict. As such, the parties retain full control over the terms of an agreement, which leads to a higher level of satisfaction with mediation versus litigation.
Michigan courts often order parties to mediation during the litigation process. If the parties are ordered to mediation, a good-faith attempt at mediation becomes mandatory, but an agreement does not. Any agreement reached by the parties during mediation remains voluntary. It will be reduced to a binding and enforceable contract, signed by the parties.
Mediation can also be invaluable before litigation begins. Via mediation, many disputing parties resolve their conflict without ever filing a lawsuit. Because mediation can address all relevant and negotiable issues, not only those that factually meet the elements of a legal cause of action, disputing parties find mediation to be an efficient and effective alternative to costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining litigation. Additionally, unlike litigation, mediation is completely confidential, which many parties find desirable.
Mediation in domestic matters is arguably more important and effective than in general civil disputes, especially when there are children involved. Most parties in general civil cases do not have a relationship that must continue after the conflict is resolved. In domestic relations cases where the parties share children, their relationship must continue, for the sake of those children.
Increasing divorce rates and the increasing prevalence of two-household co-parenting situations have placed a spotlight on the difficulties of these situations. It has become a societal crisis. High-conflict parents cause lasting, emotional harm to their children. Mediation can reduce that conflict.
Litigation is adversarial. Parties to domestic matters are most likely to fall prey to the adversarial atmosphere due to the emotional nature of the proceedings. During litigation, it is each attorney’s responsibility to get the best result for his or her client, many times at the expense of the parties’ relationship. This situation has a direct and negative affect on the parties, but more importantly, on the children involved. Mediation reduces the adversarial atmosphere and can begin to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship between the parties.
Michigan courts often order domestic relations matters to mediation. If referred by the court, a good-faith attempt at mediation becomes mandatory, but an agreement between the parties does not. Any agreement reached by the parties through mediation is always voluntary. The court may order parties to mediation by agreement between the parties, by granting a parties’ motion to order some or all issues to mediation, or at the court’s own will.
Domestic relations issues that are often mediated include:
However, the parties can mediate any issue that arises. An agreement on any disputed issue can be reduced to a binding and enforceable contact.
Mediation can also be effective in situations where domestic abuse exists or is suspected. Even absent domestic violence, unbalanced bargaining power may exist between the parties, which results in the dominating party intimidating the other into an unfair or inequitable settlement. Many domestic relations mediators complete a specific training protocol to handle these delicate situations in order to facilitate a fair and equitable resolution.
For more information on mediation services in Jackson and the surrounding Michigan communities, please contact Rebecca L. McCluskey, PLLC.
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