What is Mediation?
Mediation provides an environment for a divorcing or separating couple to explain in a very informal setting what they each think would work best for their children and for themselves. It allows families to be very creative and specific in tailoring a settlement that promotes successful co-parenting following separation or divorce. Both parties have an opportunity to express their feelings (their “day in court”) without ever having to enter the courthouse or see the judge.
Mediation is a voluntary process. Jayne A. Dykema is a neutral, trained mediator who assists both parties in reaching an agreement. Each party can either be represented by an attorney or appear on their own behalf. The mediator is not on either party’s side; rather the mediator helps facilitate the discussion between the parties.
This voluntary process is completely confidential and non-binding. Each party is required to sign a confidentiality agreement before the mediation begins, thus ensuring what is discussed stays between the two disputing parties and the mediator. Once an agreement is reached, both parties are asked to sign the written agreement, which becomes a binding contract. It is important to note that the agreement is an official document and once signed, it will be either entered with the court or used to prepare an order for entry. If attempts to reach an agreement fail, then the dispute can be resolved through the court system.
The primary difference between mediation and the court process is that in mediation, the parties can reach their own resolutions rather than having a judge impose their decision upon the parties. It is important that the participants know that mediation requires compromise from both parties. Additionally, mediation is usually a less expensive, less stressful, and less time consuming method to solve your legal issues.
Mediation is… A BETTER CHOICE!
A Mediation Session is NOT:
Mediation is not a formal court hearing. It usually takes place in a private mediator’s conference room with measures taken to ensure the comfort of the parties. Mediation is not a shouting match, and it is not an opportunity to swear or yell at the other party. Jayne Dykema will allow each party to be heard by the other without interruption, and will separately listen to each party if necessary to be certain each party has an opportunity to speak their mind. Mediation is not used to determine guilt, innocence, or fault of either party. Jayne Dykema does not need to be convinced or persuaded by either party to believe their side of the story because she remains neutral to gain trust from each side and help reach an agreement. Mediation is intended to help the parties reach an agreement on their own, and if they cannot, the traditional court system can be used to solve their legal problem.
About the Mediator, Jayne A. Dykema:
Jayne A. Dykema is a neutral, trained professional who helps parties reach a solution to their problems. She has had extensive mediation training and is on the court approved list of certified mediators. She also has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and an undergraduate degree in Nursing. She is a Registered Nurse. She has been practicing family law for almost 30 years and has gone through a divorce herself. She is not on either party’s side; rather it is her job to facilitate the discussion between the disputing parties. She can accomplish this by listening to both sides of the story and by asking questions that help to clarify the issues in dispute. She may meet with each party privately and confidentially in what is referred to as a “caucus”. She will not make any decisions or judgments regarding any dispute, she merely assists the parties to compromise and reach their own agreements.
How should I prepare for a Mediation Session?
It is important that each party be prepared to explain their side of the story. It is very informal, but preparation does help make the process go more quickly and less expensively. It is helpful to gather and organize any materials and/or documentation that may be useful to your position before the mediation and remember to bring it with you to the mediation session. For successful mediation to occur, it is important that each party be willing to listen to the other party’s side of the story without interruption. Compromise is very important in the mediation process. Each party should think of at least two reasonable, fair, and realistic solutions to the problem and consider possible solutions that they would be willing to accept. Often the parties will leave with “homework” to bring to the next session, such as proof of their 401k balance or an appraisal of the marital home. (Download Dykema Law Offices Mediation Intake Form for more information)
What is NOT needed?
Mediation does not require either party to provide witnesses to support their side of the story. Attorneys are not required to represent either party. An attorney may represent either party at the actual mediation session, but that is entirely up to them and is often unnecessary. A party may be encouraged by Ms. Dykema to obtain legal advice on a certain issue to encourage compromise and agreement. The mediator will not provide legal advice to either party, but may meet with or speak to the attorneys for the parties to help narrow the gaps to reach a settlement.
Kent County Court Ordered Family Law Mediation:
In Kent County, the Friend of the Court offers two types of family law mediation. They are Statutory Mediation and Court Rule Mediation. The differences can be seen below:
Statutory Mediation (MCLA 552.513) was established under the Friend of the Court Act that governs the process.
- This is a confidential and voluntary process to resolve issues of custody and parenting time.
- The parties may request this mediation directly from the Friend of the Court by writing a letter and the Friend of the Court will schedule the parties in when there is agreement from both parties to participate.
- A Friend of the Court employee who mediates the case cannot investigate or enforce this case in the future.
Court Rule Mediation (MCR 3.216) was enacted by the Supreme Court to provide Domestic Relations Mediation to all cases that the court felt would benefit from the service.
- This process is confidential but the court orders the parties to attend.
- All issues can be mediated including custody, parenting time, property, debts, assets or spousal and child support.
- The court may order the parties into mediation and specifically identify the Friend of the Court to provide the service, but typically the parties will be expected to pay for the services of a private mediator.
- While the “facilitative mediator” does not offer an opinion or render a decision, if the parties agree, and the mediator is willing, the mediator can become an “evaluative mediator” and issue a recommendation to the parties and their attorneys.
How do I get more information?
If you would like more information about family mediation, please contact our office to set up an appointment with Jayne A. Dykema.