Michigan Divorce Mediation

While some states talk about being supportive of divorce mediation, Michigan really means it.

Whether it's through public education campaigns, or requiring mandatory mediation for divorce, the Michigan courts do everything they can to prevent couples from experiencing the devastation of attorney-driven litigation.

Encouraging them instead, to settle their divorce issues out-of-court with the help of expert, neutral third-party divorce mediators like us.

If you’re starting to plan for divorce, you’re wise to want to learn about mediation. And you've come to the right place!

On this page, you'll find answers to common questions about mediation for divorce in Michigan.

And if you already know that you want to mediate your divorce, and you and/or your spouse live anywhere in The Great Lakes State, book a mediation strategy session today!

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Joe was thorough, organized, extremely informative, kind, fair, and friendly.

He was just great!

- J.P.
former client, Ann Arbor, MI

Equitable Mediation has a very organized approach with good use of technology to make the process simple!

- A.A.
former client, Ypsi, MI

Working with Equitable Mediation took all the drama out of what is an incredible painful and difficult time.

Everything Joe and Cheryl do is well-organized, carefully thought through, thorough and clear.

- A.B.
former client, Saline, MI

What is Michigan Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process. Unlike traditional divorce litigation, the divorcing spouses work with a neutral mediator instead, who helps them resolve the necessary issues.

Many couples prefer divorce mediation because it’s quicker, more peaceful, and less expensive than traditional divorce litigation.



How does Michigan divorce mediation work?

There are two ways to engage in divorce mediation in Michigan: privately or publicly. And which way you mediate your divorce will depend on whether you choose mediation first - or instead hire attorneys and try to get your case heard in front of a family law judge.

If you take the preferred path and choose to mediate first, you will hire a private Michigan divorce mediator typically before you file.

You and your mediator would then work together to identify, discuss, negotiate, and resolve all issues surrounding:

  • The custody and co-parenting of your children;
  • The financial support each of you will provide to the children;
  • Any financial support one of you may provide to your soon-to-be- ex-spouse;
  • And the division of your marital property and debts.

Doing so in a private and confidential setting. And without the use of attorneys if you so choose.

If you don’t choose to mediate first, and instead choose the traditional divorce route of using attorneys, you'd most likely be sent to court-ordered mediation.

As previously stated, Michigan is extremely supportive of the mediation process. So you may be ordered by the court to seek the services of a public mediator to settle your divorce dispute.

And while we’re always pleased when divorcing couples use an alternative dispute resolution process, no matter what route they took to get there, there are several shortcomings with going the court ordered mediation route:

  • First, public mediators are expected to help resolve all kinds of disputes. Rather than be experts in only one field. So, you may end up working with a mediator who is a generalist. One who doesn’t possess an in-depth level of knowledge regarding the issues surrounding divorce.
  • Second, mediators in Michigan who work at a community dispute resolution mediation center may not be the most experienced. Many new mediators get their start conducting mediation sessions this way, and have little or no "real-world" experience in helping parties come to agreement.
  • Finally, what if your issues are so complex that even if the mediator isn't fresh out of training, they aren’t experienced handling unique issues like yours? In that case, mediation will become a waste of time and now you’ll have to wait months for a court date. When you could have resolved all your issues using a private service like ours long before that.



What are the issues that need to be resolved in a Michigan divorce?

For divorcing spouses with no children or grown children, there are two main issues parties need to resolve in a Michigan divorce. For couples with minor children, there are four:


The Parenting Plan


In Michigan, issues surrounding child custody and decision-making, are explored, agreed upon, and drafted into a parenting plan.

The parenting plan outlines all decisions made by you and your spouse regarding the care of, and time sharing with your minor children once you are divorced. It may include details on items such as where the children will spend overnights during the school year and summer, as well as outline a process by which you as co-parents will engage in decision making on topics such as (but not limited to) schooling, religion and medical issues.

Because a good parenting should be "in the best interest of the children," and there is very little guidance on what this actually means, the help of an experienced and professional mediator is very useful in this gray area.


Learn more about the importance of a good parenting plan.



Child Support


Today, the Federal government requires every state in the US to have a formulaic, and repeatable way to calculate child support - i.e. a child support guideline.

And since every state was given the power to determine how child support would work in their state, as you can guess, each state’s child support guideline is not only calculated differently, but produces significantly different results. That’s why when getting a divorce in Michigan, you must follow the Michigan child support guidelines and not one from another state.

Michigan uses a model called “income-shares” which uses a number of factors to determine a basic child support amount, and allocates a portion of that amount to each parent. It is non-taxable, and the basic child support amount in Michigan excludes what are known as “extraordinary expenses.” These are items which must be negotiated separately.

Determining child support in Michigan is not as simple as running a calculator and coming up with an amount, as there is a lot left out of the Michigan child support guidelines. That’s why it’s important to work with a mediator with a financial background - to ensure your children get the financial support they need and don’t become the economic victims of your divorce.


Learn more about Michigan child support.



Spousal Support


In Michigan, one spouse may be required to pay their ex-spouse money, over a pre-agreed upon duration. This payment of money from one ex-spouse to another is called spousal support in Michigan. Some states refer to this as alimony, maintenance, or spousal maintenance.

Spousal support in Michigan is the exact opposite of child support in that there is no formula or calculator for determining it. Also, the purpose of spousal support is to assist with the recipient spouse's expenses and not necessarily the children’s.

But just because there isn’t a guideline or other repeatable way to determine spousal support, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. There are a number of ways we help Michigan couples resolve this difficult and emotional issue, and have been doing so with great success for many years.


Learn more about determining alimony in Michigan.



Equitable Distribution


Equitable distribution is the name given to the part of the divorce mediation process in which divorcing couples divide their marital property and debts. And it's typically the last issue divorcing spouses will discuss and resolve in their Michigan divorce.

Michigan is an equitable distribution state - meaning divorcing couples can come to any agreement they find “fair and equitable” when it comes to dividing their marital assets and liabilities.

And just like spousal support, there is very little guidance when it comes to determining what’s fair for each spouse.

As you can imagine, if a divorcing couple isn't working with an experienced mediator with a financial background, this part of the divorce process can not only prove difficult, but costly, as there are a significant number of mistakes that can be made during this part of the process.

Determining the division of marital property, if any property is considered non-marital, and what couples should take into account when discussing equitable distribution all factor into the negotiations.


Learn more about equitable distribution in Michigan.



Do I also need a divorce lawyer in Michigan if I am already working with a mediator?

Lawyers are not required at any point in a divorce.

Some individuals prefer to speak with a divorce lawyer during or after the mediation process to get legal advice. However, others choose to NOT involve attorneys in their divorce.

This is your divorce, so if you want to get a lawyer’s viewpoint on a particular matter(s), you are encouraged to do so.



Do we have to already agree on all of the necessary issues before we begin the divorce mediation process?

No! It isn’t necessary for you and your spouse to have everything resolved before you start mediating.

In fact, many divorcing couples choose to wait for their mediator to help them discuss and resolve the issues.

This way, you can ensure everything will be discussed comprehensively.



What are the differences between using divorce mediation vs traditional divorce using attorneys?

There are substantial differences between these divorce methods and this post will help you compare divorce mediation to lawyers for divorce.



What is the cost of divorce mediation?

The total cost of mediation varies and is dependent on a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • The experience and skills the mediator possesses;
  • The thoroughness of the divorce mediator’s process;
  • The services the mediator provides;
  • The level of conflict and relationship dynamic between the divorcing parties and their willingness to negotiate the issues.

You can work with an inexperienced mediator for a lower fee, but then once the mediation process is finished, spend a lot more to have your agreement re-written by lawyers (and/or tens of thousands of dollars more in the future to resolve missed issues.)

Or you can work with an expert divorce mediator whose fee might be higher, but who provides a more comprehensive service, written agreement, and resolution on both current and known/potential future issues, which will save you money, time and stress in the long run.

Learn more about divorce mediation costs.



How do we know if mediation is a good option for our divorce in Michigan?

Divorce mediation is a practical option for your divorce if:

  • You are each eager to take part in an honest and “good faith” negotiation;
  • You’re each willing to actively participate and a level of respect exists between you;
  • You want to maintain full control over your divorce agreement and make your own decisions, but you want a skilled divorce professional to help you resolve the required issues.

Get a High Quality Michigan Divorce Mediation!

Going through a divorce is one of the most emotionally stressful life events anyone can face.

But when you choose to work with an experienced divorce mediation team who can expertly guide you through the obstacle course of divorce, you’d be surprised at how smoothly the process can go.

A divorce in Michigan working with Equitable Mediation is the best way to peacefully end your marriage.

Take the next step and book a strategy session for you and your spouse to learn more about our online divorce mediation services.

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Or, if you're early in the process, learn how you benefit using mediation for divorce.