Divorce Blog
Paw Paw - Divorce Law Blog


Mediation is an Alternative to Trial

Posted January 31, 2019

Mediation is a settlement process. It can help you resolve issues in your divorce case. Mediation can be used instead of going to court and having a judge make decisions.

In mediation you and your spouse meet with a neutral mediator. The mediator will help you find solutions to your divorce issues. The goal of mediation is to reach a fair agreement that both you and your spouse accept.

Mediation can be voluntary or the court can order you to attend mediation. Mediation works best when it's voluntary and both parties think it will help them resolve their disputes. But, mediation can still work well when the court orders it.

Mediation can resolve the issues that you and your spouse don’t agree on. Before going to mediation, you should think about the problems that you want to cover. The following family law issues are often mediated:

Child custody and parenting time

Child support

Spousal support (alimony)

Property and debt division

Normally you and your spouse will meet together with the mediator several times. You will each have a chance to tell the mediator and what you want to happen in the divorce. The mediator is not a judge and won’t decide who is right or wrong in your case. The mediator won’t make decisions for you.

Mediation is a cooperative process. The mediator will help you and your spouse make joint decisions. This type of mediation is called facilitative mediation.

You and your spouse can ask the mediator to make a written recommendation about any issues you can't resolve during mediation. This is called evaluative mediation. The mediator can only make a recommendation if both you and your spouse ask for one. Neither of you can be punished if you don’t accept your mediator’s recommendation. No one can tell the judge what the recommendation said if one or both of you reject it.


Posted December 7, 2018

Any rights in and to vested pension, annuity, or retirement benefits, or accumulated contributions in any pension, annuity, or retirement system, payable to or on behalf of a party on account of service credit accrued by the party during marriage shall be considered part of the marital estate subject to award by the court under this chapter.

Any rights or contingent rights in and to unvested pension, annuity, or retirement benefits payable to or on behalf of a party on account of service credit accrued by the party during marriage may be considered part of the marital estate subject to award by the court under this chapter where just and equitable.

Upon motion of a party or upon consent of the parties, an order of the court under this section entered before the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subsection shall be amended to satisfy the requirements of an eligible domestic relations order and to effectuate the intent of the parties or the ruling of the court. As used in this subsection, “eligible domestic relations order” means a domestic relations order that is an eligible domestic relations order under the eligible domestic relations order act.

MCL 552.18


How are Custody and Parenting Time Arrangements Made?

Posted November 14, 2018

You and your child’s other parent can agree on a custody and parenting time plan, or the court can decide. The court will often approve a custody and parenting time plan the parents have made together. This is especially true if it allows the child to spend time with both parents. The court must also believe that the custody and parenting time plan is in the best interests of your child.

If you and the other parent don’t agree, the court will decide custody and parenting time using the Michigan Child Custody Act's “best interests of the child” factors. There will be a hearing with a Friend of the Court staff or a judge. Both parents can testify, and family members, teachers, expert witnesses, and others can too.

The court may also look at other evidence, like school records and medical reports. However, the court can only review records if:

  • The parties agree to the review OR
  • The records are admitted into evidence under the Michigan Rules of Evidence

The law says generally that custody arrangements for children should remain stable. Because of that, the court will always ask whether the child has an "established custodial environment" with one or both parents. If so, it will take more evidence for a court to change the current arrangement.

When answering this question, the judge looks at what the child's life is actually like, not just what the order says. Does the child look to one (or both) of the parents for love and affection, food, housing, etc.? Is the child old enough to have been in the current arrangement for a significant amount of time?


Alimony or Allowance for Support and Education of Children:

Posted October 24, 2018

If alimony or an allowance for the support and education of the children is awarded to either party, the amount of the alimony or allowance constitutes a lien upon the real and personal estate of the adverse party as provided in section 25a of the support and parenting time enforcement act, 1982 PA 295, MCL 552.65a. The court may do 1 or more of the following if the party defaults on the payment of the amount awarded:

(a) Order the sale of the property against which the lien is adjudged in the same manner and upon the same notice as in suits for the foreclosure of mortgage liens.

(b) Award execution for the collection of the judgment.

(c) Order the sequestration of the real and personal estate of either party and may appoint a receiver of the real estate or personal estate, or both, and cause the personal estate and the rents and profits of the real estate to be applied to the payment of the judgment.

(d) Award a division between the husband and wife of the real and personal estate of either party or of the husband and wife by joint ownership or right as the court considers equitable and just.

MCL 552.27