If you’re someone who isn’t fond of the courtroom but is preparing to file for divorce, you may be wondering whether your case must be handled within the courtroom or if there is a way it can be settled outside of it. It’s a common concern for many divorcing parties which is why we are taking the time now to address it here. The fact is, the courtroom can be an intimidating place, and many would much rather handle their issues and get them resolved on their own and without the presence of a judge.
So, without wasting any more time, let’s divulge into the question: Can I settle my divorce outside of the courtroom when divorcing in the State of Michigan?
You may be able to settle your divorce outside of the courtroom, however, you will likely need to visit it at least once during the duration of your case.
The first thing you need to understand is that your circumstances will dictate whether your case needs to go before a judge or if your case can be settled outside of the courtroom. Do you have dependent children together with your spouse? Did you acquire a significant amount of marital assets (i.e. valuables, money, property, etc. that belong to both you and your husband or wife)? Are you both in agreement with getting a divorce or is one party opposed to it? The answers to these questions will definitely play a role in determining whether your case is going to need to go before a judge.
Let’s say you don’t have any dependent children, hardly any marital assets, and you and your spouse both want the divorce. One party will need to submit the divorce petition with the court to initiate the process, but you may be able to just sign the papers agreeing that you want to dissolve your marriage and that you do not contest any aspect of it. Generally, these types of cases are settled much quicker than those involving children, assets debts, etc. and you and your spouse won’t need to step foot in the courtroom too often.
However, if you do have dependent children with your spouse, have acquired marital assets and debts together, and/or one of you contests the divorce, then this might require you to show up for several court hearings to get your matters resolved. The fact is, the more issues that exist and the more disagreements that arise, the more likely you will need to show up to court. Now, there are alternatives to going to court, even when you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on one or more of the matters associated with the divorce. One of those alternatives is taking your case to mediation.
What is divorce mediation?
Mediation is considered an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and “it involves a neutral third party professional who meets with the parties outside of the courtroom to attempt to resolve the case” [Source: Ingham County, MI]. The mediator’s objective is to help both parties reach an agreement on some of the most disputed issues that arise in a divorce (i.e. child support, child custody, and division of assets and debts]. The mediator who is assigned to help with your case, or the person you choose to hire, “may work out a partial or full settlement with the parties, or in some cases, no settlement,” which would then result in the case going to trial.
Many divorcing couples will often turn to mediation as they would much rather attempt to address and resolve their issues on their own and without the input of a judge. However, not all couples who go through mediation are successful in resolving their issues. Sometimes, a couple is unable to reach an agreement on a matter or one party refuses to compromise with the other and the case is then forced back into the courtroom.
How do I know if my case needs to go before a judge?
Your best bet is to contact the Law Offices of Stuart R. Shafer, P.C. and schedule a time to come in and speak with Lansing, MI divorce attorney Stuart R. Shafer. Your case may or may not need to go before a judge but before this can be determined, you will need to have an experienced divorce lawyer review the details surrounding the marriage to decide whether the case will need to be settled in the courtroom.
If you would like to schedule a time to come in and speak with a qualified MI divorce attorney who can review with you some alternatives to going to court for your divorce, contact us now at 517-487-6603.
You can reach the Law Offices of Stuart R. Shafer, P.C.at:
1223 Turner Street, #333
Lansing, MI 48906