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Dispute Resolution: Your Options Depend On Your Situation

Getting a divorce, no matter how simple or complex the situation may be, puts an emotional strain on everyone involved.

There are many unsettling changes to deal with: finding a new place to live, handling new financial responsibilities and custody arrangements, and the uncertainty of not knowing what the future will bring.

The prospect of going to court can be equally intimidating. That’s why more and more couples are turning to resolution methods where the focus is on working together to come to a settlement everyone can live with.


How a couple divorces depends largely on the severity of disputes between them. It’s entirely possible for couples to divorce with no attorney involvement whatsoever. These spouse-to-spouse agreements are amicable splits between couples with no children. The settlement is formatted into a legally acceptable judgment of divorce, filed at the courthouse, and the process is complete.

However, in cases where there are disagreements and whenever children or considerable property is involved, legal representation becomes necessary to protect the interests of both parties.

Dispute resolution covers a wide spectrum of methods for settling conflict. Common to almost all these methods is the participation of a disinterested, neutral third party. The most common dispute resolution methods are:

Mediation: A neutral third party, skilled in identifying areas of agreement and disagreement, helps the partners discuss their differences and reach a mutually satisfactory settlement. Generally the husband and wife work directly with the mediator without the attorneys present unless the parties want their attorneys to attend. Read more about Mediation.

Collaborative Practice: Each party retains a different attorney and signs an agreement to reach a settlement without going to court. The couple agrees to honest, full disclosure of information and to remain respectful of each other throughout the process. Read more about Collaborative Practice.

Arbitration: A third party (chosen by the parties and their attorneys) hears all sides of a dispute, reviews the evidence, and issues a decision, which is final. Parties agree to arbitration in advance through contract. Attorneys are present for the hearing. Read more about Arbitration.

Negotiation: The parties engage in back-and-forth discussions designed to reach an agreement. Generally the attorneys conduct the negotiations. Read more about Negotiations.

Litigation: The parties take their case to court and a judge makes decisions that are legally binding on both parties. Read more about Litigation.

Parenting Coordinator: When parents need help making decisions for their children, our attorneys can act as a neutral resource to help them communicate and negotiate with each other and meet their parenting responsibilities. Read more about Parenting Coordination.

Our Family Mediation & Collaborative Practice Center is now operating in Ann Arbor. Click to learn more about the mediation and collaborative divorce services being offered.

FM&CPC Home Page


"[You reminded me] that the children are the most important thing to consider when working through the divorce and for the future. I felt you represent [...] " Anonymous

"Thanks again for all your hard work. I know I’ve said this before, but I want you to know I’m glad you are my attorney. " Husband, Ypsilanti

"Thank you for making this terrible time the best it could be. How you handle yourselves at such stressful times is remarkable. " Mother of 1, Ann Arbor

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