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Mediation helps keep costs down in Michigan divorces

As the blog often notes, divorce is rarely easy. Neither is it cheap. There's no set rule on how much any given divorce will cost, but some say, after adding up all the fees and court costs, a divorce will cost roughly as much as a wedding. And one thing is for sure: The longer a divorce dispute drags on, the more it will cost. To avoid many of these costs, many Michigan residents are turning to mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution when they seek to dissolve their marriage.

Mediation and other collaborative methods work by helping the two parties in a divorce come to an agreement on such matters as property division, alimony and child custody. The divorce is finalized when a court approves the agreement. When the parties can't agree the court must decide these matters for them, which takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Collaborative methods also help to smooth some of the prickly emotions associated with a divorce, so that an ex-couple can work together. The more they work together, the quicker they can come to agreement, and the lower the cost.

However, there are some aspects of divorce that are unavoidably time-consuming. Property division is one of them. Michigan residents going through a divorce must list all their assents, then divide their personal property from their marital property and then divide their marital property in a way that meets standards of fairness under Michigan law. This becomes especially difficult in cases of complicated assets like stock options, pension plans, ownership in a business or other investments that are common to high-asset couples.

Collaborative methods can help Michigan residents come to a relatively quick agreement on how to divide these assets, but they should have expert guidance before they sign a settlement. Investments with hidden tax penalties or other problems can be extremely costly to deal with later on.

Source: Huffington Post, "How Much Does the Average Divorce Really Cost?" Laura Seldon, May 30, 2013

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