Divorce Mediation and Client Letter

Unmodern family marriage ON THE ROCKS – The Dumpitiys Divorce.

Claire Dumpitiy has finally had it with Phil Dumpitiy’s shenanigans, and, after years of squabbling and disharmony, Claire decides to finally call it quits and file for a divorce. She has moved to Lansing, Michigan, so the divorce filing is in that area. She comes to you, her long-time legal advisor, to act as her attorney to set up and represent her with the caveat that she wants this settled through mediation.

She mentioned several reasons for the divorce. Phil has become an alcoholic, has treated her as a know-nothing, refuses to allow her to be involved in any financial decisions, to the point he is nearly mentally abusive, and has become person who treats all women as inferior.

For some time, Phil has become financially irresponsible. He has not been paying bills he should have, including car payments resulting in repossession. He has missed utility payments resulting in shut off notices. In order to keep the family home Claire has made all mortgage and property tax payments for the last 2 years. In addition, their children Haley’s Comet and Alexia are just entering college and Claire has been the sole parent to guarantee their college loans. Phil says girls should not go to college, just stay home and have families.

While Claire has always worked hard, all her money has gone to pay bills and take care of the kids. Phil has stashed most of his checks in his 401K plan, which is now valued at over $180,000 and is fully vested. Claire only has a small 401k through her dad’s business where she works, valued at $20,000 and she is not vested in it for another 10 years. The house has been listed for sale at $180,000, with a $140,000 mortgage, but there have been no offers, and it is in a state of disrepair. They each have a car with payments, and the furniture is pretty basic old and worn.

Phil refuses to get an attorney, saying he knows more than they would about the law anyway. He claims that as it is only his earnings which went into his 401K plan, that Claire is not entitled to any of it. Even though the agent has had several showings with no offers, Phil will not consider any offers less than the $180,000 he thinks is worth. Just this week a couple went thru the house and indicated they might pay $150,000 if Phil and Claire fixed the roof.

Claire is desperate, needs this done quickly without waiting for trial, which will take about 2 years in this jurisdiction. The judge who drew the case is a very fierce feminist leaning judge, Judge Trudy, who has a local TV show in which she shares her opinions that women have equal rights and must be treated with respect and dignity, and champions all equal rights causes in her non-judicial time.

Unfortunately, you are not familiar with the family law mediations, so you must find out quickly what you should do to get the matter onto mediation before Judge Trudy puts it on the trial docket.

PART ONE: Conduct research regarding mediation once a complaint for divorce has been filed. Use resources found in the Purdue Global Library (i.e. Westlaw Campus Research) or other sources your instructor may suggest to find relevant State Statutes, court rules and other relevant Case Law within Ingham County Michigan jurisdiction. Then, prepare a one to two page letter to Claire indicate what is required regarding court ordered mediation in that jurisdiction (be sure to include citations for all relevant court rules, statutes and case law). Include what steps are required to select a mediator, your strategy if any in doing so (who you will look for), who will pay for the mediator, when it will occur and the like.

Caveat – in this case, Judge Trudy has used her judicial discretion by local court rule and indicated she WILL NOT do a court ordered mediation per se. However, she does allow the parties to utilize a private mediator, and in fact she requires it. Therefore, you will be doing a quasi-private mediation as allowed in that local circuit court. It is court ordered, but privately conducted until the mediator reports the results back to the judge).

Sample Solution