Ask the Pros (Macomb Daily 5/13/2012)

With the divorce rates hovering just over 50 percent mark, couples are often faced with the difficult decision of ending a marriage.  This is often complicated further by the reality that this decision will impact not only themselves, but also their children, their extended families, their pets, and their hard earned assets and savings.  Is retaining a lawyer and becoming even more adversarial with your partner the only answer?

Matthew Babcock of Modern Family Mediation, a local company, says “No”.  He further stated that while attorney-led divorces are the best answer for some situations, many divorcing couples realize that they have either simply grown apart, do not wish to have negative long-term relationships with their ex-spouse because of the children involved, or they simply cannot afford it.

So, is there such a thing as an amicable or civilized divorce?  According to Paul Roodbeen, co-founder of Modern Family Mediation, the answer is “Yes”.  Roodbeen explains that through facilitative mediation, separating couples can work with a trained mediator to help them develop a mediated legal divorce agreement that is designed by them and tailored to meet their unique needs.

Modern Family Mediation was created by the pair with Macomb County families in mind.  It is in its second year of assisting clients in developing legal mediated divorce agreements, as well as assisting families with the resolution of difficult child custody matters.  Babcock and Roodbeen, a social worker and psychologist, respectively, have backgrounds that make them perfectly suited for specializing in helping families with highly emotional and difficult situations.

Babcock says Modern Family Mediation recognizes the importance of understanding that even though the marriage itself is ending, there will always be a common interest in doing what’s best for the children.  Roodbeen adds that their services benefit their clients by reducing stress, anxiety and the often overwhelming financial burden of a traditional attorney-led divorce.  Babcock explains that even divorcing couples with no children also find developing a mediated agreement to be in their best interest by reducing stress and saving them thousands of dollars.

The process of mediation itself has been around for hundreds of years, but only has become more accepted and popular in terms of divorce in the last several years, thanks to overcrowded courts, high-profile celebrity break ups and high cost.

According to Roodbeen, one of the biggest advantages to developing a mediated divorce agreement is that the parties agree to all the decisions about their situation and are in control of the outcome, rather than the court dictating what will take place.  When individuals have ownership in a plan, Roodbeen said, they are much more likely to follow though because they helped create it.  Mediation is much less expensive and quicker because the completion is based on the parties, says Babcock.  During the mediation process, all conversations are confidential and cannot be used in a court of law by any party — including the mediator.

To see how Modern Family Mediation can create a customized agreement for you, visit www.modernfamilymediation.org or call 586-713-0883.  Modern Family Mediation is located at 16997 18 Mile Road in Clinton Township.