Address220 W. Main Street Ionia, MI 48846
“I have been pleased with the way [Cheryl Chadwick] handled my case. She treated me very fairly, explained everything very well and was willing to do extra to put me at ease about the situation. I’m very grateful.”
“Pat Duff has always been a trusted friend when addressing our legal issues for our family. A class act all the way!”
“We are very happy with Tom Chadwick and the work he has done for us. We refer all of our friend to him ”
“Pat [Duff] is the best. He goes over and above what he has to in order to help his clients. He gives clear advice on the case and he is not only the best lawyer I’ve ever had, he is a friend. Thanks Pat.”
“Tom [Chadwick] assisted us in will preparation and revising previous documents. We were pleased with the amount of time Tom took in explanation of terms and processes. He was very thorough in his explanations and helped us clearly understand what our documents meant. We would definitely work with Tom in the future and are comfortable with referring him to our family and friends for services.”
“Mr. Duff prepared our will and made the entire experience as easy and quick as it could be. He did an excellent job explaining the many scenarios so that we could make an informed decision. We certainly appreciate all his help and his assistant is also wonderful. She was a pleasure to work with.”
“Tom [Chadwick] was great. He explained everything in a way that was easy to understand. He answered all our questions clear and concise. He was very professional but did so on a personal level.”
“It was truly a pleasure! Professional, personable and detail oriented. Asking all the right questions to assure our work would be completed in full and with accuracy.” Patrick Lorvo
“I received the help I needed from Tom Chadwick to fill out my Power of Attorney. He explained it in a language I could understand and went over any questions I had.” Jane Riker
“Cheryl Chadwick is always to the point. If I did not understand something she would take the time to explain it to me. She never hurried me at an appointment. She was thorough with what I needed to give her. She is people friendly! And she smiled a lot! I never felt like she held me beneath her.”
“Mr. Duff handled my Mother’s estate. He answered all of our questions and was very helpful. The office staff was very good also. Thanks very much.”
What is mediation?
What happens in mediation?
How do I select a mediator?
How much does mediation cost?
Family Court mediation
When would someone mediate a divorce matter?
What if we can't resolve all the matters in our divorce at mediation?
Mediation after the judgment of a divorce
Examples of disputes which can be mediated
Attorney Patrick M. Duff, of Duff, Chadwick and Associates, P.C., has extensive experience in mediation. He has had extensive mediation training in the areas of domestic relations, civil matters, special education, agriculture, elder care/adult guardianship, and restorative justice. He handles court-ordered mediations for Ionia, Kent and Ingham counties; and covers independent mediations throughout Michigan.
Mediation is a process in which the various parties in the dispute meet with a trained neutral person, the mediator, to work out an acceptable resolution. Unlike resolutions by a magistrate or judge wherein one party generally wins while the other loses, in mediations the parties themselves find options for resolving their matter. The parties voluntarily enter into a settlement agreement. This means that no mediator will decide who is right or wrong, identify how a matter should be resolved, or otherwise take sides. The mediator's job is to help parties communicate, clarify the issues involved in the dispute, and find mutually beneficial solutions for the matter in dispute. Thoughout the mediation process, the mediator makes sure that everyone has a chance to be heard and to contribute ideas for resolution.
Most matters can be completed in one mediation session; however, it is common for some particularly complex matters, like domestic relations cases, to take several sessions. Experience suggests that nearly everyone finds that mdiation is helpful, even if a dispute is not completely resolved.
Once the parties have selected a mediator, or if a mediator has been assigned by the court, the mediator will schedule your mediation session.
A typical mediation session begins with the mediator and parties establishing some gound rules. Once the ground rules are established, one party will tell his or her side of the story in an uninterrupted manner while the other party listens. One by one, the parties will tell their stories so that all the information relevant to the dispute is heard by everyone.
The mediator then works with the parties to determine exactly what issues are in dispute, and parties will be encouraged to identify options for resolving the various issues.
Generating settlement options is often the most exciting part of mediation, because very frequently the parties are able to find creative options for resolving the dispute which results in "win-win" solutions. This is in contrast to obtaining a decision by a judge, who often can only rule for one side or the other.
Keep in mind that a mediator is not like a judge; the mediator will not impose any solutions, nor identify which is the best solution for you. Deciding how you would like to resolve your dispute remains entirely up to you, and if applicable, your lawyer.
If you have a lawyer, he or she generally attends the mediation with you. Lawyers can certainly participate, but discussions between you and your lawyer are most commonly held in separate meetings with the mediator, whereby they are confidential and not heard by the other party.
Even in the best mediation sessions, there are times when parties are not able to find satisfactory settlement options. When that happens, the mediation is stopped and the parties return to the court system, just as if mediation had not taken place. Inability to reach agreement in mediation will not negatively impact movement toward trial. Because mediation is confidential (with very few exceptions), the judge and court staff will have no knowledge of what was said or done in mediation.
The Michigan Supreme Court encourages parties to try mediation because of its demonstrated success in helping parties resolve disputes to their satisfaction. It's as simple as this: in the traditional court process, when a judge enters a judgment in a case, usually one party wins, and the other loses. In mediation, all parties have a chance to reach an acceptable solution, and it can be a solution quite different from that imposed by the judge. Put differently, parties have maximum control over how to resolve their dispute in mediation. In the court process, parties give all authority to resolve their case to the judge.
Mediation can be scheduled quickly and can be less expensive and produce more satisfactory results than litigating a matter through trial. Moreover, experience shows that parties who reach agreements in mediation are more likely to keep them than they are to abide by court judgments.
For persons who have on-going relationships, like family members, business associates, neighbors, landlords and tenants, or employers and employees, mediation is an effective way to not only resolve the problems at hand, but also to improve their relationship and decide how future disputes might be resolved.
Because court proceedings are public and documents appearing in court files are generally public, parties frequently choose mediation to keep varous aspects of their dispute private.
If you decide to try mediation on your own, or if you are ordered to try mediation, you and the other persons involved in the dispute have the right to select your own mediator. Some factors you should consider in selecting your own mediator include:
Mediators, like other professionals, charge for their services and the parties to the dispute are responsible for paying the mediator. Usually, parties split the costs of mediation equally, but other arrangements may be reached.
If you are in court because of a dispute in a family matter, there are several additional things you should consider:
First, in a divorce case, if children are involved, mediation can help create a collaborative way of looking at the future. Since parents will need to talk in the years ahead about such things as parenting time, and working together for the best interests of the children, mediation has distinct advantages over returning to the adversarial court environment each time parties have a disagreement.
Second, it has been clearly shown that parties who reach agreements in divorce have far fewer post-judgment contacts with the court. This means that parties usally keep their agreements because they have crafted them and they do not need to return to court for resolving matters. The obvious benefits are that parties save both time and money in not having to return to court for resolution of problems likely to arise in the years following the judgment of divorce.
Mediation has been shown to be helpful in a wide variety of family matters. Parties involved in contested trust and estate matters, and even contested child and adult guardianships and conservatrships, have benefited from the problem-solving aspect of mediation.
If, within a divorce matter, you have a personal protection order or are involved in a child abuse and neglect matter, you should not be ordered to mediation without a hearing before the judge.
Domestic violence in your relationship may be grounds for not participtating in mediation; you may feel that your safety or health would be jeopardized if you attended a mediation session with the other party. If you have been abused by the other party, mediation is almost never appropriate unless your attorney will be present with you at all mediation sessions attended by the other party and other safety precautions are taken.
Mediation is not appropriate for your matter if the other party uses fear, force, threats, violence or intimidation with you to get what they want. It's also not appropriate if parties have been threatening or violent to each other or where parties do not feel able to safely express their opinions about the dispute.
In mediation, if the mediator is willing, the mediator may provide an "evaluation" of any unresolved issues. This means that if you and the other party are able to resolve eight out of ten issues (for example), but are stuck on resolving the final two issues, the mediator may provide recommendations for resolving the final two issues. You are free to accept or decline those recommendations. Because the evaluation is confidential, the judge will not know what the recommendations were and who may have accepted or rejected them.
Another advantage of mediation is that, if you have agreed on all but two issues in your case, those are the only two issues you will need to take back to court. Your agreement on the other issues can be preserved if you choose.
Many parents in divorce will continue to communicate with each other regarding parenting time and other issues which may arise. Where disagreements occur, instead of taking the disagreements back to court for "post-judgment" decisions by the judge, many people find that mediation quickly and effectively resolves the problems.
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