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and on this list, I'm concerned that some counties Friend of the Court systems aren't using mediation properly. These are some questions that I came up with regarding mediator qualifications and requirements. If you have met with a mediator, you may wish to ask yourself these questions. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advise. Was the mediator an contractor? If not, and if the mediator was an employee of the Friend of the Court, was the reason "if the service is not available from a private source, or if the court can demonstrate that providing the service within the friend of the court office is cost beneficial." If the latter, how did the court demonstrate cost effectiveness? (Friend of the Court Act Section 13, Paragraph 1) Did you feel before beginning mediation that you could voluntarily refuse mediation? (Friend of the Court Act Section 13, Paragraph 1) During mediation, did you reach an agreement? 13, Paragraph 2) (Friend of the Court Act Section
Was a consent order made? By whom? If the mediator made the consent order, was he or she a member of the state bar association (if known)? (Friend of the Court Act Section 13, Paragraph 2) If you did not reach an agreement, did the mediator make any communication, such as "recommendation"? (Friend of the Court Act Section 13, Paragraph 3 "confidentiality" ) Qualifications. Did the mediator have the following qualifications, and if so which? (Friend of the Court Act Section 13, Paragraph 4) (i) license to engage in the practice of psychology or master's degree in counseling, social work, or marriage and family counseling. (ii) Not less than 5 years of experience in family counseling (iii) A graduate degree in a behavioral science (iv) Membership in the state bar of Michigan Did the mediator show a "Knowledge of the court system of this state and the procedures used in domestic relations matters"? (Friend of the Court Act Section 13, Paragraph 4) Did the mediator show a "Knowledge of other resources in the community to which the parties to a domestic relations matter can be referred for assistance"? (Friend of the Court Act Section 13, Paragraph 4) Did the mediator show a "Knowledge of child development, clinical issues relating to children, the effects of divorce on children, and child custody research"? (Friend of the Court Act Section 13, Paragraph 4) If the mediator is an employee of the friend of the court, did you feel that the mediator did NOT also "perform referee functions, investigation and recommendation functions, or enforcement functions as to any domestic relations matter involving that party"? (Friend of the Court Act Section 15)
If this matter involved custody, and if no agreement was reached during mediation, was a "hearing ... held within 56 days after the final mediation session"? (Michigan Court Rule 3.210, Paragraph C) Did you feel that mediation was "a nonbinding process"? 3.216) If not, then why not? (Michigan Court Rule If not, then why not?
Did you feel that the mediator was "a neutral third party"? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216)
Did you feel that the mediator "facilitate[d] communication between parties to promote settlement"? If not, then why not? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216) Did the mediator provide evaluative mediation only after you and the other party specifically requested "evaluative mediation"? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216) Where any of the parties subject to a personal protection order or were any parties subject to a child abuse and neglect proceeding? If so, was a hearing held "to determine whether mediation is appropriate."? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph C) Were you allowed to object to a referral to mediation? If you did so object, was a hearing held on the matter? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph D) Did the judge appoint the mediator, or is the mediator assigned to the judge? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph E) Did the ADR clerk assign the mediator? Was the mediator not attached to a judge or assigned by some other party? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph E) Did you determine that the mediator should be disqualified, and if so, did the mediator respect this? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph E) Can any qualified person become a mediator? Are "Application forms ... available in the office of the ADR clerk."? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph F) Did the mediator request documentation such as income and assets? Did both parties bring them? If any party didn't bring them, were they subject to sanction by the court? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph H) Were all parties allowed legal counsel? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph H)
Did "[t]he mediation ... continue until a settlement is reached, the mediator determines that a settlement is not likely to be reached, the end of the first mediation session, or until a time agreed to by the parties."? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph H) Did the mediator, "within 7 days of the completion of mediation, the mediator shall so advise the court, stating only the date of completion of the process, who participated in the mediation, whether settlement was reached,"? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph H) If a settlement was reached were "the terms of that settlement must be reduced to a signed writing by the parties or acknowledged by the parties on an audio or video recording."? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph H) Were "Statements made during the mediation, including statements made in written submissions, ... used in any other proceedings, including trial"? If so what?
(Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph H) If both parties agreed to evaluative mediation, did the mediator create a written proposed recommendation for both parties? If both parties did not agree in full, did the mediator provide any communications to the court other than a statement that an agreement wasn't reached? (Michigan Court Rule 3.216, Paragraph I) Did the mediator act with "honesty, integrity, and impartiality?" describe such behavior. If not,
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, then please consult with a lawyer. If I were you, I would also look up the appropriate law at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/ or the appropriate court rule http://courtofappeals.mijud.net/rules/