Perceptions of Family Law in Michigan

I am not usually one for all of the random little Facebook quizzes, but I saw one the other day that piqued my interest. It was one of those “Which state are you from?” games and having a few moments to kill, I played. I rather surprisingly got Michigan, but the little description rationalizing the results was what really caught my attention. Part of it said something like this “Your parents are bitterly divorced—one living in poverty and barely scraping by, while the other lives it up with their newly single lifestyle.” I was surprised to see the state of Michigan stereotyped in this way.  

As a former litigator, I am all too aware of the painful and traumatic end results to many of the highly contentious divorces that play out in the courtroom. But I had no idea that Michigan in particular carried such a stigma. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. I left litigation in favor of Collaborative Divorce Process precisely because I couldn’t stand to see children affected by settlements resulting in the scenario from the quiz.

Though Michigan still has a long way to go still in streamlining and uniformly accepting/facilitating Alternative Dispute Resolution, I have watched the movement grow over the past decade. There are many practitioners like myself who are passionate about getting the message out to the public that there are better ways. Many who want to challenge the status quo and whose goal is to end up with a legal system which wouldn’t allow for children to have to go through the trauma of seeing the quiz scenario play out in their own family. I am hopeful that together, we can change the perception and reality of family law in Michigan and beyond.

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