L.I.P.A. Livingston Interdisciplinary Professional Association
Divorce & Family Law: Your Roadmap to Better Options
LIPA's Members. "LIPA" stands for the Livingston Interdisciplinary Professional Association. LIPA's members are professionals based in and around Howell, Brighton, Ann Arbor and surrounding Michigan communities. We serve clients in many fields where divorce affects individuals and family. LIPA's members include not only family law lawyers and mediators, but a number of Livingston County Court and Friend of the Court personnel. Our membership also includes mental health professionals, financial planners, accountants, CPAs and tax experts, as well as real estate brokers, appraisers and judges. Our members come from a variety of professional backgrounds but we share a commitment to assisting individuals and couples navigating the divorce process using mediation and other out-of-court options wherever possible. For a current list of LIPA members and their contact information, click here.
LIPA's Mission. Our members share a commitment to excellence in serving individuals and couples in the divorce and family law processes. We promote a philosophy of achieving excellence in dispute resolution and in producing humane, respectful and effective ways to resolve disputes out of court. LIPA's members pursue that excellence by professional development and education as well as by a community education initiative, the centerpiece of which is LIPA’s semi-annual public seminar series. Our members are committed to assisting clients at a difficult time in life with integrity and efficiency and to helping spread the word about mediation and other alternatives to adversarial litigation as better alternatives to traditional adversarial divorce litigation.
Free Public Seminar Series. LIPA presents free public seminars, typically twice a year. For the upcoming seminar date and location, please click here. Seminars are frequently held at the Brighton District Library but also may be scheduled at the Howell, Pinckney and Hartland libraries as well as other public locations. There is no charge to attend.
Mediation and Dispute Resolution is not just for "Friendly Divorces." Many times, individuals seeking an "amicable," "uncontested" or "friendly" divorce think of mediation. In other words, there is a common misconception that divorcing couples who have disputes or disagreements are not good candidates for mediation or other out-of-court options. Just the opposite it true: the process of "mediation" presumes there is a dispute to be resolved. While it is true that mediation can be used when the divorcing individuals are on relatively good terms, it is important to keep in mind that mediators are trained in "disputeresolution." Most divorce and family law matters ultimately are resolved without a full court hearing or trial. The existence of disputes is a very good reason to consider mediation. When divorcing spouses disagree on important issues, litigation is not the only way forward. In fact, litigation frequently is not the best option in divorce and family law disputes. Studies have shown that clients who pursue adversarial litigation are less likely to be satisfied with the result, encounter a higher incidence of appeals and post-divorce disputes and, naturally, incur far more cost with litigation than with mediation or negotiated divorce settlements.
Private, Personalized Process. Mediation and other out-of-court negotiations maintain the privacy of the individual and families involved, allowing them to work through their unique concerns without being driven by a court-based timetable and without airing their issues in a public forum. While the family law courts must decide cases by relying upon case precedents and a relatively rigid legal framework, disputes which are resolved out of court liberate the parties to navigate a difficult transition with less stress and with far more flexibility. Mediation and negotiated settlements focus on structuring the best possible outcome for all concerned and enable parties to choose personalized outcomes that may be far different than the limited options a court would or could order.
Maintain Control over Your Personal and Financial Life. Who is best suited to make good decisions about your personal life, your finances and your family's future? Ultimately, if a litigated divorce case is not settled, a judge will decide what is to become of the parties' assets and debts and how custody, parenting time and support will be resolved. With litigation, decisions about your children, your home and your assets -- the most fundamental aspects of your life -- may be out of your hands. With mediation and out-of-court resolutions, the parties create a settlement that works for their situation. The outcome is one which both parties say "yes" to. Parties report far more satisfaction and far less stress when working toward a mutually-acceptable settlement than when their personal and financial lives are left wide-open to the orders of a court.
Lower Cost with Focus on Quality. Mediation and out of court settlements tend to be less costly than traditional divorce litigation. As many individuals attempting to use online methods advertised as "cheap," "easy" or "quick" learn all too often, "low cost" does not necessarily mean value. Many of our members have served clients who have paid nonrefundable fees to online divorce services and then could not successfully finalize their case through the local court systems. Mediation -- and out of court alternatives to divorce litigation -- tend to be far more efficient and cost effective than adversarial litigation. But cost itself is not the driving consideration. With mediation and out of court options, the focus generally is on positive and efficient problem solving, but always mindful of a resolution based on finding the best way forward for the parties and, if applicable, their children.
Generally Less Time-Consuming. Another positive benefit of mediation is that it often spares the parties from the long backlogs and delays associated with the courts and promotes respectful outcomes with a relatively quick conclusion. That is not to say that mediation is a "fast" or "speedy" process -- important issues often require adequate time to resolve. However, on the whole, mediation and other out of court options help produce quality outcomes with respect and efficiency.
Higher Satisfaction. As many attorneys report, many divorce clients who have utilized mediation or out of court options report being very glad they did not resort to traditional litigation. While many people who have endured a divorce lawsuit wish their case had been resolved by mediation, it is almost unheard of to hear a client, whose case had been mediated, wish that they had resorted to adversarial litigation.
Michigan – Location of Our Members. LIPA is based in Livingston County, Michigan but our members practice in a number of counties, including Oakland, Washtenaw and Genesee. The majority of our members have offices in Howell, Brighton and Ann Arbor, Michigan and are active in the surrounding communities. Our current list of members, and their contact information, is available here.