A recently launched online platform will help Michigan families communicate domestic issues that would normally go through circuit courts, like disagreements about parenting time.
MI-Resolve Family System, a free online service, was launched on March 10 and is intended to give caregivers another tool to resolve domestic issues and to keep family matters out of courts. Each of the Michigan Supreme Court’s 16 Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP) centers will administer the MI-Resolve Family System in their respective regions.
The online platform is an extension of MI Resolve, an already available online dispute tool that launched in 2019 for resolving general matters across the state.
The new system is designed to iron out conflicts that can arise due to “schedule changes, transportation responsibilities, shuttling the child’s clothing or toys back and forth, and vacations and extracurricular activities,” says the Michigan Supreme Court.
“In these cases, one parent may feel they have been denied their court-ordered parenting time, and a mediator can help families work together to find a solution,” it adds. “If the issue is resolved, the mediator will write up an agreement that the parties can sign online and submit to the court.”
The Michigan Supreme Court suggests that families can use the platform to create new parenting time agreements, revise current court-ordered plans, or create a plan for making up missed time with the help of a trained mediator.
“Instead of having to take time out of their busy schedules to travel to court or the nearest CDRP center, families now have the option of resolving parenting time disputes online,” said Chief Justice Elizabeth T. Clement in a press release.
“The MI-Resolve Family System turns what can feel like a daunting process for many families into a much more convenient and streamlined way of navigating an important issue,” Clement adds.
Users can access the platform through their local CDRP center. Once granted an invitation to the system, a user makes a profile that will allow access from smartphones, tablets or computers. A mediator will be assigned and begin the conversation with both parties.
Users can upload photos, schedules and other documents that can help the mediator better understand the situation. Once completed, the mediator will either suggest options for resolving the issue and can also meet with each party in private if necessary.
MI-Resolve Family System is an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) tool. It was originally used in disputes between online buyers and sellers, but was adopted by courts around the country.
Michigan has implemented nearly half of all ODR programs in the country. It’s the leading state in the U.S. for taking issues that normally progress through the courts online, says a 2020 report by the American Bar Association.
“The hope is that ODR use by courts will increase access to justice by decreasing the barriers to utilizing court processes,” the report says. “These barriers include but are not limited to: The time costs of physical attendance at a court proceeding, the intimidation factor of in-person courts and the confusing nature of civil procedure rules to a non-lawyer.”
If your case has not been ordered to mediation but you are interested in trying MI-Resolve, you should contact your local CDRP center to learn more.
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