Domestic Diversions

Kent County’s Parenting Pilot Program: “Expedited Process in the Resolution of the Low Conflict Docket of the Family Division”

Domestic Diversions previously announced our new parenting pilot project. Now,
The Grand Rapids Press covered the new Kent County Parenting Plan, a pilot project approved by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Theresa D. Mcclellan writes (excerpt):
The hope is that by judicially redirecting the focus onto the children in divorce proceedings, parents will remember what’s at stake, which should foster more cooperation and result in fewer extended court cases once a divorce is finalized.

Sullivan said judges like divorce cases least because they can seem never-ending, with multiple motions filed afterward on issues such as parental time arrangements.

But this is not just a feel-good plan with softer words that still say the marriage is done.

Changing the courtroom rhetoric is intended to change the emotional climate, and the courts are looking for cooperation instead of confrontation.

“The switch to nonadversarial language is not merely symbolic. Experience elsewhere has shown that nonadversarial language reduces the parents’ emotional need to litigate,” said G. Patrick Hillary, presiding judge over the Kent County Circuit Court Family Division.

The follow-up article in the Press highlighted the need for immediate access to a judge in appropriate (potentially volatile) cases.

Theresa D. Mcclellan writes (excerpt):
The presiding judge of the Family Court division, G. Patrick Hillary, does not foresee more problems for parents trying to end their marriage.

“We are discouraging courts right away and encouraging parties to first look at parenting plans and mediation, which should be a good thing,” Hillary said.

“The court will never block someone’s ability to go to court, but we will look first and say, ‘Did you try to follow this procedure first?'”

One thought on “Kent County’s Parenting Pilot Program: “Expedited Process in the Resolution of the Low Conflict Docket of the Family Division”

  1. Joseph F. Dillon

    I’m glad to see the courts are trying to put children first when it comes to divorce cases as during all the bickering and petty accusations, the kids always seem to get left out. In my mediation practice, I ask the parents to bring pictures of the children for me during our first session and I keep them on the desk when we are mediating. This way when they get in a scuff, I point to the pictures and remind them of what is truly important and that they need to behave like adults for the sake of their kids. Sure, it may be playing unfair tugging on heart strings but hey, if it winds up in a better result for their children, excellent.

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