Domestic Diversions

Kent County’s Pilot Project: Grand Rapids divorce attorneys to use nicer labels, parenting plan proposals, more ADR

The Michigan Supreme Court has issued Administrative Order No. 2008-1 (Pilot Project No. 1), 17th Judicial Circuit Court, (Expedited Process in the
Resolution of the Low Conflict Docket of the Family Division), for Kent County divorces. “The pilot project will study the effectiveness of the use of pleadings that contain nonadversarial language, and the requirement that parents submit parenting time plans to encourage settlements and reduce postjudgment litigation.”

The Order provides (excerpt):
1. Purpose of the Pilot Project.
The purpose of the pilot project is to study the effectiveness of the use of nonadversarial language in pleadings, judgments, and orders, and the effectiveness of a proposed provision for inclusion of parenting time plans, particularly in relation to the just, speedy, and economical determination of the actions involved in the pilot project and the reduction of postjudgment litigation. Except for matters related to the form of pleadings and orders, requirements for parenting time plans, and the use of nonadversarial language during the pilot project, the Michigan Court Rules govern all other aspects of the cases involved in the pilot project.
3. Nonadversarial Terms.
The pilot project will incorporate the use of nonadversarial terms, such as “mother” or “parent” instead of “plaintiff” or “defendant.” However, the use of nonadversarial language will not change the roles of parents as custodians for purposes of any state or federal law for which custody is required to be determined. Judgments and orders produced in the pilot project will clearly delineate how custody is to be determined for purposes of state and federal laws that require a person to be designated as a custodian.

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