Free Family Law Seminar Dates for July & August 2019

Our free seminar, “Understanding Your Options in Family Law and Divorce,” will be offered on a monthly basis. Learn about traditional divorce law suits, the Streamline Divorce process, mediation, collaborative law and other options.

The upcoming dates for May and June are:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at 5:30 PM

Tuesday, August 8, 2019 at Noon.

The seminars are held in our office building’s main conference room. A light lunch is provided at the Noon seminars. There is no charge to attend.

Registration is required. Please email:

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How Can We Be "Amicable" When My Spouse Won't Discuss Divorce?

You may feel you “have to” file because your spouse won’t discuss divorce. Filing a court action for divorce will set both of you on the “warpath” of a traditional lawsuit. This is not the lower-cost, more amicable approach which many of our clients prefer. We have resources and experience to help you. Consider making an appointment for a pre-divorce planning session to help develop an approach tailored for your specific circumstances.

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MediateFirst MI

With the recent changes in Michigan divorce law, going to mediation before filing an action in court often is the best way to handle many family law matters. MediateFirst MI is a local non-profit professional organization which supports mediation in divorce, family law and other matters. Formerly called “LIPA,” MediateFirst MI has a beautiful new website and offers helpful resources and referrals for anyone interested in mediation. Learn more at:

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New Family Law Court Rules that Help You Save Money!

Have you heard??  There are new court rules in Michigan that simplify the process in Family Law cases for parties who have reached an agreement prior to filing a case.  


This is positive news for people who are able to agree and want to save time and  money on the court process.  When parties have settled their issues and all final documents are drafted and signed, a Petition to Enter a Consent Judgment can be filed to start the case jointly-- instead of a traditional Complaint for Divorce.  There is no Plaintiff or Defendant, instead there is Party A and Party B and a single Court date is scheduled which both parties attend together to enter the final paperwork.  See MCR 3.223 for more information.

This process works well for parties who are able to reach an agreement on their  own or with the help of legal counsel. However if parties encounter obstacles trying to reach an agreement, mediation is always an option to help them work together to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.  

Submitted by: Jamie L. O'Brien, Attorney & Mediator

New Seminars Help You Understand The Options

Your satisfaction with the outcome of a family law matter can depend upon making the right first step. Our new seminar, “Understanding Your Options in Family Law and Divorce,” will be offered on a monthly basis. We will provide an overview of traditional divorce law suits, the Streamline Divorce process, mediation, collaborative law and other options.

The upcoming dates for May and June are:

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 5:30 PM

Tuesday, June 13, 2019 at Noon.

The seminars are held in our office building’s main conference room. A light lunch is provided at the Noon seminars. There is no charge to attend.

Registration is required. Please email:

Couling Law & Mediation PLLC

Couling Law & Mediation PLLC

On The Move

We’re growing!  In the next few weeks, the office will be moving to a larger space within the Millpond Parke Office building (Suite 720).  Office hours will be interrupted sporadically in the week after Labor Day to accommodate the move and technology transfer.  

We look forward to giving you a tour, and providing updated contact information, shortly!

Racing to "File"?

"Filing" for divorce is often not the best way to start the process for folks who believe they can amicably resolve their case and are not interested in a "court battle." Learn about mediation and other methods to help avoid the costly and difficult process of litigation by focusing on a "Pre-Filing Settlement." The next free public seminar, sponsored by LIPA, will take place at the Coldwell Banker offices in Brighton.  To learn more or register, visit:


Next Public Seminar: October 11, 2017 (Brighton)

The public seminar, "Divorce and Family Law: Your Road Map to Better Options," will be presented on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 6:30 PM at the Brighton District Library. Presented free of charge by LIPA, a Livingston-county based professional association focusing on mediation in family law matters.  For more information and to RSVP, visit: (Events).  


Innovating to Serve Client's Needs

I focus on a progressive, client-focused approach. Your fees are devoted to positive problem-solving -- avoiding the expense of adversarial litigation whenever reasonably possible. I am interested in seeing this approach cultivated within the ranks of our newest attorneys as well. I will be presenting at a "Breakfast Basics" seminar focusing on Alternative Fee Arrangements, which is cosponsored by ICLE and the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan on Tuesday, May 23rd in Detroit. I will address options for flat fee services within the practice of family law.

Family Law Seminar - April 26, 2017

If a couple's marriage cannot be saved, if they can agree on one thing at the outset -- that they do not want to put themselves through a "traditional" divorce court battle -- then they can begin to make decisions about the best way to deal with their personal and financial issues in a better, smarter way.  The parties don't have to be "amicable" they merely have to agree that the stress, expense, and loss of control of litigation is not the best way to make some of the biggest decisions that affect their lives.  Learn more about Mediation and pre-filing divorce settlements at an upcoming seminar, presented by LIPA, at the Brighton District Library on April 26, 2017 at 6:30 PM.  For registration information, visit:


Never, Ever Allow Yourself to be Defaulted in Divorce Litigation

Michigan attorneys, Scott Bassett and John Ceci, have posted the second installment of their podcast, explaining the litigation process using a "typical" divorce case as an example.  The link to the latest episode is:

Especially if the Defendant is not represented by an attorney, yes, it definitely is possible to have a Default Judgment entered against you -- and, unless it can be set aside, it is theoretically possible for the Plaintiff to be granted all of the relief he or she requested.  

Default is one of the many risks of the litigation process.  With Streamline Divorce, mediation and other pre-filing settlement options, many of these risks are eliminated or greatly minimized. When it comes to determining what direction your -- and your family's -- future will take, to whom do you want to give the power to decide?  It is my philosophy that, whenever possible, the parties should make decision about their futures for themselves.  Pre-filing settlements help parties avoid the rollercoaster of the divorce litigation process ... lowering costs and stress levels while leaving you in charge of your major life decisions. 


Divorce Litigation ... and the Alternatives

Michigan Attorneys Scott Bassett and John Ceci's podcast, Guys with Mics, is featuring a multi-episode segment on the divorce litigation process.  Here is a link to the first installment of this series:  

After the Guys complete this series, I have been invited to discuss Streamline Divorce and alternatives to traditional divorce litigation.  After learning why litigation can be so expensive, time-consuming and "high stakes," the reasons why it is so important to keep your own life decisions out of court become even more clear.  Not only is going to court expensive, but often there are far better ways than a lawsuit to help solve the problems associated with divorce -- such as dividing assets and raising children in two households.  

Learn all you can about traditional divorce litigation and then make sure to learn about mediation, collaborative law, Streamline Divorce and other pre-filing settlement options too.  The choice is yours and affects not only the divorce process, but the type of future you envision.

NPR - Positive Approach to Divorce Through Mediation

Great piece on NPR/Michigan Public Radio this evening about mediation and amicable, less stressful approaches to divorce.  While litigation is sometimes absolutely necessary, in my view the vast majority of divorces could be better -- and more economically -- handled through mediation and other pre-filing settlement processes.  It is better for the parties and definitely better for the children.


Mediation vs. Streamline Divorce

I often am asked about the difference between mediation and Streamline Divorce.  Mediation is best when parties are not 100% in agreement and need the help of a neutral professional in reaching agreement.  The Streamline Divorce process is ideal for parties who basically "have an agreement" and want the necessary legal assistance in the most cost-effective way.

For FAQs about the Streamline process, visit:

For a short video, see:

LIPA Fall Seminar on Better Ways Forward in Divorce & Family Law

I am a strong supporter of progressive approaches in family law.  I seek to assist my clients in producing the best, most personalized outcomes for their needs and circumstances.  In a divorce or family law situation, who knows better about what is best for your own unique circumstances, your finances and the needs of your children than YOU?   I find that many clients want professional, informed advice and experience -- but are not interested in expensive, attorney-driven court-based processes which may inflame the animosity that they --- wisely -- are attempting to avoid.

Divorcing individuals and their families do best when they engage in good planning and carefully select the best process for resolving their concerns and issues at the outset --before any case is filed.  

One excellent resource is the free, semi-annual seminar offered in Livingston County by the community group, LIPA.  The next seminar will be conducted on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 6:30 PM at the Brighton District Library.  LIPA's website is:  A link to helpful excerpts from a prior seminar is below.