Practice Areas


Guardian ad Litem


Collaborative Divorce

Juvenile neglect/abuse and juvenile delinquency proceedings



What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Mediation is the most common type of ADR. Mediation allows the parties to settle the uses without the court's direct involvement. Parties often find this rewarding because they make the decisions, instead of the court. Matters discussed during mediation are confidential. A mediator may not share information aobut what happened during mediation, except for what is stated in the parties' signed agreement. The mediator cannot later, in the same case, enforce an order, investigate and allegation, or serve as a referee regarding any other issues in that case.

Arbitration is another form of ADR. Parties may agree to resolve their dispute by arbitration (sometimes called binding mediation). The arbitration may be conducted by one person or a multi-person panel. The arbitrator will consider the parties' arguments and may hear testimony from witnesses. If, in the end, the parties still cannot agree on how to resolve the issues, the arbitrator will make the decision and the parties must accept that decision.

Who are the Mediators?

1) Court-Rule Domestic Relatiobns Mediation: The court may refer family matters to non-binding mediation under the Michigan Court Rules, specifically MCR 3.216. This may happen by agreement of the parties, on the motion of one party granted by the judge, or on the court's own initiative. Judy L. Ostrander is a Certified Domestic Relations Mediator.

2) Friend of the Court Domestic Relations Mediation: The friend of the court offers mediation services to help parents resolve custody and parenting time disputes. Those are the only two issues that the friend of the court is allowed to mediate. In most cases, the friend of the court does not charge anything for providing mediation services.

Guardian ad Litem

If the court determines that a child's best interests are not adequately represented in the custody proceedings, the court may appoint a lawyer-guardian ad litem to represent the child in the court proceedings. If they have the ability to pay, the court may require the parties to pay the lawyer-guardian ad litem.


Ms. Ostrander represents fathers and mothers in divorce and custody proceedings; she assits them to obtain and to exercise their rights to child cusotdy, parenting time, equitable property distributions, and alimony/spousal support. She believes that in order for a client ot successfully navigate the rocky terrain of a divorce and/or custody action, he or she must be informed about what his or her options are and about how the court will look at the particular facts of the case. Ms. Ostrander makes an effort to help her clients understand how the specific facts of the case may impact on the court's ultimate decision. Making tough decisions as a parent is not easy, and when a family is disintegrating, those decisions become even more difficult to make.

What is the legal process of a divorce like?

Some divorces are very simple and can be handled quickly with a minimum amount of paperwork, especially if the aprties have no children and little significant property. Most divorces are far more complex and can take many different twists and turns. The basic divorce process is as follows:

- One spouse retains a lawyer, who assits in the prepartion of a "Complaint," which is the legal document that begins the divorce proceedings, states why the divorce should be granted and asks for certain relief, such as property division, spousal support and child support.

- The spouse filing the Complaint is called the "Plaintiff."

- Once the Complaint is filed with the court it is served on the other spouse, along with a summons requiring a response from the other spouse. The spouse served with the complaint is called the "Defendant."

- The Defendant must respond within the prescribed time limit or it will be assumed that the complaint is uncontested, in which case the plaintiff will be granted the requested relief. the response, or "Answer," must set forth the relief that the Defendant requests.

- The parties, through their attorneys, engage in "Discovery," during which they exchange financial documents and other relevant information to decide the issues in the divorce.

- After full disclosure to each other of all relevant information, most parties attempt to reach a settlement. The settlement process can be initiated by the parties, their lawyers or facilitated by a neutral third party, such as a mediator.

- If a settlement is reached, the agreement is placed on a document called a "Judgment of Divorce" and is submitted to the court.

- Most often a judge will approve the agreement and the Judgment of Divorce is entered by the Court. The decree includes the agreement terms of the parties. If the judge does not approve the agreement or if there has been no agreement, then the case will go to trial.

- At trial, the attorneys for both sides present the evidence and arguments. The judge decides the unresolved issues, including custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support and property division. The judge then grants the divorce.

-Either or both parties can appeal the judge's decision to a higher court.

The entire process can last as little as 60 days, if there are no minor children, or as long as several years if there are complex issues.

Your divorce may be the result of domestic violence or financial crisis. We are able to provide the assitance you need with these matters in one place. Our practice allows you to continue to work with an attorney who knows you, and more importantly, an attorney whom you know and trust.

What are Prenuptial Agreements?

Prenuptial agreements are contracts entered into by a couple in contemplation of marriage. Typically, they address property issues that may arise in the event of divorce or death. They are often used to reserve property for children from previous marriages or to shelter property when one spouse brings substantially greater assets to marriage.

Working with experienced prenuptial agreement attorneys from the outset can prevent bitter disputes and unfair treatment down the road.


If you are entering into a prenuptial agreement, both parties to the agreement should have their own lawyer to ensure a fair and clear prenuptial contract. At Ostrander Law Offices we regularly draft and review prenuptial agreements for couples about to be married. If you need the agreement to protect yourself or if your fiance is requesting that you sign an agreement, we can help. We will draft a prenuptial agreement that protects your interests, operates within the law and is enforceable.


If you are facing divorce and your spouse challenges the validity, applicability, or legality of your prenuptial agreement, you need experienced prenuptial attorneys to help you enforce the terms of your agreement under existing Michigan prenuptial laws. Whether resolved through negotiation or litigation, we will work diligently to support and enforce the prenuptial terms you need to protect your assets.

Elimination of Unfair Terms

Unfortunately many people, usually women, enter into prenuptial agreements without the advice of a lawyer, assuming the agreement will never be enforced. One party is often taken advantage of, if the other party has greater resources and negotiating strength. If you entered into a prenuptial agreement that contains unfair and unconscionable terms and/or you did not understand or fully agree to the terms, we can help you defeat the unfair terms of the agreement and the entire prenuptial agreement.

We advise and represent clients in the establishment, enforcement, and elimination of postnuptial agreements.

What happens to the property that either spouse owned prior to the marriage?

Michigan follows an equitable-distribution scheme. Property owned before the marriage, as well as property given to or inherited by one spouse during the marriage, usually remains that spouse's sperate property. It may, however, be considered as marital property if it is necessary to do so to obtain a fair allocation of the marital property considering all of the circumstances. In addition, if non-marital property is not kept seperate from marital property, it may lose its seperate chracterization and become subject to division.

Collaborative Divorce

Divorce can be a painful and emotionally stressful time for everyone. Uncertainty about the future is unsettling. That's why more and more couples are turning to a new and different apporoach.

Collaborative Divorce uses a team to develop a settlement that's fair, open, and child-friendly.

Juvenile neglect/abuse and juvenile delinquency proceedings