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Common Questions About Divorce Mediation And Alternative Dispute Resolution

The thought of a courtroom showdown with your spouse may give you anxiety. But you may also be leery of the alternatives. We address some frequently asked questions about divorce mediation and other options for an out-of-court solution.

To explore the options in more detail and what might work for your specific situation, call us at 630-912-6051 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a negotiation conducted by a neutral third party (a mediator). The mediator does not represent or favor either party. Their job is to answer questions and guide the conversation toward a resolution.

Is mediation required?

The court will require mediation in some circumstances. If you have children, for example, the judge may encourage or require you to try mediation before initiating contested custody proceedings. The court may also require mediation before filing a contempt of court action.

Is mediation binding?

No. Even if you are ordered to mediate, you do not have to accept the results. It is binding only if you reach a written agreement, sign it and submit it to the court.

How long does mediation take?

It depends on the complexity of your case, how many issues you need to resolve, the temperaments of the individuals and how far apart you are. Many mediations are concluded in one sitting of several hours. Other mediations may require multiple sessions. Mediation is almost always quicker than litigation because you are not at the mercy of a crowded court docket. You can mediate on your own timetable.

How much does mediation cost?

Most mediators (including ours) charge an hourly rate, so the cost depends on how many sessions are required. In general, the cost of mediating is a fraction of what the cost would be to litigate the same case in the courts.

How do I choose a mediator? Are they all the same?

You should ask about their experience and credentials, and if they have mediated a case like yours. Our attorneys are certified mediators and we only handle family law. You should also ask about their method or philosophy. At Divorce Mediation & Consulting, we have a hands-on style to steer the parties toward an agreement, and we are not shy about jumping in with suggested solutions based on our years of experience in the family courts. Other mediators take a facilitator approach, staying in the background and letting the parties work through their differences.

Can we mediate if we aren’t on good terms?

Conflict is not a barrier to mediation. In fact, the purpose of mediation is to bridge conflict. It is normal for there to be some tension, resentments and strained communication even if you are seeking an amicable end to the marriage. The mediator can be a go-between if you are not comfortable with face-to-face sessions. A good mediator should help you focus on common ground and the “big picture” and steer the conversation away from rehashing the marriage. So, yes, mediation can work even in high-conflict cases if both of you are amenable to a reasonable compromise.

Can mediation work for child custody disputes?

Yes, whether you are divorcing or were never married, mediation can be very beneficial for cutting through the complex issues and strong emotions relating to the care and custody of your children. Illinois courts require agreement on the allocation of parenting time, allocation of parental responsibility (decision-making), a parenting plan (schedule) and child support. Mediation can lead to a written agreement and court orders addressing all of these issues. Mediation can also resolve post-decree disputes over modifications or enforcement of parental allocations and support.

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law is a structured approach to resolving divorce and related matters of family law. Collaboration has the same goal is as mediation: an out-of-court settlement agreement. However, each spouse is still represented by an attorney who accompanies their client to the negotiation sessions. A key component of collaborative divorce is the consensus of all four parties (the two spouses and two attorneys) not to resort to the courts. Taking litigation off the table creates the atmosphere to work out fair and practical solutions, rather than maneuvering to win or holding back. We have lawyers who are certified in the collaborative method for problem-solving divorce and custody.

What Other Questions Do You Have?

Give us a call at 630-912-6051 or email us to schedule a free consultation. We provide mediator services to divorcing couples and unmarried parents throughout the greater Chicago area.