Not every divorce is a contentious battle of he-said-she-said. Sometimes couples come to an understanding that their marriage is over together. When spouses are on the same page, heading to court can feel too adversarial. They may prefer to work out the details of their divorce together. However, even agreeable spouses need help in coming to decisions regarding parenting responsibilities and parenting time, property division, and spousal maintenance. If some assistance is needed, spouses can turn to mediation for guidance.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method. Instead of fighting in court through attorneys and letting a judge decide, mediation allows the individuals to work out all of the divorce issues themselves. The spouses go to a mediation session with their attorneys and have a conversation guided by a neutral third-party professional. The mediator is not there to solve any arguments, but instead facilitates a calm conversation and gets things back on track if the conversation goes off course. The mediator does not provide either person with legal advice.
When the parties come to an agreement on all of the relevant issues, the mediator writes a “memorandum of understanding” outlining the details of the agreement. The spouses have additional time to consider the agreement before it goes to the judge and is entered into the court records as the divorce settlement.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation enables individuals to go through a divorce without feeling like there needs to be a fight. Instead, the spouses can sit down and talk, acknowledge their emotions, and come to an agreement together. They can work through everything in one session or hold multiple mediation sessions.
If the spouses have children, this process can set a great example for them. It demonstrates that their parents are able to work together even when they are not staying married.
Mediation can also be faster and less costly than a drawn-out divorce.
When Mediation Does Not Work
Mediation only works if both parties are willing to speak openly and compromise. If either one of the individuals will not budge on a certain topic such as parenting time or spousal maintenance, then mediation is not appropriate.
If one spouse is naturally a better negotiator or more trained in handling disputes, there is the potential for an unfair outcome during mediation. The mediator cannot dictate the agreement the party’s come to, which means an individual could give up some of his or her rights or agree to something that is not equitable.
Mediation May be Required
While mediation is an option for divorcing individuals, sometimes it is a legal requirement. Illinois law requires parents who disagree on parental responsibilities, relocation, and non-child-support issues to use mediation to try and resolve the conflict themselves before a judge takes control of the situation.
A judge also has the discretion to order mediation for other divorce matters if the judge believes the spouses should and can resolve the issue themselves.
Call Fay, Farrow & Associates for Help
If you are thinking of filing for divorce or are in the midst of one, do not hesitate seek legal advice from an experienced Chicago divorce attorney at Fay, Farrow & Associates. Divorce is a tough process. Even when it is not contentious, you are dealing with a range of emotions while trying to make practical decisions regarding your property, finances, and children. A skilled attorney offers you the legal advice you need as well as moral support during this time.