When two parties are able to effectively communicate and are willing to find compromise in their different positions, Family Law Mediation can be an efficient way to resolve disputes. Family Law Mediation is conducted in a non-adversarial setting with the ultimate goal of efficient resolution of disagreements. For mediation to work, the spouses must have a mutual agreement to fully cooperate and to act in good faith throughout the process.
In mediation, both spouses meet with a neutral third party (a mediator does not represent either spouse and does not advocate on behalf of either spouse) with the goal of amicably negotiating an uncontested divorce agreement that can be presented for approval to the Family Court. Mediation in and of itself is not binding on the parties, but it is used to avoid lengthy legal battles and hurt feelings, to shorten the divorce process, and to save money engaging in unnecessary arguments.
Spouses who reach agreement through mediation spend less money on legal fees and typically finalize their divorces in far less time. However, mediation will only work if both parties enter into the process openly, honestly, and with a willingness to find compromise and reach an agreement that is to theirs, and their children’s, benefit. Mediation will not work if spouses are unwilling to budge on certain issues, trying to inflict emotional damage on their spouse, or are unwilling to disclose all of their financial information, including all assets and debts. If one spouse or both spouses are unwilling to work together or unwilling to compromise their position, then will probably be unable to reach an amicable resolution of their divorce issues and mediation would be fruitless.
The benefits to mediating differences in family law cases include:
- Avoiding angry conflicts and nasty fights – Parties come to mediation with the mutual goal of working cooperatively to amicably resolve their differences.
- Preserving a harmonious relationship – When the parties make their own decisions, as opposed to a Judge making their decisions for them, hard feelings and anger do not typically persist following divorce mediation. This makes life much easier for divorcing parents who will continue to interact and to co-parent their children moving forward.
- Saving time – During mediation, both parties sit with a mediator to resolve any open issues in an open and friendly manner rather than having their attorneys go back and forth or enduring a lengthy court fight.
- Saving money and time – In comparison to lengthy negotiations or a contentious Court battle, mediation can result in significant cost savings and an efficient use of time.
- Making everyone happy – An ultimate goal of mediation is to have both parties satisfied with the outcome. When parties can agree on actions to take moving forward then both parties win and so do their children.
Mediation is completely confidential, so that spouses can frankly and openly discuss issues without worrying that anything they say during mediation will be used against them in court. Susan will will act as an advisor (as she does not represent either spouse or advocate for either spouse’s interests) and inform spouses about the law and their legal requirements and obligations. However, the actual decisions about how to resolve their issues will be made by the spouses themselves. The decisions made during mediation are not legally binding until each spouse has agreed to the decisions and the decisions are incorporated into their divorce decree.
As a Certified Family Law Mediator, Susan works with divorcing couples in resolving their disagreements, whether divorcing spouses agree on their own to work together and enter into mediation, or whether Susan is appointed by the Court. During mediation, Susan will work personally with you, help you to understand the Illinois divorce statutes and how they apply to your situation while making sure that you have met all the legal requirements needed in order to allow you to finalize your divorce.
During the process of Family Law Mediation, Susan will generally meet with spouses together, always listen as the spouses identify the issues that need to be resolved, including: parental responsibilities (custody), parenting time (visitation), division of marital property, child support and spousal support (maintenance). Susan works with the parties to reach compromise on all unresolved issues with the ultimate goal of preparing a Parenting Plan and Marital Settlement Agreement to be submitted to the Court.