If you are considering or going through a divorce, you are likely trying to keep things as civil as possible. Many couples are able to come to reasonable compromises on their own without significant court intervention. Others require the court to intervene to help make decisions on the parties’ behalf. Court procedures can be time-consuming, intimidating, and very public, leading many people to avoid court, if possible. Divorce mediation is an alternative for divorcing couples. Mediation requires the participation of a neutral third-party mediator and the parties, represented by experienced family law attorneys.
In Illinois, divorces are filed through the courts regardless of whether they are contested or uncontested. The amount of times and for what reasons you and your spouse may need to appear in court depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Once a petition for divorce is filed, the court will determine what needs to be done in order for the divorce to be finalized. This may include determining child custody, spousal maintenance awards, debt payments, personal and real property allocation, and other personal matters. The parties and their attorneys will generally try to come to a consensus about these issues. If unable to do so, additional court intervention will be needed. Additionally, if there are children involved, a court may feel the need to appoint a guardian ad litem, a neutral third party that determines the interests, needs, and best course of action for the children. Once the court is satisfied that a reasonable compromise has been made, the divorce will be finalized.
Mediation is a courtroom alternative for individuals seeking divorce. While the matters regarding children, maintenance, and property division still need to be addressed, mediation allows a more private and often less time consuming option for divorcing parties. A mediator, who is usually also an attorney, must adhere to the minimum requirements in the State of Illinois and their respective local jurisdictions. Even when the mediator is the attorney, the mediator does not represent either of the parties. Each party will generally have their own attorney representing their interests.
Mediation involves both parties being present and the neutral third party mediator listening to, evaluating, and ultimately making a decision based on the information obtained in the course of the mediation. A mediator will ask questions about the financial, physical, and emotional health of all parties and consider the desires of each individual, including children. This may be done in the presence of your spouse and/or children, or privately, depending on the nature of the questions being asked. The mediation may be conducted in one sitting or over several sessions, depending on the time constraints and complexity of the matter. The mediator will try to facilitate conversation and help the parties reach a resolution that they can both accept.
The discussions in mediation will remain confidential, which provides a much more private and personal process than debating with your spouse in open court. Mediation also allows for fewer court appearances, which can save an enormous amount of time, stress, and attorney’s fees for all involved parties. It can also help expedite the divorce process because scheduling is not limited by the court’s availability.
Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. is a full-service DuPage County family law firm dedicated to helping our clients through difficult times in their life. Regardless of whether you are considering divorce, currently going through a divorce, or need to modify pre-existing divorce or child custody arrangements, we can help you understand all of your legal options. With our convenient family law office in Naperville, we welcome you to contact us to learn more about the divorce process, the possibility of mediation, and the best course of action for your family. We understand our clients’ desire to get through the divorce process as quickly, quietly, and affordable as possible and we work hard to accommodate our client’s needs. Reach out to our skilled DuPage County family attorneys today at (630) 756-5112.