Many Illinois couples choose to go through mediation during a divorce instead of having a judge make all of the decisions. Mediation is a non-adversarial process where the spouses come together with the help of a mediator to discuss everything from the division of assets and debts to how they will proportion parental time.
Normally, a lawyer would represent you in court. He or she would file the paperwork, explain your rights and the process, and negotiate with your spouse's attorney when necessary. All of this remains true; however, your lawyer will become a supportive counselor during mediation; someone who still protects your rights, yet also wants to help you resolve divorce issues amicably with your spouse.
Preparation for Mediation
Going to a mediation session is much different than a court hearing. During mediation, you are an active participant, while you may barely utter a word at court. You will discuss all of the collateral issues of your divorce related to the house, other assets, debts, children, pets and more.
Prior to mediation, an attorney can help you prepare for what the session may be like, how the mediator will participate in the discussion, and how you can express what you want in the divorce agreement. A lawyer can explain the range of outcomes that are possible, including the best and worst case scenarios and everything in between. He or she can probably tell you about options you did not know existed.
An attorney can also offer you tips for negotiating, if there are issues of which you need to be strategic or more aggressive.
Encouragement During the Process
Mediation is the time to work amicably with your spouse to plan how you will both move on with your lives. Despite the collaborative setting, there may be issues that you need to stay strong on, such as the division of marital assets, alimony, and child custody. Your attorney will help you plan what settlement you are willing to take, and will encourage you to negotiate for what is fair.
Someone Knows & Will Protect Your Rights
A mediator is not there to ensure everyone’s rights are protected. A mediator guides the conversation, brings it back on track if necessary, and tries to maintain a calm and safe environment. Your lawyer, on the other hand, is present to ensure your rights are protected. Your spouse may try to get the upper hand or offer an unfair settlement during mediation. Your lawyer will bring this to your attention and help you respond.
Your lawyer does not have to attend your mediation sessions, but there are many legal and psychological benefits to having an advocate for your rights in the room. An experienced DuPage County divorce attorney at our firm can help you in whatever way you need during your divorce, whether that entails, preparing you for a mediation session or joining you during the discussion.