Is Mediation Right for My Case?

DuPage County Divorce Lawyers

MediationMediation is an alternative dispute resolution option in legal matters, and is becoming increasingly more common in family law matters such as divorce, child support, and allocation of parental responsibility disputes. Mediation provides a lower-cost alternative to court that allows the parties to work with a qualified mediator to address each party's individual concerns in hopes of reaching an amicable resolution outside of the courtroom. To find out if mediation might be a viable alternative in your family law case, contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney right away.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is best described as a meeting. The parties are generally separated and the mediator will go back and forth between the parties, addressing their concerns individually, listening to possible settlements, and offering reasonable compromises. The mediator, as a neutral third party, can more easily identify what the root issues are between the parties and the best way to come to a quick resolution of the issues. Note, however, that you must go through the court to file the petition for divorce, but using a mediator will greatly decrease the amount of time you spend in court and in front of the judge.

Benefits to Mediation

Without mediation, family law court hearings can sometimes be time-consuming, expensive, and public. Court proceedings are public events that anyone can attend and also that occur in front of other attorneys, families, and third parties. Most people do not want the general public to be a party to personal affairs involving their children, income, assets, and paternity, all of which are issues that may be raised in open court.

The mediation allows the third party to serve as a liaison between the parties without the needless tension that inevitably comes from a divorcing couple being in the same room. The process is generally less stressful for children and those with busy schedules who simply want to wrap up and finalize their divorce.

Another benefit is that if the parties are unable to come to an agreement at mediation, then they still have the option of going through the court system to resolve their differences. Mediation discussions are confidential and cannot be used in subsequent court hearings. On the other hand, mediation is not likely an option if the parties have already resolved their disputes in court. Deciding to try the mediation route before heading to the courtroom is best for couples looking to have a quick, private, and amicable divorce settlement.

Drawbacks to Mediation

Since the worst case scenario is that the parties are unable to come to a resolution of their issues, there are relatively few drawbacks to choosing to mediate your divorce case. Some drawbacks may include:

  • Lack of candor: Some parties, especially victims of domestic violence, may not feel they can speak freely to the mediator and may face an adverse result;
  • Wasted time/money: If you are so far apart on your settlement goals that resolution does not appear possible, going straight to court to allow the court to sort out the issues may be a better option for some couples;
  • The judge may not accept your mediator's recommendation: Though rare, the judge still has the opportunity to inquire about the resolution and ask questions. It is possible that even if you go through a mediation, the resolution will not be binding; and
  • Bad mediators: Inexperienced mediators lead to inequitable outcomes. Hiring attorneys that know what mediators are fair, honest, and reasonable is a key to a successful mediation process.

Although there are pros and cons to mediating family law matters, the positive attributes significantly outweigh any possible downfalls. If you are even considering divorce, talk to a knowledgeable divorce mediation attorney to find out if mediation might be right for you and your family.

Wheaton, Illinois Divorce Lawyers

At The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C., our team of DuPage County family law lawyers pride ourselves on our strong relationship with our clients. We have helped hundreds of families in Illinois reach a successful divorce settlement for substantially less cost and stress than going to court. To learn more about how mediation services can help you through your divorce or child custody proceedings, contact our DuPage County office at (630) 462-9500 to take the first step toward reaching a resolution.