What Is Mediation?
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party (the mediator) assists two (or more) parties to reach a mutually-acceptable agreement without going to trial. The mediator does not make any decisions on behalf of the parties; instead, they help guide the parties in finding a solution that works best for everyone involved. A mediator helps facilitate communication between the two parties so that they can come up with their own solution. In other words, it's all about finding common ground so that both parties can move on with their lives in a respectful way. Mediators are typically lawyers or other professionals who have experience with divorce proceedings. Specifically, in divorce and parenting proceedings (cyustody cases), the mediator will help the parents resolve their issues around parenting time (custody and visitation) and decision making, such as where a child will go to school.
How Does It Work?
The goal of mediation is to help the parties come to an agreement outside of court so that they can avoid expensive and time consuming litigation. During a mediation session, the mediator facilitates discussion between both sides in order to identify points of agreement and disagreement. The mediator may also suggest possible solutions for resolving disagreements if necessary. Mediation mostly occurs with the three people in the same room or Zoom call. In Illinois, the matter either has to settle or you have to attempt four hours of mediation.
Why Do I Have To Go?
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 905 requires couples getting divorced who have not reached an agreement on parenting time (custody & visitation) to attend mediation before they can move forward with their case in court. The Court system also requires parents to go before asking to change their parenting plan. This requirement exists because courts believe that mediation is beneficial for most families. It is an opportunity for people to try and work out their differences outside of court first before resorting to litigation. It allows for more control over their own outcome while also saving them time and money in legal fees. A successful mediation often leads to more personalized results than what could be achieved through litigation as well because both sides are able to come up with creative solutions that work best for them rather than having a judge decide for them what should happen next in their divorce proceedings.
How Much does Mediation Cost?
Most family law mediators in Belleville and Edwardsville charge between 1000-1500 for four hours of mediation.
Does my lawyer go with Me? Can my Mom? What about the child?
No. Mediation is the two parents and the mediator in most instances.
Mediation helps couples avoid costly litigation, allows for discussions to happen confidentially and most importantly, gives the couple the ability to create a settlement that reflects their unique family. While attending mediation can be stressful due to its emotional nature, remember that it's also an opportunity for working through difficult conversations together with your ex-partner so that you can come up with solutions that are mutually agreeable for both sides moving forward into your new life post-divorce.
I do offer mediation both as an assigned mediator and as a self-chosen one. I mediate on a flat fee basis. If you think that you need help to discuss your parenting in a neutral environment, please reach out. If I mediate for a family, I am automatically not allowed to be the attorney who handles the divorce.