How Does Mediation Work in Illinois?

Posted on in Mediation

St. Charles Mediation AttorneyNo two divorces are the same. Each spouse and marriage are unique, with different issues to resolve. Some divorcing couples can work out agreements amicably, while many others are not able to speak to each other and rely on an experienced St. Charles mediation attorney to assist them in reaching their goals for their divorce and their future. At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we can help you no matter what type of divorce you are seeking and even if you choose to utilize mediation. 

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces

In an uncontested divorce, the couple agrees on the terms of their parting, their children, their debts and assets, as well as alimony and child support. Because of their agreement, there is no need to have hearings, negotiations, or court procedures. Even though this type of divorce is usually straightforward, it’s still essential that you hire a St. Charles mediation attorney to represent your interests.

In a contested divorce, the couple can’t agree on the essential issues, so they retain separate attorneys and head to court to let the judge decide. The couple will be required to attend hearings, settlement negotiations, and sometimes even a trial. Divorces that involve a high net worth, many assets and liabilities, or other complex issues may need to use this process over others. 

Divorce Mediation in Illinois

Couples who can’t agree on the issues in their divorce but want to stay out of court can also opt to have mediation. Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) used in many legal cases. A mediator assists the couple in identifying and talking through the problems but does not make decisions as an arbitrator does. 

During this process, a neutral third-party mediator helps divorcing couples work through the issues and conflicts that arise during the divorce. The mediator acts as a facilitator, not as a judge or decision-maker. They help the couple identify and discuss their concerns, interests, and divorce-related needs. 


What Happens During Divorce Mediation?

Posted on in Mediation

St. Charles, IL divorce lawyerEnding a marriage is often an emotionally exhausting process that involves difficult decisions regarding asset division, child custody, and other important matters. Divorce cases are sometimes ligated through the court system, but this is not the only option for resolving a divorce. There are alternatives such as mediation that allow divorcing spouses to have more control over the outcome of the divorce. Instead of letting a judge make decisions about whether each party should receive certain assets or which parent should have custody, divorce mediation gives parties the opportunity to work out an agreement outside of the courtroom.

If you are considering mediation to settle disputed issues in your divorce, you may have several questions. What happens during mediation? What does the mediator do? What does the mediation process look like?

Mediators Facilitate Productive Communication and Negotiation

Getting divorced involves much more than simply deciding to end the marriage. Spouses must also address complicated issues, such as how to divide shared property and debts and how to allocate parental responsibilities. During mediation, divorcing spouses have an opportunity to discuss these issues and explore various options. Most divorcing spouses have a very hard time doing this on their own. Married couples often have years of memories – both good and bad. Emotions are running high during divorce and this makes it difficult to think clearly.

A mediator helps the couple put emotions to the side and focus on the facts of the case. If the couple starts arguing about unrelated issues or veers off course in a conversation, the mediator is there to gently guide them back to the task at hand. Mediators can help couples break down complicated issues and contentious disagreements into small, manageable steps.

Mediation sessions vary in duration and frequency. Some couples are able to reach an agreement within one or two sessions. Others may need as many as eight sessions. Each situation is unique.


IL Divorce lawyerWhen a couple is preparing for divorce and considering their options, many will find that mediation is a much better alternative to a protracted, hostile divorce court battle. Mediation allows couples to have greater control over the entire process, and to settle their differences with a more satisfactory compromise than they might if a judge makes the decisions for them.

However, mediation is still a complex and emotionally exhausting legal process, and it takes some preparation. Important decisions must be made that will have long-term effects on the couples’ lives, as well as those of any children.

Here are a few tips that will help spouses prepare for the process of mediation.

Know Your Priorities

It is not easy to advocate for yourself when you do not really know what you want. Understand that compromise is going to be a crucial part of mediation, and contemplate which things are most important to you and why. If your family has a unique Christmas tradition, then maybe spending Christmas day with your child will be much more important for you than visitation time over Easter.

It may also be helpful to anticipate the things your spouse is likely to request so you can enter mediation prepared to negotiate a solution that is beneficial to you both.


IL family law attorneyIf you are preparing for a divorce, you may be familiar with the resolution method of mediation. This option is desirable for many divorcing couples, as it allows them to work through their issues peaceably and privately, maintain control over the outcome, and often save time and money. You may be surprised to learn that mediation services are available not just for divorce, but also for several other family law matters.

Family Law Mediation Services in Illinois

As long as both parties are willing to come to the table and negotiate an agreement, mediation can work to resolve many family law disputes that would otherwise have to be addressed in court. Family law mediators are well-versed in a variety of cases, and they have the skills and experience to help spouses, parents, and other parties identify common ground while remaining neutral themselves.

Family law mediation can help you address issues including:

  • Property division - Mediation often helps divorcing couples avoid having to sell or split a large part of their marital assets, and instead allows for more satisfying resolutions in which each spouse can keep certain important properties intact.
  • Spousal support - Including spousal maintenance in your resolution can also allow for a more customized division of assets. You may be able to reach a spousal support agreement through mediation even in cases when the court would not typically order it.
  • Parental responsibilities and parenting time - Mediation can help divorced and unmarried parents create a parenting plan that meets both of their needs, addressing issues including schedules, transportation, communication, and decision-making.
  • Parental relocation - When a single parent wants to move with their children, mediation can help them reach a fair agreement with the other parent rather than having to fight the issue in court.
  • Order modifications - In addition to parenting time modifications in relocation cases, mediation can also help former spouses or co-parents agree on modifications to support orders or other child custody details. If you are struggling to uphold an order, attending mediation could help you avoid enforcement actions.
  • Visitation - In some cases, mediation can help to resolve disputes between parents, grandparents, and other relatives who are seeking visitation rights regarding a child.

Though mediation is a good option in many different situations, it should not be used for cases involving domestic violence or anything else that endangers you or your children. In these cases, it is important to work with an attorney who can help you protect yourself through the court system.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Mediation Attorney

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we know the benefits of mediation in many divorce and family law cases. Our Attorney Matt Shaw is also a trained mediator, and he can help you decide whether to pursue mediation and what to expect if you do. Contact our St. Charles family law attorney today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation.


IL divorce lawyerMany people assume that the decision to end their marriage is the most difficult part of divorce. Unfortunately, many divorcing spouses find that reaching an agreement about the terms of their divorce is just as challenging. When divorcing spouses disagree about child custody, property and debt division, alimony, and other aspects of their divorce, they have several options. One of these options is to attend family law mediation and work with a specially-trained mediator in an effort to reach a resolution. However, mediation is not effective or even appropriate in every case.

What Happens During Mediation?

Reaching an agreement about divorce issues is often the biggest obstacle divorcing spouses must overcome. When a divorcing couple cannot reach a decision on their own, they may choose to go to mediation. Family law mediation may also be ordered by a judge. During mediation, the couple works with a neutral third party called a mediator. The mediator does not choose one spouse’s side over the other or tell the couple how to resolve their differences. The mediator’s role is instead to help guide the conversations and negotiations so that they are as productive as possible. The mediator may help the couple stay focused on the task at hand and avoid arguing about unrelated issues. The mediator may point out any common ground that the spouses share and suggest potential compromises. However, reaching an agreement is ultimately up to the spouses themselves. Many spouses find that this extra assistance is what they need to reach an out-of-court agreement and avoid divorce litigation.

Limitations of Mediation

It is very important to note that mediation is not the appropriate way to resolve divorce issues in every case. If you and your spouse own complex assets such as a business, have an especially high net worth or are in the midst of complicated financial struggles, mediation alone may be insufficient. Mediation may be inappropriate if there has been a history of domestic violence, abuse, or large power discrepancies in the relationship. It is also important to remember that a mediator is not the same thing as a lawyer. Only someone licensed to practice law can provide legal advice or represent you during a legal proceeding. However, there are some lawyers who also act as mediators.

Contact a Kane County Mediation Lawyer

If you are ready to end your marriage and you want to learn more about the best way to do so, contact a St. Charles divorce attorney from Shaw Sanders, P.C. Attorney Matt Shaw has served as a mediator and a Guardian ad Litem and is qualified to assist with a wide range of family law matters. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and set up your confidential consultation today.



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