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Selecting your legal team for your divorce is one of the most important steps that you can take. Without adequate legal assistance, you may not receive proper alimony, child support, or custody when you and your former spouse’s belongings get divvied up. Most couples getting divorced will each select their own attorney who will then work solely in the best interests of the spouse that hired them. Because this is a common choice for many divorces, some couples do not realize that alternative options exist. Divorce mediation has become increasingly popular as modern times have removed the age-old negative stigma that used to surround the idea of divorce.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is an alternative to divorce litigation. Divorce mediators are typically a branch of attorneys at a law firm that specializes in both litigation and mediation. A mediator is a neutral third-party that meets with both spouses to make divorce arrangements. Unlike common divorce proceedings, the goal of mediation is to come to an agreement together rather than having two opposing sides pitted against each other.

This divorce process is commonly chosen by couples that are having an amicable divorce. In other words, divorce mediation only works for couples that can do not have grievances against each other and have come to the mutual decision that divorce would be best for them both. This is not always possible which is why mediation only works for some couples. The purpose of the third-party is not to take one side over the other or add their input. They act as a middle ground with legal knowledge and experience in order to conduct the legal process when the agreements have been finalized by both parties.

Why Would I Choose Mediation Over Litigation?

As previously noted, mediation can be a lower conflict way to finalize your divorce; however, this is only the case with some parties. Divorce mediation can be cheaper for each spouse since a single legal team is involved rather than two opposing attorneys. The process can also be quicker depending on the length of time it takes for both spouses to come to an agreement. Divorce mediation often takes an average of 3 to 5 months to complete whereas divorce litigation can take over a year to complete. Those who decide that divorce mediation is best will also reduce the number of court filings required for their divorce to be finalized. Divorce mediation is a good alternative to litigation as it can foster a good co-parenting relationship in the future or a positive parting with an amicable sense of closure.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Mediation Attorney for Help

Divorce mediation is a good alternative that is often overlooked or unknown by couples seeking divorce. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we offer both divorce litigation and mediation in order to serve and accommodate couples with all different types of relationships. If you are looking for alternative options for your divorce, contact St. Charles, IL divorce mediation attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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Illinois divorce attorneyIn a divorce, the couple’s marital assets are not the only thing that has to be divided. Their marital debts, too, must be divided according to the doctrine of equitable distribution. Just like marital assets, most debts accrued during a couple’s marriage are considered to be property of both parties. In a divorce, the court consider a variety of factors, such as each partner’s income and contributions to the marriage, to determine an appropriate way to divide these debts.

Examples of Marital Debts

Marital debt can include:

  • The outstanding mortgage on the couple’s home;
  • Debt owed on joint credit cards;
  • Student debt for education pursued during the marriage;
  • Medical debt; and
  • Outstanding debt on financed vehicles.

Dividing Debt According to Equitable Distribution

Even if a specific debt was accrued primarily for one partner’s benefit, such as medical bills for one spouse’s treatment or student debt for his or her degree, both partners are liable for it during and after their divorce.

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Illinois divorce lawyerNo matter how you approach your divorce, you will need to work through the division of your marital property. When you divorce through mediation, a neutral third party guides you and your spouse through each issue to be resolved and finalized in your divorce settlement. For many couples, the division of their marital property is the most complex of these issues.

Before you begin working with a mediator, talk to your lawyer about how you should approach your property division. You will need to be your own advocate during the mediation meetings, which can be confusing and overwhelming if you do not completely understand why a specific breakdown of your marital assets is in your best interest.

What Are Your Current Financial Needs?

If you do not make enough money to cover your home’s mortgage and property tax payments on your own, it is probably not in your best interest to fight to retain the house. In this scenario, you might see a much greater benefit by selling the home and splitting the profit with your former spouse. If you receive spousal maintenance, this could be a consideration in your property division. If you are a parent, your parenting plan could also be a point to consider when dividing your assets.

Think of the Future

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Posted on in Mediation

illinois divorce attorneyIf you and your spouse decide to complete the divorce process through mediation, you will work with a divorce mediator to reach an appropriate, equitable divorce settlement. Although many divorce mediators are lawyers, your divorce mediator will not act in this role. Rather, he or she will act as a neutral third party who does not work “for” you or your spouse, but for a fair resolution to your divorce.

The Mediator Is There to Guide You Toward a Fair Settlement

In mediation, you and your spouse work with the mediator to reach agreements about your divorce settlement. The mediator acts as a guide to these conversations, asking questions about your marriage and divorce goals and helping you and your spouse work through your disagreements. You and your spouse will negotiate with each other under the mediator’s guidance.

A Mediator Asks Questions to Provoke Thought and Gain Insight

Arrive at your mediation sessions prepared to answer questions. The questions you could receive include:

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Illinois divorce attorneyEvery marriage, and by extension, every divorce, is unique. Some divorces are resolved fairly quickly while others drag on for months, even years. Some couples divorce at the first sign of marital discord whereas others suffer for decades before choosing to end their broken relationships. For many couples, mediation is a positive alternative to the traditional courtroom divorce. With mediation, the couple works with a mediator to reach a fair divorce settlement through a series of guided discussions. A few benefits of mediation are:

Couples Who Mediate Retain a Greater Level of Control

In a courtroom divorce, the partners and their lawyers present their arguments but ultimately, the court has control over the final outcome. This is not the case with mediation. In mediation, the couple works with the mediator to reach agreements for each aspect of their divorce settlement, giving each the opportunity to advocate for his or her goals the other a way to negotiate them.

Mediation Saves Money for Everybody

Lawyer fees are expensive. Generally, divorcing through litigation requires individuals to spend a lot of time with their lawyers, often costing them tens of thousands of dollars by the time the divorce is finalized. Saving money makes the divorce process less stressful, which leads to other benefits like a greater willingness to compromise.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois mediation lawyerIf your marriage has reached the point where divorce is inevitable, do not assume that a lengthy court battle has to be part of your divorce. You and your spouse could be good candidates for mediation, which will make the divorce process less stressful, less expensive, and overall more empowering for you.

With mediation, a divorcing couple works with a mediator, a neutral third party, to reach agreements about their divorce settlement through a series of guided discussions. These discussions cover every aspect of the couple’s divorce settlement, such as the division of their property and how they will handle spousal maintenance. Often, couples who divorce through mediation report higher levels of satisfaction with their divorces than those who divorce through litigation. But mediation is not the ideal solution for all couples. When domestic violence is present in a marriage, mediation is rarely a viable option. Similarly, couples who cannot work together are generally not well suited for mediation. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if mediation is right for you.

Can You Work Amicably with Your Spouse?

If you cannot look at your spouse without wanting to punch him or her, mediation is not for you. Similarly, if you cannot discuss issues related to your marriage in a calm, rational way with him or her, you will not have a successful mediation. Mediation requires a couple to work as a team to determine a fair settlement, which involves putting their emotions aside to work toward the greater good.

Do You Trust Your Spouse?

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorneyUndoubtedly, when couples decide to file for divorce, two of the most emotionally and mentally draining topics that arise following the decision are the division of property and child custody arrangements. If a couple shares a child, the stress of arranging parenting time is only compounded when the subject of dividing belongings is added to the mix. Everything combined calls for multiple lifestyle changes at once, creating a number of inevitable emotional landmines for everyone involved.

Priorities and Perspectives When Dividing Property

When it comes to dividing property, deciding who gets what after the divorce can be particularly distressing due to the finality that surrounds the task. Splitting belongings is the final step in ending a life that was once shared and beginning a new one, making it an overwhelming, burdensome chore for both parties.

According to studies reported by the American Psychological Association, the moment couples begin weighing the division of property in preparation for a settlement, they approach the subject with different perspectives. These differences ultimately determine their priorities, which often clash when it is time to meet with a mediator or attorney. Studies have shown the following differences between men and women when it is time to negotiate property division:

  • Women tend to focus more on interpersonal goals;
  • Task-specific goals are more typically the focal point for men;
  • Women are more concerned about their relationships with others than men are;
  • Women are more leery of risk at the end of marriage, which may suggest they are more likely to accept smaller settlements; and
  • Women are also more likely to forego monetary benefits than men are due to their cautious nature when it comes to settlements.

Along with these notable differences between men and women regarding their approach to settlement negotiations, other important research indicates there is a general perception of higher value placed on belongings that a party owns personally. For example, a husband or wife may feel less concerned about losing a particular joint savings account versus a brand new car that they personally purchased and placed in their name.

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Illinois mediation attorney, Illinois divorce lawyerEven the most peaceful divorces can benefit from family law mediation. Whether there are minor or major disputes regarding issues such as finances or the raising of children, the groundwork for any separation is improved when spouses work with a certified professional who can both provide the resources and information needed to ensure the divorce process goes smoothly and help reduce tension at the same time.

Why Is Family Law Mediation Such a Helpful Tool?

  1. It reduces emotional and financial stress.

Divorce can make you go bankrupt - both literally and figuratively. It is not uncommon for spouses who feel hurt or betrayed to experience a lot of hurt and anger toward their partner. These emotions often turn into the desire for revenge, especially where finances are concerned. When consumed or blinded by these emotions, it is easy to lose sight of reality and form unrealistic expectations about how much money you will receive from your spouse or how much you will be responsible to pay following the separation. If you are not careful, this can translate to a lot of money and energy spent on “getting even,” which can sadly lead to serious emotional toll as a result. Divorce mediation helps keep the facts and your perspective in check, providing a professional, civil, organized environment for settling financial and lifestyle matters.

  1. It makes the divorce process more efficient.

Another common habit divorcing spouses adopt in the midst of a separation is independent research. In today’s day and age, it is completely understandable to want to research things like alimony and child support calculations on your own. While there are many useful tools on the internet for those going through a divorce, some of these resources are inaccurate or mere estimations. They cannot replace the true value and legitimacy of a legal professional, especially when it comes to the ability to lessen tension, reduce misunderstandings, and educate you and your spouse on your rights. The Illinois Department of Human Rights reports that the state’s Mediation Unit has a resolution rate of over 80 percent out of all conferences held. The mediation process is confidential, relatively fast, and removes any doubts or uncertainties you might have as you proceed with your divorce. All of these factors combined make for a more efficient divorce process, from start to finish.

Regardless of where you and your spouse fall on the divorce conflict spectrum, professional mediation offers an excellent alternative form of dispute resolution. If you want to minimize conflict, reduce tension, and ensure your rights are protected, it is important to speak with an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation today.

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