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IL custody lawyerMost of the courts in Illinois require a couple to go through mediation in cases involving allocation of parental responsibilities, visitation, and relocation before going through the court system. Child support will still be determined by the family court judge, however, all other issues can be settled in mediation.

This right is also given to unmarried parents, but there is an extra step that the couple must go through before heading to mediation.

When a couple has a child without being married, paternity cannot be assumed. It must be proven either through a court-ordered paternity test or a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that can be filled out and filed at the time of a child’s birth.

If a father claims the child and all the proper paperwork is filed, the couple can go through a mediator to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities including:

  • Where the child will live and with which parent
  • How much time a child can visit with their non-custodial parent
  • Where the child will attend school
  • Who will be the child’s primary decision-maker on issues of health and religion

Child Support Determination

While some states allow parents to come to an agreed-upon amount for child support payments, Illinois requires that parental partners must have their payments determined by the court system.

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IL family lawyerWhen a couple chooses to divorce through mediation, they work with a neutral third party to develop their divorce settlement. Usually, mediation is a less expensive, less stressful option than divorce in the courtroom.

Mediation only works when a couple is capable of working amicably together. Sometimes, couples who initially think they can mediate their divorce successfully find that it is a much different process than they envisioned. If you face challenges with your mediation, take the following steps to determine your best course of action:

Talk to Your Spouse About Your Issues to Work Them Out

Address your difficulties with your spouse directly. If you feel he or she is not taking the mediation process as seriously as you are or that he or she is not being cooperative, talk about it. Successful mediation is only possible when both partners are willing to communicate and cooperate. Your spouse might not realize he or she is being difficult or stalling the mediation process, or he or she might be unwilling to move forward and actively trying to sabotage it.

The issue could also be with you and your approach to mediation. The only way to determine whether it is worthwhile to continue pursuing mediation is to determine whether you and your spouse are both 100 percent on board with it. If not, mediation is not for you.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_mediator.jpgOnce you and your spouse have determined that you are a good fit for divorce mediation, you need to find a mediator who is a good fit for you. In order to find the right mediator for your case, you will need to do some research. Look up divorce mediators in your area and read their reviews online. Schedule a consultation with a few mediators to get a better sense of each of their approaches to the mediation process and how they can help you. Arrive at each consultation with the following questions prepared:

What Will It Cost to Work with You?

The average divorce mediation costs $7,000. That might sound like a lot, but compare it to the average cost of divorce litigation: $25,000 or more.

Ask your prospective mediator what it will cost to work with him or her before you sign a contract to work together. He or she should be able to give you a reasonable quote that you can compare with other mediators’ costs.

How Do You Conduct Mediation Sessions?

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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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Illinois mediation attorneyWhen you decide to use mediation, rather than litigation, to end your marriage, you and your spouse can save yourself a significant amount of time and money. Although mediation is often “easier” than completing a courtroom divorce, it is not without its demands on the divorcing couple. You have certain responsibilities to uphold while you work through your divorce, which include the following:

Provide All Relevant Documents to Divide Your Marital Assets

Division of your marital assets will likely be the most time-consuming portion of your divorce. Make this part as straightforward as you can by coming to your mediation sessions with all your relevant documents handy. These might include:

  • A recent appraisal of your home;
  • Statements for your financial accounts;
  • Pay stubs;
  • An itemized list of your tangible assets and their values; and
  • Your most recent tax returns.

Acknowledge Your Spouse’s Concerns and Goals

Mediation only works if both parties are willing to work together. One of your responsibilities during mediation is to acknowledge your spouse’s position and even if you do not agree with it, validate his or her point of view. That is the position from which he or she is approaching the divorce and you, as the other party involved, must be willing to acknowledge this and work with him or her to reach an equitable settlement.

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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 attorney, Illinois mediation attorneyCouples looking for a smooth, amicable divorce solution often turn to mediation to settle their differences and come to agreement on lifestyle arrangements following the end of their marriage. While it is true many divorces can take a turn and become messy, the bulk of them actually result in a peaceful, mutual split. It is not uncommon for this kind of separation to stem from a thorough, professional mediation process.

Why Do Amicable Divorces Benefit from Mediation?

Respect: Although mediation is typically pursued by couples who struggle with conflict resolution, those experiencing amicable divorces greatly benefit from the mediation process as well due to one simple factor: Both spouses are interacting in a civil manner. Couples who are already cooperating with one another and communicating peacefully are on the fast track to success when they enter mediation. The trained mediator can more effectively do their job to facilitate settlements and manage negotiations when both parties leave hostility and conflict at the door. If your divorce is mutual and you and your spouse are communicating with respect and patience, your meditation experience can be a positive, productive one.

Resolution timelines: The Illinois State Department of Human Rights reports that their Mediation Unit boasts a resolution rate of over 80 percent out of all conferences held. Mediation is proven to be a quick, efficient, and affordable process for divorcing couples. It is an especially fast process when you and your spouse enter mediation on amicable terms. The more common ground you share and the more civil you are, the faster you will reach an agreement and resolve your divorce case.

Similar expectations: Chances are, if you are entering mediation on civil terms, you likely already share similar expectations in regards to what you are looking to achieve and what you are looking to walk away with when the process is all said and done. Discussing goals and individual expectations before you begin the mediation process is a good way to increase your chances of success. If you want to resolve your conflicts quickly and relatively painlessly, consider making the effort to respect one another’s opinions, wants, and needs, and attempt to find a way to meet on middle ground.

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