FAQ's. Common Questions answered here.
Going through something as difficult as a major legal event can leave you filled with questions about the past, present, and what to expect in the future. Get answers to some of the top questions I receive, to help put your mind at ease. Check back often for even more answers to your legal questions. Better yet, give us a call to see how we can help.
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Will mediation save money?
Reaching an agreement in mediation can be a huge money saver! While it is true that possibly three professionals now need to get paid (2 attorneys plus one mediator), many people still find that they can save significant legal costs if they use a mediator. A disputed issue is a disputed issue, which, if you cannot solve on your own, will need to be negotiated in the course of the divorce with the help of the attorneys. Sometimes this will also involve the input of a judge at a “pre-trial” conference with both attorneys. Mediation tends to focus like a laser beam, directly on the issue that you want solved; and sometimes resolution of one issue will naturally and almost accidentally, lead to resolution of multiple issues. The main money saving benefit of mediation is that it will avoid a trial if it is successful! If your case gets litigated to the end and must go to trial because a settlement was not reached, it is going to be very expensive. The amount of attorney time required to adequately prepare for a trial adds up very fast and you will likely be asked to make a large trial retainer deposit.
What if we cannot reach an agreement in mediation?
You might only reach a partial agreement or an agreement on only some issues. That is okay. It is still progress and is one less problem that will need to get decided in court. It is also possible that no agreement is ultimately reached. If nothing else, you will have still probably gained insight into what specifically each of you wants, with clarity that might help you to eventually reach a settlement, perhaps with the assistance of your attorneys.
Is mediation appropriate in all cases?
No. All parties to the mediation have to be in the right frame of mind in order for mediation to work. Everyone has to have the willingness to at least try to reach an agreement and be open-minded to the process. Mediation is also inappropriate in relationships involving abuse, fear or violence. Not all cases will be accepted for mediation. I do not believe in wasting people’s time or money and while mediation will not be successful all of the time, before your case is accepted by O’Connor Cadiz law, the case will be confidentially screened to let you know if your case may be a good candidate for mediation.
What if I want to mediate but the other person says “No”?
Be patient. The timing may not be right. If you are getting a divorce and you initiated it, your spouse might still not be used to the idea and may not be emotionally “there” yet. He or she may not be able or willing to think about it yet, let alone commit to a process meant to bring your divorce one step closer to the end. Have you heard the expression “It takes two to tango”? It very appropriately applies to the mediation process. Just because the other person does not want to go to mediation does not necessarily mean that in the future, he or she will feel the same way. That being said, however, in cases involving child custody or visitation, the court may refer the case to mediation, unless the court makes a determination that an “impediment to mediation exists”.
So we have reached an agreement in mediation, now what?
Great! The mediator will draw up what is called a “Memorandum of Understanding”. Attorneys usually take this document and use it as the basis for creating a legally binding document. In the case of divorce, the memorandum is often used as the framework for crafting a Marital Settlement Agreement and / or a Joint Parenting Agreement. Congratulations on a job well done!
Who will be representing me in court and working on my case?
I will! The shocking truth is that a great majority of family law attorneys, who spend top dollar advertising their services, will pass your case off to any one of their lawyers and send that person to court. This can result in an attorney appearing on your behalf before a judge who may not be too familiar with the facts of your unique situation, or may be just getting their feet wet in the practice of law. Some firms may even have a paralegal or secretary do a majority of the work on your case. Not here. I will personally appear in court for you (barring a true emergency) and also be the one working on your case.
How long will my case take?
It depends on the kind of case you have. A name change, for example, is easy to estimate and should not take more than a few months. A divorce case will depend on a number of factors including the complexity of the issues and positions taken by both parties. Chapter 7 Bankrupcies are over in a matter of months, Chapter 13's take years because you need time to repay your creditors. I will keep you informed at all times so that you know where you are at in the process, what remains to be done, and in which direction your case is likely headed.
Are you trained as a mediator?
Yes. Carol Cadiz received 40 hours of mediation training and began in 2008, offering mediation services in both Schaumburg and Itasca. Sometimes families choose to resolve their disputes with a mediator who is trained in helping achieve a workable solution without having to spend thousands and thousands of dollars “litigating” an issue in court. Often what is happening in court will be going on at the same time as the mediation so that in many cases, a succesful mediation can bring the court case to a close sooner than it would have otherwise. If you are considering mediation within the context of a divorce, request our free guide about how mediation can help put your divorce on the fast track.