Many people who have not been through the mediation process have only a vague idea of what mediation exactly is and why they should be considering it. Mediation is a form of Dispute Resolution, or resolving disputes. It is a process whereby people seek help from a mediator to try to settle issues or concerns that they have not been able to resolve on their own. The conflict is generally the type that, if it is not resolved, will have to be decided by a judge. The process is meant to be mutual, cooperative and fair in the eyes of each party. It is an informal process usually held at the mediator’s office throughout the course of several sessions. It is a “future-oriented” process, which means that to increase the likelihood of success, the parties are asked to consider future events and try to move forward from the past. The goal of mediation is to reach a voluntary agreement.
Mediation is a technique that can be used in the context of just about any type of dispute: in business, in family problems, in issues between neighbors, etc. Mediation is often used in the context of divorce or custody cases to help decide one or more issues that the parties just cannot seem to solve by themselves, such as:
- Joint Custody or Sole Custody
- Residential Custody (sometimes known as “Physical Custody”): Whom the kids will live with
- Property Division: Who Gets What
- What happens to The House?
- How to divide debt at the time of Divorce
- Visitation of the Children
- Maintenance or Spousal Support (this used to be called “Alimony”)
- Division of Pension or other Retirement Benefits
- Joint Parenting Agreements
- Financial Issues in Divorce
Mediation offers many benefits. Mediation offers parties to a divorce or other conflict the chance to sit down with a trained professional for the very specific purpose of crafting a solution that will move them one step further towards finalizing their case in court. Especially when children are involved, it is really very important to minimize animosity between the mother and father. Mediation helps set the tone for a less confrontational divorce and can help divorcing parents learn techniques to better communicate with each other in the future when its time to make decisions that affect the kids. A successful mediation will avoid the need for a trial (money pit!). Aside from fully litigated trials being extremely expensive, if your case goes to trial, you lose a certain degree of control. You will both be “stuck” with the decision of the judge and in all likelihood, someone will not be happy. Even if you feel that you can live with a judge’s decision, people are generally happier when the outcome of their case is one that was at least in part, designed by them and not forced upon them by the courts.
Carol O’Connor Cadiz is not only a family law attorney but also received training in 2009 in divorce and custody mediation through the Mediation Training and Consultation Institute of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is also a certified mediator for The Court Ordered Mediation For Civil Cases Program of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court in DuPage County, Illinois. Regardless of where in Illinois your case is filed, if you are looking for a mediator with offices in the Chicago suburban area, feel free to call the office at (888) 878-5442. Mediations are conducted in either Schaumburg (Cook County) or Itasca (DuPage County). Referrals are also available for mental health professionals in Oak Park who may be able to assist you with mediation if you are looking for a non-attorney