When most people imagine divorce, they picture intense court battles and emotional negotiations. Divorce litigation has the reputation it does for good reason; it is a difficult process for anyone. It is also very expensive to litigate a divorce. Leaving the final decision concerning the terms of your divorce in the hands of a judge can leave you feeling powerless about the end of your marriage.
You do not need to finalize your divorce through a lengthy, stressful, and expensive court battle. Divorce mediation offers you and your spouse the chance to negotiate your divorce privately in a neutral, informal setting that provides you with as much time you require to reach an agreement. If you are divorcing in Springfield, IL and want to avoid the stress and expense of litigation that may take months or even years, divorce mediation could be the ideal solution for you.
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation occurs under the supervision of a neutral mediator, typically an attorney with no conflicts of interest favoring either divorcing spouse. Some courts appoint mediators while other mediators are retained privately by divorcing spouses. Each of the divorcing spouses may retain their own separate legal representatives. These attorneys may attend some or all of the couple’s mediation sessions.
Once a divorcing couple has chosen to mediate their divorce, they will meet at a neutral location with the mediator and their attorneys. Each mediation session basically consists of the divorcing couple negotiating the terms of their divorce. The mediator’s job is to keep the conversation focused and constructive. The mediator can also clarify legal statutes and help the divorcing couple with difficult questions about property division, parenting rights, and other aspects of their divorce.
Mediation only takes as long as the divorcing couple requires to reach a mutually agreeable set of terms for their divorce. Ultimately, the spouses’ willingness to cooperate and collaborate is the determining factor in the time and expense required to complete mediation. Once the couple has developed their divorce agreement and the mediator has reviewed it for legal soundness, the mediator can file the uncontested divorce petition for approval from a Springfield, IL family court judge.
Benefits of Choosing Divorce Mediation
The primary benefit of choosing divorce mediation instead of litigation is the savings both divorcing spouses will experience in terms of attorneys’ fees, court filing costs, and time spent out of work to handle legal matters. Mediation is inexpensive compared to the costs of lengthy divorce litigation.
Another perk to choosing mediation is the fact that the final decision about your divorce remains in your own hands, not in the hands of a judge. No matter how convincing your case may be, an impartial judge is ultimately accountable to strict legal statutes and does not have the personal knowledge of your marriage required to make a fully informed decision about your divorce. Mediation allows you and your spouse to negotiate your divorce agreement in a manner that suits your lifestyle over cold legal statutes. The mediator will ensure the couple’s negotiation is legally sound and enforceable.
Divorce mediation is also preferable whenever a divorcing couple would rather keep their divorce out of the public eye. All litigated civil cases, including litigated divorces, become public record once they go to trial. Mediating your divorce outside of court allows you to keep your divorce proceedings private. The divorce itself will become a matter of public record once approved by a family court judge. However, the record will not include complete transcripts of everything said during proceedings as it would with litigation.
What to Expect from the Divorce Mediation Process in Springfield, IL
If you want to explore divorce mediation for handling the end of your marriage in Springfield, your spouse must be open to the idea. Unfortunately, some people will be set on intense litigation when confronted with divorce. If both spouses agree to divorce mediation, they can arrange mediation sessions at their convenience.
During mediation, the mediator will help the divorcing couple develop a complete divorce agreement, walking them through all of the variables they must negotiate before a judge will approve their divorce agreement. The couple can negotiate property division, and the mediator will ensure that all agreed-upon exchanges of property are legally sound and enforceable. If the couple has children, they can develop their own parenting plan that keeps their family’s unique needs in mind. Divorcing parents who choose mediation over litigation tend to have much more agreeable and manageable custody arrangements.
Illinois is an equitable distribution state when it comes to divorce, so the court generally looks to make property division as equitable as possible, though it often is not exactly 50/50. Divorce mediation allows a divorcing couple the opportunity to negotiate their property, including who will assume ownership of the family home, how debts will be divided, and other financial matters. The mediator may consult professional experts to assist in divorce mediation for high net worth cases, divorces involving complex investments, or cases involving significant medical issues.
Once you and your spouse have developed your divorce agreement, your respective attorneys and the mediator will review it before submitting it to the Springfield, IL family court for final approval from a judge. Illinois does not require any waiting period for divorce finalization as long as both spouses meet the state’s 90-day residency requirement.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Ultimately, divorce mediation is a faster, more affordable, and more effective option for resolving the end of a marriage than litigation. However, legal representation is still necessary to ensure an equitable divorce decree. An experienced Springfield, IL divorce attorney can help a client identify potential problems or opportunities throughout divorce mediation proceedings and ensure negotiations proceed smoothly. If your mediation sessions prove fruitless, the next step is litigation. In either case, you will have a legal representative on your side who is already familiar with your case and ready to represent you in trial.
Most divorce attorneys steer their clients toward divorce mediation whenever possible simply because it is a much easier alternative to litigation for everyone involved in many different ways. If you are preparing to divorce in the Springfield, IL area, find an experienced attorney who recognizes the value of mediation and encourages you to explore this alternative dispute resolution for your divorce.