Divorce mediation has become the most popular method of resolving divorces in the United States in recent years. This can be attributed to many reasons. Mediation offers significant savings in terms of court fees. By completing divorce more swiftly, both spouses can also save money on their attorneys’ fees. Mediation also provides greater control over the outcome of a divorce case. Both spouses are likely to reach mutually agreeable terms for their divorce when they take advantage of mediation. In addition, the only real prerequisite for mediation is that both spouses must agree to participate. They must then agree on the mediator who will preside over their mediation sessions.
How to Find a Mediator for Your Divorce
Finding the right Springfield, IL divorce mediator may seem like a challenge, but your divorce attorney can provide valuable direction in this process. Both your attorney and your spouse’s attorney can coordinate recommendations to help the two of you find a mediator. Your mediator cannot hold any conflicts of interest, must have the requisite experience, and must have the availability to handle your mediation process effectively.
What Does a Mediator Do?
Most divorce mediators are current or former divorce attorneys. These legal professionals act as intermediaries between divorcing spouses, enabling them to engage in productive negotiations and reach mutually agreeable divorce terms. It is important to note that some divorcing spouses prefer to explore collaborative divorce with just the two of them and their respective attorneys. While many find success with this route, mediation offers additional peace of mind to both parties. The mediator is there to guide discussions, keep conversations focused and productive, and clarify any confusion regarding the legal statutes that apply as the divorce case unfolds.
The mediator will likely arrange for collaborative sessions between both parties as well as one-on-one sessions that include the mediator, each spouse, and their legal counsel. These meetings will help keep everyone focused on the most important aspects of the divorce and streamline the entire process. As the couple negotiates their divorce terms, the mediator assists them in drafting a divorce settlement.
It’s important to understand that while a mediator’s job is to guide divorce mediation sessions, they are limited regarding what they can provide the divorcing spouses during mediation. First, mediators must remain neutral and cannot offer any direct legal advice to either divorcing spouse. They can answer general questions about the legal statutes pertaining to the spouses’ negotiations, but the spouses must rely on their respective legal representatives for direct advice.
Divorcing spouses should also keep in mind that the mediator does not finalize their divorce. The mediator aims to prepare the divorce agreement for finalization, but once mediation concludes, the couple must take their mediated divorce resolution to the Springfield, IL family court for a judge’s final review and approval. Additionally, some aspects of divorce cannot be resolved through mediation, particularly those pertaining to child custody and child support. Divorcing parents can negotiate a proposal for a parenting plan, but a Springfield, IL family court judge must approve this plan before it becomes a legally enforceable custody and support agreement.
How Does the Mediation Process Unfold?
Mediation typically begins with a preliminary meeting between the spouses, their respective attorneys, and the mediator. The mediator will conduct a general overview of the issues the spouses need to settle, highlight aspects of the divorce that are likely to require the most time and attention, and advise the divorcing spouses of the aspects of their divorce the mediator cannot legally address. The mediator will also help the couple develop a schedule for their mediation sessions, arranging time for both collaborative sessions with both parties and one-on-one meetings with each spouse privately.
Depending on the complexity of the divorce and the availability of the mediator, the divorcing couple could complete mediation within a few weeks to a few months. Compared to the time typically required for courtroom litigation, it should be easy to see why so many divorcing couples are choosing mediation instead of litigation.
In most cases, mediation sessions focus on one issue at a time. The couple will negotiate the finer points of the issue at hand, and the mediator will draft their divorce agreement according to their negotiated terms. If any discrepancies arise, the mediator can provide valuable guidance for addressing these issues so mediation can proceed unimpeded. When the couple resolves one aspect of their divorce, they move on to the next until they have covered every issue they can legally address in mediation.
At the end of the mediation process, the divorcing spouses should have a mediated divorce settlement with their negotiated terms. They should also hold a firm understanding of any remaining issues they must settle in court, such as custody of their children and child support. The couple will then take their mediated divorce settlement before a Springfield, IL family court judge. At this time, the judge reviews the settlement and addresses any outstanding issues before finalizing the divorce.
Do I Need an Attorney for Divorce Mediation?
If you are wondering whether you need to hire a Springfield, IL divorce lawyer when you plan to explore divorce mediation, remember that the mediator cannot offer legal advice to you or your spouse during the mediation process. While it is technically possible to complete a collaborative divorce or mediation without legal counsel, doing so is inadvisable, especially if your spouse has hired an attorney. This discrepancy would put you at a considerable disadvantage. While you could potentially save money on legal fees, you are likely to overlook key areas of consideration that have a tremendous potential impact on your future.
Hiring an experienced Springfield, IL divorce attorney is the best investment you can make into your post-divorce future. A good attorney will not only help you explore every facet of your divorce in close detail but also help you remain focused and objective in the face of the emotional stress divorce proceedings often cause. Ultimately, you are most likely to secure a favorable outcome to divorce mediation when you have reliable legal counsel on your side.
If you are planning to divorce soon and want to take full advantage of the benefits of divorce mediation, contact an experienced Springfield, IL divorce lawyer to learn more.