Are you considering getting a divorce? Well, it’s important to understand all of your options. Divorce mediation is one option that can help you and your spouse dissolve your marriage in a way that is amicable and cost-effective.
In fact, the majority of mediated divorces result in better outcomes for all parties involved. This is of great benefit not only to the couple but also to the potential kids involved in this divorce.
In this blog post, we will discuss how divorce mediation works and answer some of the most common questions people have about the process.
Keep reading to discover more about the importance and value of mediation divorce.
Who is a Mediator?
First, mediation is mandatory in cases where there are issues relating to the children. Parents will want to try and come to an agreement regarding their children on their own. In addition, parents will want to come to an agreement prior to their initial case management date.
In the event you cannot reach an agreement, a judge will likely order the parents to participate in mediation. A mediator’s main goal is to resolve some, if not all the issues involving the children.
On Divorce Mediation
The process of divorce mediation has its roots in ancient China, where couples would go to a neutral third party to resolve their differences.
This tradition was later adopted by the Quakers in the United States, who used mediation to settle disputes between members of their community. The modern process of divorce mediation was developed in the 1970s by lawyer and mediator Marilyn Sommers.
Furthermore, studies have shown that couples who go through mediation are more likely to be satisfied with the final outcome of their divorce, and they are also more likely to comply with the terms of their settlement agreement.
The Mediation Process
Once a mediator is contacted by both parents involved in a case, the mediator will host solo sessions for each parent. After that, a mediator usually will set up joint sessions for both parents to attend.
Most times there are at least one joint session held. Mediation will last as long as it is agreed upon and progress is being made relating to the issues surrounding the children.
Mediators will set a minimum number of sessions based on the court’s mediation order. Therefore, after those required meetings are over, either party or the mediator can end the mediation process. Lastly, the mediator will compile a report and submit it to both parties involved as well as the judge. In some instances, your mediator may send a letter to the attorneys involved highlighting their client’s mediation sessions.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
In divorce mediation, a trained mediator will help you and your spouse communicate and negotiate an agreement on all aspects of your divorce, including child custody, visitation, support, property division, and alimony.
The mediator does not take sides or make decisions for you; instead, they facilitate communication and help you reach a mutually-agreeable resolution.
The mediation process is confidential, which means that anything you discuss with the mediator cannot be used against you in court. Additionally, mediators are required to have special training in conflict resolution and they must adhere to a strict code of ethics.
Before the Mediation Process Begins
Before you begin the mediation process, it’s important to understand that both you and your spouse must be willing to participate in good faith.
You should also have a basic understanding of the law as it pertains to divorce so that you can make informed decisions during the mediation process.
It’s also a good idea to collect all of the financial documents you will need for the mediation, such as tax returns, bank statements, and pay stubs. This will help you and your spouse come to an agreement on child support, alimony, and property division.
If you have children, you should also think about what kind of custody arrangement would be best for them. Would you like to have joint custody, or would you prefer to have sole custody? These are important questions to consider before you begin the mediation process.
Preparing for Mediation Sessions
To begin, you will want to document what you believe is best for your children and the reasons why. You should focus on issues like majority parent, decision making, and parenting time schedules. People should know that a mediator does not take child custody payments into account.
Again, a mediator’s main focus in on the children, usually they will not handle finances. The summary you created for the mediator may not be used. The purpose of that process is to get you familiar with the mediation process.
Secondly, you must be prepared to discuss both sides of the issues. Therefore, you must understand what the other parent wants and why. Try your best to keep an open mind. Lastly, do not take your children to your mediation session and be sure not to talk to them about your sessions. Above all, be truthful.
During mediation, you and your spouse will meet with the mediator in a confidential setting to discuss your divorce. The mediator will help you communicate with each other and negotiate an agreement on all aspects of your divorce.
It’s important to remember that the mediator does not make decisions for you; instead, they facilitate communication and help you reach a mutually-agreeable resolution.
The mediation process can be as long or as short as you and your spouse need it to be. You can also choose to have multiple mediation sessions if necessary.
Once you reach an agreement, the mediator will prepare a written settlement agreement for you and your spouse to sign. This agreement will then be filed with the court, and once it is approved, it will become a binding legal document.
Completing the Mediation Agreement
The written settlement agreement that you and your spouse sign at the end of mediation is a binding legal document. Once it is filed with the court, it becomes a court order, and both you and your spouse are required to comply with its terms.
If you have children, the terms of your custody agreement will be enforceable by the court. This means that if either you or your spouse violates the terms of the agreement, the other parent can take legal action to enforce it.
It’s important to note that not all divorce mediation agreements are upheld by the court. In order for an agreement to be enforced by the court, it must be fair and reasonable. If the court finds that an agreement is unfair or unreasonable, they may choose to set it aside.
State of Illinois Specifics
In greater detail, for the state of Illinois, the divorce mediation process is as follows:
Both spouses must attend an initial consultation with the mediator, during which time the mediator will explain the process and answer any questions you may have.
If you decide to move forward with mediation, you and your spouse will meet with the mediator for a series of sessions. These sessions are typically scheduled once per week, although more frequent meetings can be arranged if necessary.
During each session, you and your spouse will discuss the issues that need to be resolved in your divorce. The mediator will help you communicate with each other and identify areas of agreement and disagreement.
Once you have reached an agreement on all aspects of your divorce, the mediator will prepare a written settlement agreement for you to sign.
What Are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation?
There are many benefits to choosing mediation over traditional litigation when getting a divorce. First, mediation is usually faster and less expensive than going to court.
Second, mediation is often less emotionally charged than litigation, which can make the process easier for both parties involved.
Finally, mediation gives you and your spouse more control over the outcome of your divorce, as opposed to having a judge make decisions for you.
In essence, mediation can provide you with a more amicable and cost-effective way to divorce.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, so let’s take a look at some of the mentioned benefits and others in greater detail.
Cheaper and Faster Than Court
The average cost of a mediated divorce is $2000, while the average cost of a litigated divorce is $15,000. In addition, mediation can take as little as three months to complete, while litigation can take up to two years.
Also, keep in mind that the cost of a mediated divorce is typically split evenly between both parties, while the cost of a litigated divorce is usually paid by one party.
Emotionally Neutral Resolution
In mediation, both parties have the opportunity to express their needs and concerns in a safe and neutral environment. This can help reduce feelings of anger and hostility, making it easier to reach an agreement.
Also, because the mediator is a neutral third party, they are not taking sides or advocating for either spouse. This can help both parties feel more comfortable and less defensive during the mediation process.
More Control Over the Outcome
Because you and your spouse are making the decisions in mediation, you have more control over the outcome of your divorce than you would if you went to court.
This is especially beneficial if you have children, as you can tailor your custody arrangement to meet their specific needs.
Moreover, you can also be more creative in mediation when it comes to dividing assets, which can help you both walk away from the divorce feeling satisfied.
How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
In essence, divorce mediation times vary based on the couple’s ability to communicate and reach an agreement. In some cases, mediation can be completed in just a few sessions, while others may take several months.
Of course, there are some couples who are unable to reach an agreement through mediation and must resolve their differences in court. However, even in these cases, mediation can still be beneficial as it can help narrow the issues that need to be litigated.
On average, in the state of Illinois, divorce mediation takes between three and six months to complete.
What is the Cost of Divorce Mediation
The cost of divorce mediation varies depending on factors such as the mediator’s fees, the number of sessions required, and whether you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement.
In general, though, mediation is less expensive than traditional litigation. In fact, some couples may even be able to save money by using a mediator instead of hiring two separate attorneys.
On average, in the state of Illinois, divorce mediation costs around $2000.00 per couple.
The Primary Differences Between Traditional Litigation and Divorce Mediation
The primary difference between traditional litigation and divorce mediation is that, in mediation, the couple decides all of the terms of their divorce agreement together with the help of a mediator.
In contrast, in traditional litigation, each party hires their own lawyer and the lawyers negotiate on behalf of their clients. The judge then makes all decisions about the terms of the divorce.
While both methods can be effective, mediation is typically faster, less expensive, and less emotionally charged than traditional litigation. It is also often more successful in helping couples reach a mutually-agreeable resolution.
Who Should Consider Divorce Mediation?
If you are considering getting a divorce, mediation might be a good option for you if:
- You and your spouse are willing to negotiate in good faith
- You want to keep the cost and emotional stress of your divorce to a minimum
- You want more control over the outcome of your divorce
However, these are just some examples, and truthfully, the list can go on and on. So let’s examine these points and more in greater detail.
Both Parties Agree to Divorce
One of the first things that you and your spouse will need to do if you want to go the mediation route is agreed that you both want a divorce.
This may seem like an obvious requirement, but it’s important to remember that mediation can only be successful if both parties are committed to the process. If one person wants to stay married, mediation will not work.
You Must Be Willing to Negotiate in Good Faith
As we mentioned before, another key requirement for successful mediation is that both parties must be willing to negotiate in good faith. What does this mean?
Well, simply put, it means that both parties must be open to compromise and willing to find creative solutions that work for everyone involved.
If one person is not interested in negotiating or tries to take advantage of the other party, mediation will not work.
You Want to Keep the Cost and Emotional Stress of Your Divorce to a Minimum
If you’re like most people, you probably want to keep the cost and emotional stress of your divorce to a minimum. And guess what? Mediation can help you do just that!
On average, mediation is less expensive than traditional litigation because you only have to pay for one mediator instead of two lawyers.
In addition, mediation is typically faster than litigation, which means you’ll be able to move on with your life sooner rather than later.
Finally, mediation is often more successful in helping couples reach a mutually-agreeable resolution, which can help reduce the emotional stress of divorce.
You Want More Control Over the Outcome of Your Divorce
In mediation, you and your spouse will have more control over the outcome of your divorce than you would if you went the traditional litigation route.
This is because, in mediation, you’ll be working together to find solutions that work for both of you instead of leaving the decision-making up to a judge.
So, if you want more control over the outcome of your divorce, mediation might be the right option for you.
No History of Domestic Violence
One final point to keep in mind is that, in order for mediation to be successful, there can’t be any history of domestic violence.
If there is a history of domestic violence, the mediator will not be able to help you and your spouse reach an agreement. In this case, traditional litigation might be a better option.
Both Parties Are Honest About Financial Circumstances
Another key requirement for successful mediation is that both parties must be honest about their financial circumstances. This includes disclosing all assets and debts, as well as income and expenses.
If one party tries to hide assets or mislead the other about finances, mediation will not work.
Custody Terms Are Agreed Upon
If you have children, it’s important to note that mediation will only be successful if you and your spouse can agree on custody terms.
If you cannot reach an agreement on custody, the mediator will not be able to help you and traditional litigation might be a better option.
How to Find and Vet the Potential Divorce Mediator That’s Right for You and Your Partner
If you’re interested in pursuing mediation, the next step is to find a mediator who you and your spouse both feel comfortable working with.
The best way to find a mediator is to ask for referrals from friends or family members who have been through divorce mediation themselves. Once you have a few potential names, you can research each one online and read reviews from other couples who have used their services.
You should also make sure to interview each mediator before making a final decision. During the interview, be sure to ask about their experience, fees, and cancellation policy.
You should also ask whether they are open to meeting with you and your spouse together or separately. Once you have found a mediator that you and your spouse are both comfortable with, you can begin the mediation process.
In terms of vetting your mediator at an interview, you should prepare some important questions for them to answer. Here is a list of several questions to help you get started.
What Are Your Qualifications?
At this point in the interview, you should ask the mediator about their qualifications. This will help you determine whether they have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you and your spouse reach an agreement.
Some important questions to ask in this regard include: How long have you been practicing mediation? What is your education and/or professional background? Do you have any special training in mediation?
What Is Your Mediation Style?
It’s also important to ask the mediator about their mediation style. This will help you determine whether they are a good fit for you and your spouse. Some important questions to ask in this regard include:
How do you typically structure mediation sessions? Do you meet with couples together or separately? How do you handle difficult conversations?
What Are Your Fees?
Of course, you should also ask the mediator about their fees. This will help you determine whether they are affordable for you and your spouse. Some important questions to ask in this regard include:
What is your hourly rate? Do you offer discounts for longer sessions? What is your cancellation policy?
What If I Have My Own Attorney?
You should also ask the mediator whether they are open to working with couples who have their own attorneys. Some mediators are not comfortable working with couples who have attorneys, so it’s important to ask this question upfront.
If the mediator is not open to working with couples who have attorneys, you might want to consider finding a different mediator.
How Long Is a Typical Mediation Session?
Finally, you should ask the mediator about the length of a typical mediation session. This will help you determine whether they are a good fit for your schedule.
Some important questions to ask in this regard include: How long is a typical mediation session? How often do you meet with couples? Do you offer weekend or evening sessions?
Do Your Fees Include Court-Filing and Other Costs?
You should also ask the mediator whether their fees include court filing and other costs. This will help you determine whether you need to budget for additional expenses.
Some important questions to ask in this regard include: Do your fees include court-filing fees? Do your fees include the cost of copies and other materials? What other costs should I expect to incur during mediation?
Can We Meet Privately?
Finally, you should ask the mediator whether they offer private sessions. This will help you determine whether you feel comfortable discussing personal matters with the mediator.
Some important questions to ask in this regard include: Do you offer private sessions? How do you handle confidential information? What is your policy on sharing information with my spouse?
By asking the mediator these important questions, you can be sure that you are making the best decision for your needs.
Divorce mediation can be a great way to reach an agreement without going to court, but it’s important to make sure that you are comfortable with the mediator before moving forward.
Divorce Mediation Done Your Way
There are many important factors to consider when choosing a divorce mediator. By asking the mediator these important questions, you can be sure that you are making the best decision for your needs.
Divorce mediation can be a great way to reach an agreement without going to court, but it’s important to make sure that you are comfortable with the mediator before moving forward.
Choose a mediator who is qualified and has the experience, who uses a mediation style that you are comfortable with, and who charges fees that you can afford. Most importantly, choose a mediator with who you feel comfortable talking about personal matters.
Now that you understand how does divorce mediation work, if you’re interested in getting service for your case, get in touch with us and we will accommodate your needs.