The Mediation Process in Illinois
What 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.
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.
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.