Divorce Mediation Myths
Very few people enjoy going to court (except, of course, for some attorneys). When divorce becomes a reality, some people make the choice to go through divorce mediation instead of litigating the matter in court. However, despite its increasing popularity, there are still many pervasive myths floating around about the mediation process. It is important to set the record straight, so that you can make an informed choice about which process may be right for you.
Myth: The mediator is there to mediate your disputes about your marriage.
Technically, this is false. A divorce mediator is a professional, often an attorney but not always, who has training in dispute resolution and will use it to help you work out a settlement. They are, in a nutshell, not “that” kind of mediator. They are not therapists or couples’ counselors. Mediators are there to facilitate the conversation so that parties can make constructive progress on divorce-related issues, including asset disposition, child custody and spousal support or alimony.
Myth: Mediation is binding and biased in favor of the wife—as are the courts.
False. While mediation is a collaborative process, you have no obligation to agree to anything. It is typically in both of your best interests to develop an agreement so as to save time and money, but if you are genuinely unsatisfied, you are not bound in any way. Incidentally, the idea that divorce courts are biased in favor of women is also generally without foundation. Studies out of Massachusetts examined 2,100 cases of fathers who pushed aggressively to gain custody of their children, finding that 92 percent received either full or joint custody, with mothers gaining full custody (to the exclusion of the father) only seven percent of the time.
Myth: Mediators don’t have to be certified, so they don’t know what they’re doing.
This is half true. Mediators in Illinois are not required to be certified or licensed. However, this does not mean that they do not know what they are doing. Mediators do not survive in business without a strong grasp of the applicable divorce law and significant training. Most mediators in Illinois also adhere to the Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation, which helps to guarantee uniform results.
Myth: Mediation is always the best possible way to go.
False. While mediation can be beneficial for many couples, it is not a good option for couples who cannot work together. Mediation is designed for couples who are able to tolerate each other’s presence, and constructively discuss options for the future. If there have been domestic violence or anger issues in the family past, mediation is likely not the best option. A total inability to agree on anything will be the likely result, with the attendant loss of time and money.
An Attorney Can Help in Mediation
While an attorney is not required if you decide to pursue divorce mediation, it can be useful to have an advocate on your side along the way. If your case heads into the courtroom, a lawyer becomes even more necessary. To learn more about your options, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation.