Mediation Can Help Couples Better Navigate the Divorce Process
It would simply untrue to claim that divorce is easy. While some cases may be more difficult than others, even the most amicable situations still present stresses and challenges for both spouses and other impacted family members. The more challenging ones can spiral out of control quickly, and the phrase “nasty divorce” is one, unfortunately, heard far too often in everyday conversation. Many couples in recent years, however, are finding that through a process known as mediation, divorce can be far less stressful and emotionally taxing than they ever realized.
Mediation is an option made available to most couples pursuing a divorce. The process involves both spouses agree to meet together with a mediator, often an attorney, who is trained to help them negotiate all the necessary considerations of their divorce. When the parties have reached a mutually acceptable agreement regarding the various details of their case, it is submitted to the appropriate court to finalize the divorce proceedings. The results of mediation become legally binding once both spouses sign the agreement and it is accepted by the court.
As most mediated divorces require a number of sessions to complete, couples who find it difficult to be in the same room may not be inclined to pursue mediation. For those who are willing and able to make the effort to cooperate and communicate with a soon to be ex-spouse, their investment in the process may provide returns in the form of both short- and long-term benefits, including:
It is true that a mediator’s services incur costs but they are likely to be far less than each spouse paying a separate attorney for purposes of litigation. Many mediated divorces are completed in a matter of months while litigated divorces may take a year more to complete and can cost up to five times more.
Each party is granted the opportunity to contribute to the final outcome in a manner not always possible in a courtroom. A mediator will also be sure to address issues important to both spouses, generally leading to a more equitable final result. Judges are rarely able to truly understand a family’s situation, and are often forced to make their decisions based solely on information provided by lawyers rather than the parties themselves.
Divorces heard in open court are public proceedings and all records and transcripts become public record. Children, family members, and total strangers may therefore have access, not only to the results of a litigated divorce, but to every word spoken and detail revealed in the courtroom. Mediation, however, is confidential, and any documents or notes are privileged, allowing for a much higher degree of privacy.
A mediator will typically work around a couple’s schedule, allowing for evening or weekend sessions, possibly reducing the stress of finding childcare or taking off work. Litigation schedules are at the mercy of the court, setting dates often weeks or months in advance with very little room for flexibility.
By spending the necessary hours negotiating a workable arrangement, mediation often allows a family to more smoothly transition into the post-divorce stage. Limiting hostility and reducing stress by cooperation can help a divorcing couple be able to co-exist, especially if they have children together. Additionally, the children can see their parents working out their differences in a mature, responsible manner, demonstrating that it is possible to work together even in difficult circumstances.
If you are considering divorce in Illinois, and would like to know more about how mediation might be applicable your situation, we can help. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Geneva today for a consultation. As a certified mediation lawyer, Attorney Doug Warlick can answer your questions and help you prepare for the road ahead.