Article: What Happens in Family Law Mediation?

Mediation is basically a settlement conference between the parties that is supervised by a neutral specialist who is there to facilitate agreement. Prior to such encounters, about 95% of participants believe that mediation will be an utter waste of time because they reason that if talking could have resolved the dispute, no one would have filed a court case. Yet, 71% of participants resolve some or all of their disputes in just a few hours using mediation.

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What Happens in Family Law Mediation?

Mediation is basically a settlement conference between the parties that is supervised by a neutral specialist who is there to facilitate agreement. Prior to such encounters, about 95% of participants believe that mediation will be an utter waste of time because they reason that if talking could have resolved the dispute, no one would have filed a court case. Yet, 71% of participants resolve some or all of their disputes in just a few hours using mediation.

Mediation typically works because, at some level, even the most bitterly-divided partners want to talk and work things out between themselves, rather than going to court and risking the unknown. What are the benefits of mediation, and how does it work?

Mediation’s Three “Cs”

Divorce and family law costs vary significantly and are difficult to quantify, but the Justice Department has compiled some statistics about mediation. Typically, this process occurs after discovery is completed and before trial. So, according to the government, mediation saves an average of over $14 million in litigation expenses each year, in addition to over 2,100 months of litigation time and 20,000 days of attorney and staff time. If financial resources are an issue, and they nearly always are, mediation is often worth a look.

As mentioned earlier, mediation also gives the parties more control over the outcome because instead of handing the matter over to a judge, the parties determine who gets to keep the children, who keeps the house, and so on. There is considerable evidence that mediation increases voluntary compliance, which means fewer motions to enforce and a less antagonistic co-parenting situation.

This civility is a third advantage. Court cases are public and the court transcripts are public record, but mediation sessions are private and there is no court reporter present. So, parents need not air their “dirty laundry” in public and can lay a better foundation for successful co-parenting. Furthermore, as is laid out below, in most mediation situations, the parties spend most of their time in separate rooms, so the atmosphere is much less emotionally charged.

Procedural Aspects

Most courts order mediation in contested cases, and it is normally a good idea unless there are serious safety concerns. Typically, either the judge appoints a mediator or the parties agree on one. It is normally best to use an experienced family law mediator because someone else may be unfamiliar with all the legal and financial ramifications of divorce and family law matters.

After each attorney gives a brief opening statement during a joint session, the parties and their lawyers retire to separate rooms, and the mediator conveys settlement offers and counter-offers between the two sides. If the parties reach a complete agreement in either the full or half-day session, the mediator files a notice with the court and the matter is concluded; if there is no agreement or only a partial agreement, the court case continues.

Contact Zealous Lawyers

Mediation does not always work, but it is almost always worth a try. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson. After-hours appointments are available.

(image courtesy of Breather)

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The law office of Glasgow & Olsson serves clients in the northwest Chicago suburbs, including Schaumburg, Palatine, Elgin, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Arlington Heights, Mundelein, Fox River Grove, Buffalo Grove, Fox Lake, Killdeer, Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Des Plaines, Elmhurst, Itasca, Deerfield, Libertyville, Park Ridge, Barrington, South Barrington, North Barrington, Barrington Hills, Woodstock, River Forest, Crystal Lake, Highland Park, Prospect Heights, Inverness, West Chicago, Cary, Hawthorn Woods, River Woods, Lincolnshire, Vernon Hills, Lawn Grove, Mount Prospect, Streamwood, Bartlett, Elk Grove Village, Carbondale, Wheeling, Illinois and spans Cook County, Lake County, Kane County, McHenry County, Jefferson County, Williamson County, Pulaski County, Alexander County and DuPage County. Many of our clients' cases are heard in the Rolling Meadows Courthouse (the Third Municipal District of Cook County) and in the Skokie Courthouse (the Second Municipal District of Cook County).

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