Understanding the Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution

When considering divorce, most people think of an expensive, drawn-out, and contentious court process that can tear families apart and alienate the children. However, when filing for divorce, mediation and collaborative law may be effective alternatives to traditional litigation. While most cases do not require either, they may be very beneficial in certain circumstances.

Even with alternative methods of divorce, it is critical to work with an experienced lawyer who can protect your interests and walk you through the process. At The Law Offices of Van A. Schwab, attorney Schwab has spent more than 40 years handling all types of divorce-related matters for clients in the Chicagoland area of Illinois.

About Mediation

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process in which both parties work with a neutral third-party mediator to resolve issues surrounding their divorce. Mediation is a non-binding, confidential process, and the mediator helps facilitate an agreement related to issues such as child support, maintenance, property distribution, and allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities.

The mediator does not give legal advice, and therefore both parties’ attorneys may accompany their clients in the mediation process. Instead, the mediator helps identify the issues, explore possible solutions and draft an agreement that is in the parties’ own terms. When the parties reach a mutual agreement, the parties enter into and sign a written settlement agreement, and the court enters an order or judgment approving the agreement.

When Is Mediation the Right Choice?

When effective, mediation may provide a quick, cost-effective, and personalized alternative to traditional litigation. However, certain cases may not benefit from mediation and are better suited for traditional litigation and legal representation. For example, if the parties cannot agree, the mediation process can be just as timely, expensive, and challenging as the courtroom process.

Moreover, mediators do not give legal advice, so it is imperative to hire an attorney. In cases where the parties are not fully aware of their assets, they need a lawyer to complete the discovery process to determine their marital and nonmarital property.

Pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 905, mediation is required for parents with child-related issues such as allocation of parental responsibilities, relocation, and other nonchild support issues. In Cook County, the parents will be referred to Family Mediation Services for mediation if they cannot agree to a mediator.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is another possibility. Unlike mediation, arbitration offers couples the option of settling their divorce matters out of court by working with an arbitrator. This arbitrator makes a binding judgment on the case.

Collaborative Law

Another alternative is the collaborative process, in which both parties hire a collaborative law attorney and agree to resolve the issues without litigation. The parties sign a legally binding Participation Agreement, in which they commit to resolving the dispute outside of the courtroom and according to collaborative law guidelines.

The parties and their collaborative law attorneys all meet together in a four-way conference in order to work through the issues and reach a mutual agreement. They often consult child specialists, financial experts, divorce coaches, and mental health professionals throughout the process. When an agreement is reached, the attorneys draft an agreement, and the court then enters an order or judgment finalizing the process. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties may resort to litigation, but pursuant to the Participation Agreement, both attorneys must withdraw from the case.

As an experienced divorce lawyer, Van A. Schwab knows how the courts are likely to rule on various issues, which gives him a unique ability to protect your rights throughout the collaborative law proceedings.

We Are Here To Help

Van A. Schwab offers years of experience in alternative dispute resolutions. He has successfully helped many individuals navigate through this process. His current mediation rate is $250 per hour. Contact Van A. Schwab by email or by calling.