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.
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.