Court Ordered Mediation in DuPage County Child Custody Cases
Mediation is a part of a process known as alternative dispute resolution, which involves resolving issues outside of the courtroom. In child custody matters, mediation refers to a process where the parties to a divorce come together with a trained mediator to work out custody and visitation issues in their case. The mediator's role is one of a referee, facilitating communication between the parties as they work out the issues in their divorce, and how they would like to see them resolved. Mediators can either be appointed by the judge in the case, or agreed to by the parties. For divorces involving child custody/visitation issues in most counties, judges can and will order the parties to attend mediation through a Court Referred Divorce Mediation Program.
Court ordered mediation may be ordered in situations where the parties need to resolve issues of parental responsibility, custody, visitation, removal and access to children. In mediation, the parties can prioritize the needs of their children, explore their parental relationships, and come up with a parenting plan that works for the whole family. In order to further one potential goal of mediation, working out the child issues in a way that benefits all the parties, the parents are ordered to attend parenting classes. These classes can be very beneficial to parents, teaching them how to co-parent after the divorce.
Mediation May Not be the Best Option in Some Cases
In some cases, the judge may feel that this would be inappropriate because an aspect of the case would obstruct the mediation process. A judge would be unlikely to order mediation in cases where there is:
• Domestic violence;
• Mental illness;
• Drug or alcohol use;
• Physical impairment; or
• Fraud, duress or undue influence.
During the process, the mediator also screens for other things that may obstruct the mediation process, and reports back to the judge.
Couples attending mediation are allowed and even encouraged to consult with their attorneys before mediation, and in between the mediation sessions. It is helpful to have an attorney who is well versed in the mediation process, and can support your desire to mediate the case.
Because of the nature of the mediation process, where the parties come together to express what they want and then try to accommodate each party's needs, the parties are supposed to participate in mediation in good faith. This ultimately means that the parties should at least try to work out the issues in mediation, without looking for a way to simply get past the mediation in order to reach litigation.
Contact an Illinois Attorney
If you are going through a divorce in which children are involved, and have been ordered by the court to go through mediation, you should consult an attorney who is familiar with the mediation process. Contact an attorney at MKFM Law for a consultation.