Family Law 101: What is Mediation?
Often in family law matters, including divorce, mediation can be a viable method for resolving disputes in a mutually-agreeable manner. The mediation process, governed in Illinois by the Uniform Mediation Act and by various local court rules, has a sole purpose – to provide a forum for reaching voluntary agreements between parties without resorting to contested litigation. According to DuPage County local rules, mediation is “an informal and non-adversarial process. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, exploring settlement alternatives and reaching an agreement.” When family law matters do arise, mediation can be the basis for creating a comprehensive agreement to help families move forward in the best possible direction.
Generally speaking, a mediator works with both parties to discuss the issues and facilitate the creation of solutions and arrangements that are agreeable to both parties. Because the mediator works with both parties, he or she must remain neutral and cannot advocate specifically for one side or the other. Although Illinois does not have a formal certification process for mediators, it is a good idea for parties to select an experienced certified mediator who uses best practices and ethics guidelines in conducting mediation. Having a well-trained, experienced, professional mediator can help parties avoid the difficult and stressful process of litigation and come to a prompt, amicable resolution of issues.
There are many reasons why people choose mediation. Some of the most common benefits of the mediation process include:
- Confidentiality – Mediation communications are considered confidential and, depending on the terms of the agreement, can be exempt from the discovery process if litigation ensues and can also be inadmissible as evidence.
- Communication – Mediation creates a forum for the exchange of ideas and fosters an environment for amicable solutions to all varieties of divorce matters.
- Structure – Mediation provides a medium for ironing out all the details of the parties' issues—for example, how life will be structured after a divorce in regards to parenting plans, child support, maintenance and visitation.
If you or someone you know is looking for an amicable resolution of a family law issue, contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, a leading Wheaton, Illinois family law firm with more than 100 years of combined experience helping clients solve challenging legal issues using a variety of effective methods and techniques.