Tag Archives: mediation
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEDIATORS AND ATTORNEYS?
A mediator is a neutral third party who assists parties in navigating their legal differences by creating a forum for open dialogue. Mediators can also draft legal documents detailing agreements reached by the parties but do not represent either party. Mediators are utilized out of court for the purposes of negotiation and for facilitating a dialogue that will hopefully be productive. While they may be attorneys by trade, mediators cannot later be retained by a party to represent them in court proceedings if the mediator previously attempted to mediate the dispute at hand. A mediator will not go to court and argue for or against any party. Conversely, an attorney represents one party, and will zealously advocate for the party they are representing. While an attorney’s job is to advocate on behalf of their clients, an attorney can take a meditative or cooperative negotiating approach to working with the opposing party.
There are typically two instances in which people attend mediation: voluntarily to settle a dispute outside of court or as a result of court ordered mediation. In family law, mediation is most often utilized as an alternative to litigating issues before a judge. If the parties are unsuccessful in finding a resolution during mediation, returning to court is most often the next step.
If you have been notified of court ordered mediation you must attend. Any child custody or child visitation case filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, whether through a divorce or parentage action, courts mandate parties to attend mediation unless the parties are able to reach an agreement on their own. Nevertheless, in certain instances, such as cases involving domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness or child abuse, a judge has the authority to keep the parties out of mediation. Furthermore, if circumstances are presented that the parties should not be in close proximity, such as one having an order of protection against the other, mediation would not be considered a viable option.
Regardless of whether you will be participating in mediation on a voluntary basis or through a court order, it is important to maximize your time to achieve the most desirable outcome. Even though mediation is a collaborative effort intended to bestow mutual accord, this does not mean it will be smooth sailing, or even that any agreements will be made. Successful mediation requires a lot more than two opposing sides sitting in a room, here’s how to get the most out of it:
Come to mediation with a plan…
A mediator can facilitate an agreement between two parties. A mediator also provides a bipartisan outlook and professional recommendations that you may have not been able to recognize through your own clouded judgments and predispositions. But most importantly a mediator can save you money! Mediators are arguably the most cost effective legal alternative to civil litigation.
Have you ever heard the saying, “the power of the people?” The same intrinsically applies to the concept of mediation. In mediation, the mediator assists in setting the tone, gathers both sides of the equation and tries to find a middle ground to satisfy both parties. Skilled mediators have the ability to understand the root cause of hate/hurt/helplessness and turn it into happiness.
If you are in the Cook County Court system and cannot agree with your spouse or the parent of your minor child(ren) regarding custody of the minor child(ren) and issues related to visitation and removal of the child(ren) from Illinois, you may be facing a long road ahead of you.
In cases where custody of a minor child is at issue, or parents cannot agree to visitation, or when as issue exists as to removal of a minor child from the state, Cook County Circuit Court Rule 13.4(e) requires parents to attend mediation. Mediation, which is a non-binding and confidential process, can take place with a private mediator whom the parties agree upon, or through Family Mediation Services, which is free of charge to the parties.