Is Mediation Mandatory in an Illinois Divorce?

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method for Illinois couples who need to resolve issues in their divorce or in a post-divorce situation such as a child custody matter.

In child custody cases, if you and your spouse or the other parent can come to an agreement on a shared parenting plan and custody arrangement, then mediation is not necessary. Often, however, resolution between parties fail, whether it involves issues in divorce such as child custody and visitation, the division of marital property and debt, spousal support, or other issue.

The only issue that is not subject to mediation is child support. Child support is subject to strict laws in Illinois and therefore is not open to discussion. In other matters of disagreement, mediation is a process that can be used to resolve issues without the need for time-consuming and costly courtroom litigation.

In mediation, you and the other party work with a neutral third party who is there to assist you in reaching a mutually-acceptable agreement. Mediators are trained and certified. Their job is to help you outline the issues, discuss them in a rational manner, and negotiate a solution. Mediators work to monitor and assist communication between you and your spouse or the other parent so that it stays positive and constructive. Mediation is private and confidential. Mediators do not provide legal advice. Furthermore, it is voluntary and, if you choose not to abide by the results, you are not obligated to do so. In that case, the issue will likely head towards the court for a judge to decide.

Looking for experienced legal help with your divorce or family law issue? The Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. has been representing Chicago individuals for over a decade. Call use at (312) 487-2795 to book a consultation.

More On Mediation in an Illinois Family Law Case

To answer the question posed by this blog, mediation in family law cases such as divorce is voluntary and can be begun at any phase of the case. However, it is generally mandatory for cases concerning child custody or visitation. In these custody/visitation cases, it would only be excused where the parties cannot or should not communicate, such as in cases of domestic violence and/or restraining orders.

Mandatory mediation falls under Illinois law that calls for a beginning conference concerning the case to be conducted within 90 days after the case has been filed. When that conference rolls around, if you and your spouse or the other parent have not come to an agreement regarding a parenting plan, your case will then be scheduled for mediation. Once the mediation process is completed, another conference is held to review the results.

Rules are set by your local court as to how many mediation sessions should occur, how long each session should be, how exceptions to mediation are handled, and other details. In Chicago cases, courts generally appoint a mediator with whom you will work. However, it is recommended that you have the benefit of an attorney who can give you legal advice about the various issues handled in the mediation process. You also have the right to jointly (with your spouse or co-parent) engage financial experts, child therapists, and any other professionals you might need to shed light on the issues that could impact your decisions.

Need Mediation Services in Chicago?

Mediation is an alternative to litigation in court that can lead to successful resolutions for parties in disagreement about their family law issues. However, it takes a willingness to work together with the other party through cooperative effort. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. we can offer the help you need in any family law dispute that is undergoing mediation or through other divorce methods, such as collaborative law or trial and litigation.

Contact us at (312) 487-2795 to schedule a consultation about your legal issue today.

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