WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict on a voluntary basis to negotiate an agreement. A professional mediator is there to facilitate the communication between all parties to find an optimal resolution outside of court. The process is known to reduce friction and increase amicable communication between the individuals to reach a sustainable agreement that works for spouses and children.
WHAT ISSUES CAN FAMILY MEDIATION RESOLVE?
Family Mediation can resolve any issues in regards to marriage, a parent and child relationship, siblings, extended family members, and co-parenting schedules and plans.
WHAT ISSUES CAN DIVORCE MEDIATION RESOLVE?
Divorce Mediation works through any issues that you need to solve around the dissolution of a marriage to end peacefully and economically.
Issues that will be included in your discussions, but not limited to:
Parenting Plan: Parental Time-Sharing and Responsibilities for co-parenting that occur during divorce in regards to holidays, vacations, & summer
Child Support and Expenses: Financial support each parent provides for the child(ren) around health insurance and extracurricular activities.
Distribution of Property: Assets and Liabilities (marital residences), Checking & Savings, Stocks/Trust Funds, Decisions around debt, et al.
Alimony Maintenance and Support: Who is awarded financial support and the length of time it will be distributed post-divorce.
Divorce is a painful process for you and your child(ren). However, you can make the transition manageable by establishing a suitable agreement that works for the child(ren), yourself, and ex-spouse.
The parenting plan is an inclusive arrangement that provides a schedule for parenting time-sharing and responsibilities. It signifies where the children will be for the holidays, weekends, transportation to-and-from each household, best communication channels and locations for household exchange, vacations, and summers.
In addition, the plan will include four main areas of the children’s interests:
Health: Significant decisions regarding the child(ren)’s health include all decision relating to medical, dental, psychological treatment and treatments arising or resulting needs.
Education: Significant decisions regarding the child(ren)’s education include schools and tutors
Religion: Significant decisions regarding child(ren)'s religion include a choice of religion or denomination of religion, religious schooling, religious training, or participation in religious customs or practices
Extracurricular Activities: Significant decisions regarding the child(ren)'s extracurricular and recreational activities
In the state of Illinois, the law requires all couples with children going through a dissolution of a marriage to file a parenting plan.
CHILD SUPPORT and EXPENSES
Child support is a configuration based on both of the spouses' income. However, additional expenses that are not configured for child support will need to be negotiated to prevent future misunderstandings of parental financial responsibilities.
Child Support includes, but not limited to:
Child Care Expenses (before or after school care, camps, work-related childcare expenses)
Extracurricular Activities and other school-related events/projects
Health Insurance and Medical Expenses
DISTRIBUTION OF PROPERTY
Assets and Liabilities will be split accordingly to what the parties decide they feel is fair, but not necessarily equal, based on their needs and interests.
It really isn’t about splitting 50/50, but what the spouses find suitable per agreement with the distribution of property and assets.
MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT
Maintenance is gender-neutral and based on the income of the ex-spouse providing financial support to his/her spouse whose earnings are on a lower scale to help with the transition from a married to single lifestyle.
Maintenance formula based on a configuration with both spouse’s income (or non-existent income) and the length of marriage to determine the awarded amount given to the parent who makes the least amount of income.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DIVORCE MEDIATOR vs. DIVORCE LAWYER?
Divorce Lawyers are hired to represent each spouse in the divorce. The two lawyers strategize in support of their client to “win” alimony, child support, allocation of parenting responsibilities and time-sharing, and distribution of property. With divorce lawyers it’s all about positions, one spouse pinned against the other spouse to be awarded, regardless of how emotionally detrimental it is to the overall health of the family unit.
Divorce Mediators allows both spouses to negotiate in a collaborative style format based on each spouse’s needs and interests with a neutral mediator. A mediator does not provide legal advice or support positions. Mediators allow you to make significant decisions for yourself and childI(ren) without handing the power over to a judge to decide for you. It is not about “winning”, but creating an amicable agreement that meets each spouses' needs and interests while implementing open communication to uncover healthy solutions for the family as a whole unit.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE TIME SPENT IN MEDIATION?
The complexity of the issues and ability of the individuals to be flexible as they negotiate an amicable agreement determines the length of the mediation. Every case is different, but the average case usually takes at least 4-10 two-hour mediation sessions, spread out over several months. More complex cases can take four to six months to complete, whereas the average divorce takes eighteen months.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO BRING TO A DIVORCE MEDIATION?
Prior to your mediation, you will need to define what issues you would like to resolve. Clarifying your needs and interests prior to the meeting will allow for the process to flow at a quicker pace, keeping your costs to a minimum.
Potential documents needed for mediation, but not limited to:
Record of assets
Fees for children’s welfare
Expenses relevant to the dispute
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDIATION?
There are many benefits to choosing a mediator over hiring litigators to negotiate differences.
Quick Process: The process to reach a resolution between parties is much faster than hiring lawyers and battling it out in court.
Amicable: The mediator helps facilitate a respectful dialogue between the disputants to reach an agreement that benefits both spouses and their child(ren). The communication is intended to be constructive and focuses on attacking the problem - not the individuals.
Cost-Efficient: Mediation costs a fraction of what it costs to hire lawyers for divorce. Most mediation cases can be resolved under five thousand, whereas most litigated cases can cost twenty thousand and upwards.
Civil: Agreements reached are fair as both parties have voluntarily chosen to be present and contribute to a resolution that works best for all involved. Mediation provides the ability to make the best decision for your future as opposed to leaving it in the hands of the court. If decisions are left to the courts, you may end up dissatisfied with the agreement.
Healthier: Instead of attorneys and judges who do not know your child(ren) deciding the allocation of parental responsibilities and time-sharing, the parents have the ability make safe and sound decisions on what is best for the child(ren) in creating a parenting plan. This establishes less conflict for the child(ren) and facilitates a positive co-parenting arrangement.
Accountability: There is a stronger sense of accountability and satisfaction from each spouse to abide by the agreement since they mutually agree to terms they have established based on their needs and interests.
Confidential: Mediation is a confidential process allowing all parties to resolve outside of court, whereas divorce is public litigation.
Empowering: Meditation gives each party a chance to tell their story and be heard about how the dispute has affected them emotionally, mentally, and physically. This can be a very empowering and validating process for each disputant to share their perspective.
IS MEDIATION CONFIDENTIAL?
Yes, all mediations are a confidential communication process unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties involved or required by law.
FORMS OF PAYMENT ACCEPTED?
Our billing rate for mediation services is $250 an hour. A retainer will be due prior to rendering any mediation services. In addition, a non-refundable of fee of $500 will be due at the first session for preparation of the Memorandum of Understanding. All payments will need to made in advance prior to services. Payment can be made by cash, credit card, Zelle, or Venmo.
DO I NEED A LAWYER?
No, you do not need a lawyer to be present for mediation. However, if you feel it is necessary you may bring counsel to the mediation or speak with one in between sessions to seek any legal advice you may need to confirm your decisions within the agreement.