Mediation is the process in which a neutral and impartial third party encourages an open dialog between the parties in an attempt to facilitate a mutually satisfactory agreement. In Illinois, the parties must attend mediation to resolve child custody and visitation issues if they are unable to reach an agreement regarding those issues at the time of the initial child custody case management conference. Financial Mediation is also offered in McLean County.
Mediation provides an opportunity for the parties to openly discuss their concerns in an environment that also allows them to take control over the particular issues being mediated as opposed to allowing the court to decide the issues for them. Mediation has the added benefits of reducing conflict and litigation costs and confidentiality (contrary to litigation, which can be costly and is public record).
The mediator directs the conversation, but the conversation is driven by the communication between the parties. Parties are encouraged to communicate openly while trying to reach an agreement, at least on some issues. However, if at any time, either party feels that mediation is not working, her/she is free to leave. The process typically works best if each party has an opportunity to share his/her perspective and get certain things off his/her chest without interrupting one another. An experienced mediator will keep the conversation moving forward towards a resolution.
In the interest of clarifying the perspectives of the parties and coming to an agreement, the mediator may meet with each party ˜in caucus’ (one on one). When the parties are emotionally charged, in caucus is often the best way to defuse the situation.
Ideally mediation results in the parties coming to an agreement. Agreements should be very detailed, clearly identifying the who, what, when, where, and how as it pertains to the parties’ obligations going forward. An experienced mediator will draft agreements that are workable and legally enforceable. However, the mediator is not the attorney for either party. It is important for mediation agreements to use language the parties understand, avoiding legalese, as the agreement is for the parties and they should be able to refer to the agreement and comprehend their obligations.
At Koth Gregory & Nieminski, we handle cases as a collaborative legal team, not just one attorney, which makes us very effective when it comes to helping resolve family matters. When deciding which lawyer you want representing you in your divorce, it may be beneficial to choose a lawyer who is also a certified mediator as he/she may be better equipped to coach you through the different issues that arise during mediation and the legal ramifications of any mutual agreement regarding child custody and visitation as well as financial matters. At Koth, Gregory & Nieminski, Kristin Nieminski and myself have completed the requisite training and have received our certification as Mediators for Child Custody and Visitation from the 11th Judicial Circuit Court Of Illinois, the McLean County Bar Association, and Resolve Conflict, LLC. Only a handful of attorneys in McLean County have received this specialized training, making Kristin and myself a desirable option to represent you in your divorce as we have a unique insight into how the system works.
Meet the author:
Growing up in a large family (for today’s standards), with one sister and two brothers, and myself being the oldest, I was forced into a mediator-like role. I had to be comfortable taking a lead in emotionally-charged situations and engage in conflict resolution. At an early age I learned that mom and dad are busy, so you don’t go running to them to resolve every little issue if the siblings can resolve it themselves. A mediator’s job is similar in that courts encourage the parties to come to an agreement at least in part so as to narrow the issues and not consume the court’s time if some matters can be resolved in a less costly and more amicable manner.
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