When is Mediation Necessary?

Wheaton Divorce Lawyers

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, that is, a mechanism for resolving matters outside of the courtroom. Mediation is becoming an increasingly popular form of resolution for divorce settlements, in particular because it involves settling differences between spouses in front of a private mediator, rather than the court system. Even for couples that have most things about their impending divorce worked out, utilizing mediation in lieu of court can save time, cost, and emotional hardship that is associated with time-consuming court battles.

Divorce Basics and Options

Often when couples make the decision to file for divorce, they are relatively convinced they have everything worked out. One spouse will keep the house, they will each keep one of the cars, and they will share custody of the children. However, once the paperwork starts getting filled out, questions start arising. How will we deal with holidays and the children? Can the grandparents still visit the kids? Who gets to keep the antique record collection we purchased together? While any personal property that each respective spouse had prior to the marriage remains only theirs, virtually everything obtained during the course of the marriage (whether it is technically “owned” in only one spouse’s name) is considered marital property, something that both spouses have equal claim to in the event of a divorce. Accordingly, spouses need to figure out how to divide all of this property, which can be more complicated than initially anticipated.

Mediation as an Alternative to Court

When filing for divorce there are two routes to take: one, you figure things out for yourself and come up with an amicable resolution or at least a reasonable compromise. If this is your objective, then mediation is probably for you. Mediation is ideal when you have some things figured out, but could use the assistance of a neutral third party to help determine where concessions and compromises can be made to resolve your differences quickly and efficiently. You avoid the cost and time commitment required by going through the court system, and gain more control by being able to voice your opinions and wishes directly. Both parties are ideally represented by attorneys at this stage in order to adequately express their desires, but the costliness of court appearances is avoided.

Perhaps the best reason to consider mediation is because the ultimate resolution is generally non-binding upon the parties. The parties are free to accept or reject the resolution and pursue other options if they feel it necessary. Although there are options for appealing court orders, there is much more flexibility in mediation than there is in court; once an order regarding child support or custody is entered in court, it is generally immediately enforceable, meaning you must comply with it until the court holds otherwise. You would never want to get in a situation where you disagree with a child custody arrangement, but find that you cannot see your children as you wish until you complete a lengthy appeal (and that is, of course, if you prevail on the appeal). By utilizing mediation, you ensure that your concerns are addressed before you accept the settlement offer and do not have to worry about lengthy appeal periods through the court system.


The court system is, obviously, the other option. If you go through court, you will likely spend time waiting on approvals, paperwork, and court continuances, and have very public discussions of your very private marital affairs. There are some situations in which court is warranted, however; if you are unable to come to an amicable resolution with your spouse and they do not wish to mediate, the court system is your only option. It is also wise to go to court if you have complex legal matters pertaining to child custody, business and property division, or important financial concerns that cannot be agreed upon. The courts may be better equipped than private mediators to handle these complex legal situations, despite the additional time it may take to ultimately resolve the issues.

DuPage County Mediation and Divorce Attorneys

Regardless of whether you find that litigation or mediation is the right course for you and your divorce negotiations, the experienced DuPage County divorce attorneys at Abear Law Offices can help you navigate your settlement from start to finish. If you are considering divorce, already engaged in proceedings, or unsure about whether to utilize mediation or litigation, we can help guide you through the process. Our team of professionals serves the greater Chicago area; with offices located in Wheaton, St. Charles, Naperville, Warrenville, and Chicago, we always have someone available to listen to the specifics of your case. Contact one of our Illinois law offices to learn more about your rights and options when filing for divorce in Illinois. Call (630) 904-3033 to schedule an initial consultation today.

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