Three Tips for a Successful Mediation

Ad a divorce mediator in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois, Many people ask me about the pros and cons of meditation, and some of them have been addressed in my prior article.  However, once you have decided you want to try mediation, it can help to keep in mind the following three tips for successful divorce mediation. If you are interested in divorce mediation, you can contact me or check out a mediation website I’m a part of [click here].

Tip One – Hire a Mediator Who is a Practicing Attorney

While a mediator is a neutral party, it makes a big difference if that mediator is a practicing attorney.  A mediator who actively practices is family law can help craft a better mediated agreement than an non-attorney.  Why?  Because the attorney is looking at the big picture, namely, what a court will enter as an agreed order.  The court is not obligated to enter every agreed order set before it by divorcing parties.  A court may reject a marital settlement agreement or parenting agreement because it is too one-sided, against public policy, or attempts to bind third-parties, for example.  An experienced family law attorney can guide the parties away from problematic settlement terms.

What if the attorney does mediations only and no longer practices?  Why must it be a practicing attorney?  First of all, a practicing attorney will be more familiar with current laws.  Second of all, your are not the main source of revenue for a practicing attorney.  Non-practicing attorney mediators make all of the revenue from mediations, and thus, there is no incentive to complete them with expedience.  I had a client come to me after a very frustrating experience — as soon as the parties thought they had reached a final agreement, the mediator would bring up a new issue that required them to come back for a few more sessions.  This cost the couple needless expense.

Tip Two – Be Sure Both You and Your Spouse Buy Into the Mediation Process

Mediation can only work if both parties want to be in mediation.  While some mediators will tell you that once they get the parties to the table, they can get them to cooperate, that is not the case.  Mediation will be a disaster if one of the parties is only going to placate the other party.  Sometimes a spouse will agree to mediate because the spouse plans to treat the sessions as couples therapy, hoping to reach the conclusion that a divorce is not in the parties’ best interest. This is fruitless and a waste of time.  If you have a reluctant spouse, mediation is not right for you.

Tip Three – There Must be Full Disclosure and Equal Bargaining Power

Often times I will hear from a dependent spouse who is conflict adverse and believes that mediation is the best route to a drama-free divorce.  When I press the spouse on who decided that mediation is the best route, it is often the primary breadwinner in the relationship who has more to gain from mediation than the dependent spouse.  Why is this the case?  Mediation does not have legally enforceable rules for asset disclosure.  Mediation requires that the parties negotiate in good faith with each other, however, there is no way of determining whether the voluntary asset disclosure is accurate.  Often times the dependent spouse is clueless about the parties’ assets and liabilities.  The dependent spouse could reach an agreement that is against his or her interests and never know for many years.   If the case were actually filed in court and took it’s usual course, there would be formal discovery.  The dependent spouse could also avail himself or herself of the tools to discover hidden assets.  Such self-help would be frowned upon in the mediation process, as the parties are supposed to be working from a position of trust.

In my opinion, mediation works best when you have two spouses of equal bargaining power who buy into the ideal of mediation and use a practicing attorney.

Mediation leads to Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

If mediation is successful, it can lead to an uncontested divorce in Illinois. An uncontested divorce is one where the parties agree on all issues in the divorce – and that’s what mediation is all about. An uncontested divorce is the quickest and most affordable way to get divorced in Illinois. If you are interested in an uncontested divorce in Illinois, you might want to check out this article “FAQ: Affordable & Quick Divorce in Illinois.”