Archive for the ‘mediation’ tag

Collaborative Law vs. Mediation

March 10th, 2015 at 11:53 am

collaborative law, mediation, Chicago Family Law AttorneysMediation has become a widely used and familiar part of the divorce process. Collaborative law is a lesser known form of alternative dispute resolution commonly used now in Illinois divorce cases. Many are still unfamiliar with what collaborative divorce really means. Often times, people assume that collaborative divorce and mediation are the same thing and these terms can be used interchangeably. However, there are several differences that are important to understand before deciding whether either process is right for you.

Collaborative Law

The main goal of collaborative law is similar to that of mediation in divorce cases: to resolve important family matters efficiently outside of the courthouse. The benefits are similar to mediation as well: saving the parties time and money, while sparing them the frustrations of the court process. The procedure, however, is quite different. In collaborative law, each party hires his or her own attorney, and then all of them work together to negotiate settlements on key issues. The parties will also retain a parenting specialist, financial specialist, and divorce coaches to assist them in developing communication and facilitate a final agreement. In the event that the parties are unable to come to an agreement using the collaborative process, and the case goes to traditional litigation, the attorneys originally hired to represent each party must withdraw and each party must hire new counsel.

Mediation

Mediation in a divorce case is the process by which both spouses go to a neutral third party, or mediator, with the hopes of compromising on certain key issues in the divorce.  While the mediator must be trained in alternative dispute resolution, he or she is not required to be a licensed attorney. Both parties may have their attorneys present at the mediation, though it is not mandatory.  However, it is important to remember that the mediator is neutral and not advocating for the rights of either party as an attorney would.  In complex situations, particularly those involving financial concerns, each spouse may want his or her attorney to be present in order to make sure their individual interests are being protected. Separate counsel for each party can help ensure that any resulting agreement is not only equitable, but legally sound and sustainable.

Similarities

As discussed a bit above, both processes have a common goal and many similar benefits, including saving time and money and avoiding the unpredictability of the judicial process. Both collaborative law and mediation are also commonly used when the parties agree at the outset of the divorce to keep the conflict and the costs low.

Because mediation and collaborative law require mutual respect to succeed, it is imperative that both parties do their best to work together throughout the entire process. Both methods allow the divorcing spouses to decide upon the terms of their own divorce, as opposed to leaving it up to the discretion of a judge.  

If you are  considering filing for divorce and think that collaborative law, mediation, or another alternative dispute resolution technique may work for your family, contact our office today to discuss your options. Our team of experienced Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help determine what the best method will be for your divorce. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago.

Certified Mediation in Illinois

February 21st, 2015 at 9:19 pm

certified mediator illinois, Chicago family law lawyerStaying married may not be for every couple, but neither is a court trial when the couple decides to divorce. Mediation is an alternative for divorcing couples who want to decide what the end results of their divorce will be, but need assistance from a neutral third-party. Certified mediators can help the parties reach an agreement outside of a courtroom.

Some couples may agree on many aspects of the divorce, but disagree over some areas and cannot reach a divorce settlement. “A mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between parties to assist them in reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute,” according to the Illinois Uniform Mediation Act. Mediators are neutral third-parties that help guide the couple to an agreement.

One reason some couples choose mediation over a court trial is that all communications related to the mediation, whether verbal or written, are confidential. Court trials are public records and many couples do not want their divorce proceedings to be available for anyone to see. Mediation through a certified mediator will keep your divorce proceedings and settlement private.

Certified mediators are required to attend a course through an accredited program. During the course, mediators-in-training:

  • Learn skills needed to assist parties reach a resolution;
  • Practice simulated mediations;
  • Work with currently certified mediators or conflict resolution coaches; and
  • Complete a minimum number of hours for certification.

In addition, each circuit court in Illinois has additional requirements to become a certified mediator in that jurisdiction. Parties may be assured that the mediator can confidently guide them through the mediation process and hopefully to reach a complete agreement.

Parties are able to state their view of the events, without having to follow the traditional formalities of a court trial. With the help of the mediator, they are able to discuss their perspective on the issues, what solutions they would like, and how they can reach an agreement. Mediators are also able to meet with parties individually to gain a better understanding of underlying issues to help in the discussion of the settlement.

Mediators can help parties come to an agreement on all aspects of a divorce, including:

  • Child custody;
  • Visitation;
  • Maintenance;
  • Parenting guidelines; and
  • Property and asset division.

In addition to saving costs of a court trial, mediation can save both parties time and may help them maintain a more amicable relationship. The certified mediators at Anderson & Associates, P.C. are experienced in both mediation and divorce and family law cases. They have helped clients avoid the stress, costs, and time a court trial could have cost them.

If you or your spouse has filed for divorce and want to attempt to settle it out of the courtroom, contact a Chicago certified mediation attorney today. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook and Orland Park.

Mediation Can Offer Advantages Over Litigation in Divorce

January 19th, 2015 at 11:04 am

divorce mediation, chicago family law lawyerCouples seeking to dissolve their marriage must confront and resolve a large number of issues throughout the divorce process. Divorcing couples with children are faced with even more considerations. Resolving these issues through litigation and a divorce trial can be stressful, time consuming and adversarial.  For a couple seeking a more peaceful resolution to their divorce negotiations, mediation may be the ideal alternative to litigation.

Divorce mediation is essentially an open discussion or series of discussions between divorcing parties moderated and supervised by a trained professional known as a mediator. The goal of mediation is to civilly and cooperatively resolve all the issues and considerations pertinent to the dissolution of the marriage. Considerations may include:

  • Division of property and assets;
  • Child custody or visitation;
  • Child support; and
  • Spousal maintenance, as alimony is called in Illinois.

Successful mediation results in the divorce being granted as agreed upon by both spouses. In addition to the obvious advantage of avoiding contentious courtroom battles, mediation offers other very practical benefits to a divorcing family.

Time Management and Flexibility

Unlike court dates, mediation appointments can be made at any time of the day that is convenient for both parties and the mediator. When meetings can be more convenient, there is less stress over taking time off from work, for example, or finding a daytime babysitter. It is even possible to conduct conference calls or web-conferences when both parties’ physical presence is not actually required.

Individualized Attention and Control

Even the best family court judge cannot understand the dynamics and needs of a situation as well as the family itself. Mediation, however, allows both parties to address the needs and circumstances particular to their own family. Each spouse is able to be heard and contribute to the process, resulting in orders that truly make sense and are sustainable.

Standards for the Future

When unpleasant litigation can be avoided, families with children may stand to reap the benefits for years to come. A messy divorce can often leave a couple unable to salvage much of relationship, despite the fact that they may be co-parenting for the foreseeable future The level of amicability maintained through a mediated divorce can allow divorced parents to continue to communicate and work with their ex-spouse  after the divorce is finalized. In addition to providing a less hostile environment for raising children, cooperation between the parents sets a solid example on how to work out differences in a potentially difficult situation.

Find a Professional

If you are considering divorce in Illinois and think mediation might suit your needs, you need a lawyer you can trust. Contact an experienced family law mediator in Chicago today for a free consultation. At Anderson & Associates, P.C., we not only have experience as divorce mediators, but also offer five offices throughout the greater Chicago area for your convenience.