How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation
If you're going through a divorce in DuPage County, Illinois, or anywhere else in the state, there is a good chance that you will go to divorce mediation. The process is required if there are child custody or visitation issues. Even when not required, divorcing spouses can elect to go to mediation and often do because of the many benefits of in-person or virtual divorce mediation.
Understand What Mediation Is and Isn't
Divorce mediation is a process through which a neutral third party helps the divorcing couple try to reach a mutual agreement regarding the terms of their divorce. The mediator will assist with brokering conversations between the parties. They will explain Illinois divorce law as needed and help ensure that the divorcing couple's agreement meets Illinois family law requirements. For example, if a couple tried to agree to waive child support, the mediator would explain that such agreements are not allowed because child support belongs to the child.
Mediation focuses on the legal issues at hand and not resolving personal disputes between the couple. However, because mediation is brokered by a neutral third party, it often helps to reduce the emotional temperature between the divorcing couple. On the flip-side, although it involves legal issues, mediation is not a trial. The rules of evidence don't apply, there are no cross-examining witnesses, and there is no requirement that a resolution be reached. However, mediators will help ensure that both parties get to share their position.
Figure Out Logistics Ahead of Time
Even though mediation is less formal than an in-court divorce hearing, it can still be nerve-wracking, especially if you've never been involved in a legal proceeding of any kind. One of the easiest ways to calm your nerves is to figure out the logistics ahead of time. If mediation is in-person, map out directions and estimate how long it will take to get there. If it is online, determine where you will set up your computer, test your internet connection, and ensure that you have the proper link to the meeting.
In both cases, plan to arrive early. Similarly, gather the paperwork that you'll need ahead of time. Don't wait until the morning of mediation to start gathering documents.
Talk to Your Attorney
If you have an Illinois divorce attorney, talk to them before mediation. Your attorney will be able to provide even more information about how mediation works and what will likely take place in your specific situation. They may even know the mediator and be able to give some insight into the mediator's specific approach. Your attorney can also help advise you regarding information that you should and should not provide. Finally, be sure to ask your attorney any questions that you have.
Set Your Intentions
The goal of mediation is to reach a legal agreement on one or more issues relating to your divorce. However, even though it involves legal matters, the success often turns on the parties' mindset and emotional state. Ahead of mediation, go in with the intention of listening with an open mind, pausing when your emotions get too hot and trying to reach a resolution.
At The Law Firm of Erin N. Birt, P.C., we offer both family mediation services and family law services (though we cannot serve as both the mediator and attorney in the same case). Our approach is modern and holistic – we believe that divorce doesn't have to be ugly. If you are looking for an Illinois family mediator or attorney, contact us today.