Mandatory vs. Optional Mediation: What’s the Difference?

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Mediation in Illinois is a term that is foreign to most individuals, especially those who are anticipating a contentious separation. After all, to mediate means you must work together with your spouse. And, if you’re coming from a history of disagreements and fighting, this may not seem like a viable option for your situation.

However, this process is an excellent alternative to litigation that can save both you and your soon-to-be former spouse a significant amount of time and money. This means that if you believe you and your spouse can sit down with a mediator and work out some of the issues in your unique case, you should.

So, What is Mediation According to Illinois Law? 

If you aren’t sure what is involved, the concept is simple: You hire a third-party professional, different from your attorney or that of your spouse’s, to discuss relevant issues to your case that you cannot agree on. This is an alternative to traditional litigation which requires you pay your attorneys to resolve the issue in Court or, if they can’t, at trial.

This process allows both you and your spouse to voice your concerns on issues and reach a compromise that is in the best interest of all involved, especially if it is an issue regarding your child(ren).

Remember: A mediator doesn’t enter an agreement for you or force you into an agreement. Rather, he or she will facilitate a discussion and discuss the relevant law to help you arrive at an agreement that will then be formally entered in Court by your attorneys.

Mandatory vs. Optional Mediation in Illinois

Not all mediation is Court-ordered, though it can be. Here are the most significant differences between the mandatory and optional variations:

  • Mandatory – This is where you are ordered to attend by the judge in your case. Typically, issues regarding children are reserved for mediation. This may include parenting time or the allocation of parental responsibilities.
  • Optional – In this case, you and your spouse choose to attend without a Court order. You may do so if you believe you can cooperate and reach an agreement with your spouse to resolve any issue, including those related to maintenance, the division of debt and property, and virtually any other issue. Resolving issues this way gives you control over the outcome (rather than having a judge decide) and will allow you to resolve matters in private rather than open court.

Learn more about the benefits of mediation, whether mandatory or optional, and what to expect when you choose to hire a mediator as part of your DuPage, Will, Kendall, or Kane County divorce here.

Mediation Can Lead To Uncontested Divorce

Mediation is a great alternative to traditional dispute resolution methods and can help you and your spouse work towards an uncontested divorce, helping make the entire process easier.

If you’re interested in this process to resolve some or all of the issues of your case, Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. can help. We have over 35 years of family law expertise in Aurora, Naperville, Wheaton and other Illinois suburbs – and can help you and your spouse compromise on any number of issues, including mediation.

To learn more about this issue and to take advantage of your free 30-minute consultation, contact us at 630-470-9990 or request your free consultation online. We look forward to speaking with you about this amazing alternative to resolving the most important issues of your case!

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