The Chicago Family Law Blog

Should You Consider Mediation Instead of Divorce Court?

There's no escaping that divorce is a legal process. But you might want to consider mediation as an alternative to the courtroom drama that many people reluctantly face.

It doesn't matter how friendly you and your ex are going into the process; court proceedings have a way of making bad situations more tense for everyone involved. It's not called the adversarial system for nothing, and by the end you might feel like enemies.

That's not a good situation for people who have to continue to see each other because of children or other shared obligations. So is mediation the right choice for you?

Well let's see: Close your eyes, take a deep breath, think of a white-sand beach... oh wait, that's meditation, not mediation.

Sorry, let's try that again.

Mediation is a process in which parties work together with the help of a mediator to reach an agreed-upon compromise that can satisfy everyone.

The mediator isn't a decision-maker like a judge. Instead, he or she works with the two sides to help them better understand each other. The point is to facilitate communication so you can figure out what everyone wants and needs.

That doesn't mean everyone will walk away happy. Rather than a "one person wins" scenario, mediation focuses on preserving the relaltionship between the parties while working out a compromise.

The goal is for everyone to be satisfied with the compromise, even if it isn't everything they wanted.

The difference in focus is especially important if you and your ex will have to share custody of children. Staying on civil terms will make scheduling, and child custody exchanges, easier for everyone.

There's also little downside to attempting mediation before having a court hearing. In fact, some courts require mediation as a divorce case proceeds.

If the mediation process works, then you're all set. If it doesn't, you can still go back to court to resolve any outstanding issues.

You can also use the process to figure out the parts of the divorce you and your ex can agree on. For more difficult or emotional matters, you can leave those in the hands of a judge.

Talking to an attorney about whether mediation is right for your divorce won't hurt, and your Chicago family lawyer may even be able to help you prepare. Having an advocate who's squarely on your side can make mediation and the divorce process less painful.

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