Divorce may be one of the most challenging experiences you ever have, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier, more affordable, and less stressful overall. Divorce mediation has quickly become the preferred method to handle divorce in Bloomington, IL, and throughout the US. If you plan to end your marriage shortly, you should know the benefits of divorce mediation and what the process entails. Review the following frequently asked questions about the mediation process before contacting an experienced Bloomington, IL, divorce attorney to discuss your case.

Q: How Does Divorce Mediation Work?

A: The divorce mediation process is similar to settlement negotiations in a civil case. Instead of taking the case directly to court, the two parties meet privately to discuss mutually agreeable terms to reach a swift resolution to their matter. Divorce mediation unfolds under the supervision and guidance of a mediator, a family law expert who holds no conflicts of interest favoring either of the divorcing spouses.

Mediation effectively allows a divorcing couple to negotiate the terms of their divorce order privately. This process is generally much faster than divorce litigation and allows the divorcing spouses to have more control over the outcome of their divorce. While the couple will not be able to settle every aspect of their divorce in this manner, mediation can significantly cut the time and expense required to finalize a divorce.

Q: How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?

A: Divorce mediation only takes as long as the divorcing couple requires to reach mutually agreeable divorce terms. For some couples, divorce mediation may only take a few weeks or a month or two. This means you will not only reach a divorce settlement faster than litigation would allow but also spend less money on legal fees since your attorney will not need to spend time working on the procedural requirements that divorce litigation entails. When you compare this to the many months that divorce litigation often requires, it is easy to see how mediation can save divorcing spouses significant amounts of time and money.

Q: What Can’t Be Decided in Divorce Mediation?

A: Illinois state law requires the family court to review and approve any divorce order that involves child custody or child support. The court must ensure that any family court order that will affect children will preserve the best interests of those children. Divorcing parents can create a proposal for a parenting plan in mediation that outlines their preferences for custody and support, but a judge must review and approve this proposal.

It is also possible that you and your spouse may encounter other roadblocks during mediation, such as difficult financial questions. Some of the issues may require a formal legal review in litigation, so it is best to work through the other issues your divorce entails and leave the remainder for the courtroom to streamline the divorce process as much as possible.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer for Divorce Mediation?

A: The mediator presiding over your mediation proceedings cannot provide legal advice to either spouse. They answer general questions about legal statutes, guide discussions, and help the divorcing couple draft their divorce agreement. While you do not need legal counsel, it is a good idea to have it on your side if your divorce mediation proceedings involve complex issues or you are unsure of how to approach a specific subject that your divorce case entails.

Many divorcing couples who choose mediation will hire their own respective attorneys to provide legal counsel throughout their proceedings. They may choose to have their attorneys attend some or all of their mediation sessions. In some cases, divorcing spouses will not interact directly and instead will relay their negotiations through their respective attorneys.

Q: What Are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation in Bloomington, IL?

A: The primary benefits of divorce mediation in Bloomington, IL, are savings of time, money, and stress. The process is much faster and easier than divorce litigation and allows the divorcing spouses to work through the elements of their divorce in a low-pressure atmosphere. Aside from these practical benefits, divorce mediation also offers privacy. Divorce litigation entails all court proceedings entering public record, so everything said in court becomes publicly accessible. If you prefer to keep your divorce proceedings private, mediation is entirely confidential.

Perhaps the best benefit of divorce mediation is that you retain much more control over the outcome of your divorce than you would in litigation. When you litigate, the judge has the final say in every aspect of your divorce. Mediation can allow you and your spouse to reach a more personalized agreement that entails a smaller chance of needing to revisit the divorce order at a later date.

Q: What Happens If Divorce Mediation Doesn’t Work?

A: Unfortunately, divorce mediation will not work for every divorcing couple. Some divorcing spouses are too contentious for in-person negotiations, and some spouses may be completely unwilling to compromise or demand a trial. Mediation requires both spouses’ willingness to participate to be a viable option for handling a divorce. If either spouse does not agree, mediation cannot go forward.

It is possible to handle some aspects of your divorce through mediation before moving to litigation to handle the rest of the matters your divorce entails. It is generally best to explore alternative dispute resolution to the fullest extent possible before moving to litigation. This will enable you to exercise the most control possible over the outcome of your divorce and save you a significant amount of time and money on legal fees.

Hopefully, this information should help you understand the divorce mediation process in greater detail and feel more comfortable exploring this form of alternative dispute resolution in your divorce case. Remember that no matter how seemingly simple or complicated your divorce may be, reliable legal counsel is one of the most important assets you can have as you navigate your divorce case. Consult an experienced Bloomington, IL, divorce attorney about your options for alternative dispute resolution as early as possible in your divorce case so you can take full advantage of the benefits of mediation.