Divorce mediation is one of the most popular options for settling divorce in the United States. This form of alternative dispute resolution allows divorcing spouses to privately negotiate terms for their divorce settlements with far less stress, expense, and time investment than litigation usually demands. If you are planning to end your marriage in Bloomington, IL in the near future, it’s wise to review the details of divorce mediation to determine whether this would be a suitable option for handling your divorce.
The only real prerequisite for divorce mediation is that both spouses must be willing to try it. All couples should know that mediation does not require them to be completely agreeable toward one another, and even couples who fight about virtually everything can successfully complete mediation. However, it’s essential to know how the process works, what can and can’t be settled through mediation, and what happens if mediation proves fruitless in a divorce case.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
Divorce mediation is a relatively straightforward process. The two divorcing spouses and their respective divorce lawyers meet with a mediator, a neutral third party tasked with guiding negotiations and assisting the couple in drafting their divorce order. Mediation provides a comfortable, low-pressure atmosphere in which the divorcing spouses can negotiate their divorce terms privately.
During mediation sessions, the couple will negotiate each aspect of their divorce item by item until they have covered everything their divorce entails. In the event the couple has a prenuptial contract, mediation may simply revolve around a close review of the prenup to ensure it remains legally binding and enforceable. The divorce order is then drafted around the terms of the prenup. If the couple does not have any prenuptial agreements in place, the mediation process focuses on resolving their divorce-related issues as fully as possible.
What Can’t Be Resolved Through Divorce Mediation?
It’s important to remember that there are some divorce issues that cannot be settled in mediation. For example, divorcing parents cannot privately negotiate child custody with any legal staying power; their custody agreement must be reviewed and approved by a Bloomington, IL family court judge. The family court system has a duty to ensure their children’s best interests are adequately served by their divorce order. They can negotiate a parenting plan, but they must submit it to a judge for approval.
A divorcing couple may also struggle to resolve complex issues such as high net worth property division, spousal support terms, or other complicated financial matters. It is also possible for divorcing spouses to reach impasses in their negotiations when both are unwilling to budge from their positions on certain issues. Most mediators will table these issues and move on to other matters when these impasses arise. Ultimately, many couples are only able to partially resolve their divorces through mediation, but even partially completing divorce mediation still translates to significant savings of time and money.
How Can Divorce Mediation Fail?
Divorce mediation only truly “fails” when one or both spouses walk away from the negotiating table or when a spouse demands a trial. It’s possible to resolve a divorce through mediation partially before moving to litigation, thus streamlining the divorce process by taking advantage of mediation as much as possible.
If you are concerned about your and your spouse’s ability to peaceably negotiate your divorce or that some issues are too complex to resolve through mediation, you can strive for an “a la carte” approach to divorce mediation. This way, you settle what you can with alternative dispute resolution before taking the divorce case to court to handle your remaining issues. It is also possible for divorcing spouses to use their respective attorneys as proxies in divorce mediation to avoid face-to-face confrontation. This takes longer but still offers substantial savings compared to the time and expense required for litigation.
Resolving Divorce After Mediation
Once divorce mediation has concluded, the couple must proceed to divorce litigation to settle any outstanding issues they could not resolve through their mediation sessions. In the event the couple successfully negotiated every aspect of their divorce, the litigation step may be nothing more than a final review and approval of their divorce terms. If they did not, this phase will unfold similar to any other litigated divorce. Both spouses will have the opportunity to present evidence, offer testimony, and challenge the other’s arguments while the judge considers all facts and evidence in play.
Mediation offers divorcing spouses the chance to exercise greater control over the outcome of their divorce. While they may be unable to settle every aspect of their divorce through alternative dispute resolution, it is still worth exploring for most divorce cases. Taking full advantage of mediation can save a tremendous amount of time, money, and stress for both spouses.
How a Bloomington, IL Divorce Lawyer Can Help
No matter how you intend to settle your divorce or whether you think you can resolve every facet of your divorce through mediation, reliable legal counsel from an experienced Bloomington, IL divorce attorney is an invaluable asset as you navigate this complicated and emotionally stressful process. Your legal team can provide several valuable services to assist with your divorce, from helping you complete your financial disclosure statement to securing expert witness testimony to verify aspects of your case or investigate complex issues you cannot resolve on your own.
If you plan to pursue divorce mediation, your attorney can provide ongoing guidance through each stage of mediation. When mediation concludes, you can rely on your attorney to prepare you for the courtroom sessions required for finalizing your divorce. Every divorce is unique, and the process will unfold differently for everyone who experiences it, but no matter what your situation entails, reliable legal counsel is an invaluable asset for your divorce.
It’s natural to have concerns and doubts about the mediation process, especially when you and your spouse have deep-seated personal issues and have trouble discussing anything. The right attorney can help you navigate this difficult situation and take full advantage of the benefits alternative dispute resolution can offer in your situation. Contact an experienced Bloomington, IL divorce lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about how an attorney can improve your divorce experience.