Divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences of a person’s life. Unfortunately, when many people imagine divorce, they think of heated courtroom exchanges and many months of expensive and tedious family court proceedings. While some couples do choose to litigate their divorces, and many divorces will require some measure of formal legal review in litigation, it is possible to streamline your divorce significantly by taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution.
Johnson O’Keefe specializes in helping Chicago clients understand alternative dispute resolution for divorce. Mediation has quickly become the preferred method of resolving divorces privately in Illinois. As long as both spouses are willing to negotiate, divorce mediation can help them have more control over the outcome of their divorce proceedings. Johnson O’Keefe offers comprehensive divorce mediation services to clients in the Chicago area, and our team has years of experience helping clients through difficult divorces. If there is room for you to explore alternative dispute resolution, even in a contentious and emotionally charged divorce, we will help you explore it to the fullest.
Alternative dispute resolution allows a divorcing couple to streamline their divorce, privately resolve some issues that a judge would otherwise settle, and customize various aspects of their divorce agreements. The process requires both spouses to meet privately with their respective attorneys and collaboratively negotiate terms for their divorce. Mediation is a specific form of alternative dispute resolution that unfolds under the direction of a mediator, a neutral third party who helps the couple draft their divorce order.
The mediator cannot offer either spouse any direct legal advice, nor may they have any conflicts of interest that would favor either spouse. The mediator is typically a family lawyer who has experience drafting divorce agreements. They can answer general questions about the legal statutes that apply to divorce and will keep conversations focused and productive.
As long as both spouses are willing to try it, mediation can help them both save a tremendous amount of time and money on dissolution proceedings. When a divorcing couple takes their case before a judge, it can potentially take months to resolve, and the judge has the final say on every aspect of their divorce order. Even if a divorcing spouse is convinced that a judge will see things their way, this is never a guarantee. Resolving as much as you can privately in mediation acts as a springboard in divorce proceedings, dramatically reducing the time the spouses must spend in litigation.
Divorce is notorious for being an extremely expensive, stressful, and time-consuming process. While it’s true that divorce litigation can take several months to resolve, it is possible to streamline a complex divorce by taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution. For example, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can privately negotiate in mediation sessions or use your respective attorneys as proxies to negotiate terms without needing face-to-face interactions. In addition, your mediator will help you draft each element of your divorce order.
When it comes to property division in divorce, Illinois uses the equitable distribution standard. This means divorcing couples must divide marital assets and debts equally, but divorcing spouses may keep their respective separate property. Divorce mediation can enable spouses to negotiate more agreeable property division terms than they could expect from a judge. In addition to saving time, money, and stress, divorce mediation also gives the spouses more influence over their finalized divorce terms.
Divorce mediation also affords privacy. When a couple litigates their divorce, everything said in the courtroom is entered into the public record. Divorce often requires discussion of sensitive personal topics, and divorce mediation offers complete confidentiality. If you do not want the details of your divorce to be publicly accessible, mediation ensures complete privacy aside from your finalized divorce order record. The details of your discussions remain entirely private.
Divorce is a multifaceted process, requiring the spouses to resolve many issues before finalizing a divorce order and moving on with their respective separate lives. Divorce mediation streamlines the dissolution process significantly and offers the chance for the couple to have more personalized terms for their divorce. However, there are some issues a couple cannot resolve privately in divorce proceedings. Specifically, if the couple has children, they cannot reach any firm conclusions regarding child custody or child support on their own.
Parents who decide to take advantage of divorce mediation can work with their mediator to develop a parenting plan, outlining their preferences for a mutually agreeable custody and support order. They may present this to a family court judge for review with the rest of their divorce order, but the judge must determine that their plan aligns with the child’s best interests. It is possible for a judge to approve a mediated parenting plan, approve a plan with some changes, or deny a proposal and rule based on their interpretation of the facts in play.
Divorce mediation also requires the cooperation of both spouses for it to succeed. If one spouse refuses any kind of negotiation and demands litigation, there is no way around this, and you must prepare for litigation. However, even in contested divorces, it is sometimes possible to still take advantage of divorce mediation with an “a la carte” approach. Essentially, you and your spouse can use mediation to resolve your divorce as much as possible and bring any outstanding issues before a Chicago family court judge.
Ultimately, divorce mediation is incredibly flexible and can potentially offer several important benefits to anyone facing divorce in the Chicago, IL, area. Even when a divorcing couple cannot resolve all of their divorce-related issues privately, mediation can still serve as a valuable springboard to a more streamlined divorce with more agreeable terms.
While divorce mediation can offer many advantages compared to litigation, you must remember that the mediator cannot provide you with any personalized legal advice. Therefore, you will still need an experienced Chicago divorce mediation attorney to help you navigate your case. Contact Johnson O’Keefe today and schedule your consultation with an attorney you can trust with your case.
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