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The basics of divorce mediation

Some people in Illinois who are getting a divorce might want to consider mediation instead of litigation. Mediation uses a neutral third party to help couples resolve conflict and reach an agreement.

The mediation process can have a number of advantages over litigation. It may be less costly, less stressful and less time consuming. When it comes to child custody and other family-related disputes, decreasing stress and conflict might be particularly important. However, mediation may not be the right solution for couples if one will not negotiate in good faith. Some experts also believe mediation is not appropriate if couples have a particularly complex financial situation.

While mediation does not have formal processes such as discovery, a mediator will generally establish ground rules at the start of the process. Most mediation must also be done in confidentiality. Generally, each person or a person's representative is allowed to make opening statements. Conversations may follow, but if either party becomes overly emotional, the mediator may separate them. The mediator then has confidential conversations with each party and passes authorized information back and forth between them. There can be additional mediation sessions if the first is not successful. However, mediation does not require reaching an agreement, and couples can still turn to litigation if mediation is unsuccessful.

There are a number of creative solutions that couples might reach during divorce mediation. For example, instead of trying to divide all their shared assets, they might agree that one will take certain assets in exchange for others. Legal counsel could provide valuable guidance throughout the process.

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