A divorced parent in Illinois may be at a loss for what to do when their ex-spouse says that they want to meet with a child custody mediator. Understanding what mediation is and what a mediator does are important in these situations.
Mediation is a way of handling a legal dispute using a professional mediator. The mediator is a neutral third-party who helps make it easier for both parties to talk to each other. In the realm of family law, a mediator may help parents come up with child custody arrangements that both parties can accept. They may discuss things like visitation, child support, parenting time and more.
One of the primary benefits of mediation is that if both parents can come to an agreed-upon child custody situation, both will be more likely to stick to the agreement. This can save time and money when compared to a lengthy court battle.
In most cases, both parents have to agree to mediation. The exception is when a judge orders a parent to attend mediation. Some parents decide to first try mediation in an attempt to avoid a lengthy custody battle.
Once a decision to accept mediation has been made, the invited party should put their decision in writing. This written acceptance can later be used as proof in court to show a judge that a parent was willing to cooperate with their ex-spouse’s request for mediation. On the other hand, if the decision is to decline mediation, the reason for declining should be explained in writing. If the reason for declining mediation was valid, it will not be seen as a sign of lack of cooperation if the case ends up in court.
If a parent is invited by their ex-spouse to participate in divorce mediation, they may want to discuss the request with their family law attorney. A family law attorney may help their client better understand what mediation could mean for them and evaluate the pros and cons based on their unique situation.