When two spouses file for divorce, oftentimes the two are not on very good speaking terms (except in those rare cases where both spouses agree that they are not good marriage partners for one another and wish to amicably divorce). A divorcing couple that refuses to speak to one another – even through their attorneys – faces several challenges throughout the divorce process:
- First, because every issue will need to be litigated in court, the divorce process will take longer;
- Second, because the process will take longer each side will incur more legal fees than they might otherwise; and
- Lastly, because a judge will need to decide important issues in the divorce neither spouse may be completely satisfied with the decision handed down by the court.
Depending on the specific court and judge handling your divorce case, you may be ordered to attend mediation to attempt to resolve issues on which you and your spouse cannot agree. While you do not have to accept a mediated agreement (especially one that is not favorable to you), you do have the obligation to at least participate in the process.
What Should My Ex-Spouse and I Talk about at Mediation?
Since you have a good faith obligation to participate in mediation anyway, it may be worth seeing if you and your spouse can agree on any issues pertinent to the divorce. Agreements reached through mediation are generally adopted by the court and can reduce the time and expenses of your divorce. See if you can reach an agreement concerning:
- Reason for divorce: Most times this will be because of “irreconcilable differences,” but Illinois offers other reasons for the granting of a divorce, too. Try to see if you and your ex-spouse are on the same page with the reason you are seeking a divorce.
- Property division: You may wish to hold onto certain meaningful property and could care less about your spouse's worn leather couch. A mediated agreement may be the best way to obtain the property you want and discard the property you do not want. So long as your agreement appears to treat both parties fairly and equitably, a court will likely follow any mediated agreement you reach concerning property division.
- Child custody and visitation: This may be one of the most contentious issues in any divorce; however, a mediated agreement is generally more satisfying to the parents and better for the child than a court-imposed order. If one spouse works long hours, it may make sense for the other spouse to have residential custody (especially if the child is very young). The non-residential parent can then have visitation during those times he or she will be available to spend time with the child. Again, so long as the agreement does not appear to unfairly favor one parent or the other a court is likely to find that the agreement is in the child’s best interests and adopt the agreement.
- Spousal maintenance: If the parties agree that one should pay the other spousal maintenance (a common tactic used to gain concessions elsewhere), a court is likely to honor the agreement. Agreeing in this area can also keep you from having to pay a potentially larger amount of spousal support.
How We Can Help
While mediation is meant to be a less confrontational process than a contested hearing in court, spouses can still make poor decisions or waive important rights in mediation if they are not careful. Contact our team of skilled DuPage County divorce lawyers
for help in all stages of your divorce.