Divorce is a time during which some couples experience serious discord. As such, there are those couples for whom attempting to amicably discuss issues may wind up being more trouble than it is worth. Illinois law permits couples to pursue alternative methods of dispute resolution, and if you and your spouse are looking to avoid a potentially messy courtroom fight, one of these methods may be right for you.
Mediation is the most commonly used form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Illinois, due to its relatively low cost and efficiency. While court dockets may be clogged, a mediation may begin as soon as a third-party mediator is located. In Illinois, there are no statewide qualifications for mediators, though certain standards of practice are generally observed. A mediator is not required to hold any specific licensure, though they are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and be in good standing if they are a member of any professional organizations.
At its heart, mediation is a simple discussion, except that each party defers at least partly to the mediator who acts as a neutral arbiter. The mediator has no decision-making power; he or she is there to help guide the couple toward effective solutions. If, however, mediation proves unsuccessful for you and your spouse, you are still able to pursue a traditional divorce or another process if you think it may work better for you. The only caveat to doing so is that most couples agree to waive privilege during mediation—so if you do choose to try an adversarial proceeding, anything you disclose at mediation may be fair game.
Collaborative divorce is the other process that many couples choose instead of going to divorce court. It appears similar to mediation at the outset, but the major difference is that both parties must agree to disclose all relevant financial information, and they must agree that the attorneys they work with during the process will not be the same ones who interact with the court if you decide to pursue an adversarial divorce. The rationale is that since privilege is waived, using the same attorneys could put one party at a disadvantage.
A collaborative divorce is also often undertaken with a team, rather than simply with one mediator or on your own. Many couples consult, in addition to attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), and mental health professionals. The goal of collaborative divorce is to minimize conflict, and while it may seem like a crowd, more often than not it helps to smooth the process out rather than complicate it further.
Need Help Negotiating Your Divorce?
If you know you have no interest in a traditional divorce, complete with courtroom time, arguments and confusion, alternative dispute resolution may be for you, but it is best tackled with a knowledgeable attorney. Our passionate DuPage County family law attorneys are equipped to guide you through the process. Contact any of our locations today to set up an initial appointment.