Mediation or Collaborative Divorce: Which Is Best?
When a couple chooses to get a divorce, it can be one of the most difficult decisions to make. However, once this decision is made, spouses quickly learn that they must also decide how to proceed with their divorce. In many cases, they will want to work together to settle their differences rather than pursuing costly litigation in court. Two methods of alternative dispute resolution are mediation and collaborative law. So, which is best for a couple to choose?
During divorce mediation, a couple will work with a qualified mediator. The full mediation process is outlined in the Uniform Mediation Act, found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes. Over the course of several meetings, the mediator will help the couple come to an agreement about the outstanding issues in their divorce. The agreement will include many different terms, including a parenting plan, child support and alimony obligations, and decisions about the division of property and debts.
The mediator will remain neutral throughout the proceedings, and he or she will not make any decisions for the couple. Instead, the spouses will have full control over the decisions made, and the settlement will only be legally binding if both spouses agree on its terms. After an agreement has been reached, the mediator will draft any paperwork that is required. This will include a Memorandum of Understanding that will outline the terms agreed upon.
On January 1, 2018, the Collaborative Process Act went into effect in Illinois. This law allows divorcing couples to go through a collaborative divorce, which may allow them to resolve their disputes without the need for litigation. During the collaborative process, each spouse will have an attorney that will represent them as they negotiate the terms of their divorce settlement. Spouses cannot use the same attorney for the process, as each attorney may only represent one party only. Together, the attorneys and the spouses will try to come to an agreement.
Other professionals may also be used in collaborative law, including financial experts, child specialists and mental health professionals. These professionals are also present to help the two parties come to an agreement. For example, a child specialist may be called in to advise on a child’s progress in school. During the proceedings, he or she may suggest that moving to another city to live with one spouse would be detrimental to the child’s educational progress.
When an agreement cannot be reached during the collaborative process, the two spouses will have to use divorce litigation to make their divorce official. This will be an entirely separate process. The attorneys that represented each party during the collaborative process are not allowed to represent the spouses during litigation. The spouses will instead need to hire new legal representation.
Contact an Arlington Heights Mediation Lawyer to Help with Your Divorce
Mediation and collaborative law allow divorcing couples to work together to resolve their differences. If you and your spouse have made the very difficult decision to get a divorce, contact our skilled Barrington collaborative divorce attorney at 847.873.6741. Attorney Richardson will try to keep your divorce out of litigation, making the entire process as easy as possible for you. Attorney Richardson offers a free initial consultation, so contact our office today to begin reviewing the many options you have available.