In dissolution and custody cases, clients often wonder what “mediation” is and how it can affect the process. Mediation is usually when a neutral mediator (usually from a list of approved attorney mediators) will sit down with both parties to try and reach an agreement outside of court. When you “mediate” with each other, you bring issues forward and work them out to try and reach a resolution. Mediation should be considered. Studies have shown that mediated agreements are more likely to be followed since the parties have agreed to its terms. Additionally, parties have much more control over the outcome of a case if it is mediated.
Preparing for Mediation
First, always discuss mediation with your attorney. Your attorney will prepare you for mediation. In order to utilize mediation, both sides must be prepared to compromise. Know what you are wanting out of the session but be open to compromise for the sake of the agreement.
It is also a good idea to come to mediation emotionally prepared. It is best if both parties are in the same spot emotionally. If one party is still in the grieving process and the other has moved on, they are likely not in the same place emotionally. Sometimes after mediation starts, a break may be needed so that one party can emotionally ready themselves for the next step.
Finishing the Agreement
The best way to reach an agreement in mediation is to have an attorney advise you through the process. Even if you are in mediation without receiving legal advice and you and the opposing party have come an agreement through mediation, make sure to still never sign anything without your attorney reviewing it first. You can still agree and have a draft of the agreement prepared by the mediator, but always make sure your own attorney reviews the agreement before you sign it.
Our office does not currently handle mediation cases. A list of certified mediators in McLean county can be found here.