FAQs About a Divorce Mediator/Mediation
Getting a divorce can be quite draining emotionally, mentally and financially. Having the right information about who can help make things go more smoothly and who cannot, is crucial during these trying time. While getting professional divorce mediation will help to a large extent, clients are still unsure about a mediator’s role. To arm you with information that’s important so that you can make informed decisions, C.E.L. & Associates, Inc. has answered some of the most frequently asked questions about divorce mediation and mediators.
1. How much will the mediation cost?
The answer to this is “it depends”. It depends on how amicable or combative the clients are. Those who are focused on the future, can leave the past in the past, can work well together and are able to do homework in between sessions, will successfully complete mediation at a cost of $1,500 to $2,500. The more people disagree, argue over nothing and aren't prepared, the more it will cost them.
2. How long will mediation take?
Like with the cost question above, it all depends. Our sessions are two hours at a time and we meet with our clients every one to two weeks. Clients who work together are able to complete mediation in three to five sessions.
3. What should someone look for in a divorce mediator?
For me, the most important trait in a mediator is someone who gels well with the clients. Yes, knowledge of divorce and experience is highly important. However, if there is not a good relationship and level of trust between the mediator and the clients, no amount of education or experience will matter.
I am a non-attorney mediator, with a degree in Sociology, and have been working with divorce and domestic violence families for over twenty years. Though I believe I am good at what I do, this only matters when my clients feel the same. I always suggest at my consultations that people meet other mediators, as we all have different styles and backgrounds. Sometimes I am not the right fit for a couple, and I might be doing them and their children a disservice if I acted as their mediation. A good mediation is about the process, not the individual mediator. From a financial standpoint, it's not good to turn away business. However, good mediators care more about helping people more than they do about the money.
4. Do we have to go to court?
Yes, one or both of you will need to attend your final court date, which in IL is called a Prove-Up. To help ensure that the judge accepts your divorce agreement, I suggest to all of my clients to attend this court date. This way, in case the judge has questions which they require an answer to, you are both there for assistance.
5. Won't the judge simply “stamp” whatever we agree to?
This is a 100% NO! Based on what your agreement states, your judge may reject your divorce agreement and make you renegotiate certain aspects of it. This happens when a judge finds your divorce agreement to be unconscionable, or so one-sided, that it goes against what is equitable. A good mediator will help to ensure, though never guarantee, that you reach an equitable agreement, one that is good for your children, makes sense and has a balance to it. A good mediator should also be able to advise if an agreement you reached may be a "red flag" when in front of the judge or an agreement that the judge may or may not reject.
6. Are mediation agreements binding?
No, mediation agreements are not binding until they are converted into the Parental Allocation Judgment, Marital Settlement Agreement and signed by the judge. No agreements in a divorce are binding until approved by the judge. Unfortunately, there are times when people back out of their mediated agreements and/or enter the mediation process under false pretenses. However, this is rare, as most people who meditate have the inherent desire to stay out of court, save time money and reach good agreements.
7. Is it required that I/we have attorneys before, during and /or after the mediation process?
No, it is not required in IL that you have an attorney during any part of the divorce process. However, every case is different. Some people need representation starting from day one all the way through the finalization of the divorce. Others for when they have questions specific to their side. And others who only require representation to draft up their legal agreements.
At our firm, we do not require that our clients be represented during the mediation process, while at the same time informing them we do not provide any legal advice. This is our client's divorce and they run the process. When in doubt, yes, hire an attorney to look out for you. Once the divorce is finalized, you have to live these agreements. Though we do not require our clients to have lawyers, we do suggest at times that they should retain one if they are looking for legal advice or having difficulty speaking for themselves during mediation, all the way to advising clients that mediation is on hold until they both retain legal counsel and have someone looking out for them the rest of the way.
If you have any more questions about divorce mediation and mediators or parenting coordinator services across Chicago and surrounding areas, get in touch with the experts at C.E.L. & Associates, Inc. We provide the tools, structure, and guidance to enable you to make informed decisions and advocate for yourself through the mediation process. We ensure that our compassion, experience, and rational style helps guide our clients through any difficult situation. To learn more about how we can help you, please click here or contact us by clicking here.