Illinois Divorce Mediation
A cheaper, less argumentative method of settling your differences without the emotional drain of going to court.
Sometimes despite your best intentions, it might feel impossible to have a productive meeting with your spouse in the midst of a divorce. Other times, it’s simply hard to know where to start in complicated processes like dividing up your property or figuring out a parenting schedule.In these cases, using a divorce mediator to sit down together with you and your spouse and go through the most difficult aspects of your divorce might be the right option for you.
Not only will a mediator help you come to an agreement within the limits of the law, but mediation is not an antagonistic process. Instead of feeling like one side is out to get the other, mediation opens the door to sorting out the complicated legal aspects of the divorce without the time constraints, and emotional strain of litigation.
Remember, if your case goes to trial a judge gets 100% of the say over important decisions relating to your children, your money and property, and your life moving forward.
This is right for you if…
What’s included when you hire Sterling Law Offices
- Clarity. You will get clarity on what to do file, where and when.
- Direction. You will get clear direction from the mediator and scenarios the court will accept in a marital settlement agreement.
- Support. Divorce is never easy and handling the emotions that rise up in a divorce can be a daunting task. We will take the craziness out of the process, avoiding court until an agreement is found.
- Privacy. Resolve your issues in private, outside of court.
- Everything Else:
- Prepare your petition for divorce (court filing fee not included)
- Complete all necessary forms with your help
- Draft settlement agreements
- Complete your final divorce decree
What are the benefits of divorce mediation?
- Most affordable route to divorce as both parties pay one mediator
- Happens outside of court
- Voluntary exchange of information
- Clear directions on what to do, where to go and when
- Decide ahead of time how to handle post-settlement disputes
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How Mediation Works
Rules on Legal Advice & Legal Counsel
As will be explained during your first mediation session, the mediator is not acting as an attorney and is therefore neutral to the interests of both sides. This means that while they will be explaining laws in order help you and your spouse reach an agreement, they can and will not provide legal advice specific to either party over the course of negotiations.
For example, if “Jon” and “Sue” are getting a divorce but can’t agree on how to fairly divide their property. While the mediator could tell Jon and Sue what they can legally do, he can’t tell either of them how to get the “best deal”. The mediator is there to let the couple sort out for themselves what’s fair but won’t advocate on behalf of either side.
Of course, both parties are free to seek outside legal counsel any time they have specific questions about their rights or want clarification before making a final deal.
In summary, with a few more specifics:
1.1 The mediator is not acting as an attorney and will not, under any circumstances, give legal advice that benefits either party.
1.2 The mediator may give legal information to both parties as may be necessary for the parties to make informed decisions, but will not advocate on either party’s behalf.
1.3 It’s often encouraged that both parties seek the advice of independent and separate legal counsel at any time during the mediation process with regard to their individual legal rights and responsibilities. However, if a party consults with or retains counsel during the mediation process, this fact shall be disclosed to the other party and to the mediator.
1.4 Each of the parties is encouraged to seek the advice of independent and separate legal counsel prior to signing any written agreement.
1.5 The parties agree that no legal action of any kind will be taken by either of them during the course of mediation, except with the express agreement of the other party. Further, if either or both parties have retained counsel prior to mediation, they will be obligated to direct their attorney in writing that no adversarial action is to be taken on their case while the matter is in mediation.
Access to Professional Legal Forms & Tools
Over the course of your mediation sessions, the appropriate forms and tools will be available for your use along with instruction on the appropriate method and location to file any paperwork. In addition to drafting legal documents, the mediator will also aid in helping using the same calculator tools used by the court for dividing property, assets, and debts. Trying to figure out an equitable distribution of assets without these tools can be extremely difficult, and having an experienced mediator can help take some of the strain out of an already difficult process.
In layman’s terms, you won’t be expected to create the complicated forms or do the necessary calculations by yourself. You’ll be walked through the process every step of the way and have a form to submit to a judge at the end of the process.
What exactly are the tools and paperwork a mediator provides?
2.1 Court Approved Legal Documents – Your mediator will draft for you the summons and petition for divorce as well as the marital settlement agreement with you. This ensures that an incorrect form won’t cause unnecessary bumps in the process when you go to court.
2.2 Court Approved Child Support & Maintenance Calculators – Not only will you get your forms drafted by a professional, you will get access to the professional tools used by lawyers during negotiation. This will aid in the calculation of child support and maintenance while considering the tax implications of the scenarios.
2.3 Property, Asset & Debt Division Calculators – Dividing debts and assets is a complicated process that the professional, legal tools a mediator provides will help simplify immensely.
Working through the Issues
No two mediation sessions go the same way. For every one that goes smoothly, there’ll always be the inevitable times when spouses disagree fervently on one to two issues. While the mediator can’t tell you what to do, he’ll walk you through the law surrounding your big issues or brainstorm a possible solution to help you make an informed choice. Inevitably, a negotiation will bring up a lot of issues at once, but a skilled mediator will help you stay on track and avoid jumping from issue to issue. Usually, each mediation session will have a specific goal or issue in mind.
Mediation often results in less time invested, less emotional pain and less money spent in the end. Even the toughest mediation sessions typically result in a better outcome than fighting through a litigated process.
What types of issues does a mediator help you resolve?
3.1 Property, Asset & Debt Division – Walkthrough of how to divide the marital estate and understand how to calculate the value of assets and debts for an equitable division.
3.2 Child Custody & Parenting Time – Discuss how the children will be raised, on what schedule, and define in advance the major decisions. Mediation allows you to calmly decide the allocation of parenting time for each parent, including holidays and birthdays. By taking your time, you won’t be rushed into making big choices about your child’s future, or have them decided for you by the court.
3.3 Child Support & Maintenance – Determine how much child support will be provided and how extra child care expenses will be paid. Find agreement on maintenance payments as well as the maintenance schedule.
3.4 Retirement – Discuss how retirement accounts and pension should be divided and or allocated at the time of disbursement. Leverage tools to determine an equitable division of retirement accounts.
3.5 Taxes & Insurance – Understand and agree on how taxes should be paid. Decide how certain tax deductions will be allocated when children are involved.
Custody & Placement
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What our Clients are Saying
"Earlier this year I started the process for filing a divorce. I started the process by myself filing pro-se, but when it came to negotiating child custody and support things were getting out of hand and I got concerned about making a mistake. I called Sterling Law Offices and Attorney Dan Exner helped sorting through what we had already done. Dan was great and his guidance helped us work through some issues I do not think we would have resolved. I thought it would be charged an arm and a leg for legal services, but Dan was understanding and helped me address the paperwork and process effectively. When we appeared in court for the final hearing I felt confident I knew what I was doing and did not feel nearly as scared as before. He did a great job coaching me so I was prepared. It was as good as an experience as you can have when splitting up a family."Sally J.
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