For divorcing couples interested in resolving their divorce amicably and with minimal involvement of the court, mediation is often a viable method of alternative dispute resolution. Even in a contested divorce, the court will sometimes order the spouses to attempt mediation to resolve some of their agreements. Whether you are preparing for mediation voluntarily or by court order, it is important to know what to expect, including whether it is a good idea to hire an attorney for the process.
In mediation, you and your spouse will meet with a trained mediator who will help you reach an agreement on the various aspects of your divorce resolution, including property division, spousal support, child support, and the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Many mediators are also licensed attorneys who have a thorough understanding of the laws governing divorce proceedings in Illinois. However, their role in the mediation process is not to provide legal advice or advocate on behalf of either party. Rather, they must remain neutral and impartial, helping the parties identify common ground and make progress toward an agreement on their own terms.
A divorce attorney, on the other hand, is a representative for one of the parties. If you hire an attorney, they represent you alone. Their role is to advocate for you and your interests throughout the divorce process, whether in amicable negotiations or contested litigation. Your attorney can also provide you with qualified legal advice and help you fulfill all legal requirements to finalize your divorce. Importantly, an attorney cannot represent both spouses even in an uncontested divorce, as this would create a conflict of interest.
Knowing the distinct roles of an attorney and a mediator, it may start to become clear why hiring an attorney is a good idea even if you want to resolve your divorce through mediation. Consulting with your attorney before mediation begins can help you understand your rights and identify your priorities for the divorce resolution so that you are prepared with an effective negotiation strategy. Your attorney can also help you get the information you need about your spouse’s finances to make informed decisions in your negotiations. If you choose, you can also have your attorney present throughout the mediation process to help you negotiate and express your interests. Finally, your attorney can review an agreement you reach through mediation before you sign it, and it becomes legally binding.
At Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices, we recognize that there are many options for successfully reaching a divorce resolution, and we can represent you as you pursue the method of your choice. We make sure to understand your needs and preferences so that we can guide you through a solution that works for you. For a free consultation, contact our Lombard, IL divorce lawyers today at 630-932-9100.
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