As a general rule, all court cases which involve disputes about parenting time, custody, visitation, removal from the State of Illinois or access of parents to their children must be mediated before going to court on these issues. In mediation, a trained, court -approved neutral third party (called a mediator) helps parents clarify areas of disagreement, develop alternative solutions to these areas of disagreement, and resolve their disagreements in a fair and mutually agreeable way which will recognize, foster and preserve the best interests of the children. The mediator appointed in your case is trained to help parents communicate more clearly and to help parents develop a cooperative parenting relationship. Even though mediators are also trained as either attorneys or mental health professionals, mediators will not give parents legal advice or provide therapy. Each parent should receive legal advice (before, during and/or after mediation) from his/her attorney and therapy, if needed, from someone other than the mediator. Either party may have their attorney present during mediation.
The Court may also order the mediation of other issues, including contested financial issues. Mediation of financial issues may be ordered by the court over the objection of the parties, taking into consideration the parties’ financial resources.
Although the goal of mediation is to reach an agreement, you cannot be compelled or pressured to reach an agreement by the mediator or the other parent. However, parents who mediate these agreements are more likely and better able to balance the needs and schedules of both parents and the children. Therefore, mediated agreements are agreements both parents are more likely to comply with, usually last longer and require less court enforcement.
In order for mediation to work, both parents must fully disclose all information, not just what they believe is necessary. All discussions are confidential subject to limited exceptions. Furthermore, while the mediator generally will not disclose the information discussed during session, you may talk about this information with your own attorney or your own mental health professional. However, if you have concerns about your personal saftey because of matters discussed in meditation, you should notify the mediator and your attoney immediately
Mediation may not resolve all issues, but even partial agreements can help limit the time and expense of going to court. Sometimes it is helpful to suspend mediation and participate in counseling or to consult your attorney. Parents are then often able to return to mediation and resolve the remaining issues. Issues that cannot be resolved in mediation can be returned to the court for resolution.
For help with Mediation, please contact: