In family law cases, the most commonly used service (outside of the hiring of legal counsel in this process) is mediation; perhaps the most attractive aspect of mediation is that it can be tailored to suit the needs of each individual dispute. The mediator can play a low-key and conciliatory role, or take on a more proactive role by making suggestions and probing for convergent interests. Tania K. Harvey of Ward Family Law, LLC is a court-approved mediator and can guide you through the process as the neutral, third party mediator; mediation is often is employed after it becomes apparent that direct negotiation between adversaries will not resolve the dispute efficiently. However, anyone contemplating mediation must also consider the need to secure guidance of legal counsel, as parties are oftentimes not aware of what their rights and responsibilities are, much less what the current laws and trends are in regards to assets, liabilities, maintenance, child support, parental allocation and have difficultly navigating the mediation process without the simultaneous guidance of legal counsel.
Mediation for domestic relations cases in Cook County, Illinois is governed by Cook County Circuit Court Rule 13.4. Mediation is a non-binding confidential process by which a neutral third party, selected by the parties to the case or selected by or with the assistance of the court, assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The role of the mediator is to assist in identifying the issues, reducing misunderstandings, exploring and clarifying the parties’ respective interests and priorities, and identifying and exploring possible solutions that will satisfy the interests of all parties and thereby facilitate resolution of some or all of the issues in dispute.
Mediation is required pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule for parents who are in conflict over allocation of parental responsibilities, relocation, and other non-child support issues related to their children. In Cook County, the parents will be referred to Family Mediation Services for mediation if they cannot agree to a mediator.
Mediation for non-child related issues may be ordered by the Court. Examples of non-child related issues that may be subject to mediation include but are not limited to disputes over debts, assets, and money. If the parties cannot agree to the selection of a mediator for non-child related issues, the Court will choose a mediator from the list of court-certified mediators.