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Is mediation always appropriate in a child custody dispute?

There are a lot of people in the Chicago area and around the country who promote domestic mediation of some sort as the best possible way to resolve a child custody or parenting time issue. Among other things, promoters argue that children adjust to the fact that their parents do not live together best when the couple is at least willing to stay out of court and get along as to matters that affect their children.

Indeed, it is true that it is, generally speaking, oftentimes a good idea to work out custody and parenting time plans in a "give-a-little, take-a-little" process like mediation. It does help the children out emotionally, and it also saves parents from the time and stress of going through a long, and often expensive, court battle that will inevitably end up with one and possibly both parties not getting what they wanted.

However, there are some situations in which mediation might not be an appropriate step to take. For example, mediation might not be appropriate to address something like a restraining order. Likewise, while it is one thing to ask a fighting couple to set aside their differences for the sake of their children, it is quite another to ask one person to submit to the possibility of violence or abuse just for the sake of getting along. If a person fears the mediation process will just be another vehicle for abuse, it might be best to avoid the process or seek out an alternative.

The reality is that mediation is a legal process for getting a family law dispute resolved and, as such, is not always the right means of getting a goal accomplished. Whether and how to mediate are generally good questions to bring up with an experienced Illinois family law attorney.

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