When there are family legal issues in Illinois, the first thought is to go to court to try and settle them. This is especially true if there are significant factors that are in dispute, such as custody of children. However, another option that is available is the Family Mediation Program. Knowing whether this is a potential method to settle family law issues is important before moving forward with it.
In Lake County, there is the option to submit the dispute to mediation prior to a court hearing. This can center around visitation, custody, removal and property disputes. The benefits to this are that it can allow people to negotiate, and perhaps iron out their differences, without having to spend the time and money required to go to court. Mediation is confidential, and involves a neutral third party who is trained and willing to help the parties in a dispute come to an agreement. This can be done by discussing options, encouraging communication, and pointing out issues that could have room for negotiation.
This can be better than going to court, as it removes the ambiguity and lack of control that can sometimes exist with a court case. Parents know their children best, and if they are able to hammer out an agreement that is acceptable to all parties, this is better than having a contentious or difficult back and forth in court. This can also help the children as they will not see their parents having an open dispute. There are cases that are not able to go through mediation, however, including those involving domestic violence, child abuse, mental illness and substance abuse.
For people who might have disagreements but are willing and able to negotiate, mediation is a viable alternative. Of course, before pursuing this, considering legal help from an attorney who is widely experienced in all aspects of family law can provide advice and guidance as to whether mediation is the right choice or if one should move on with a court case.
Source: 19thcircuitcourt.state.il.us, “Family Mediation Program,” accessed on Nov. 8, 2016