A previous post here talked about under what circumstances it might be appropriate for a Chicago resident to mediate a child custody issue. As that post said, while in most cases mediation is a good way to head off an emotionally draining custody conflict, it is not always the best option for every circumstance.
Whether it is by choice or because a court ordered it, many Illinois couples are going to wind up mediating things like legal custody, physical custody and parent time, as well as certain custody issues that are specific to the couple, like how they intend to work around each other’s job schedules or other commitments when it comes to raising their children. Sometimes, parents and even mediators themselves might not want attorneys present during a mediation, which brings up a point related to the question of whether mediation is right for the circumstances in the first place. Should a parent in Illinois who is going to mediation insist on having their family law attorney present and, if so, to what extent?
There are many good reasons to have one’s attorney present during a child custody mediation. For one, they can help choose the right mediator for a particular situation. They also can play an important role in preparing their clients to make mediation a successful or at least positive experience. They can do so by, for instance, making sure their clients understand the benefits and drawbacks of mediation and also understand the process enough to know how they can avoid getting taking advantage of.
Perhaps most importantly, the lawyer can be present at mediation so as to make certain his or her client understands the client’s rights and legal options and also is entering in to any deal with eyes wide open. While it is ultimately the client’s choice to make a deal during the mediation or not, the lawyer’s advice is critical to assuring that the process is fair.