By Marvin Mendez, Divorce and Family Law Attorney, Principal
After you find a divorce lawyer who aligns with your values, breathe a sigh of relief! Congratulate yourself for taking the first challenging step. You now have a professional on your team who can walk you through every step of the process and answer all of your questions.
In an Illinois divorce, one of the first conversations your attorney will have with you is whether to pursue litigation or mediation, two of the most common approaches to divorce. There are pros and cons to both choices, which I’ll walk through below.
Deciding which divorce process is right for you: mediation vs. litigation
When you’re facing a divorce, you have the option to pursue mediation or litigation. There is no right or wrong answer, and your choice is likely dependent on numerous variables—including the nature of you and your spouse’s relationship and your family goals.
Litigation means you take your divorce to court for a judge to determine the outcome of your case. Mediation means you hire an impartial, trained mediator to help you and your spouse reach reasonable, mutually agreed upon resolutions.
What happens if I choose litigation?
About 50% of our clients decide to go to litigation. Litigation is more expensive than mediation and can take much longer to resolve, due to courts experiencing a back log in cases exacerbated by COVID-19. Currently, timelines to litigate are running anywhere between 18 to 36 months.
While mediation can bring its own emotional stress, litigation is often the more draining option. Typically, couples who have a strained relationship find themselves litigating, which can mean more conflict, and less flexibility and control. Litigation requires you to share intimate details in a court room, and ultimately gives a judge decision-making power for your family.
What happens if I choose mediation?
Mediation is becoming a more popular approach for divorce, and we encourage clients to opt for this route whenever possible. It is a confidential experience—while litigation is public record—and less of a financial burden than litigation. Mediation is often resolved in three to six months, and if you and your spouse are aligned in your goals, you may even be able to expedite the process.
While voluntary, mediation does include an element of risk as your final outcomes are not determined in the courts and rely on you and your spouse upholding your respective commitments. But you never face mediation alone. In addition to your mediator, your attorney and other necessary team members—like financial advisors and child specialists—will be part of the joint effort.
Mediation is a great option if you and your spouse want to amicably work through co-parenting, finance and estate matters, and have more control over final decisions.
How do I find the right mediator?
If you, your attorney and your spouse are all in agreement that mediation is the right option, you’ll want to look for a mediator.
Mediators are often former attorneys or judges who are trained in family law. When you work with our team, we can recommend several trusted mediators who will help guide you and your spouse towards the best resolution possible for your family.
What happens if my mediation fails?
Though uncommon, not all mediations work out. If that is the case, then your attorney will help you navigate next steps to pursue litigation. While that situation isn’t ideal, there are usually silver linings that come out of mediation, including clarity around each person’s position on major decisions.
When you choose mediation, our goal is to facilitate a successful experience to ensure a judge isn’t ultimately deciding what’s best for you and your family—and we’ll do everything in our power to ensure mediation is effective.
Contact Our Divorce and Family Law Firm in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook
You deserve an attorney who understands that each divorce is unique and requires compassionate, thorough attention. During what can be a time of instability, we provide dependable, consistent support and work together with you toward the best resolutions.