Part I : An Introduction to Family Law Mediation
Family Law disputes, whether they involve divorce, paternity cases, disputes over child support or parenting time, or post-divorce cases involving adjustments to prior court orders or agreements, are all the among the most stressful and deeply felt of all legal conflicts. The fact that these issues, by their very nature, involve family and intimate relationships, make them difficult for people to address, and often hard to face – let alone to resolve.
When resolving a family issue intersects with the law and our court system, the personal stakes go up. In addition to the family conflict, there are additional complications of: loss of privacy; involvement of the Court in a personal, family decision; the often adversarial nature of the family law system; the loss or discouragement of communication between the parties; the rigidity of the solutions provided by the law, and, sometimes the biggest concern, the cost of litigation.
Many family laws disputes can only be resolved through resort to the traditional family Court system and litigation. Recent changes to Illinois law, however, are increasingly requiring parties to attempt mediation before a party can bring a family law dispute to Court.
Many people have traditionally viewed mediation as a waste of time in family law cases. Since so many people have such firmly held positions on these highly personal issues, people often have believed that compromise is unlikely. Other people have felt that mediation would amount to nothing more than an attempt to “split the baby” and, thus, not a real effort at creative problem solving.
While these concerns may be legitimate, the growing number of skilled mediators trained in understanding how mediation can benefit families in conflict provides some hope for an alternative to the harsh, rigid and overly public court process. This recent growth in the training of skilled family mediators has resulted in an increase in number of issues and cases that are successfully resolved faster, more cooperatively, and less expensively, than the traditional court process through family law mediation.
The Drendel and Jansons Law Group is poised at the cutting edge of this development, with four (4) family law attorneys who have taken extensive training, received certification, and are approved in one or more counties as family law mediators. Carolyn D. Jansons, Roman J. Seckel, and Mark D. Brent are all now certified family law mediators.
Judges are now starting to appoint approved mediators when parties are already in the court-system by virtue of an ongoing case. When judges appoint attorneys to act as mediators, the attorneys meet with the parties with the goal of working toward a resolution of the issues, cooperatively, efficiently, and outside the courtroom.
After a recent, four-day training seminar with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, attorney Mark D. Brent of the Drendel and Jansons Law Group has been inspired to initiate a new approach of applying mediation to Family Law issues. While this approach is very popular (and sometimes even the norm) in other parts of the country, and it is even used elsewhere in Illinois, mediation has very rarely been used in the Kane/Kendall County area.
Using mediation to resolve family issues that require the intervention of the legal system will be more fully outlined over the coming weeks in this space. Family law mediation is designed to help parties resolve divorces, or other family law disputes, before ever filing a petition or ever entering the formal court system.
With family law mediation, parties considering a divorce (or facing some other family law dispute) retain the mediator together rather than hiring separate attorneys. If the mediator and the parties can work together to reach a solution to all the issues presented, a Mediated Agreement is drawn up by the mediator and signed by the parties. The parties, then, use a different attorney (from the network of other firms who have agreed to pre-arranged, flat-fee rates) to prepare the legal documents necessary to the formal resolution of the issues. If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties may proceed to court with an agreement they have already reached outside of court.
Stay tuned for more details on using mediation to resolve family law issues will appear in this space soon, so please check back frequently. In the meantime, if you would like a free consultation regarding mediation or another family law matter, email [email protected] or call Mark D. Brent at 630-523-0543.Mark D. Brent Drendel & Jansons Law Group 111 Flinn Street |2000 W. Galena Blvd. Batavia, IL 60510 | Aurora, IL 60506 630-523-0543 | 630-517-5130 www.divorcelawyeraurora.com [email protected]