It is expensive and time consuming to litigate divorce disputes and post-decree issues involving child custody, visitation schedules, pets and property division. Alternative dispute resolution — in the form of mediation or arbitration — is an affordable alternative to litigation that allows the parties to work toward settling their disagreements while avoiding the cost, time and stress associated with a protracted courtroom battle. Mediation and arbitration are not meant for everyone, but neither is the court process meant for everyone.
Located in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Buffalo Grove Law Offices assists clients in Arlington Heights, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Buffalo Grove and throughout the Chicago metropolitan area in resolving divorce and family law matters through mediation and/or arbitration. While we regularly assist clients as their legal counsel in these forums, our Arlington Heights mediation lawyer is also a qualified mediator who provides professional mediation services to individuals and couples who are represented by other counsel.
The Advantages Of Mediation And Arbitration
Mediation and arbitration are confidential dispute resolution forums that provide numerous advantages to litigation, including the ability to maintain the parties’ privacy; avoid the length, expense and uncertainty of litigation; and devise creative solutions that satisfy unusual needs and circumstances.
Please understand that once a couple has met with a mediator or arbitrator, that mediator or arbitrator is prohibited from representing either party in any subsequent litigation (divorce, paternity, or any other court-action) because of conflict of interest rules. Also, if either party has sought advice from an attorney on a family law issue, that attorney is prohibited from representing the couple in a mediation or arbitration. The information below includes some of the differences between mediation or arbitration and litigation.
Mediation: Working Together To Reach An Amicable Settlement
In mediation, both parties and their attorneys work with a neutral mediator to negotiate an amicable settlement. The mediator assists the parties in coming to a resolution, usually by sending offers of settlement back and forth between the parties. The mediator does not make any final decision in the matter and does not give advice to either party.
Mediation often ends in settlement of at least some of the contested issues, saving the parties’ time and money because fewer issues will need to be litigated in court later on. If some contested issues remain after mediation, the parties are free to continue settlement negotiations through their attorneys and/or prepare to resolve the case at trial.
Arbitration: Allowing A Third-Party To Reach A Decision
In arbitration, both parties and their attorneys will present evidence and testimony to arbitrator in a confidential session. The arbitrator will then make a decision that is binding on the parties, just as if it were rendered by a court.
Some Key Aspects Of Mediation Versus Litigation
- Nonadversarial environment, parties come together in good faith to find a resolution
- Mediator assists in maintaining that good faith and balance between both parties
- Meetings between parties together
- Gather facts together cooperatively
- Agreement between parties as to issues to be worked on
- Parties are in control of the outcome, mediator is in control of the process itself
- Creative solutions to avoid conflict
- Atmosphere is nonthreatening
- Mediator is impartial
- Compromise is the goal
- Adversarial environment
- Attorneys communicate for the parties
- Gathering facts (discovery process can be and often is adversarial)
- Judge is the one to decide the issues
- Sticking to positions
- Court is in control
- Decisions are governed by legal precedent of prior case law
- Lawyers are partial to their client’s positions rather than to impartiality
- Formal atmosphere in courtroom or deposition, etc., likely contentious
- The goal of the parties/lawyers often is wanting to win
The divorce decree provided for arbitration. The parties had joint custody and a parenting schedule. The decree stated that, “The matters of camp, medical decisions and the regular parenting time schedule are the only matters which shall be arbitrated.” Husband filed for arbitration. He argued that wife had missed a lot of her parenting time.…Read More
In their divorce document, the parties agreed to resolve certain problems with their parenting schedule through arbitration. Father filed a motion to compel arbitration. Father had been sending emails to Mother. He complained about how often she took away his time with the children. Mother argued that there was no “clearly defined conflict”. There was…Read More
Parties had a divorce case. They agreed to resolve their property and maintenance issues through binding arbitration. That means that the trial judge did not make the decisions. That part of the case was sent to an arbitrator. The arbitrator made a decision. Then, the trial court confirmed the arbitration award afterwards. The court entered…Read More