22nd Judicial Circuit - James S. Cowlin, Chief Circuit Judge

Mediation Advisory Council FAQ

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What happens in mediation?
Do we both have to participate?
Do our children participate in mediation?
Do I need an attorney?
Are mediation agreements legally binding?
What if we cannot work it out?
What if I want to terminate mediation?
Are there times when mediation is not a good idea?
How much does mediation cost?
How can I find a list of McHenry County approved Mediators?
What is the professional background of the court approved McHenry County Mediators?

 


 

What happens in mediation?
The mediator works with parents to clearly define which areas of parenting plans are agreed upon by the parents and which areas will need to be resolved. The mediator helps parents define the needs of the children and ways in which each parent can meet those needs.

Do we both have to participate?
Yes. Because mediation is a joint, cooperative problem-solving process, it is necessary for both parents to participate. Parents need not feel friendly toward one another but should be willing to work together to find solutions that will meet the needs of everyone involved.

Both parents are also required to separately attend a four hour educational program to help them better understand their children's needs and feelings during divorce and separation. For information or to register for the McHenry County Parents, Children and Divorce Program you may contact (815) 479-7591 or www.mchenry.edu/coneducation/DivoPro.asp.

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Do our children participate in mediation?
Generally, no. However, in some cases teenage children may participate depending on the topic, the agreement of the mediator and the parents, the children's maturity levels and their willingness to participate. Although children's feelings may be explored in mediation, it is still the responsibility of both parents to develop the parenting plan.

Do I need an attorney?
Mediation is not a substitute for independent legal advice. Lawyers help their clients understand the law, make informed choices, review mediated agreements and complete the legal process. Either Party may have their attorney present during mediation. The mediator focuses on helping parents communicate and reach their own agreements but does not represent either party.

Are mediation agreements legally binding?
A mediation agreement may be drafted by the mediator and the parents as an informal working agreement. When an agreement is approved by a judge and is incorporated into a court order or divorce decree it becomes legally binding. Any changes to an existing court order or divorce decree must be approved by a judge to be legally binding.

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What if we cannot work it out?
Mediation may not resolve all issues, but even partial agreements can help limit the time and expense of going to court. Sometimes it is helpful to suspend mediation and participate in counseling or to consult your attorney. Parents are then often able to return to mediation and resolve the remaining issues. Issues that cannot be resolved in mediation can be returned to the court for resolution.

What if I want to terminate mediation?
If you are thinking about terminating it is important to discuss termination with your attorney so that you can fully understand how this decision may affect the outcome of your case. If after consultation you still wish to end mediation, you may do so at a time when both parents and the mediator are present.

Are there times when mediation is not a good idea?
Mediation works best when both parents are able to fully express their needs and interests and are capable of following through on agreements they reach. Mediation may not be the best choice if there are concerns about domestic violence, child abuse, mental illness or abuse of drugs or alcohol. If you have concerns about your personal safety when mediation is suggested, or at any time during the mediation process, you should immediately notify the mediator and your attorney. It might" be possible to complete mediation with parents participating from separate rooms and the mediator carrying communication back and forth. In this situation, the mediator must take extra precautions to ensure each parent's emotional and physical safety. Consult with your mediator to determine the best available method of mediation for your family.

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How much does mediation cost?
Mediation is often less costly, both emotionally and financially, than litigation. In McHenry County mediation fees are agreed upon between the mediator and the parents or as set by the judge. The parents are required to make a deposit equal to five hours of mediation before the mediation process can begin. The fee is typically shared by both parents with the percent each parent pays determined by the judge.

How can I find a list of McHenry County approved Mediators?
A list of county approved mediators can be found
HERE. You may find other professional mediators in your community listed in the telephone directory yellow pages or you can also consult your local bar association or private attorney for a referral.

What is the professional background of the court approved McHenry County Mediators?
Mediators are either lawyers or mental health professionals with specific training in Mediation.

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