“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to
elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” - Henry David Thoreau
Mediation is a confidential and informal process that occurs outside of the formal court system. With a neutral mediator's guidance, the clients strive to reach their own agreements and solution to their differences. The mediator facilitates communication between the clients, helps identify the clients’ needs and interests, assists clients in considering options to resolve their issues, and strives to obtain the best possible outcome for both clients and others involved. Mediation is future-focused, with a goal to empower the clients and foster their agreement on matters in dispute.
Mediation has been practiced since the 1980’s. It involves clients, who are experiencing a dispute, collectively retaining a neutral third party, trained in the area of divorce, communication, and family dynamics. Mediators may be attorneys or mental health professionals, and are trained to facilitate communication, identify clients' needs and interests, and foster agreements between the clients. Mediators do not make decisions for the clients or family nor do they offer legal advice or provide therapy. Mediation is not a substitute for independent legal advice. It is recommended that each person involved in mediation retain their own attorney for consultation outside of the mediation sessions on an as needed basis. The attorneys help their client understand the law, make informed agreements throughout the mediation process, they review the mediated agreements, and will complete the legal process regarding those agreements.
Mediation proceeds by a series of informal, structured, and confidential joint meetings held with the mediator and the two clients. Other professionals, such as financial adivisors, child specialists, and mental health practitioners, are often utilized to provide the clients with information and facts in the professionals' areas of expertise. Mediation offers an opportunity for clients to express themselves, to raise their concerns, and to problem solve together. Agreements reached during mediation are more likely to endure if the underlying concerns and conflicts are mutually managed and resolved. Once agreements are reached, the mediator will draft a Memorandum of Agreement that includes all the agreements between the clients. This document is reviewed by the clients’ respective attorneys, who consult with their clients, and finalize the agreements in Court. Agreements reached in mediation are tentative, based on "good faith" between the clients, and binding when they are approved and entered by the Judge.
Currently, in Illinois, there is no certification or licensing of mediators. However, Illinois was one of the first states to pass legislation recognizing the practice of mediation. The Uniform Mediation Act -710 ILCS 35 et seq., can be found at:
The Mediation Council of Illinois is a statewide professional membership organization whose mission is to promote mediation as an effective means to address family conflict by increasing public awareness, advancing professional development, and enhancing access to quality family mediation services. The Mediation Council of Illinois assists mediators in achieving the highest level of professionalism by requiring from its Referral Members certain levels of training and experience, annual continuing education, and the adherence to MCI’s Standards of Practice- http://www.mediationcouncilofillinois.org
When selecting a mediator, MCI assists the general public by providing suggestions for interviewing a mediator - “Choosing A Mediator”:
Other helpful hints for screening mediators can be found at: http://www.wamediators.org.
Some jurisdictions in Illinois already require family mediation to occur when there is a dispute between parents about their children. The parents work with a family mediator before a judge hears their case, unless special circumstances exist. Beginning in January 2007, every Illinois court will implement the court appointment of family mediators in these types of cases. (Supreme Court Rule 905). A listing of family mediators whom meet the criteria required by a circuit court to serve as a family mediator is typically compiled by the circuit court, (i.e. 19th Circuit Family Mediator List). See McHenry County Family Mediator List or Lake County Family Mediator List.
“Hot heads and cold hearts never solved anything.” Billy Graham