When parents come to court with a dispute over children, such as allocation of parenting time, most of the judges in northern Illinois counties will insist that the parties make an effort at resolution of their issues through mediation. In my experience with high conflict cases, mediation is usually not a useful approach at resolution of cases; the disordered or angry party will often refuse to participate in the mediation appropriately. However, in some cases where the parents are not in a high degree of conflict and are otherwise looking to reach a resolution, versus a court battle, mediation can be effective. So what kind of approach is best to bring to mediation?
1. First, communicate with your attorney beforehand. As a mediator myself, I spend time with my clients coaching them on the mediation process and how to best use mediation to work toward resolution. It’s important for me to hear my client’s concerns, so I can provide clarification, validation, and direction. It’s also important for me to develop an agenda with my client to make sure that mediation is effective, and that goals are set and fully in mind before the mediation begins.
2. Be effective. Only do or say those things which will be effective and help you move forward. Being effective means advancing toward goals which are consistent with your interests and principles.