I receive calls and email every week from individuals about divorce mediation. These calls remind me that it is important for divorcing parents to understand what mediation is in Illinois, and how mediation fits into the divorce process in Illinois divorce courts. Mediation in Illinois can cover both the financial planning issues in divorce as well as the parenting issues. Illinois mandates that all divorcing parents with a custody dispute mediate these custody issues before they can litigate custody and visitation.
If you are required to mediate, what does mediation entail? Well, much depends on the parties and the mediator that is chosen. Among trained and experienced mediators, we recognize distinct styles of mediation: Facilitative, Evaluative and Transformative. When I am mediating a custody issue, I use a “Facilitative” approach with some elements from the Evaluative and Transformative models.
Facilitative: The mediator is helping the two parties make their decisions based on their individual definitions of fairness. I help the parties find common ground, and propose alternative parenting approaches. I can provide information and guidance but do not give recommendations or opinions. A divorce mediator in this model is helping the parties create a parenting plan that meets legal requirements, as well as that family’s needs.