Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution, and as such, it is a different avenue through which divorcing spouses may be able to reach an agreement short of having a family court make decisions for them in property division, child custody, child support and spousal support. If the parties are able to reach an agreement through mediation, the court will then review it to determine if it is fair and equitable. If the court then determines the parties’s agreement is fair, it will make the agreement a part of the divorce decree.
When a couple chooses to go through mediation, a neutral third party, called a mediator, will meet with each of them and their attorneys if they are represented. Each party will let the mediator know what they are seeking. The mediator will then try to assist both sides trying to reach an agreement.
If the parties reach an agreement through mediation, the agreement will be binding and enforceable as a court order. Violations of such an agreement are subject to later possible contempt proceedings. Mediation can be a cost-effective strategy for people going through a divorce, because if they are able to reach a full agreement, it will abrogate the need for a more involved contested divorce proceeding.
When divorcing couples are able to reach an agreement through this form of alternative dispute resolution, they can save themselves higher associated costs and time for the divorce process. As such, it can present a good alternative for many people. If people are unable to reach a full agreement at mediation, they can still proceed to a final divorce hearing for a court to decide all remaining and disputed issues. Mediation agreements are only binding as to the issues upon which the parties agree.
Source: Illinois State Bar Association , “Your Guide to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)”, October 13, 2014