Helping Families in Chicago with Mediation and Collaborative Law

Working together to resolve domestic issues

The emotional issues that come into play make resolving family law disputes uniquely challenging. However, the same conditions that can make these matters so challenging can also open the door to collaboration and compromise, allowing many spouses and parents to resolve their issues without resorting to lengthy and expensive litigation. Custody and divorce mediation is becoming increasingly popular in Chicago and throughout the United States. The Illinois Supreme Court has even made mediation mandatory in most cases involving child custody issues. At Downs Law Offices, our experienced mediation attorneys know how to help you get the most out of the mediation process. While we are always ready to litigate if necessary, we are enthusiastic advocates for collaborative family law and the many benefits it offers.

What is collaborative law?

Collaborative law and mediation are alternatives to the typical party-to-party negotiations and eventual litigation that dominate many divorces and other family law matters. During mediation, both sides work with an impartial mediator - usually a mediation attorney - to identify and resolve their issues. A mediator is not a judge or a master. He or she does not take sides or impose a binding resolution. Instead, a mediator uses knowledge of Illinois family law as well as practical experience as a family law practitioner to offer insights and guide both sides to a mutually agreeable solution.

Collaborative law, on the other hand, does not involve a mediator but allows both parties and their collaborative divorce lawyers to work together to identify their issues and use outside professionals when necessary to help resolve them.

Custody and divorce mediation and collaborative law offer numerous benefits over the more traditional approach:

  • Privacy - Unlike a court proceeding, which is public record, mediation and collaborative law are private matters between the parties. Everything that occurs is confidential and nothing that is said can be used during later litigation.

  • Flexibility - Mediation and collaborative law allow both spouses or parents to build an arrangement that works for them rather than having a judge impose a resolution that may not be satisfactory to either side.
  • Expediency - Parties often wait months for hearings and trial dates during divorce litigation. However, parties choosing mediation or collaborative law can do so independently from the court calendar, allowing the process to move much more quickly.
  • Cost - Because mediation and collaborative law generally take less time than litigation, you often save on attorney’s fees. Moreover, you avoid many of the costs associated with formal litigation - discovery costs, court costs, filing and transcript fees, witness fees and the like.

When is mediation or collaborative law useful?

Mediation is frequently used to resolve personal injury suits and business disputes but is especially well suited to family law. While mediation is required in Illinois for any case involving children - subject to some exceptions, such as cases involving domestic violence - you may still benefit from mediation even when it is not required for your case. Mediation and collaborative law are both very well suited to resolving the other issues that come up during the dissolution of marriage, such as equitable distribution of property and spousal maintenance.

When both sides in a divorce or child custody dispute are willing to work together, collaborative family law and mediation can allow them to resolve their issues with much less emotional and financial burden. While our attorneys at Downs Law Offices remain zealous advocates for our clients whatever path they choose, we have ample experience representing parties during mediation and the collaborative family law process.

Beneficial resolutions without litigation

Call Downs Law Offices at 312-781-1963 or contact us online to schedule a consultation about mediation or collaborative law. We are conveniently located on the Loop in Chicago, with convenient access to parking and public transportation.