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Overview of the child custody mediation process

When it comes to allocating parental responsibilities, many parents in the Peoria area may want to consider mediating as an option for getting their disputes worked out with the other parent. Indeed, in some courts, the judge may even require that parents give mediation a try before going forward with a hearing.

For those who are not familiar with it, mediation involves both parents, sometimes with their attorneys, sitting down with a neutral party called a mediator. The mediator will usually have some background in family law or may have experience in child or family psychology or counseling.

The mediator's job is not to make decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities but to help the couple reach an agreement about them. If the mediator succeeds, then the couple will have resolved their case without needing to go through a time-consuming, costly and stressful process of litigation and trial.

The process is both voluntary and confidential. It is voluntary in the sense that either party is free to end the mediation at any time. No one has to enter into an agreement. The process is confidential in that, as a rule, what gets discussed during mediation cannot be used as evidence later. Among other things, confidentiality allows people the freedom to be honest about the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases.

Mediation is not the right approach in every case. However, many Illinois couples may find it an attractive and cost-effective alternative to hashing out their differences in front of a judge. Even couples with a history of conflict in their relationship may be able to benefit from mediation. Those with specific questions about mediation should feel free to ask their family law attorneys.

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