By: Joe Dillon, Divorce Mediator and Cheryl Dillon, Divorce Coach – Equitable Mediation Services

If you’re considering divorce or have already made the difficult decision to divorce in Illinois, you’re probably aware that there are many options available to you. You can choose to hire an attorney and head to court. You can choose collaborative divorce or to try to do it yourself. Or, you can choose mediation.

But, exactly what is divorce mediation?

And more importantly, how does it benefit you to use it?

What is divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation is a non-adversarial process overseen by a neutral and highly skilled third party – the mediator, who will guide you and your spouse through resolving all of the issues required to get a divorce.

The mediator will help identify the important issues, educate you on the relevant laws and financial implications and facilitate effective negotiations until an acceptable agreement can be reached that you and your spouse both find fair and equitable.

How is Illinois divorce mediation different from the lawyer-driven divorce options?

Mediation is different than these divorce options in many ways.

First, there is one mediator instead of two attorneys. And since mediation only involves you, your spouse and the mediator, you have much more control over the process and outcome.
Attorneys can only represent one client and their job is to do whatever they can to get the most favorable outcome for one spouse. Even if it’s at the detriment of the other spouse or the couple’s children.

Conversely, mediators are neutral so they don’t take sides the way attorneys do. Instead, mediators advocate for both spouses and their children. Mediators don’t give legal advice. Rather, they give legal information and the spouses are fully empowered to make their own decisions.

What does divorce mediation cover?

Simply put, divorce mediation in Illinois addresses all legal and extra legal issues required for a divorce. This includes, but is not limited to the four main divorce issues: child custody, child support, maintenance and distribution of assets and liabilities.

The goal of mediation is to help you and your spouse reach a fair and equitable settlement that you are both comfortable with and that puts your children first.
What are some of the advantages of Illinois divorce mediation?

  • Saves Time: – If you’ve already made the decision to divorce, you’d probably like to get through your proceedings as quickly as possible. And while a litigated divorce can drag on for years, mediation can be completed in just a few short sessions, allowing you to move forward with your life in a lot less time.
  • Cost Effective: Lawyers typically charge a retainer of between $3,500 and $7,500 per spouse. Then, they charge by the hour on top of that. Collaborative divorce involves a number of outside parties: two attorneys, financial professional(s), parenting expert(s), employability expert(s), etc. – all of whom will bill you for their time. On the other hand, mediation is a fraction of the cost of other divorce methods. And most couples can complete their entire divorce for less than the attorney retainers.
  • Amicable and Better For Your Children: Divorce doesn’t have to be a contentious battle. Unlike litigated divorce which pits spouse against spouse, mediation encourages open, honest and productive communication. The result is a much more peaceful way to divorce which is better for everyone – especially if there are children involved.
  • Fair: The terms of your divorce settlement will be more fair because you and your spouse will both have a say in determining them.
  • Confidential: With a litigated divorce, all of the details of your marriage and what went on behind closed doors will be aired in public for all to hear. Mediation, on the other hand, is completely confidential. Only you, your spouse and the mediator will be privy to the private details of your life.
  • Customized: Who knows what’s best for your family and your future? A judge or a couple of lawyers? Or you and your spouse? Mediation allows you to explore and address all of the issues and develop solutions that are flexible and customized to suit your specific needs.

Illinois divorce mediation can help you reach a fair and equitable settlement in a more peaceful, timely, child-focused and cost-effective way.


Joe Dillon and Cheryl Dillon are co-founders of Equitable Mediation Services, a divorce mediation firm that specializes in helping couples negotiate a fair settlement customized to their unique needs and that puts their children first.

Joe and Cheryl are passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and know first-hand that the right information, combined with the right expertise and the right kind of support can make the challenging process of divorce less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful for divorcing couples and their children.

To learn more, visit http://www.equitablemediation.com/