Actually, the more complex a divorce, the more appropriate it is for divorce mediation. Complex divorces are mediated on a routine basis, as are many other such cases, such as patent, commercial, and environmental disputes. Divorce mediation is a problem-solving process that lends itself to a careful, reasoned opportunity to address complex cases.
Typically, divorce mediation begins with the gathering of information by the parties. The information is shared and discussed by the couple. The divorce mediation does not proceed unless both parties agree that all of the information has been disclosed and that both understand it. In complex cases, divorce mediators often bring in (or have available by speakerphone) appropriate, mutually agreed-upon experts, such as accountants, business valuators, or financial planners, in addition to each of the divorce lawyers or family law attorneys to assist the parties in understanding the information. After the parties gather the information and review it, the divorce mediator assists the parties in identifying the issues that need to be addressed in the divorce. Next, the parties brainstorm some options for resolving the issues. The mediator then facilitates a discussion of these options to assist the parties in finding those that are acceptable to both — i.e., their agreement. At each of the above steps, the parties are free to call in any of the above experts in addition to their own family law attorneys.
Voluntary and confidential, divorce mediation offers the opportunity for constructive, collaborative problem solving rather than a competitive, destructive battle.
Jerald A. Kessler is a family law attorney with a full-time divorce-mediation practice in Highland Park, Evanston, and Libertyville, IL. He is a past-president of the Mediation Council of Illinois and an Advanced Practitioner Member of the Association for Conflict Resolution.