Sometimes we get appointed by judges in our county to actually conduct mediation. Sometimes lawyers independently of the court system agree on the selection of a mediator and there are times that I’m selected by my colleagues to mediate a case. Mediation is an interesting phenomena. If it’s not properly handled and the parties are not properly prepared, my experience in mediation is that often the strong get stronger, and the weak get weaker.
If a person has the financial upper hand and has control of all the financial information during the marriage, and was responsible for paying all the bills, while the other spouse really wasn’t involved in the financial arrangements of the marriage, then that other spouse is not really going to be on an equal footing to come into mediation.
It’s important that both sides evaluate the relative sophistication of the parties, the access to information, and the stage of the proceedings. Then a mediator can sometimes be helpful in really streamlining maybe not the whole case, but at least some of the significant issues. It is a tool that we have available to us. We use it fairly often but it has to be handled properly.
Chuck Roberts is family lawyer at Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC, one of the largest law firms in DuPage County, Illinois.