A 2018 report by the United States Census Bureau revealed that about 6.6% of marriages in Illinois end in divorce. Notably, only a fraction of divorces in Illinois are resolved via litigation in a formal court trial. Most divorces are resolved and finalized via mediation. Here is a comprehensive overview of how the divorce mediation process in Illinois works, what to expect, and how to prepare.

The Mediation Process in Illinois – What to Expect

Divorce mediation involves consulting a trained and certified mediator to help you resolve contentious issues regarding your divorce. Mediators adopt a neutral position throughout the process. Essentially, they only serve as facilitators for the divorce negotiations – they don’t offer legal advice or make decisions on behalf of the divorcees.

Divorce mediation in Illinois is recommended for a range of contentious issues, including:

The divorce mediation process in Illinois is straightforward. Here is an overview of how it works and what to expect:

1. Orientation

The process begins with a brief orientation of what to expect. Essentially, the mediator makes opening statements regarding the process and encourages both parties to cooperate and compromise. The mediator also uses this opportunity to handle administrative tasks such as setting the agenda.

2. Presenting Issues

The mediator will then offer each party a chance to make short statements about their concerns regarding the divorce. The mediator may ask questions and make notes summarizing your main talking points as you make your statement to ensure that everything is clear. It is advisable to use this opportunity to highlight all contentious issues from your perspective.

3. Finding Solutions

Finding solutions to the identified contentious issues is the most important phase of divorce mediation. The mediator functions as a coach to keep things calm and rational. The mediator will encourage both parties to consider the other party’s situation in an understanding manner and be open to compromise. However, the discussion mostly involves you and your partner.

4. Negotiating & Settling an Agreement

Supposing that you settle some or all of the contentious issues during mediation, the mediator will write an official agreement. The agreement will detail all of the issues resolved through mediation. Some mediators may also write a parenting plan or schedule.

5. Officiating the Agreement

The divorce is not official until the court acknowledges it. Some mediators will help you file the agreement and other related documents in court, while others may advise you to do it yourself or hire a lawyer. Once enforced, the agreement will become part of the final uncontested divorce decree and is enforceable like any other court order.

When & Why to Seek Mediation for Your Divorce

Divorce mediation is preferable to a formal court trial for the following reasons:


A mediator charges a fraction of what you would pay in court and attorney fees and other related expenses. It is also worth noting that a court-appointed lawyer charges less than a self-solicited one.


A formal court trial can drag on for months, especially when both parties cannot compromise and agree on some of the underlying contentious issues. In contrast, you can resolve the divorce after a few mediation sessions lasting two to three hours each.


Divorce mediators are legally bound to maintain their clients’ privacy, and everything said is confidential. In contrast, divorces settled via litigation are added to the public records, which anyone can request and view.

Control & Flexibility

A divorce mediator is a neutral third party in your divorce negotiations, and you both direct the discussions and agree on important decisions. It is also worth noting that you can hire a lawyer to represent you throughout the mediation process. In contrast, a court trial takes control over much of the divorce process, and the judge essentially makes and imposes all major and minor decisions such as child custody and support.

Amicable Resolution

The mediation process is based on both parties’ willingness to cooperate and compromise on contentious issues, making it easier to settle the divorce on friendly terms. Unfortunately, courts don’t give much consideration to divorcees’ feelings.

When to Opt for a Court Trial

Divorce mediation isn’t always recommendable. A formal court trial is recommended in the following cases:

  • You have experienced domestic abuse from your partner.
  • You fear for your safety and your children’s safety.
  • Your spouse has a history of fraud or deceit.
  • Your spouse wants to delay the divorce mediation process out of malice.
  • Your spouse has hired a lawyer or is claiming fault.

The court can help you to find solutions to these issues. For example, the judge can provide an order or protection against a violent spouse. It is advisable to hire a good divorce lawyer to represent you.

Preparing for Divorce Mediation – 3 Expert Tips

Divorce mediation is all about negotiating an agreement that suits your interests and preferences, albeit you have to make some compromises. Preparing in advance can help give you an upper hand in the negotiations. Here are three tips to help you prepare properly for your divorce mediation:

  1. Prepare all the necessary information and documents, including court documents, financial statements, and a list of all contested and uncontested marital property.
  2. Schedule a private meeting with the mediator to present your case and learn about how the process works.
  3. Learn to control yourself when discussing contentious issues such as child custody – anger and resentment will complicate communication and stall the negotiations.

It is also prudent to consult a lawyer to help you prepare for mediation. You can also hire a lawyer to represent you in the negotiations, but it is advisable to consult the mediator and your spouse before hiring one.


Hiring a divorce attorney can help give you an upper hand in divorce medication by preparing or representing you throughout the negotiations. The Lake County law firm of Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC is here to offer you legal support throughout this difficult process. Get in touch today and schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more about how we can help.



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Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC

Phone Number: (847) 549-0600
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