Mediation

813 Washington Street
Waukegan, IL 60085

Both Deborah Goldberg and Kevin Kane are court-approved mediators. We welcome mediation referrals and are also glad to act as attorney for parties who are or will be in mediation.

Mediation is a cooperative process where people try to resolve conflict with the assistance of a trained, neutral third party whose role is to assist the parties to facilitate communication, identify issues, explore options and negotiate solutions. Mediation is an alternative to the litigation process where the parties and their attorneys present evidence to a judge at a trial and have the judge decide any disputed issues.

Through mediation parties can craft their own solutions to problems rather than having to live with a solution imposed by a judge. Mediation is generally substantially less expensive than litigation and it avoids the emotional trauma involved presenting the details of the parties' personal lives and finances in a public courtroom.

The Lake County Circuit Court recently adopted a Rule requiring that in most cases the judge order the parties to work with a court appointed mediator to try to mediate disputes involving custody, visitation, or removal of a child from the state. The judge may also order mediation of economic issues in some cases.

The Mediation Process
In the mediation process, the mediator will first obtain some background information from the parties to make sure the case is appropriate for mediation. If there is a history of domestic violence or if there is a mental impairment, it may not be appropriate for the parties to sit down together in the mediation process.

The mediator will ask the parties to sign a Contract to Mediate setting out the rules for the mediation and specifying the fee for the mediator. The parties will then have one or more mediation sessions where they meet to discuss the issues. At some points in the process the mediator may "caucus" with the parties privately to discuss the process. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will draft a Memorandum of Agreement putting the agreement in writing. The parties then take the agreement back to their own attorneys for approval and to put it into form to be signed by the judge.

The following are some important points about the mediation process:
  • The mediator does not advocate for either party or decide disputes. The mediator's role is to help the parties agree on their own solution.
  • If the parties cannot reach an agreement through mediation, they have the right to go through the litigation process and have a judge decide disputed issues.
  • The parties are encouraged to consult with their own attorneys during the mediation process. Their attorney can advise the party about the law and what a judge may decide if the case goes to trial. For mediation to succeed it is important that all information about the case be disclosed to both parties and that both parties be fully informed of their rights. In some cases it may be appropriate for the mediator to consult with the attorneys during the course of mediation.
  • At the conclusion of the mediation, the mediator will submit a report to the court about whether the mediation was successful and whether there are remaining issues. The report will not make recommendations about disputed issues or include confidential information.
  • The mediator's fee is divided equally unless the judge orders otherwise. The fee is to be paid at the time of each session and there is an advance deposit covering up to two hours time.