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Some Mediators Don’t have a Clue

I’m a divorce mediation in Illinois – and a lawyer. If you are thinking about divorce mediation in Illinois, then there is something you must know – some mediators don’t have a clue! If you want one who does, feel free to call me at 224-300-0529 – I’m a lawyer and a mediator with the knowledge and experience necessary.

Who can become a divorce mediator?

In Illinois, a divorce mediator is anyone who mediates a divorce. Let me put it to you another way: anyone who wants to call himself or herself a divorce mediator can do so.

So suppose you are a person who has zero legal training, and you decide you need another income stream. You could start mediating divorces in Illinois.

Again, if you mediator a divorce, you are a divorce mediator. Wow. That’s easy! But scary! It’s kind of like saying that you are a brain surgeon if you cut someone’s head open.

Is legal training necessary to be a divorce mediator?

You may know that divorce is a legal process. In Illinois, it’s actually called “dissolution of marriage.” The laws regulating divorce in Illinois are found in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act – referred to as the IMDMA.

Many people who want to become divorce mediators don’t even know that much about the law. That’s right – they don’t even know what the law is called.

That’s funny! And scary!

I remember when I first realized how little divorce mediator hopefuls knew about the law. It’s when I took a mediation class offered by Northwestern University. There were all kinds of people in that class: social workers, therapist, people without a career, a drug-addict-turned-drug counselor (who still acted like an addict). They didn’t have the slightest clue about the law, or how court works.

So, do you think legal training is necessary to be a divorce mediator? No? You’re right. Like I said, anyone can be a divorce mediator.

But what you should wonder is if legal training is necessary for effective divorce mediation. The answer to that is “yes.” Using a mediator that became a mediator just because they wanted a new job or because they “like helping people” is a completely stupid thing to do.

Divorce is a legal process. If you want a quality mediation, you must use someone who knows the law.

That’s why a divorce mediator should be a lawyer.

Do mediators practice law without a license?

Many mediators practice law without a license. But of course, since they are not lawyers, they probably don’t know.

I know that many non-lawyer mediators give legal advice to the people for whom they mediate. They advise people on what agreements will work, and that’s legal advice. Why? Because the agreement is a legal agreement.

Let me give you an example. There are several very popular non-lawyer mediators in town. One of them, a guy who once introduced himself to a group by saying “I divorce people,” once wrote up an agreement reached in mediation which included a clause that is totally unenforceable. The clause related to real estate, and the agreement the mediator wrote – which was supposed to form the bases for a marital settlement agreement – required a third party to take some sort of action.

That’s completely stupid.

Why should a divorce mediator be a lawyer?

Many divorce mediators who are not lawyers claim that they are less expensive than lawyers.

First, in many cases, that is simply not true. Their hourly rates rival what many lawyers charge, and they may prolong mediation to increase the total cost.

Second, as I mentioned above, mediators who are not lawyers simply do not have the knowledge and experience that lawyers have.

Here are some of the problems you may run into when hiring a non-lawyer mediator:

  1. They don’t remain neutral
  2. They craft agreements that are legally unenforceable
  3. They conduct unnecessary mediations – instead of simplifying matters with an uncontested divorce
  4. They cannot help you reach a sensible agreement due to lack of training
  5. They don’t understand what is acceptable in court
  6. They are unfamiliar with the law, and give uninformed answers
  7. They are inefficient due to lack of training
  8. They lack malpractice insurance
  9. They give you a false sense of confidence
  10. They drag on the mediation process because it’s all they do

It can be very dangerous to think divorce is more simple than it is. If you hire one of the many non-lawyers to handle your mediation, your putting your life in the hands of someone who doesn’t have sufficient training to properly handle your problems.

What if you are considering mediation

As a divorce attorney and a divorce mediator in Illinois, I don’t need coerce someone into mediation.

Sometimes, people realize that mediation is unnecessary because they are already in agreement. In that case, I can help them affordably and quickly get an uncontested divorce in Illinois.

But if you and your spouse could benefit from mediation, you should know that my philosophy is as follows:

  1. Most mediations should not last more than 3 sessions
  2. I suggest solutions that are legally enforceable to help move the process along