In this video, our Chicago family mediation attorneys explain what family mediation is and the difference between voluntary and court ordered mediation. Family mediation is one of several alternative dispute resolution options available to couples in Illinois seeking to resolve issues involving either a divorce or parenting issues. Other alternatives to litigation include collaborative divorce, cooperative divorce, and arbitration. Mediation may be initiated voluntarily by the parties at any stage of their case, even before filing for divorce. It may also be ordered by the court in a domestic relations case. Even if the parties attend mediation because they were ordered to do so by the court, any resulting agreement as a result of the mediation is voluntary. Local court rules vary regarding the minimum number of mediation sessions, the time period required for each sessions, how impediments to mediation and exceptions are to be handled, and provisions for confidentiality. In Cook County, the court will assign a mediator and the parties are not required to pay a fee.