The Cost of Divorce in Illinois: Is Mediation a More Affordable Option?


Divorce can be a costly and emotionally draining process. When considering a divorce in Illinois, it’s important to understand the financial implications and explore alternative options that may be more affordable. One such option is mediation, which offers a collaborative approach to resolving disputes and can potentially save couples both time and money. In this article, we will delve into the cost of divorce in Illinois, discuss the benefits of mediation, and explore whether it is a more affordable option for couples seeking to end their marriage amicably.

The Cost of Divorce in Illinois

Divorce proceedings can vary significantly in terms of cost depending on various factors, such as the case’s complexity, the presence of children, and the level of conflict between the parties involved. For example, in Illinois, the average cost of divorce ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 or more, with high-conflict cases potentially exceeding these estimates

Factors Affecting Divorce Costs in Illinois

  1. Attorney Fees
  2. Court Filing Fees
  3. Child Custody and Support Matters
  4. Division of Assets and Debts
  5. Alimony or Spousal Maintenance
  6. Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

Is Mediation a More Affordable Option?

Mediation offers an alternative to traditional litigation by providing a cooperative and facilitated process for couples to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Let’s explore why mediation may be a more affordable option for divorcing couples in Illinois.

Reduced Attorney Fees

In mediation, couples work together with a neutral mediator to reach a resolution, which can significantly reduce the need for extensive attorney involvement. As a result, attorney fees are often lower in mediation compared to contentious litigated divorces. According to an article by Divorce Magazine, the cost savings associated with reduced attorney fees can make mediation a more affordable option for couples.

Cost-effective Conflict Resolution

Mediation focuses on open communication and problem-solving, allowing couples to address their concerns and negotiate settlements without costly court battles. By avoiding protracted legal proceedings, couples can save a substantial amount of money. The American Bar Association states that mediation can lead to cost savings by reducing the time spent in court and associated legal fees.

Efficient Process

Mediation typically takes less time than a traditional divorce, as couples have more control over the process and can work at their own pace. By avoiding lengthy court proceedings and the associated delays, couples can reach a resolution more quickly and reduce the overall cost of divorce. The Illinois State Bar Association highlights the efficiency of mediation in resolving disputes compared to traditional litigation.

Shared Expenses

In a collaborative divorce, couples may choose to share the cost of certain expenses, such as hiring a single financial expert or appraiser. This cooperative approach can further reduce costs compared to individual hiring in adversarial divorces. According to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, shared expenses in collaborative divorce can lead to cost savings for both parties.

Case Studies: Traditional Litigation vs. Collaborative Divorce/Mediation

Case Studies: Traditional Litigation vs. Collaborative Divorce/Mediation

Let’s examine two case studies to provide a practical perspective on the cost difference between traditional litigation and collaborative divorce or mediation.

Case Study 1: Traditional Litigation

John and Jane, a couple divorcing, opted for traditional litigation. The case involved:

  • A high level of conflict.
  • Requiring multiple court appearances.
  • Extensive attorney involvement.
  • Expert witnesses.

The process took over two years to reach a resolution, resulting in substantial legal fees and court costs. As a result, the total cost of the divorce exceeded $30,000.

Case Study 2: Collaborative Divorce/Mediation

Sarah and Michael, another couple seeking a divorce, chose to pursue collaborative divorce and mediation. They were committed to working together to find mutually agreeable solutions and minimize conflict. With the help of a mediator, they were able to reach a resolution within six months. The collaborative approach allowed them to share expenses, such as hiring a financial expert, resulting in lower costs compared to individual hiring in a litigated divorce. The total cost of their divorce was around $15,000, significantly less than the traditional litigation case study.

These case studies highlight the potential cost savings of opting for collaborative divorce or mediation. By choosing a cooperative approach and focusing on effective communication and problem-solving, couples can avoid prolonged court battles and significantly reduce their overall expenses.

It’s important to note that each divorce case is unique, and the costs can vary depending on various factors. The case studies provided are for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect the exact costs of every divorce.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is mediation in the context of divorce? Mediation is a voluntary process where a neutral third party, known as a mediator, facilitates discussions between divorcing couples to help them reach agreements on various aspects of their divorce, such as child custody, property division, and support.
  2. How does mediation differ from traditional litigation? Unlike traditional litigation, mediation encourages open communication and cooperation between the parties involved. It allows couples more control over decision-making and work towards mutually beneficial solutions.
  3. Is mediation suitable for high-conflict divorces? While mediation can be challenging in high-conflict cases, it is still possible with the help of an experienced mediator. The mediator creates a safe and structured environment for productive discussions, even in difficult situations.
  4. Does mediation guarantee a fair outcome for both parties? Mediation aims to facilitate fair and equitable agreements by ensuring that both parties have an equal opportunity to express their concerns and needs. The mediator helps facilitate negotiations to reach an acceptable resolution for both parties.
  5. Can mediation save money in terms of attorney fees? Yes, mediation can help save money on attorney fees. By reducing the need for extensive attorney involvement, couples can significantly lower their legal expenses and make the divorce process more affordable.
  6. Is mediation legally binding?

Mediation itself is not legally binding. However, once couples reach agreements through mediation, those agreements can be formalized and submitted to the court for approval. Once approved, these agreements become legally binding and enforceable. Therefore, consulting with an attorney is essential to ensure that any agreements reached in mediation meet the legal requirements and protect your rights.



Divorce can be a costly endeavor, both financially and emotionally. However, in Illinois, couples can pursue mediation and collaborative divorce as more affordable alternatives to traditional litigation. Mediation offers numerous benefits, including reduced attorney fees, cost-effective conflict resolution, an efficient process, and the opportunity for shared expenses. Couples can navigate the divorce process more cooperatively and amicably by choosing mediation, ultimately saving time and money.

Remember, divorce is a complex legal process, and seeking professional advice tailored to your unique situation is crucial. Consider consulting with a qualified mediator or attorney specializing in family law to explore the best options for your needs.

Need a Family Law Attorney in Illinois? Choose Anna P. Krolikowska “Anna K”.

As a litigator, trained mediator, and a collaborative professional, Anna K can offer diverse and creative approaches to resolving marital disputes. Whether through negotiation, mediation, or litigation, Anna K is committed to finding the best path forward for each client.

You can call her at 847-715-9328 or via email at to schedule an appointment. Remember, choosing the right attorney is critical in ensuring a successful outcome in your case. With Anna K, you’ll have a strong advocate who will fight for your best interests every step of the way.