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Former Illinois mom and son reunited after 35 years apart

Collaborative law is a relatively new and developing practice in the history of divorce. Consulting attorneys for mediation and conflict resolution when a marriage is ending only started to become a widespread convention in the U.S. during the 1980s. While it's impossible to know if mediation could have prevented painful consequences in past divorces, it's worth considering how old divorce cases may have had better outcomes if the families had access to collaborative law processes.

One difficult situation that may have been prevented through divorce mediation involves a mother that was recently reunited with her son after searching for him for 35 years. The mother was living near Midway Airport in Chicago when she learned that her estranged husband had taken her 2-year-old son to Mexico to visit the boy's grandparents for a month. However, a month soon turned into years and the boy was never returned, despite the mother's pleas to the father. The woman eventually divorced the father in 1986, but because the there was no custody settlement during the divorce, the police could not help the woman in her search for the boy.

Luckily enough for the now 60-year-old woman, her son was discovered this month in Imperial Beach, California. Border patrol agents were under the assumption that the man had crossed the border illegally with several others, who were all arrested. However, the son claimed to be an American citizen. After consulting the Cook County records, agents were able to find the son's birth certificate.

The mother was located by agents on Nov. 1, but the son has not yet met her in person. He had been raised by his grandparents in Mexico and was using his mother's maiden name, adding to the difficulty of his mother's search. While this case has a happy ending, it may have been prevented entirely if the mother and father could have come to a legal custody agreement during their divorce.

Source:  ktvq.com, "Long-lost U.S. son found after 35 years illegally crossing Mexican border" No author given, Nov. 18, 2013

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