Year started: 1900
Neutrals: Those with a law degree or advanced behavioral science degree.
Eligibility: All child custody and visitation disputes.
Free Mediation Services Available?: No
The 15th Judicial Circuit's Child Custody and Visitation Mediation Program is governed by Supreme Court Rule 905 and Local Rule 9A. The program handles child custody and visitation disputes referred by the court.
Judges refer all child custody and visitation disputes to the program, unless they believe a reason for exclusion exists. Cases will not be referred to mediation if the judge has reason to believe one or both parties is unable to participate in mediation, for reasons such as child or spousal abuse, emotional or mental impairments, or chemical dependency. The judge may also exclude a case from mediation if he determines either party is acting in bad faith or does not understand the negotiation process, if the prospects of achieving a "reasonable agreement" appear unlikely, or if the interests of minor children are not being considered. Parties may also move to exclude their case from mediation if they believe one of these conditions apply.
Mediations are conducted by court-approved mediators. To obtain court approval, mediators must have a law degree or an advanced degree in a behavioral science related to marriage and family interpersonal relationships, such as psychiatry, psychology or social work. Mediators must also complete a court-approved, 40-hour family mediation training program. As of July 2008, the 15th Circuit had approved nine mediators for the program.
Parties select the mediator from the court-approved list. The court will appoint a mediator if parties cannot agree on one within 14 days after the referral.
Parties are responsible for paying mediator costs, at a rate agreed to with the mediator before mediation begins. The court may also grant reduced-fee or pro bono status to a case, based upon the parties' ability to pay. In those instances, parties are not given the option of choosing a mediator and the court automatically appoints one from its approved roster.
Mediations must be held within 30 days from the initial court referral. Parties are required to attend at least three hours of mediation, after which point their participation is voluntary. Legal counsel, support persons and advocates may not attend mediation with the parties, although they may be available for consultation during the session.
During mediation, court-approved mediators must adhere to ethical guidelines outlined in the court rules. Except where there is "clear danger of imminent harm to a child or to a party," all information obtained during mediation is confidential and will not be disclosed by the mediator to a third party.
Upon conclusion of mediation, the mediator must report the outcome to the court. If an agreement is not reached, the mediator may not provide the court with reasons for the absence of a settlement.
Illinois 15th Judicial Circuit. Jan. 1, 2019
Resource Type: Rules - Court
Abstract: The local rules for Illinois' 15th Judicial Circuit serving Carroll. Davies, Jo, Lee, Ogle, and Stephenson Counties.
Rule 9A: Mediation in Cases involving Child Custody or Visitation: This rule governs the Circuit's Child Custody and Visitation Med...Illinois Supreme Court. Article I - Illinois Supreme Court General Rules, Oct. 10, 2001
Resource Type: Rules - Court
Abstract: This rule authorizes judicial circuits to undertake mediation programs. Circuits electing to establish mediation program are directed to adopt rules for the conduct of mediation proceedings and to submit them to the Supreme Court. The Rule specifies ...
LeAnn BrandenburgTrial Court Administrator
Ogle County Courthouse
106 South Fifth Street, Suite 306A
Oregon, IL 61061