Year started: 2007
Neutrals: Those with a law degree or an advanced degree in a behavioral science field, with court approval
Eligibility: All cases involving hearings of child custody, visitation or removal
Free Mediation Services Available?: No
The 9th Judicial Circuit's Child Custody and Visitation Mediation Program provides mediation services for all cases involving contested hearings of child custody, visitation and removal. It was established Jan. 1, 2007, and is governed by Local Rule Part 6 and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 905.
Mediation is mandatory for all eligible cases. Parties may also make a motion to waive the mediation requirement if they believe mediation would be inappropriate. Before being sent to mediation, cases are screened for any impediments or situations that could interfere with mediation or prevent parties from participating safely, competently or in good faith. Parties are required to complete the court's parent education program prior to mediation, or as soon after starting mediation as possible.
Mediators are selected by agreement of the parties, or by the presiding judge. Mediators are selected from a roster of approved mediators maintained by the court. To receive court approval, mediators must have a law or advanced behavioral science degree, and complete a 40-hour family mediation training program approved by the court. Mediators must also maintain professional liability insurance. After receiving approval, mediators must complete 10 hours of court-approved continuing education every 2 years, 2 hours of which must address domestic violence issues. Approved mediators must also agree to mediate reduced fee or pro bono cases as assigned by the court. As of September 2008, the court had 22 approved mediators.
The mediator is paid by the parties at a rate agreed to by the mediator and parties before mediation. The court determines what percentage of the mediation fee each party must pay, or whether the fee should be reduced or waived.
Both parties are required to attend the mediation for a minimum of three hours. If a party fails to attend, the court may impose sanctions against them, including mediator and attorney fees and other costs. After three hours of mediation, the mediation may be extended by agreement of the parties or through a court order. Mediators may also terminate or suspend mediations if they identify a situation impeding a party's ability to mediate.
When an agreement is reached in mediation, the mediator provides parties with a written copy of the agreement. The parties must submit the agreement to the court within 30 days of mediation to have the court review and file judgment on it. If no agreement is made in mediation, the mediator will file a report to the court without disclosing the reasons for the parties' failure to reach agreement. All communications made during mediation are confidential. Communications may not be disclosed in any court proceeding, unless all parties agree to the disclosure, or the communication reveals evidence of violence or abuse.
Illinois 9th Judicial Circuit. Jun. 25, 2018
Abstract: These are the local rules for Illinois' 9th Judicial Circuit serving Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, and Warren counties.
Part 6: Mandatory Meidation for Child Custody, Visitation, and Removal of the local rules provides the rules for ...
Sandra RedingtonTrial Court Administrator