Year started: 2007
Neutrals: Those with law or advanced behavioral science degree and three years experience as professional in divorce or family counseling matters.
Eligibility: All child custody or visitation cases.
Free Mediation Services Available?: No
Rule 11 of the 4th Judicial Circuit Court, which took effect in January 2007, established a mediation program for all contested cases involving child custody, visitation or removal.
Mediation for these matters is mandatory, and sessions are held by court-approved mediators. Requirements for court approval include the possession of a law degree or an advanced degree in a subject related to marriage or family relations, as well as at least three years of experience as a professional in divorce or family counseling matters. Mediators must also complete a 40-hour family mediation training program, or, for those with at least 10 years of experience handling custody or family disputes, a 20-hour training program.
Parties are allowed to choose a mediator from the court's roster, or the mediator may also be chosen by the presiding judge. The judge also determines what percentage of the mediation fee should be paid by each party.
The mediation session must be held within seven weeks of the judge's mediation order. At that point, the mediator is required to submit to the judge and the parties' legal counsel a report providing specific information outlined in the rule, including whether an agreement was reached or more sessions are recommended. Both parties are required to attend each mediation session in good faith. The rule also allows for the attendance of attorneys, advocates and, if both parties agree, children involved in the case.
The rule also includes provisions for impediments that would limit a party's ability to participate in mediation. Potential impediments may include situations of domestic violence or intimidation, substance abuse or mental illness. If an impediment exists, a party may move for the court to rule the case ineligible for mediation. The mediator may also suspend or terminate mediation proceedings upon becoming aware of an impediment affecting one or both parties.
All agreements are reviewed by the court, and, if approved, a judgment or order is issued incorporating the terms of the agreement. Failure of parties to attend all mediation sessions may result in sanctions, including costs to the other party and attorneys' fees.
In the program's first year, the court approved a list of 32 qualified mediators, including 26 paid volunteers and 6 judges. The court estimated that approximately 50 custody or visitation cases, or about 3.5 percent of cases filed, had been mediated. The average length of these mediations was estimated at 1-3 sessions.
Illinois 4th Judicial Circuit. Jan. 15, 2021
Abstract: The local rules for Illinois' 4th Judicial Circuit provide information on Illinois' Christian, Clay, Clinton, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Marion, Montgomery, and Shelby counties.
Rule 11 provides information on the child custody mediation program. T...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 ...
Jamie WarrenTrial Court Administrator
4th Judicial Circuit
Fayette County Courthouse
221 S. 7th St.
Vandalia, IL 62471