Year started: 1990
Neutrals: Mediators must have a degree in law, psychiatry, psychology, social work, human development, family counseling, or other behavior science substantially related to marriage and family interpersonal relationships. All mediators are also required to complete 40 hours of mediator training.
Eligibility: Custody and visitation cases
Free Mediation Services Available?: No
Since 1990, the 21st Judicial Circuit and the Kankakee Victims Assistance Center have worked together to provide mediation services to divorcing couples in Kankakee County. Under Part 9 of the Local Rules, child custody, visitation, and removal issues are mediated in cases in which both parties are able to participate competently. The parties may also agree to mediate financial issues related to the children.
Cases are referred to mediation by the judge at the request of either parent, or when the court believes it would be helpful, particularly in focusing the parents on the best interests of the children. However, cases are barred from referral to mediation if spousal or child abuse is involved or if one party is deemed incompetent to mediate due to substance abuse, or emotional or mental impairment.
The Chief Judge approves mediators to be on the court roster, which consists of nine mediators who are accessible through the Victims Assistance Center. The mediators have all participated in specialized training in family mediation. They are selected and paid by the parties; however, the mediators are required to serve for a reduced fee or at no charge for those cases in which the court has determined that the parties do not have the financial means to pay the full fee.
The parties are required to attend the mediation, and their attorneys are invited to submit a letter to the mediator containing information about the legal status of the case. A copy must also be provided to the opposing counsel or party. The parties are required to attend at least two hours of mediation, which must be completed within 30 days. The two hour requirement is waived if agreement is reached within that time, if the mediator finds an impediment to mediation, or decides that at least one party is mediating in bad faith. Any participation beyond the first two hours is completely voluntary.
If agreement is reached in mediation, the mediator writes up a draft of the agreement and presents it to the parties and their attorneys. If the parties are not represented, they are advised to seek legal assistance in reviewing the draft agreement and in writing the final agreement. The agreement must be submitted to the court within 30 days of the completion of mediation. The court then examines the content and either approves the agreement, or rejects it on grounds that it is unconscionable or not in the best interests of the child. The court notes that the objective of mediation is to achieve "fair and reasonable" agreements, and requires mediators to withdraw from the mediation and terminate the process if they believe that the agreement being reached does not meet that standard.
Illinois 21st Judicial Circuit. Jan. 27, 2015
Resource Type: Rules - Court
Abstract: The local rules of Illinois' 21st Judicial Circuit serving Iroquois and Kanakee counties.
Part 9. Divorce Mediation Program: Under these rules, all cases filed in Kankakee County involving child custody, visitation and removal may be referred to me...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 ...
Nancy HintonAdministrative Assistant