Year started: 1998
Neutrals: Arbitrators are lawyers and non-lawyers; mediators are volunteers with a variety of backgrounds
Eligibility: All cases involving fee disputes arising from domestic relations cases.
Free Mediation Services Available?: No
The Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, The Chicago Bar Association (CBA), and the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) have collaborated in developing an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure for settling fee disputes between matrimonial law attorneys and their clients. The program was developed in response to an Illinois statute, 750 ILCS 5/508(c)(4), which requires an ADR procedure before the court can conduct a final hearing on a Petition for Setting Final Fees and Costs. Cook County General Order 98-D-3, effective October 1, 1998, authorized the program and outlined its procedures.
Under the General Order, when both parties appear at the preliminary hearing on a Petition for Setting Final Fees and Costs, the court advises the parties of the ADR procedures. Unless both parties opt out of the procedures, the court requires the parties to select either binding arbitration or mediation. If either party does not agree to binding arbitration, the court orders mediation.
Binding arbitration under this general order is conducted under the auspices of the CBA by three-member arbitration panels. These panels consist of one matrimonial lawyer, one attorney who does not specialize in matrimonial law, and one non-lawyer. If the parties select binding arbitration, they have until the status hearing to pay the $250 fee, which is paid equally by the client and the attorney. CBA staff then schedules a panel for the arbitration hearing, which is conducted within 30 days after the status hearing. Arbitration hearings are conducted in one session of one and one-half hours in length, unless the parties and arbitrators agree to additional time. Arbitration awards are entered by the court as a court order, which is reduced to a judgment.
Mediation under this general order is conducted by volunteer mediators at CCR. If the court orders the parties to attend mediation, the mediation is held within 60 days after the status hearing. The mediation session is conducted under the rules and procedures CCR deems appropriate and is completed in a single session lasting one to four hours. If an agreement is reached in mediation, the parties report the results to the court, which enters a consent judgment. If no agreement is reached, the parties may submit the matter to binding arbitration or to the court for a final hearing. In either case, the content and all work files of CCR and its mediators are confidential and are not subject to discovery. The only information made available to the court is attendance at the mediation and whether or not there was final resolution of the fees and costs issues.
Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County. Jan. 1, 2020
Resource Type: Rules - Court
Abstract: The local rules for Illinois' Circuit Court of Cook County.
Part 13- Domestic Relations Proceedings: Rule 13.4(e) refers to and provides rules regarding the Circuit Court of Cook County's Family Mediation Services.
Part 19 - Child Protection Media...The Honorable Carole K. Bellows. Mar. 15, 2011
Resource Type: Order
Abstract: This General Order implements the alternative dispute resolution provision of 750 ILCS 5/508(C)(4). Pursuant to this statute, before a court can conduct a final hearing on a Petition for Setting Final Fees and Costs by either an attorney or a client,...
Summary: This program is run by the Chicago Bar Association and the Center for Conflict Resolution in response to a recent Illinois statute that requires an alternative dispute resolution procedure before the court can conduct a final hearing on a Petition for Setting Final Fees and Costs. Under the "General Order" parties will be required to engage in a form of alternative dispute resolution, unless both parties opt out of this procedure. If no agreement is reached through mediation, the parties can submit the dispute to binding arbitration or back to the court for resolution.
More information about the program can also be found in RSI's Court ADR Across Illinois.
Cassie LivelyExecutive Director
Center for Conflict Resolution
phone: (312) 922-6464