Year started: 2001
Neutrals: Those with law degree or advanced degree in field dealing with interpersonal relationships, and with court approval.
Eligibility: All cases involving child custody, visitation or removal disputes.
Free Mediation Services Available?: No
Local Rule 14.08 of the 17th Judicial Circuit established the court's Family Mediation Program in July 2001. The program provides mediation services for all cases involving contested issues of child custody, visitation and removal.
The rule requires presiding judges to refer eligible cases to mediation, unless an impediment exists that would limit the parties' ability to participate in the process. Potential impediments may include situations of domestic violence or intimidation, substance abuse or mental illness.
When a case is sent to mediation, the parties are given the option of choosing a mediator from a list of court-approved mediators. To obtain court approval, mediators must possess a law degree, or an advanced degree in a field that deals substantially with marriage, family or interpersonal relationships. Mediators must also complete a 40-hour specialized training program, as well as 10 hours of court-approved continuing education, with two of those hours devoted to domestic violence issues, every two years. In addition, mediators must maintain and provide evidence of professional liability insurance that covers the mediation process.
Parties are responsible for paying mediation fees, at a rate agreed to with the mediator before the first session. However, the judge may designate the case a reduced fee or indigency case, based upon the parties' ability to pay. The judge also determines the percentage of the mediation fee to be paid by each party.
Mediation must begin within 45 days of the court referral. Parties are required to attend each session, and attorneys, advocates, or children may also attend if the parties and mediator agree in advance. If a party fails to attend a session, the court may issue sanctions for mediator and attorney costs.
Mediations last for at least three hours, unless a resolution is reached before that point. If an agreement is reached, the mediator submits a report to the parties and their attorneys within 10 days of the conclusion of mediation. It is the parties' responsibility to review the agreement and submit it to the court for approval.
Where there is no settlement, the mediator submits a report to the court saying the mediation has ended, without disclosing information about why no agreement was reached. If the mediator has concerns for the welfare or safety of the children involved in the case, or feels that it is in the their best interests, the mediator will recommend to the court in the report that a child representative or guardian ad litem be appointed. The mediator may not explain the reasons for the recommendation in the report. All information exchanged during the mediation will remain confidential, except as otherwise provided by law.
Illinois 17th Judicial Circuit. Jan. 1, 2019
Resource Type: Rules - Court
Abstract: The local rules for Illinois' 17th Judicial Circuit serving the Boone and Winnebago Counties.
Rule 2.07 Mandatory Arbitration: This section includes actions subject to mandatory arbitration, qualifications to be an arbitrator, procedures for the sch...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 ...
Tom JakewayTrial Court Administrator
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit
Winnebago County Courthouse
400 W. State St., Suite 215
Rockford, Illinois 61101-1221