If you are in the Cook County Court system and cannot agree with your spouse or the parent of your minor child(ren) regarding custody of the minor child(ren) and issues related to visitation and removal of the child(ren) from Illinois, you may be facing a long road ahead of you.
In cases where custody of a minor child is at issue, or parents cannot agree to visitation, or when as issue exists as to removal of a minor child from the state, Cook County Circuit Court Rule 13.4(e) requires parents to attend mediation. Mediation, which is a non-binding and confidential process, can take place with a private mediator whom the parties agree upon, or through Family Mediation Services, which is free of charge to the parties.
The purpose of mediation is to provide parties with an opportunity to sit together outside of court, with a neutral party (the mediator), and work towards identifying the existing issues and trying to find common ground. Parties are encouraged to engage in mediation with an open-mind and with an idea of what he or she hopes to ultimately get out of the process.
As mediation is a confidential process, the mediator does not provide any feedback to either party’s attorneys’ (if applicable) or testify in court if the case goes to trial. What happens in mediation stays in mediation, unless information is provided during a mediation session, which leads the mediator to believe that a child may be in danger. However, if the parties are able to come to an agreement during mediation, they may choose to memorialize that agreement in a court order to make it binding on both parties.
Parties are not always able to reach an agreement in mediation; however, it can help provide a forum for recognizing each parties’ respective interests and positions. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., we have experience in guiding our clients through the mediation process and moving beyond the mediation process in court if parties’ are unable to reach an agreement.