Divorce litigation affects children, especially if they are living in a contentious atmosphere. In an effort to minimize the impact of the legal process on children, counties in Illinois have implemented programs and procedures to keep children out of the courtroom, and facilitate resolution of parenting issues in domestic relations cases. A handful of these programs are summarized here.
Counties in Illinois are required to offer mediation programs for divorcing parents. If parents are unable to reach an agreement regarding parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, and so long as there are no extenuating circumstances (such as domestic violence), the court will send parents to mediation to try to resolve these issues outside the courtroom. Judges will often remind parties in a divorce that parents know their family situations and needs best. As parents, they should take advantage of the opportunity to reach a resolution that is in the best interests of the family, rather than delegating that decision a third party outsider.
The mediator does not represent either party and does not give legal advice. Rather, the mediator’s job is to facilitate conversation between the parties, and hopefully aid them in resolving the matters related to their children. The mediator will the issue a report stating whether the parties reached a full resolution, partial agreement, or were unable to reach an agreement.