CHILD REPRESENTATIVE/GUARDIAN AD LITEM

An attorney for the child is an attorney who represents the parties’ child(ren).  The attorney for the child provides independent legal counsel for the child(ren) and owes the same duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as are due an adult client.

A child representative is an attorney for the parties’ child(ren) that advocates what the child representative finds to be in the best interests of the child(ren) after reviewing the facts and circumstances of the case.  The child representative is required to meet with the child(ren) and the parties, investigate the facts of the case, and encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution.  Unlike a guardian ad litem, the child representative cannot be called as a witness to testify.  For more information about child representatives, please see Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506). 
A guardian ad litem (also known as a “GAL”) is an attorney for the parties’ child(ren). The guardian ad litem is required to investigate the facts of the case, interview the child(ren) and the parties, and testify or submit a written report to the court regarding his or her recommendations in accordance with the best interest of the child.  Unlike a child representative, the guardian ad litem may be called as a witness for purposes of cross-examination regarding the guardian ad litem's report or recommendations.  For more information about GALs, please see Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506).

The court has the discretion to order fees paid to the child's attorney, GAL or child representative, which may include a retainer fee.  The court will order that these fees be paid by either or both parents, by the marital/civil union estate, if applicable, or by the child's separate estate, if applicable. 

If you cannot afford to pay for a child’s attorney, child representative or guardian ad litem, the court may appoint the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian which has sliding scale fees.  Court appointments of the Public Guardian in a Domestic Relations case may be made if all parties and children live in Cook County, if at least one of the parties is represented by an attorney, and if the parties have attempted mediation of their dispute prior to the appointment.

In any proceeding involving the allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, support, relocation, property interest, abuse, or general welfare of a minor or dependent child, the court may appoint an attorney to represent the parties’ child(ren).  The court may do so on its own motion or by motion of a party.  For more information about the appointment of an attorney for the child(ren), please see Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506).

To become a Domestic Relations child representative / guardian ad litem, you must submit an application to the Presiding Judge of Domestic Relations.  The minimum requirements for becoming a child representative/guardian ad litem are included in the application packet. If you meet the minimum requirements, you will be interviewed by the Presiding Judge of Domestic Relations and members of the Child Representative Screening Committee.  If you are accepted by the Presiding Judge and the Committee, you will then be required to watch a training video and meet with two active child representatives/GALs for training.  After all of your training is complete, you will be placed on the active Domestic Relations child representative/guardian ad litem roster, which will be distributed to the Domestic Relations judges.  For more information on this process, you can contact the law clerks for the Domestic Relations Division at (312) 603-3025.

Once you are placed on the active child representative/guardian ad litem roster, you will need to complete a minimum of three (3) seminar credit hours and do one pro bono case per year.  You can acquire seminar credit hours by either attending child representative seminars, which are hosted by the Domestic Relations Division or by training new child representatives/guardian ad litems. Attending or participating in seminars outside of the Domestic Relations Division may count towards your credit hours, but are subject to the approval of the Presiding Judge of Domestic Relations.  If you fail to complete your required hours in a given year, you will be removed from the active Domestic Relations child representative/guardian ad litem roster and will not be assigned to any more cases. 

2016 Schedule

THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY

DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION
CHILD REPRESENTATIVE CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION SEMINARS (REVISED)

*Please note the February Seminar has been rescheduled to July 20, 2016.

All seminars are held in Courtroom 1905 of the Richard J. Daley Center and run from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., unless otherwise indicated.  Seminars are generally held on the third Wednesday of every month.

In order to maintain eligibility on the approved Child Representative list, three (3) seminar credits must be acquired each year.  In addition, the Domestic Relations Division is an accredited Illinois MCLE provider.

March 16, 2016 – Role of Social Media & Divorce/Separation

                Speaker:          Steven Peskind, Attorney
                Seminar Materials
 

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April 20, 2016 – Safety Considerations

                Speakers:   Judge Jeanne Cleveland Bernstein
         Janet Ahern, Attorney
                                 Mary Therese Doheny, Attorney

                Seminar Materials:   Firearm Owners Identification Act
                                      720 ILCS Firearms
                                              American Academy of Pediatrics
                                              DCFS Documents
                                              Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act
                                              Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence
                                              Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
                                              National Rifle Association                                          

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May 12, 2016 – Representing Severely Ill Children/Teens-Suicide, Cutting, What Can A Child Rep Do

                Speaker:     Dr. Bennett Leventhal, M.D.
Seminar Materials

**Please note this seminar is being held on the 2nd Thursday of May

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June 15, 2016 – Religious Disputes (Panel of Clergy)

                Speakers:

·         Craig Mousin, DePaul University Ombudsperson

Seminar Materials

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July 20, 2016 –How Does the New IMDMA Affect Your Role as Child Representative-How You Can Prepare, Present and

Settle Cases

Speakers:

·         Jacalyn Birnbaum, Attorney

·         Joel Levin, Attorney

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September 21, 2016- Children Who Resist Contact With Parents

                Speakers:

·         Dr. Wendy Schiffman, Psy.D.

·         Aviva Cahn, LCSW

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October 19, 2016– A Quick Tutorial-Family Systems  Theory

                Speakers:

·         Dr. Margaret Nickels, Ph.D.

·        David Wessel, Attorney

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November 16, 2016 – Navigating Privacy & Confidentiality in Child-Related Cases-Witness Disclosure, Protective

Orders, Mental Health, 604(b)

                Speakers:             

·         Hon. Nancy J. Katz

·         Stacey Platt, Clinical Professor/ Associate Director Civitas ChildLaw Clinic

·         Joseph Monahan, Attorney

                                                                               

*PLEASE NOTE THE FEBRUARY SEMINAR HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO JULY 20, 2016



Past Seminars 2015
February 18, 2015 – Are Your Buttons Being Pushed?

 Seminar Materials:
Speakers:

·         Dr. Jay Lebow, Ph.D. – The Family Institute

·         Barry Greenburg, Attorney

·         Matthew Kirsh, Attorney


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March 18, 2015 – Supervised Visitation

Seminar Materials:

 Speakers:

·         Honorable Marya Nega, Domestic Relations Division

·         Dr. Phyllis Amabile, MD

·         Jennifer Welch, Dept. of Family & Support Services

·         Pat Andersen, Supervisor

·         David Wessel, Attorney

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April 15, 2015 – Incarcerated Litigants

Seminar Materials:

Speakers: 

·         Alexis Mansfield, Attorney,CLAIM

·         Rosaire Hall, Attorney

·         Joan Weiss, DCSS/Parent Support Services

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May 14, 2015 – Parents With Mental Illness & Undiagnosed Disorders

Seminar Materials

            Speaker:

·         Dr. Bennett Leventhal, MD

**Please note this seminar is being held on the 2nd Thursday of May

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July 15, 2015 – Is This Kid Doomed?

Seminar Materials 

            Speakers:

·         Dr. John Palen, Ph.D

·         Kathryn Somers, Attorney

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September 16, 2015 - How to Interview Small Children/Teens and Prepare for In-Cameras


Seminar Materials

            Speakers:

·         Stacey Platt, Attorney, Civitas ChildLaw Clinic

·         Jackie Birnbaum, Attorney

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October 21, 2015 – Parenting Coordinator  

Seminar Materials

            Speakers:

·         Jean Conde, Attorney

·         Jacqueline Torshen, Attorney

·         Lynn Wypych, Attorney

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November 18, 2015 – Working With Estrangement

Seminar Materials

                Speakers:             

·         Dr. Marina Eovaldi, Ph.D. – The Family Institute

·         Dr. Mark L.  Goldstein, Ph.D.

Past Seminars 2014

February 27, 2014   -   Psychiatric/Psychological Assessment and How to Use It

Speaker:       Dr. Bennett Leventhal, MD, Deputy Director - Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research          

For Seminar Materials, click here.

***Please note the February Seminar takes place on the fourth Thursday of the month***

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March 19, 2014   -   Proper Protocol for the Use of Child Psychologists in High-Conflict Cases (Therapeutic)

Speaker:         Dr. William Pinsof, PhD, LMFT – The Family Institute

For Seminar Materials, click here.
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May 21, 2014   -   Child Specific Outcomes               

Speaker:         Dr. Alex Lickerman, MD – University of Chicago

For Seminar Materials, click here.

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June 18, 2014   -   LGBT CHILDREN
 
Speakers:

·         Honorable Nancy Katz - Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County                                         

·         Carol Jones, Attorney

For Seminar Materials, click here.                   

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July 16, 2014   -   Children of Divorce         

Speakers:

·         Joel Levin, Attorney

·         Howard Rosenberg, Attorney

·         Dr. Phyllis Amabile, MD

For Seminar Materials, click here.

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September 17, 2014   –   Pros, Cons and How-tos on In-Cameras

Speakers:

·         Honorable Mark Lopez, Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County

·         Honorable Jeanne Reynolds, Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County

·         Honorable Lisa Ruble-Murphy, Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County

·         Honorable Susan Snow, Ret.

For Seminar Materials, click here.

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October 15, 2014   -   Impact of Multi-Cultural Families

Speakers:

·         Azam Nizamuddin, Attorney

·         Itedal Shalabi – Arab American Family Services

·         Representative from Apna Ghar

Seminar Materials
Abusive Power and Control Within the Domestic Violence Shelter
Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Working with Immigrant Battered Women
Developing Violence, Developing Brains and the Lifespan
The Children of Shari'a

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November 19, 2014   -   Representing Children With Medical, Behavioral and Developmental Special Needs           

Speaker:   Dr. Louis Kraus, MD

For Seminar Materials, click here.

In some cases, the court will appoint the Office of the Public Guardian to represent minors in cases involving issues of allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, support, relocation, property interest, abuse, or general welfare of the minor or dependent child. For more information about the Public Guardian, please visit the Office of the Public Guardian’s website.
Copyright 2016 by Circuit Court of Cook County