Mediation for domestic relations cases in Cook County, Illinois is governed by Cook County Circuit Court Rule 13.4(e).  Mediation is a non-binding confidential process by which a neutral third party, selected by the parties to the case or selected by or with the assistance of the court, assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The role of the mediator is to assist in identifying the issues, reducing misunderstandings, exploring and clarifying the parties’ respective interests and priorities, and identifying and exploring possible solutions that will satisfy the interests of all parties and thereby facilitate resolution of some or all of the issues in dispute.

Mediation is required pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule for parents who are in conflict over custody, visitation, removal and other non-child support issues related to their children.  In Cook County, the parents will be referred to Family Mediation Services for mediation if they cannot agree to a mediator.

Mediation for non-child related issues may be ordered by the Court.  Examples of non-child related issues that may be subject to mediation include but are not limited to disputes over debts, assets, and money.  If the parties cannot agree to the selection of a mediator for non-child related issues, the Court will choose a mediator from the list of court-certified mediators.

    Mediation through Family Mediation Services is free of charge.  Mediation through mediators other than Family Mediation Services will vary depending on the rates of the mediator providing the mediation.
    The Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County shall maintain a list of court-certified mediators.  Mediators on this list will be qualified for discretionary mediation (financial issues, discovery disputes, and other issues not related to custody, visitation/parenting time, or removal)) or mandatory mediation (child related issues) or both discretionary and mandatory mediation.  Court-certified mediators serve at the discretion of the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division.  Individuals who become certified mediators may be placed on the list of certified mediators for a fixed period of time, not to exceed five years, at the end of which time, the individual may reapply for continued listing.

    "List of Discretionary Mediators"

    In order to be placed on and remain on the Domestic Relations Division Mediator List, applicants/mediators must be approved by the Office of the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division and shall:

    • File a complete application with the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division which shall provide proof by affidavit supported by documentation of the required qualifications, the hourly rate that the mediator will charge for mediation services, the business address in Cook County where the mediation services will be provided, coverage by professional responsibility insurance that covers the mediation process, membership in good standing in the professional organization(s) of the individual’s discipline, and such other information as the Presiding Judge may require.  

    Completed applications may be submitted to the Office of the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division as follows:

    Fax: 312-603-0070                                               

    E-mail: DomesticRelationsMediation@cookcountyil.gov

    Mailed/Delivered:     

    Office of the Presiding Judge
    Domestic Relations Division
    50 W. Washington, Suite 1901A
    Chicago, Illinois  60602

    • Have an Illinois license as an attorney, psychologist, social worker, or marriage and family therapist.  License must remain in good standing in order to remain on Mediator List. Applicants who wish to be placed on the list of certified mediators for appointment as mediator for discretionary mediation (non-child related issues) under Cook County Circuit Court 13.4(e)(ii)(c) must be Illinois licensed attorneys in good standing.
    • Have three or more years experience in the mediator’s applicable profession.
    • Have completed a minimum 40-hour mediation training program as approved by the Office of the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division.
    • Have knowledge and competence in the following areas as applicable to the issues to be mediated and in identifying impediments to mediation:  domestic relations law; the impact of family conflict on parents, children and other participants; child development; participation of children in mediation; family violence; child abuse and neglect; and the impact of culture and diversity on domestic relations disputes.
    • Complete continuing education as prescribed by the Office of the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division from time to time.
    • Agree to handle pro bono or reduced rate mediations not to exceed 20 hours per year as required by Cook County Circuit Court Rule 13.4(e).
    • Agree to use the mediation forms promulgated by the Circuit Court of Cook County or to use such forms that are consistent with the mediation forms promulgated by the Circuit Court of Cook County.
    • Submit to an inquiry regarding all areas of the applicant’s past and current profession and/or employment, and have no serious disciplinary actions pending.
    • Submit to background checks, if requested.
    • Be screened by the Domestic Relations’ Division Mediator Screening Committee.
    • Submit a current photograph and biography sheet in the format prepared by the Office of the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division.
    • Be familiar with the ethical standards for family mediators.
    • Complete a 1.5 hour Domestic Violence Continuing Education training as approved by the Office of the Presiding Judge  of the Domestic Relations Division within six (6) months of being placed on the court-approved mediation list or when offered, whichever is earlier.
    "Court-Approved 40-Hour Mediation Programs"

    "Court-Approved Domestic Violence Training Programs"

    Screening for Domestic Violence in Mediation
    presented by Cookie Levitz and Daniel Hunter, Circuit Court of Cook County, Family Mediation Services: Power Point Presentation; Case Scenario with Questionnaire; Appendices

    Copyright 2014 by Circuit Court of Cook County