22nd Judicial Circuit - James S. Cowlin, Chief Circuit Judge

Mediation Advisory Council

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The Family Mediation Advisory Council operates independently of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court. Nevertheless the information provided here is desired to facilitate court ordered mediation.


The mediation process described herein is established to assist the Court, counsel and parents as they resolve matters of child custody, child visitation and child removal. The primary purpose of the process is to recognize, foster and preserve the best interests of the children involved in divorce and family litigation. The secondary purpose of the process is to provide a reasonable, cost effective alternative dispute resolution forum for the parents in divorce and family litigation. The participants are encouraged to take advantage of this unique opportunity and to take a positive step for the benefit of their children.


Mediation - When the word "mediation" is used herein, it means a cooperative process for resolving conflict with the assistance of a trained court-appointed, neutral third party, whose role is to facilitate communication, to help define issues, and to assist the parties in identifying and negotiating fair solutions that are mutually agreeable.

The goals of mediation are to help parents communicate and focus their communication on developing a plan for meeting their children's needs. Better communication leads to better agreements. Mediation provides a way for parents to work on these agreements together with a neutral third party. This person is called a mediator.

Mediators may be lawyers or mental health professionals who are specially trained to help parents communicate clearly, focus on the issues which need to be agreed upon for the future rather than focusing on issues from the past. Mediators help develop parenting plans that are reasonable and acceptable to everyone involved. Mediators do not make decisions for the family. Mediators do not offer legal advice or provide therapy. Instead, they help parents make decisions that are truly in the best interests of the children and that both parents agree to. You cannot be pressured or compelled to agree to anything discussed in mediation.

Mediation is not a substitute for independent legal advice. Lawyers help their clients understand the law, make informed choices, review mediated agreements and complete the legal process. The mediator focuses on helping parents communicate and reach their own agreements but does not represent either party.

Frequently Asked Questions...


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Illinois does not have a model parenting plan. The Family Mediation Advisory Council provides links only for illustrative purposes, and does not endorse any model parenting plan. You should obtain legal advice before entering into any parenting plan.


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