Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 923
(Revised March 8, 2016)
Special Supreme Court Committee on Child Custody Issues
Paragraph (a) provides that an initial case management conference is required within 90 days after service of a petition or complaint is obtained in a dissolution of marriage case involving a child or in a paternity case. At the initial conference the trial court will ensure compliance with parenting education requirements (Rule) and determine whether the parents have agreed to the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting plan. Parents not in agreement regarding allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting plan issues at the time of the initial case management conference will be referred to mediation. The trial court may also use the initial case management conference to address other matters it deems proper.
Each judicial circuit which currently has a mediation program has a provision in their local circuit court rules explaining how parents whose children are the subject of an allocation of parental responsibilities dispute must comply with the circuit court rules. These rules vary from judicial circuit to judicial circuit. In Cook County, parents are required to attend the mediation session but, if they do not agree with the mediator's decision, the parents merely bring this fact to the attention of the circuit court. In Du Page County, if the parents do not agree on allocation of parental responsibilities after they have completed the requirements of the mediation program, they may be required to see a clinical psychologist for a mandatory evaluation. Another difference between the judicial circuits is how the costs of mediation are paid. While many mediation programs impose costs, the Cook County Circuit Court's Marriage and Family Counseling Service is free.
Paragraph (a)(3) supports the Special Committee's goal of allowing the individual judicial circuits to adopt rules and set up programs which best suit that circuit's needs.
Paragraph (b) provides that in cases referred to mediation under the rule, a full case management conference is required within 30 days after mediation is completed. At the full case management conference, the court will consider, inter alia, the appointment of counsel for the child as provided in section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506 ).