Mediation in Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Disputes

Generally speaking, when there is an issue relative to the allocation of parental responsibilities and/or parenting time (formerly known as custody and visitation), the Courts in Illinois will first send the parties to mediation, prior to adjudicating any of the issues in Court. Using mediation in allocation of parental responsibilities disputes can be very effective.

What is Mediation?

In Cook County, the county offers free mediation services. The services are with trained mediators, and there is no cost to the parties. However, it is very, very popular and the dates book up plenty far in advance. It is not unusual for parties to have a mediation order entered and then for them to not have another court date for 3–4 months, or more, because of how far out Cook County Mediation Services’ available dates can be. Some issues are time-sensitive, so county mediation may not be the best option in those scenarios.

There is also the possibility of the parties attending private mediation. Usually, a family law attorney or another individual who has completed mediation training can serve as a neutral third-party mediator, appointed by the Court. These individuals usually offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling and have appointments sooner than the county. The only issue with a private mediator is that they charge, and the two litigants generally have to share the costs. But, the flexibility in scheduling can help when there are more time-sensitive issues that need to be resolved.

Benefits of Using Mediation in Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

For example, a parent may really want the allocation of education decision-making for one of their children, due to their involvement in this issue previously and the special needs of a child as it relates to education. The other parent may not care much about having joint allocation of parental responsibilities for education, but they may want to have final decision-making authority for extra-curricular activities because they have always been involved in that. The parties could agree in mediation to each take sole allocation for education and extra-curricular activities, respectively, and do joint allocation on religion and healthcare. If they go to Court, they could risk the Judge giving someone sole allocation in all four areas, or joint allocation in all four areas, which is something neither party wanted. So, mediation provides a forum where parties can use a neutral third party to try to compromise on a joint solution that everyone can be satisfied with.

Overall, mediation is a great solution to try and have parents resolve their differences on their own, without leaving issues like allocation of parental responsibilities up to a Judge to decide.


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