Unfortunately, in family law matters, many parties end up returning to court at one point or another to deal with something new or unanticipated. Sometimes the issue is noncompliance, other times the issue is modification of a previous order for support, or parenting time. Most judgments indicate something regarding mediation of disputes, unless it is a “sole decision-making authority” or a “sole custody” judgment. Generally, the mediation is required when it is relative to issues regarding minor children. Rarely is it required in a judgment regarding financial issues, although technically mediation is allowed on some financial issues in Illinois.
There are two different ways mediation may be required in a Judgment regarding what was formerly called “custody”, or, allocation of parental responsibilities/parenting time. Some Judgments provide for an annual review of the terms of the Judgment and state that in the event there is a dispute as to the review of the terms of the judgment, mediation may be required. Other documents will say that only conflicts arising regarding the terms of the Judgment must be mediated prior to a motion being filed. Some documents require mediation in both instances. Ultimately, if the parties get along well enough, and there is no immediate danger to a minor child, mediation is worth a try. It is cost-effective and can resolve issues in a manner where the parties have a say in the outcome, rather than leaving it up to a Judge to decide. Additionally, mediation works much faster than going through the litigation process, so when it is a time sensitive issue, mediation is also helpful.