This blog has in the past discussed the benefits and the drawbacks in mediation. While mediation is a great way to help parents cooperate in resolving their child custody disputes, it is not always right for everyone.
For instance, a victim of domestic violence might not want to mediate with his or her perpetrator, as that opens the door to further traumatization and, possibly, additional abuse and manipulation.
Fortunately for those who have been victims of domestic violence, Illinois has no statewide provision giving courts authority to order parties in to mediation when they are at odds about child custody. Instead, individual courts have the discretion to make their own rules about when and under what circumstances judges will order mediation.
However, in Winnebago County, where Rockford is located, the local court has a provision requiring parents to mediate their child custody and parenting time issues if they are in dispute. The judges of the local court will not finalize a custody matter until mediation gets done.
The local rules have a couple of provisions that serve to protect victims of domestic violence from having to go through a potentially painful mediation process. For one, there is a process through which, prior to mediation, underlying issues like drug addiction or domestic violence can be addressed.
Moreover, a person is free to ask the court to dispense with a mediation if there is a reason why it would be unproductive or “inappropriate” in a given case. However, there are no rules allowing a domestic violence victim or a person who has a protective order to automatically get out of the court’s mediation requirement.
A person thus may have to just live with the fact that they will need to at least try to mediate their child custody issues with the other parent, even if there are allegations of domestic violence involved. A family law attorney can help a person get through this process.