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Illinois Courts: New Parenting Coordinator Statute

Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis and the Illinois Supreme Court announced the adoption of new Rule 909 which establishes a statewide framework for courts to utilize “parenting coordinators” to resolve minor issues causing conflict in family law cases. The new Rule is effective immediately.

New Rule 909 and the Illinois Supreme Court Rules can be found here.

New Rule 909, first proposed by the Illinois State Bar Association and approved unanimously by the Supreme Court Rules Committee, allows for each Illinois judicial circuit, if it chooses, to establish a parenting coordination program via local rule. Several judicial circuits, including Cook County, already have parenting coordination programs in place.

“I would like to thank the ISBA and Judge Grace Dickler (ret.) for their tireless efforts in championing the rule adopted by the Court today,” Chief Justice Theis said. “This rule will improve the lives of children whose parents are going through a divorce.”

“Parenting coordination” is defined under the Rule as a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process conducted by a licensed mental health or family law professional appointed by the court to assist coparents who are unable or unwilling to cooperate in making parenting decisions or complying with parenting agreements and orders. The parenting coordinator assists parents in working out minor disputes.

“On behalf of the ISBA and the ISBA Family Law Section Council, I would like to express our appreciation to the Court for the adoption of Rule 909, and the expeditious manner in which the Court vetted and approved it,” ISBA President Rory Weiler said. “The rule will be of immeasurable assistance to our trial courts in dealing with high conflict divorces and mitigating the effect of endless litigation on children. The ISBA is very grateful for the outstanding working relationship we have with Chief Justice Theis and our Illinois Supreme Court.”

A parenting coordinator may be authorized by the court to make specific recommendations regarding an existing parenting plan including the time, place, and manner for the pick-up or drop-off of children, the extent and nature of the children’s participation in extracurricular activities, including payment of expenses, or any other specific issues assigned to the parenting coordinator by the court or agreed by the parties.

A parenting coordinator may not make recommendations as to the allocation of parental responsibilities for decision making, the allocation of parenting time, relocation, establishment of visitation by a non-parent, child support, spousal maintenance, or the allocation of property or debt of the marriage.

If parenting coordinators are unable to resolve the conflict, one or both parties may petition the court for a review of the parenting coordinator’s recommendations.

Parenting Coordination: Another tool in the Illinois family court toolbox  By Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis, Illinois Supreme Court
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