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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois
 

Court Rules - Particular Civil Proceedings - Domestic Relations - 15.15 Through 15.26

III. PARTICULAR CIVIL PROCEEDINGS

ARTICLE 15: DOMESTIC RELATIONS  - 15.15 through 15.26        

View 15.1 through 15.14

15.15 MEDIATION REFERRAL PROGRAM

Mediation under these rules involves a court ordered confidential process whereby a qualified and neutral mediator, selected by the parties or appointed by the Court, assists the litigants in reaching mutually acceptable agreements. It is an informal and non-adversarial process. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem-solving exploring settlement alternatives and reaching agreements. Parties and their representative are required to mediate in good faith. This rule is subject to the provisions of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 905.

A. SUBJECT MATTER AND COMMENCEMENT OF MEDIATION

(1) Matters Subject to Mediation: As authorized by Illinois law, the Court may order mediation of any pre or post-judgment contested issue of parental responsibility, custody, visitation, removal, access to child(ren) or other non-economic issues arising in any action not otherwise determined to be ineligible. Without leave of Court, the parties may not proceed to a judicial hearing on contested issues including temporary relief arising in that case until the mediation process has been concluded and the mediation report has been submitted to the Court. Mediation may be waived if the parties have participated in mediation pursuant to a joint parenting agreement or by the Court on good cause shown.

(2) Commencement of Mediation: The mediation process shall, as soon after an action is filed as practicable, but if the process has not already commenced, the Court may order mediation at the first court date after which the Court obtains jurisdiction over both parties if the Court determines it is in the best interest of the child(ren).

(3) Mediation shall not be required if the Court determines an impediment to mediation exists. An impediment to mediation may include, but is not limited to, domestic violence, mental illness, cognitive impairment, drug use, alcohol use, prescription medication use, physical impairment, fraud, duress or undue influence. All cases that are ordered to mediation shall be screened for such impediments. The Court shall make inquiries of counsel or the parties concerning the issue of impediments to mediation.

(4) The mediator shall also screen for issues of impediments to mediation. If the mediator determines that there is such an impediment, mediation shall be suspended and the matter referred back to the Court for a determination regarding continued mediation.

(5) The parties shall complete the appropriate parent education course, Caring, Coping and Children (CCC) or Parents and Kids (PAK) prior to the commencement of mediation, unless said classes have already been previously completed, as in post-judgment cases.

B. QUALIFICATIONS OF MEDIATORS

(1) The 18th Judicial Circuit shall promulgate a list of mediators who have been approved by this Court to act as mediators for the Court Ordered Family Mediation Program. These mediators, approved by the Chief Judge, the Presiding Judge and the Acting Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the 18th Judicial Circuit, must file the required application, supply supporting documentation and meet the following criteria:

(a) Shall satisfactorily complete a Divorce Mediation training program approved by the Court. In addition, the applicant must complete additional training as required by the Court from time to time.

(b) Hold a graduate degree in a field that includes the study of law, psychiatry, psychology, social work, human development, family counseling or other behavioral science substantially related to marriage and family interpersonal relationships, or a related field or other degree program otherwise approved by the Presiding Judge.

(c) If engaged in a licensed discipline, maintain said license in full force and effect.

(d) Maintain an office in DuPage County.

(e) Shall serve at the discretion of the Presiding Judge.

(f) Shall provide evidence of malpractice insurance in an amount as set by the Presiding Judge.

(g) Shall agree to mediate at least four (4) reduced fee or pro bono cases per year as identified by the Court.

(2) The mediation shall occur in DuPage County unless the parties agree otherwise.

C. REFERRAL ASSIGNMENT PROCEDURE

(1) In Divorce cases, upon the Court's order for the parties to participate in mediation, a mediator shall be selected by agreement of the parties from the list of qualified mediators prepared by the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division. Absent an agreement, the trial judge shall assign the mediator. In Paternity cases, upon the Court's order for the parties to participate in mediation, the parties shall mediate through the DuPage County Family Center unless the parties agree otherwise. A forty-five (45) day status date on the issue of progress of the mediation shall be set. All status dates regarding mediation shall be at 9:21 a.m.

(2) The Court shall designate in its order what percentage of the mediation fee should be paid by each party or whether the case should be considered a reduced fee or pro bono case. In cases in which the Court has determined the parties indigent, the DuPage County Family Center may be assigned to mediate.

(3) The attorneys shall encourage the parties to mediate in good faith. The parties shall participate in mediation in good faith.

(4) On or before the status date, the mediator shall submit a report to the Court and the parties' legal counsel, which shall include information listed in this rule under the section entitled "Mediation Report."

(5) The parties shall contact the mediator within two (2) days after the referral order is signed for the purpose of setting an appointment.

D. CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(1) If the mediator has or has had any possible conflict of interest, including but not limited to, a current or previous therapeutic, personal or economic relationship with either party, any child, step-parent, other relative, counsel or anyone else involved in the case, he or she shall decline the appointment or disclose that relationship to the attorneys and may be removed for that reason. If there is a conflict, the parties may select or the Court shall appoint another mediator.

(2) A mediator who is a mental health professional shall not provide counseling or therapy to the parties or their children during or after the mediation. An attorney-mediator may not represent either party in any matter during the mediation process or in a dispute between the parties after the mediation process.

(3) Imputed Disqualification: No person will be eligible to serve as a Mediator on a case if that person, or a member of that person's practice, agency or business entity or someone with whom that person shares office space has served or is serving as an Evaluator in that case.

E. REPORTING RISK OF BODILY HARM AND ABUSE

(1) A mediator shall promptly reveal information to the appropriate law enforcement agency to the extent it appears necessary to prevent a party from committing an act that would result in death or serious bodily harm.

(2) Attorneys, when acting as mediators, shall reveal information required by Rule 1.6 "Confidentiality of Information" under the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.

(3) The mandated reporting requirement of the Abuse and Neglected Child Reporting Act, 325 ILCS 5/1 et seq., as applied to mental health professionals shall also apply to all mediators.

F. DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION

(1) Except as provided herein, the mediator and the parties shall be barred from testifying as to any statement made at the mediation sessions. Neither mediation records nor work product of the mediator shall be subpoenaed in any proceeding except by leave of the Court.

(2) The mediator shall require the parties to execute a confidentiality agreement and complete a screening to determine if an impediment to mediation exists.

G. ATTENDANCE AND TERMINATION OF MEDIATION

(1) The parties shall attend the mediation session(s) which shall be up to an aggregate three (3) hours in length unless extended by agreement of the parties and the mediator. Attendance at mediation shall be limited to the parties to the dispute unless otherwise ordered by Court.

(2) Mediation may be extended by order of Court or agreement of the parties.

(3) The mediator shall immediately advise the Court in writing if he or she suspends or terminates mediation or in the event that either or both parties fail to comply with the terms of this paragraph.

(4) The mediation may be terminated or suspended at the option of the mediator or the Court.

H. MEDIATION REPORT

(1) The mediator shall, on a Court approved form, report to the Court on the progress of mediation within ten (10) days of the termination of the last mediation session, but in no event after the assigned status date.

(2) Only written discovery on issues not being mediated shall be allowed until mediation is terminated, except by order of the Court or agreement of the parties.

(3) No investigation or examination pertaining to issues pending in mediation shall be ordered by the Court, except when the Court finds good cause.

(4) In the event the party fails to attend mediation without good cause shown, the Court upon motion may impose sanctions, including but not limited to costs and attorneys fees.

I. PAYMENT OF FEES

The mediation fee and the amount of the advance deposit shall be set from time to time by the Chief Judge, the Presiding Judge and the Acting Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division. Mediation fees shall consist of a maximum of three (3) hours plus one (1) hour for administrative charges which may include but are not limited to time spent in mediation sessions with the parties, telephone conference, correspondence, consultations with attorneys or expert consultants, preparation of the mediator's report and any other work performed by the mediator on behalf of the parties. The parties shall be required to pay for individual sessions at the time of each mediation session. In the event payments are not made as agreed by the mediator, the mediation process may not be suspended by the mediator, but failure to pay shall be promptly reported to the Court
J. STATISTICS

The Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division shall maintain data on the mediation program and consult on a regular basis with the other judges in the Domestic Relations Division about the operation of the program.

K. MEDIATOR IMMUNITY

A mediator, approved and certified by this Circuit and acting pursuant to these rules, shall have judicial immunity in the same manner and to the same extent as a judge, under the authority conferred by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 99(b)(1) as amended, effective October 15, 2015.

15.16 CUSTODY EVALUATION PROGRAM

A. SUBJECT MATTER OF EVALUATION

The DuPage Evaluation Program is a discretionary program of the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit. If the Court determines that a custody or allocation of parental responsibilities evaluation, pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/604.10(b), is needed or would assist the court in making its determination, the Court may so order an evaluation.

Court-ordered Evaluation may include any pre or post-judgment contested issue of parental responsibility, custody, visitation, removal, access to the children or other non-economic issues in relation to child(ren).

Unless otherwise provided in these rules, the Court may order the parties to participate in evaluation at the mediation status date, upon motion of a party or upon the Court's own motion. The evaluator appointed by the Court shall make a recommendation to the Court with respect to those issues in dispute.
B. PRE-REQUISITE TO EVALUATION

(1) The parties ordered to evaluation by the Court shall have completed mediation prior to the commencement of an evaluation.

(2) The Court may appoint an attorney for the child/guardian ad litem/child representative prior to considering a Court-ordered evaluation, in light of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 907(e).

C. QUALIFICATIONS OF EVALUATORS

(1) The 18th Judicial Circuit shall promulgate a list of evaluators who have been approved by the Chief Judge, the Presiding Judge and the Acting Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division to act as evaluators for the Court Ordered Evaluation Program, each of whom shall serve at the discretion of the Presiding Judge. Applicants for the program must file the required application with supporting documentation and meet the following criteria:

(a) Shall satisfactorily complete a training program approved by the Court. In addition, the applicant must complete additional training as required by the Court from time to time;

(b) Shall be a Ph.D. in psychology, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist;

(c) Shall maintain Illinois Licensure in full force and good standing; and carry current malpractice insurance in an amount as approved by the Presiding Judge;

(d) Maintain an office in DuPage County and be available to conduct evaluations in DuPage County;

(e) Shall have at least five (5) years of experience in practice post-licensure; education, training and experience with children and families; plus training and/or experience specifically relevant to the evaluation process.

(2) Periodically the Presiding Judge shall prepare a list of Court-approved evaluators.

(3) An evaluator shall agree to handle three (3) reduced fee or pro bono cases per year as identified by the Court. All requests for pro bono or reduced fee evaluations shall be made to and approved by the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division.

D. REFERRAL ASSIGNMENT PROCEDURE

(1) Upon the Court's order for the parties to participate in evaluation, an evaluator shall be selected by agreement of the parties from the list of qualified evaluators. Absent an agreement, the trial judge shall assign the evaluator and a one hundred twenty (120) day status date shall be set for the final evaluation report.

(2) The Court shall designate in its order of evaluation:

(a) The percentage of the evaluation fee that shall be paid by each party and/or whether the case should be considered a reduced fee or pro bono case;

(b) Who shall receive a copy of the evaluation report; and

(c) What specific issues are to be evaluated.

(3) On or before the status date, the evaluator shall submit a report to those parties, or counsel of record for same, listed in order of evaluation.
(4) The time for evaluation shall be tolled during any periods in which a motion to disqualify is pending.

(5) The Petitioner shall provide the order appointing the evaluator to the evaluator, via facsimile, personal delivery, or electronic delivery within 48 hours of the entry of said order.

(6) The parties shall contact the evaluator within seventy-two (72) hours after the assignment for the purpose of scheduling an initial session.

E. CONFLICT OF INTEREST

(1) If the evaluator appointed has or has had any possible conflict of interest, including but not limited to a current or previous therapeutic, personal or economic relationship with either party, any child, step-parent, other relative, counsel or anyone else involved in the case, he or she shall decline the appointment or disclose that relationship to the attorneys and may be removed for that reason. If there is a conflict, the parties may select or the Court shall appoint another evaluator.

(2) The evaluator may not function as a therapist to the parties, the children or step-parents before, during or after the evaluation.

(3) Imputed Disqualification: No person will be eligible to serve as an Evaluator on any case in which that person or a member of that person's practice, agency or business entity or someone with whom that person shares office space has served or is serving as a Court-appointed Mediator in that case under these rules.  (amended effective 7/7/10).

F. REPORTING RISK OF BODILY HARM AND ABUSE

All evaluators will conduct themselves in accord with the Abuse and Neglected Child Reporting Act standards (325 ILCS 5/1 et seq.).
G. DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION

The information exchanged during the evaluation process does not constitute "mental health services" or "services" within the meaning of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act and is, therefore, not confidential. The records of an evaluator are not subject to discovery without leave of court after proper notice to the other parties and the evaluator.
H. EVALUATION PROCESS

(1) The parties shall attend the evaluation sessions which shall consist of up to thirty (30) hours in length including testing, unless extended by agreement of the parties and the evaluator or order of Court. Attendance at evaluation shall be limited to the parties, the children and those specifically requested by the evaluator.

(2) Attorneys for the parties shall not contact the evaluator either during or after the evaluation, without leave of Court, except concerning those matters in the Referral form or in regard to scheduling.

(3) The evaluation may be terminated or suspended at the option of the Court, the evaluator or upon settlement of the issues which caused the case to be referred to evaluation.

(4) The evaluator shall immediately advise the Court and counsel for the parties in writing if the report will not be completed by the status date and state the reason for the delay and the expected date of completion.

(5) In the event a party fails to promptly attend and participate in the evaluation without good cause shown, the Court upon motion may impose sanctions.

(6) The evaluation must take place in DuPage County unless the parties agree otherwise.

(7) The evaluation report shall be provided to the Court, an any other designated parties, no later than one hundred twenty (120) days from the entry of the order appointing the evaluator.

I. PAYMENT OF FEES

(1) The evaluator's hourly fee and the amount of the advance deposit shall be set from time to time by the Chief Judge, the Presiding Judge and the Acting Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division. The hourly rate shall be $225 per hour, with a maximum charge, excluding testifying at deposition and/or trial, of $7,875. The evaluation fee shall include up to thirty-five (35) hours for sessions, costs of testing, analysis, and for preparation of the report. The limitation on charges contained in these rules shall not include time expended for preparation or attendance at a court proceeding or deposition. Those charges shall be paid by the party calling the evaluator as a witness.

(2) The parties shall be required to pay a retainer, as ordered by the court, to be applied toward the cost of evaluation. When the retainer is exhausted, the parties shall pay for remaining individual sessions and the cost of the report as those costs are incurred. In the event payments are not made as ordered by the Court, the evaluator may not suspend the process but shall promptly report failure to pay to the attorneys and the Court.

(3) The evaluator's report shall include reference to the fee charged and itemize the charges, whether that fee has been paid in full, and if not, the outstanding amount owed. The Court may direct the parties to pay any sum that remains due and owing to the evaluator and may enter judgment accordingly.

J. STATISTICS

The Presiding Judge shall maintain data on the evaluation program and consult on a regular basis with the other judges in the Domestic Relations Division about the operation of the program.

K. OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

(a) The Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division shall appoint a committee which shall be known as the "Oversight Committee." That committee shall be comprised of attorneys practicing in the area of family law, psychologists and/or psychiatrists, and members of the general public. All members of the Oversight Committee shall serve three (3) year terms on a rotating basis. In addition, the current chairperson of the DuPage County Bar Association Family Law Committee shall serve as an additional member of the committee on an annual basis. The purpose of that committee shall be as follows:

(1) To review and make recommendations to the Presiding Judge regarding any complaint against a court appointed mediator or evaluator;

(2) To make recommendations for modification to the mediation and/or evaluation rules or procedures established pursuant thereto;

(3) To make recommendations for procedures and practices to implement the rules;

(4) To assist in the review of statistical data relative to the efficacy of the program;

(5) To review any complaints or concerns about the mediation and evaluation programs; and

(6) To perform any other tasks assigned by the Presiding Judge.

(b) In screening and making recommendations regarding a complaint against an evaluator, the committee shall consider the ethical standards and laws which apply to the profession(s) of that evaluator.

15.17 RECORD IN CERTAIN PROCEEDINGS

Every contested hearing which will result in a final custody or removal order shall be reported.

15.18 PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE AND TRIAL DATES

(a) A case may be set for a pre-trial conference at the discretion of the trial judge. If a case set for pre-trial is settled or disposed of prior to its scheduled pre-trial conference date, the attorneys are directed to advise the judge in advance so that said appointed time may be used to accommodate the hearing of other cases. Failure of attorneys to comply may result in the imposition of sanctions.

(b) Litigants must be advised of any pre-trial conference date by their attorneys. Litigants need not appear, but must be available for consultation with their attorneys by phone during the pre-trial conference. If the attorneys fail to appear for an appointed pre-trial conference, the pre-trial will be stricken and the case may be subject to dismissal and the attorney may be subject to sanctions. The Court may preclude any further pre-trial conferences.

(c) Whenever practical, both counsel shall prepare a written Joint Pre-Trial Memorandum. Absent such a joint memorandum, each counsel shall prepare a Pre-trial Memorandum which must include the following:

  • Attorneys names, addresses and phone numbers;
  • Parties names, ages, education levels, employment, health;
  • Children's names, ages, school information, special needs;
  • Assets, debts and liabilities; including values and characterization of marital vs. non-marital;
  • Notice of Claim of Dissipation of Marital Assets, if any;
  • Statement of areas of agreement;
  • Statement of areas of disagreement; and
  • Suggestions for settlement.

Copies of the Pre-trial Memorandum shall be sent to the judge and to opposing counsel at least three (3) days prior to the Conference.

A future status date shall be set following the pre-trial conference to determine if the case will settle or proceed to trial. If the case is resolved, a prove-up date shall be selected. If the case has not been resolved as of the next status date, the trial judge may set the case for trial.

(d) At the time a case is set for trial, a trial status date shall be set. At the trial status date, counsel for each party shall tender a Trial Memorandum to the trial judge and opposing counsel. The Trial Memorandum shall contain a statement of contested issues, uncontested issues, list of income, assets and liabilities, stipulations on agreed matters, a list of witnesses intended to be called, and probable length of trial. Each party shall submit a list of numbered exhibits with copies of all exhibits having been exchanged among all attorneys at least three (3) days prior to trial.

(e) Cases set for trial shall only be continued for statutory cause shown with proper notice, or by order of the trial judge. It is the responsibility of each attorney to contact the court scheduler in advance of the trial date to find out if the Court is otherwise engaged and unable to hear a case on the scheduled trial date.

15.19 JOINT SIMPLIFIED DISSOLUTION PROCEDURE

Pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/451 et seq., all persons who meet the requirements of 750 ILCS 5/452 shall be entitled to obtain a dissolution of marriage using forms provided by the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Upon filing of the Joint Petition, the parties may proceed to hearing before the assigned judge, who shall expeditiously consider the cause. In the absence of the assigned judge, the hearing shall proceed before any judge designated by the Presiding Judge. Brochures, approved by the Chief Judge, explaining the Joint Simplified Dissolution procedures shall be provided by the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The parties may not rely exclusively on the brochure as it is only to be used as a guide.

15.20 ENTRY OF JUDGMENT

(a) The Court shall designate who will prepare the Judgment and when the Judgment shall be tendered for entry. Non-payment of attorney's fees will not be recognized as good cause for the Judgment entry to be withheld.

(b) No judgment shall be signed subsequent to the forty-fifth (45th) day after the Court's decision, except upon further hearing in open court.

(c) Proper notice of such hearing as provided in Rule 15.03(b) shall be served upon all parties, including the movant's client. At such hearing, cause must be shown as to why said judgment had not been presented in apt time.

(d) When a Judgment resolving a domestic relations matter requires the payment of an amount of money for reasons other than child support or maintenance, the Judgment order shall be entitled Judgment for Dissolution and Money Judgment.

(e) At the prove-up of a dissolution of marriage/legal separation/declaration of invalidity of marriage case, if Judgment is not entered that day, the case shall be continued to a date certain not to exceed six (6) weeks from the close of proofs at 10:55 a.m., for the entry of the judgment order.

(f) If the judgment resolving a domestic relations matter is not presented for entry on or before that date, then before entry of the judgment, the Court may require an affidavit from counsel as to the reason for failure to comply with Rule 15.07(a). Non-payment of attorney fees will not be recognized as good cause.

15.21 MAINTENANCE OR SUPPORT PAYMENTS

(a) Maintenance or support payments shall be made by an order of withholding upon a separate order of court providing therefore, using the approved form furnished by the Clerk's office. If payments are through the Clerk of the Circuit Court, said withholding order shall be accompanied by the Clerk's form child support order.

(b) Orders for maintenance or support payments shall be presented to the Court in duplicate.

(c) Upon failure of a party to comply with an order of this Court pursuant to paragraph (a) above, a petition for a Rule to Show Cause shall be filed with the Court. Such petition shall be filed by the obligee, or where appropriate, by the State's Attorney on behalf of the obligee.

15.22 EXPEDITED MATRIMONIAL FEE ARBITRATION PROGRAM

The Expedited Matrimonial Fee Arbitration Program in the Circuit Court for the 18th Judicial Circuit, DuPage County, Illinois is governed by 750 ILCS 5/508(c) for the conduct of Expedited Matrimonial Fee Arbitration proceedings. Pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/508(c), the Circuit Judges of the 18th Judicial Circuit adopt the following Local Rules effective June 1, 1997. Arbitration proceedings shall be governed by Section 508(c) and this Article 15.19.

15.22.01 ELIGIBLE ACTIONS

Actions Subject to Arbitration. All actions brought pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/508(c) shall be submitted to mandatory arbitration in accordance with these rules only if neither the client nor the counsel affirmatively opts out of such procedures in the initial pleading requesting an award. An attorney may not enter into an agreement which purports to restrict the right of a client or the client's assignee to commence fee arbitration or which purports to relieve the attorney of the obligation to submit to arbitration under these rules. Any such agreement is void as against public policy.

15.22.02 POWERS AND DUTIES

(a) The Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the 18th Judicial Circuit shall have the following powers and duties related to the Fee Arbitration Program:

(1) To appoint any lawyer licensed in Illinois who has either a residence or office in DuPage County and non-lawyers to serve as arbitrators, and to provide an educational program for arbitrators;

(2) To make rules for Expedited Matrimonial Fee Arbitration proceedings which are not inconsistent with the Expedited Matrimonial Fee Arbitration Rules of this Court and Section 508(c) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act;

(3) To educate the public and the practicing bar about the Expedited Matrimonial Fee Arbitration Program; and

(4) To perform all acts necessary for the effective operation of the program.

(b) The Chief Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court shall have the power and responsibility to establish filing fees for Expedited Matrimonial Fee Arbitration and payment for arbitrators' services.

15.22.03 APPLICABILITY OF CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE

Notwithstanding that any action, upon filing, is initially submitted to an arbitration or is thereafter so designated for hearing, the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure shall be applicable to its proceedings except insofar as these rules otherwise provide.

15.22.04 COMMENCEMENT OF ARBITRATION AND HEARING

(a) After due notice has been given, unless either party opts out of arbitration in writing on the Court date when the Petition for Setting Final Fees and Costs is initially presented to the Court, the dispute will be assigned to arbitration. If neither party opts out of arbitration, the arbitration shall be binding on the parties.

(b) Fee proceedings shall be stayed until the conclusion of the arbitration and a party shall refrain from any collection activities related to disputed sums pending the outcome of the arbitration.

(c) Once the arbitration process has commenced, neither party may withdraw from arbitration.

(d) All parties to the arbitration hearing must participate in the hearing in good faith and in a meaningful manner.

15.22.05 REPLY AND NOTICE

Any reply to the Petition for Setting Final Fees and Costs or other response and proof of service shall be filed with the Clerk of Court and delivered to the other party by mail or by hand delivery within fifteen (15) days after entry of the arbitration order.

15.22.06 ABSENCE OF PARTY AT HEARING

Failure to be Present at Hearing. The arbitration hearing shall proceed in the absence of any party who, after due notice, fails to be present. The panel shall require the other party or parties to submit such evidence as the panel may require for the making of an award. The failure of a party to be present, either in person or by counsel, at an arbitration hearing shall constitute a consent to the entry by the Court of a judgment on the award. In the event the party who fails to be present thereafter moves or files a petition to the Court to vacate the judgment as provided therefore under the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure for the vacation of judgments by default, Sections 2-1301 and 2-1401, the Court, in its discretion, in addition to vacating the judgment, may order the matter for rehearing in arbitration, and may also impose the sanction of costs and fees as a condition for granting such relief.

15.22.07 AWARD AND JUDGMENT ON AWARD

(a) Definition of Award. An award is a determination in favor of a party.

(b) Determining an Award. The panel shall make an award the same day as the hearing. The award shall dispose of all claims for relief. The award shall be signed by the arbitrators or the majority of them.

(c) Form of Decision. The panel shall issue its decision in writing. The decision shall include a clear statement of the amount in dispute, whether and to whom monies are due, and in what amount, and shall be sent to the parties within a reasonable time after the hearing.

(d) Correction of Award. Where the award discloses an obvious and unambiguous error in mathematics or language, the panel, on application of a party within the thirty (30) day period of the entry of the award, may correct the same. The filing of such an application shall stay all proceedings. 

15.22.08 BINDING ARBITRATION AND JUDGMENT ON AWARD

The arbitration award shall be final and any party thereafter may file a motion with the Court seeking entry of judgment on the award.

15.22.09 ARBITRATOR MAY NOT TESTIFY

An arbitrator may not be called to testify as to what transpired before the arbitrators and no reference to the fact of the conduct of the arbitration hearing may be made at trial.

15.22.10 IMMUNITY

Witnesses. Witnesses shall have such immunity as is applicable in a civil action.

15.22.11 DISCLOSURE OF ATTORNEY-CLIENT COMMUNICATION AND WORK PRODUCT

Nothing herein contained shall prohibit the disclosure of any relevant work product of the attorney in connection with:

(a) An arbitration hearing pursuant to these rules;

(b) A trial after arbitration; and

(c) Judicial confirmation correction or vacation of an arbitration award.

In no event shall such disclosures be deemed a waiver of the confidential character of such matters for any other purpose.

15.22.12 DISPUTES NOT SUBJECT TO ARBITRATION

A dispute is not subject to arbitration if any of the following factors exist:

(a) If one or both parties affirmatively opts out of arbitration as previously set forth in these rules;

(b) If the underlying cause of action was filed in a county other than DuPage County; or

(c) The dispute has been determined by court order or decision.

15.22.13 DOCKETING OF ARBITRATION

Upon receipt of the arbitration order, together with the appropriate filing fee, if any, the court scheduler shall set the matter for arbitration.

15.22.14 REVIEW OF PETITION FOR ARBITRATION

The Chairperson shall review the request for arbitration and any response thereto to determine if it is properly the subject of arbitration under these rules. If a petition or response is not properly completed, the Chairperson will return and specify what clarification or additional information is required. If the dispute is not subject to arbitration, the Chairperson shall be so advised.

15.22.15 ASSIGNMENT TO ARBITRATION PANEL

(a) Upon entry of the arbitration order, the court scheduler shall assign the parties to an arbitration panel and shall set a date for hearing on the petition within thirty (30) days after the due date for the response or as soon as practicable, and shall set a status date within sixty (60) days after the due date for the response. In the event one party is not present at the initial court date and an arbitration order is entered, the appearing party must within three (3) business days deliver a copy of the order to the non-appearing party by mail or by hand delivery. The panel of arbitrators shall consist of three (3) members appointed by the Court. The Chairperson shall be a member of the bar who has engaged in matrimonial law for at least five (5) years or a retired judge. At least one of the remaining members shall be a non-lawyer.

(b) All disputes of $500 or less shall be arbitrated based upon the Petition and reply or other response and any other written documentation and no hearing shall be held.

(c) The Chairperson shall preside at the hearing. Ruling on objections to evidence or on other issues which arise during the hearing shall be made by the Chairperson of the panel.

(d) Continuances are not favored. Once the hearing date has been set, continuances may be granted by the Chairperson for statutory purposes only. If a continuance is granted, the Chairperson shall give notice to all parties to the arbitration.

15.22.16 DUTIES OF ARBITRATION PANEL; ARBITRATOR DISQUALIFICATION; COMPENSATION

(a) The panel shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) To take and hear evidence pertaining to the proceedings;

(2) To administer oaths and affirmations;

(3) To perform all acts necessary to conduct an effective arbitration hearing.

(b) Disqualification:

(1) Upon appointment to a case, an arbitrator shall notify the Court and withdraw from the case if any grounds appear to exist for disqualification pursuant to the Code of Judicial Conduct.

(2) If any panel member who has been duly notified of his/her appointment for any reason fails to attend the arbitration, the remaining arbitrators may, at their option, without stipulation by either party, proceed with the arbitration.

15.22.17 HEARING

The arbitration panel shall preside over a hearing on all disputes over $500. A party may be represented by counsel in the arbitration proceeding at the party's own expense. The panel shall accept such evidence as is relevant and material to the dispute and may request additional evidence as necessary to understand and resolve the dispute. The hearing shall be informal in nature. The rules of evidence need not be followed. The parties shall be entitled to be heard, to present evidence and to question parties and witnesses. The proceeding shall not be recorded or reported in any manner. Cases to be heard by an arbitration panel will require no more than sixty (60) minutes for presentation and decision.

15.22.18 FEES AND COSTS

Neither party to the arbitration may recover costs or attorney's fees incurred in preparation for or in the course of the fee arbitration proceedings. However, a Court confirming, correcting or vacating an award under this article may award to the prevailing party reasonable fees and costs incurred in obtaining confirmation, correction or vacation of the award.

15.23 RE-FILED CASES

Except in cases of petitions for Orders of Protection, any domestic relations case between the same parties which is re-filed after a dismissal will be assigned to the same docket to which the dismissed case was assigned.

15.24 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Actions arising under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 (750 ILCS 60/101 et seq.) should, to the extent practicable, utilize the approved forms provided for such actions.

15.25 RESERVED

15.26 PERIODIC MEETINGS

The Chief Judge, the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division, the Chairperson of the Family Law Committee of the DuPage County Bar Association, the Chairperson of the Child Advocacy Committee of the DuPage County Bar Association, or their designees, shall meet periodically as necessary to address practice and procedural changes required.