In this article we will explain Illinois divorce courts’ power to order conciliation conferences between the parties to a divorce as well as the court’s power to order classes teaching the effects of a divorce on minor children, in order to assist the parties in attempting reconciliation. For more on reconciliation during a divorce, check out our previous article, Illinois Legal Separation Explained.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/404) provides that the court in an Illinois divorce proceeding has the power to order a conciliation conference at the request of either party or on its own initiative if the court determines that there is a realistic chance of the parties reconciling. The purpose of the conference is to use counseling to assist the parties in reconciling rather than going through with the divorce. Nothing that is said at the conciliation conference can be used as evidence in the divorce unless both parties agree in writing.
Attorneys are not present at the conciliation conference. In the case of certain marriages in which there is an imbalance of power or abuse it may not be appropriate to put the parties in the same room without attorneys present. In these cases, the court has the power to prohibit conciliation conferences or any other meeting of the parties without their attorneys.
Similar to a conciliation conference, the divorce court has the power to order parties who are parents of minor children to attend a class intended to educate them on the effects of divorce on children. The total length of the court-ordered educational program cannot exceed 4 hours. The court has the power to order attendance at this educational program at the request of either party or on its own motion.