Cook County’s Domestic Violence Division is not a family court accustomed to making custody determinations, but instead a high-volume court hearing protection orders and domestic violence criminal matters. Finding time in busy court calendars to address all of the details involved in creating a parenting plan so that safe, effective child-related relief can be included in protection orders was therefore a challenge. Two innovations proved to be immensely helpful: a newly created position called the expediter, which operates in many ways as a domestic violence-informed mediator, and a supervised visitation liaison.
When a judge decides to include parenting time provisions in a protection order, the case can be referred to the expediter, who will liaise between the parents to arrive at a consensual plan for safe contact between the respondent and the children. The process is voluntary, and the expediter is neutral. The documents below demonstrate how cases are referred to the expediter and what happens once a referral is made, as well as a description of the position itself.
Supervised visitation liaison
Many victims need protection but also want their children to be able to see the other parent. When that presents safety concerns, supervised visitation can be a way to maintain the relationship, and respondents are often more compliant with the protection order when they know they will still see their children. Cook County established a supervised visitation liaison to be available during and following protection order hearings to help parties make arrangements. These documents include information for the parties about the program and a worksheet the liaison uses in court.