One of the biggest changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act comes with the recent revisions to Section 607.6, formally titled “Counseling.” A constant source of debate among attorneys and judges, subparagraph (d), as previously written, provided that “All counseling sessions shall be confidential. The communications in counseling shall not be used in any manner in litigation nor relied upon by any expert appointed by the court or retained by any party.” What was problematic was the inability to rely on important information that could aid the Court in making decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time (formally known as “custody”). The debate was further spurred by the confusion as to whether this prohibition applied to “court-ordered counseling” only or counseling in general. Not surprisingly, attorneys were taking sides based upon what was convenient to their client and whether it was advantageous to keep information in or out. The Court’s hands were tied.

Thankfully, the Legislature has stepped in, amending Section 607.6 to apply to “Court-ordered counseling” only. Further, subparagraph (d) now reads: “Counseling ordered under this Section is subject to the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.” Both the Illinois House and Senate have approved of the amendments, which are now in the hands of the Governor for signature.

An amended Section 607.6 is a big win. As family law attorneys, our job is to educate the Court and we can only do so by presenting the “full picture.” With the nuances already present in family law and the significant amount of discretion given to judges, having more certainty can only benefit us and our clients.


Katy Mickelson, Partner

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