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Hon. Nancy J. Katz (Ret.)
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Hon. Nancy J. Katz (Ret.)

General Biography
Practice Areas
Family Law
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. Nancy J. Katz (Ret.) brings 34 years of experience as a lawyer and judge to her JAMS practice. She has focused exclusively on family law issues for the last 22 years, including 17 years as an Associate Judge on the domestic relations bench in Cook County (Chicago), Illinois.  Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Katz served as Assistant General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Judge Katz is a much sought after educator in family law issues for judges, attorneys, and the lay public.  A recipient of the prestigious Samuel Berger award, Judge Katz has an outstanding reputation for fairness, integrity, and creative problem solving.   

ADR Experience and Qualifications

As a Judge on a domestic relations calendar for 17 years, Judge Katz has substantial judicial and settlement experience in all kinds of family law cases including:

  • Allocation of parental responsibilities
  • Allocation of parenting time
  • Distribution of assets and debts
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
  • Valuations of businesses
  • Setting maintenance
  • Reviews of maintenance
  • Same-sex civil union and marriage dissolutions
  • College contribution
  • Marital and non-marital estate issues
  • Allocation of family debts

Representative Matters

  • Allocation of parenting responsibilities, in all kinds of cases
  • School choice for children with special needs
  • Medical decision making for children with mental health issues
  • Parenting time, including cases where parents have unusual schedules
  • Parenting time for parents with mental health issues
  • Disputes over religious upbringing of children
  • Child support for high income families, including both married and unmarried parents and same sex couples
  • Relocation of children from the vicinity of the family’s original home
  • College contribution
  • Valuation of closely held family businesses
  • Valuation of commercial real estate
  • Property allocation for non-married partners and same-sex spouses
  • Division of executive compensation
  • Provision of maintenance to one spouse
  • Allocation of lawsuit settlement proceeds
  • Modifications of maintenance
  • Same-sex civil unions and marriage dissolutions
  • Valuation and distribution of personal property collections, including collections of art and wine
  • Allocation of family debts

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities


  • "Partner Award" for Strategic Planning Assistance, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, June 2021 
  • Honoree, Community Leadership Award, Illinois State Bar Association, Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, June 2017
  • Decalogue Society of Lawyers and the Arab American Bar Association of Illinois, “Honoring Women in the Legal Profession,” Honoree, April 2016
  • Alliance of Illinois Judges, “Legal Legends from Stonewall to Lawrence,” Honoree, June 2014
  • Samuel S. Berger Award, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, May 2013
  • Distinguished Service to Law and Society, Illinois State Bar Foundation, December 2009
  • “Wow” Women Award, Center on Halsted, December 2006
  • Presidential Service Award, Illinois Judges Association, December 2006
  • “Court of Honor” Award, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, November 2004
  • Professional Achievement Award, IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law, Law School Alumni Association, April 2001
  • Vanguard Award, Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, in association with the CBA and Alliance of Bar Associations, November 2000
  • Inductee, Hall of Fame, Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Advisory Committee on Gay and Lesbian Issues, October 2000

Memberships & Professional Activities

  • Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Judges Association 2015– present; Member, 1999 to 2017
  • Member, Education Committee of Judicial Education Committee of the Illinois Judicial Conference of the Supreme Court of Illinois, 2006-2017; Co-Chair Education Conference 2010; Member of the New Judge School Subcommittee
  • Member, Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee of Illinois State Bar Association, 2011- 2017; Committee Chair, 2003-04; Committee Vice-Chair, 2002-2003
  • Member, American Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Decalogue Society, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, Alliance of Illinois Judges, Jewish Judges Association of Illinois
  • Adjunct Faculty, IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law, Family Law L.L.M. Program, taught trial advocacy in family law, 2006-2007
  • Character and Fitness Committee, First Judicial District, Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar, 1993-1999
  • Certified Arbitrator, Circuit Court of Cook County, 1990-1995


  • Chair, Illinois Judicial Benchbook on Family Law and Procedure, Illinois Judicial Conference, Committee on Education, 2011- present
  • Author, “The Prove-up Benchbook for Dissolution of Marriage Cases,” Supreme Court of Illinois, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts
  • Author, “Disposition of the Marital Residence in Troubled Economic Times,” Family Law Newsletter, ISBA, Vol. 52, No. 4, Nov. 2008
  • Author, “When Parents Can’t… The Judge Decides,” Family Advocate, ABA Section of Family Law, Vol. 29, No. 1, Summer 2006

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist,  "Judicial Perspectives on Court-Annexed Mediation," ADR 2019: Using Alternative Dispute Resolution to Navigate Rights, May 2019
  • Frequent Speaker on “Anatomy of a Divorce Case,” Divorce Mediation Skills Training, Northwestern School of Professional Studies, most recently February 2017
  • Moderator and Panelist, “Navigating Privacy and Confidentiality in Child-Related Cases,” Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County, Child Representative Training, November 16, 2016
  • Panelist, “Overview of Legal Proceedings in Dissolution of Marriage Cases,” “Divorce University,” The Lilac Tree, November 6, 2016; May 4, 2014; November 6, 2011
  • Panelist, “As Judges See It: Top Mistakes Attorneys Make in Family Court,” National Business Institute, May, 2017; May 2016
  • Panelist, “High Conflict Litigants in Family Law Matters,” Judicial Education Conference 2016, Illinois Judicial Conference, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, Lombard, IL, February and April 2016
  • Speaker, “New Judge School,” Prove-Ups and Financial Issues panel, and Children’s Issues panel, annually from 2005 through 2017
  • Moderator, “Gender Diversity: Supporting Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Children and Adolescents,” Circuit Court of Cook County, Child Representative Training, June 18, 2014
  • Panelist, “Mental Health Issues Involving Children,”  Judicial Education Conference 2014, Illinois Judicial Conference, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, Lombard, IL, February and April 2014

Background and Education

  • Associate Judge, Domestic Relations Division, Cook County Circuit Court, Chicago, Illinois, 1999-2017
  • Certification in Divorce Mediation Skills, Northwestern University School of Professional Studies, 2017
  • John Paul Jones Group for the Illinois Supreme Court, Comprehensive Mediation Certification, 2007
  • Assistant General Counsel, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, 1995-1999
  • Project Director and Staff Attorney, Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago 1983–1986, 1987-1995
  • Assistant Ethics Counsel, American Bar Association, 1986-1987
  • J.D., Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1983
  • B.A., Northeastern Illinois University, 1977


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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