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
- 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
- "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
- 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
- "You have a wonderful, caring touch with clients and I want you to know it was noticed and appreciated by [my client.]"
- "Just wanted to thank you for all of your excellent work helping us get the case settled. My client was very satisfied both with the process and the end result. You’re a mediation rock star!"
- “For those of you who haven’t mediated with her at JAMS, she is just as amazing off the bench as she was on the bench. Her approach is thoughtful and thorough. She has that special sauce that can get even the toughest case resolved, without the emotional, mental, and financial costs of litigation.”
- "[S]he has developed an extraordinary ability to think outside the box and suggest alternative methods of how to settle a case."
- "I don’t think we could have resolved it without your insight, presence
- "I am so thankful for you. You played a HUGE role in this and I am forever grateful to the impact you have had in the lives of our children and myself. Thank YOU.
- "Judge, it is always a pleasure. You were truly the best, and so very helpful. You made my client feel at home and trust in that which you said and recommended."
- "Thank you, Judge. We're very grateful for your efforts. We couldn't have done it without you."
- "Your help was tremendous. We would not have been able to get the clients to this place without your insight, wisdom, and patience. I hope to work with you again in the near term future."
- "It was a pleasure working with both of you! We made a good team
tohelp a couple of nice people get through a very difficult time in their lives. Thank you!"
- "Thank you so much. Your calm demeanor and direction were very valuable to us being able to reach a settlement."
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