ADR Systems


Hon. Helaine L. Berger, (Ret.)


Hon. Helaine L. Berger, (Ret.), is a senior mediator and arbitrator who concentrates in family law. She served for 18 years as a judge in the Cook County Circuit Court’s Domestic Relations Division and the Child Protection and Juvenile Justice Department. Those who practiced before Judge Berger applauded and appreciated her ‘never-give-up’ attitude, active listening skills, compassion and courage to delve into the minute details of a case to achieve resolution. Counsel have noted her innate ability to immediately relate to people personally, even in the most difficult and emotionally charged situations. Judge Berger’s high settlement rate is testament to her mastery in helping families come to an agreement that works for all involved. She has great patience and cares deeply about the best interests of the children and financial fairness, while guiding the parties to resolution. Judge Berger frequently applies her ingenuity to facilitate creative settlement agreements. She is also available for fast track mediation services upon request.

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Berger was a versatile litigator who tried cases in every division of the court as well as nationally. In addition to family law matters, Judge Berger is available to mediate personal injury and commercial cases.

Types of Cases Resolved

  • Auto Liability
  • Business Dissolution
  • Child Support
  • College Expense Allocations
  • Custody/Allocation of Parental Responsibility
  • Employment
  • Estates
  • Family Law
  • Food Contamination
  • Maintenance
  • Non-Compete
  • Personal Injury
  • Preliminary Injunctions
  • Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
  • Probate
  • Product Liability
  • Property Distribution
  • Removal/Relocation
  • Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
  • Visitation/Parenting Time

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • 19-year judicial career as judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Domestic Relations Division, 1998-2007 and 2012-2016; Child Protection Division, 2008-2011; First Municipal Department, 1997- 1998
  • 16-year legal career, including founding partner at Berger & DePaul, 1990-1997
  • Associate at Purcell & Wardope, 1983-1990
  • Lake County Public Defender, 1981-1983
  • Divorce Mediation Certificate, Northwestern University
  • Approved Mediator, Circuit Court of Cook County, Domestic Relations Division

Representative Cases

  • Custody/Allocation of Parental Duties and Removal/Relocation: request by mother for custody and relocation of child to the Netherlands subsequent to Hague proceedings and custody trials in other jurisdictions; mother in the Netherlands had previously kidnapped minor and father was alleged by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) to be medically neglecting the child’s diabetes
  • Maintenance: extent maintenance should be paid on bonuses or distributions exceeding $250,000, cap on income for “true-ups,” and other issues including underemployment and ability to work
  • Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements: $50 million nonmarital estate; interpretation of agreement as to maintenance, stock, gifts to the marriage, substantive and/or procedural unconsionability
  • Property: treatment of $800,000 signing bonus where bonus must be repaid if employee’s employment is terminated
  • Custody/Allocation of Parental Responsibility: whether aunt should be awarded custody where mother was released from prison and became employed and desired return of minor

Professional Activities and Awards

  • Former Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Judges Association
  • Former Chair, Chicago Bar Association (CBA) committees including Civil Practice, Professional Fees and Subcommittee on Proposed Changes to Supreme Court Rules
  • Former Chair, Joint Alliance for Women and Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI) Subcommittee on Pension Law and Divorce
  • Former President, WBAI
  • Former Member, (DCFS) Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol Advisory Committee
  • Former Vice-Chair, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Alcohol and Other Drugs Committee
  • Former Member, Circuit Court of Cook County Domestic Relations Policy and Procedure Committee
  • Former Volunteer, Mayoral Principal for a Day Program
  • Former Volunteer, Girl Scouts
  • Former Volunteer, Deborah’s Place Dinner Committee
  • Illinois Judges Association, Presidential Service Award
  • Provided testimony at the state and national level regarding division of public pensions in dissolution of marriage cases

Presentations and Publications

  • Presenter, “Division of Property and Changes to Section 503,” Illinois Supreme Court Bi-Annual Judicial Education Conference
  • Presenter, “The Hague Convention and Other International Custody Issues,” CBA Family Law Seminar
  • Presenter, “Family Law Panel Presentation,” Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Presenter, “Complex Issues and Out-of-the-Box Solutions for the Intermediate Family Law Practitioner,” WBAI Domestic Relations Roundtable
  • Moderator, “Dealing with Addiction and Prescription Drug Use,” Circuit Court of Cook County
  • Presenter, “Cutting Edge Child Custody Symposium,” Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Presenter, “A View from the Bench: Effective and Ethical Advocacy,” Illinois State Bar Association
  • Presenter, “Drug Abuse: Current Prevention and Treatment Options,” LEDDED, Ltd.


  • JD, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law
    • High honors
  • Washington University School of
  • BS, University of Illinois


  • Illinois State Bar
  • US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

I was extremely pleased with a recent mediation at ADR Systems. The mediators constitute a veritable "who's who" of top-notch practitioners and former jurists with a wealth of experience across the legal spectrum.  I strongly recommend ADR Systems for even the most complex and contentious of cases.

Hillard M. Sterling, Esq.Sterling Tech Law | Waveland Law Group, LLC