Hon. Joan M. Kubalanza, (Ret.) - ADR Systems

ADR Systems


Hon. Joan M. Kubalanza, (Ret.)

Hon. Joan M. Kubalanza, (Ret.)

IllinoisNeutral Availability

Hon. Joan M. Kubalanza (Ret.) is a senior mediator & arbitrator concentrating in family law. She served for 11 years as an Associate Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, spending five of those years in the Child Protection Division and the remaining years as a trial judge in the Domestic Relations Division. Prior to her time on the bench, she spent more than 24 years litigating commercial cases in the Law and Chancery Divisions of numerous jurisdictions. Her practice also included federal jury trials and appeals to numerous appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of Illinois and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Kubalanza is known for having settled most of the cases before her in the Domestic Relations Division. She carefully listens to all sides of the dispute. Her vast experience in and knowledge of family law allows her to develop innovative ideas for settling the most difficult cases. Judge Kubalanza realizes the emotional and financial toll litigation takes on the parties and works to resolve matters expeditiously.

Types of Cases Resolved

  • Alienation
  • Assets and Debt Allocations
  • Child Abuse/Neglect/Dependency
  • Child Mental Health
  • Child Support
  • College Expense Allocations
  • Custody/Allocation of Parental Responsibility
  • Dissipation
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Family Law
  • Fee Dispute
  • Grandparent Rights
  • Maintenance
  • Medical Treatment
  • Minor Name Change
  • Pet Custody/Expenses/Visitation
  • Post-Decree Matters
  • Property Distribution
  • Removal/Relocation
  • Termination
  • Trusts for Special Needs Children
  • Visitation/Parenting Time

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Since joining ADR Systems in 2022, Judge Kubalanza has served as a full-time mediator and arbitrator
  • 11-year judicial career in the Circuit Court of Cook County including Associate Judge, Juvenile Court, Child Protection Division, 1998-1999 and 2008-2012; Associate Judge Domestic Relations Division, 2013-2016, 2018-2021
  • 31-year legal career including Partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP where she conducted family law mediations in addition to insurance coverage litigation, 2016-2018; Partner at Lowis & Gellen, LLP specializing in complex commercial litigation and medical malpractice appeals, 2002-2008; Associate at Foley & Lardner, 1989-1997, Partner 1993-1998 and 1999-2002; Associate at Wilson & McIlvaine, 1986-1989; Law Clerk to Hon. William G. Clark, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Illinois, 1984-1986
  • Mediation Certificate, DePaul University College of Law

Representative Cases

  • Alienation: resumption of parenting time with parents who had been cut off from their minor due to alienation by the other parent
  • Custody/Allocation of Parental Responsibilities: numerous cases of minors with mental health issues including suicide attempts by the minor
  • Custody/Allocation of Parental Responsibilities: allocating parenting time between high-conflict parents
  • Grandparent Rights: parents of deceased mother sought visitation of grandchildren; father refused; settled case
  • Maintenance: long term marriage with large marital estate; wife sought monthly maintenance and husband, with health issues, wanted to pay a lump sum; case settled
  • Minor Name Change: unmarried couple; parties agreed the child would take the father’s last name; mother did not notify the father of the child’s birth until after hospital discharge; mother did not adhere to agreement; settled with the child keeping the mother’s last name but including the father’s name in that of the child
  • Pet Custody/Expenses/Visitation: numerous cases regarding custody of pet, how veterinary costs would be divided and visitation
  • Post-Decree Matters: amendments to marital settlement agreements and the adoption of terms from the original agreement
  • Removal/Relocation: numerous cases involving the removal/relocation of minors

Professional Activities and Awards

  • Former Adjunct Professor, John Marshall Law School
  • Former Chair, Maria High School Board of Directors
  • Former Member, Advocates Society
  • Former Member, Chicago Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Committee
  • Former Member, Illinois Judges Association
  • Former Member, Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court
  • Former Member of the Board of Advisors, Catholic Charities
  • Former Member of the Board of Directors, Illinois Judges Foundation
  • Former Member of the Board of Directors, Literacy Chicago
  • Former Member, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois
  • Former President, Maria High School Alumnae Association
  • Illinois Super Lawyer – Commercial Litigation
  • Illinois Super Lawyer – Appellate
  • Member, Chicago Bar Association

Presentations and Publications

  • Author, “Reaffirm original terms when amending a marital settlement,” Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
  • Author, “Substantive Amendments to Contracts: Don’t Breathe New Life into Unwanted Provisions,” Illinois State Bar Journal with Kevin J. Clancy
  • Keynote Speaker, “Perspective from the Bench on Reunification of Families,” Family Defense Center’s Family Reunification Day


  • JD, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law
    • High honors
  • MA, DePaul University
  • BA, DePaul University
    • Highest honors

Previous Admissions

  • Federal Trial Bar for the Northern District of Illinois
  • Illinois State Bar
  • US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • US Supreme Court


I was a sitting judge for over 11 years, have practiced law and have been a mediator and arbitrator since 2022. Many attorneys have tried cases in my courtrooms or mediated or arbitrated a case with me.

The disclosures listed above will not affect my neutrality in this dispute.

Our ADR Systems’ neutral had a terrific demeanor and made my client feel very comfortable.  He took time to thoroughly prepare, coming to the table with a clear understanding of the case. He offered insightful advice that kept negotiations from reaching a standstill.

Jeffrey E. Martin, Esq.Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Martin, LLC