Client Testimonials

My now ex husband and I were referred to Brian James. Our first contact with him was in May and we were divorced by September. (Which is as fast as physically possible following the timeframe of the court system). Brian was easy to communicate with, and he was always available via phone, zoom and email. He would respond to our emails the same day. He made the paperwork process as simple as possible. Divorce is hard, but Brian made it as easy as possible. And most importantly, he was completely empathetic and compassionate to our situation. I would recommend him 100%.

Working with Ellen and Brian made our process feel seamless! The professional pair very much offered an example of productive, respectful communication. I am grateful for the recommendation I received to working with this dynamic duo! Their professionalism and combined knowledge helped guide us potentially tough conversation points aimed at putting our children first and lead to equitable decisions. Our process was a non-emotionally charged collaboration under their leadership!
Renee Clarke

We worked primarily with Brian James, with help from Anne Levinstein. Brian was just fantastic! He kept things moving, kept track of a whole lot of information, and was able to understand complicated financial issues. He was impartial and great at getting both sides together. He was very supportive.
Ann Marshbanks

Brian was so great to work with and made mediation a breeze. He made something that would've been a nightmare to do, paperwork, so much easier during our difficult time. Definitely recommend!
Crystal Brandt

Brian was very helpful with our divorce, in places with got stuck, he explained both sides. We kept our daughter as the priority. My ex-husband and I have different schedules. Brian worked with us to set up meetings. He is very good at what he does. It was a difficult time and he made it less painful. Brian was recommended to me by a friend, I would highly recommend Brian!!
Sandy Buckler

Brian and Ellen were great as I was going through a divorce from a very angry man almost 10 years ago! Having two mediators was great. It helped neutralize situations that could have gone wrong b/c one could play good cop and the other bad cop. They are very knowledgeable and supportive. We were able to muscle our way through the main parts of a divorce. We had started with one mediator before we found them. Also, they have been amazing at answering quick and not so quick questions over the years! I highly recommend them!!
Sarah M.

I cannot speak highly enough of Brian and how much he helped the divorce process go smoothly. Major life changes are stressful and it made a difference having a non-biased person in the middle to help. I feel like half the stress level was taken away by his assistance. Divorces can become ugly and I can't say we had too many obstacles. We were able to complete the divorce within six months. This included tackling parental agreement scheduling as well. Brian is logical and offers the least complicated solution. Without Brian so much more money would have been waisted into the court system. When all that was needed was a little counseling between the two parties to come to a compromise. Brain is professional and does an outstanding job with his profession. I would highly recommend Brian, could not imagine doing the divorce without him.
April L.

Brian was even handed and fair. He contributes to a calm and orderly environment by staying on track during our meetings and leading the process when my ex and I became confused or emotional. It's an odd thing to brag about Brian to my friends and family when he appeared during the worst time of my life but Brian made it so we both suffered a little less. He CLEARLY cares about the children involved and takes pride in his craft. I highly recommend him.
Nio S.

I was referred to Brian by a colleague. Brian was very easy to work with and extremely helpful throughout the divorce process. He is professional and kind and looks at situations from an unbiased perspective. Thank you for your guidance and support through a difficult process!

I really appreciated working with Brian James at CEL & Associates. He was professional, impartial, helpful, thorough and reasonably priced. He helped us complete our mediation in the lowest number of sessions, and he always treated us with respect. I highly recommend this company.
Katherine Ast

I've worked with C.E.L. & Associates for about nine years. I'm impressed with Brian's ability to focus on what's best for young children and to make efficient use of all parties' time. He stays current on Illinois law and will strongly contribute to a less expensive and fair agreement. He will help you think of and talk through things during mediation that you may not have otherwise, which will save you time down the road. My advice is to bring it all to the table. Brian is no stranger to the realities of substance abuse, for example, and will be an excellent advocate for your child. I found him to be very fair and solutions-focused.
Marcia M.

Brian helped make the mediation process smooth and less painful than it could have. He is knowledgeable and approaches the situation with compassion. In places where we got stuck or were unsure of what approach to take, he'd offer professional insight regarding what he seen over the years and help us talk things through.
Lauren C.

From start to finish, Brian was easy to work with and helpful throughout the process of preparing for the legal aspects of our divorce. Even as COVID-19 changed our world we continued to move forward, which has been helpful in knowing that this challenging time of transition will conclude asap. He has many years of experience, and I highly recommend his services.
Luke F.

My ex-wife and I were looking for a mediation service with flexible hours and reasonable pricing. Brian exceeded our expectations. He was very knowledgeable on the process and made it an easy conversation. I would definitely recommend his services to anyone looking to pursue a stress-free divorce. And you cannot beat his knowledge and level of expertise.
Tony I.

Brian was able to meet with me shortly after our 1st phone call. He made sure we knew what documents were needed before every appointment and he handled both sides fairly ! Brian was patient and explained every step thoroughly.
Mike M.

Brian James was extremely professional and helped us immensely through my divorce. We contacted Brian because we had no experience with the divorce process and getting lawyers involved wasn't necessary for our situation. He provided guidance and dispensed all options available to ensure both mine and my ex-husbands' accommodations were met fairly within the agreement. Divorce is never easy, but he certainly helped make the transition smoother.
Melaine I.

Brian and Ellen made a great team to help us work through the various issues involved in separating out our lives, finances, and custody issues. They were empathetic and understanding and did not push us one way or the other but were willing and able to provide advice and possible solutions based on their experience. They made the process relatively painless in the scheme of things. I highly recommend them as divorce mediators.
Alex H.

Brian at CEL made what was easily the most difficult time in my life so much more manageable. Divorce is so hard for everyone involved but he made that process so much easier by explaining everything step by step and going above and beyond to take some of the pressure off of me. There's so much paperwork involved and so many little things you wouldn’t think about during the divorce process because you are so overwhelmed and Brian made sure we had everything we needed. Brian was always available when needed whether that be through email text or phone call. He stated right from the start that if there was ever any questions or I felt overwhelmed to message him and let him know and he would help to lessen the burden where he could and he did absolutely that! From typing up my paperwork and being super flexible for meetings, I will highly recommend his services in the future to friends and family!
Amy Huff

My ex-husband and I went to mediation to discuss differences of interpretation and to clean up some issues with our joint custody agreement. I initially picked C.E.L because of their flexible hours, but I was also impressed with the depth of Brian James' experiences and his direct approach.
Brian was able to see just how my ex and I do not get along and get a better idea of how we needed things worded. He offered suggestions based on how other couples had resolved sticky issues that were often a solution to our problems as well. He was able to clarify legal points that we each had misunderstood.
We got a lot accomplished in our two two-hour sessions, and the cost was more budget-friendly than going to court would have been. Brian was prompt about responding to phone calls and emails, and he gave us advice for how to deal with issues in the future.
I was also impressed with how Brian always kept in mind what was best for our kids. When we got too wrapped up in our own perspectives, Brian pointed us back to where our focus should have been.

Brian is a thoughtful mediator who is genuinely concerned about achieving the best outcome for everyone. He is honest and forthright and, in my opinion, goes the extra mile in providing feedback and assistance outside of meetings.
I was pleased with his work and would recommend Brian enthusiastically and without reservation. He is experienced in his field and I believe he is a good person as well.
Ricky C.

Brian and Ellen helped me and my ex-wife to get through the divorce process smoothly. The negotiations were stalled for several months before we hired C.E.L. & Associates. We were ready to fight in court. It felt easier and safer for both of us to discuss difficult topics with two independent people present in the room - both male and female. When asked, we were given perspective from both sides, offered the most rational scenarios, and just simply shown right things to do. The focus always was on the best interest of the children and then on the fairness to both parents. We ended up finalizing the divorce on the terms that Brian and Ellen helped us to put together. I'm glad we did not fight - thanks to Brian and Ellen.
Alex S.

I've really appreciated all of Brian's assistance in mediating my divorce. He was impartial, while still guiding us in what's typical or needed, and was flexible in scheduling. I highly recommend his services!
Katie G.

These people are angels! They helped me through an excruciatingly painful and difficult divorce, and brought reason and sanity to the whole process. All done with dignity and fairness, and even a sense of humor when needed. And at a fraction of what my attorney cost, while offering more substantial resolution skills. I am convinced Brian and Ellen have the knowledge, experience, and compassion to help anyone in difficulty. I am forever grateful to them!
Laurie R.

Brian was great to work with. We felt well informed at all times and appreciated his responsiveness and "to the point" guidance.
Stasha K.

For anyone considering divorce, I HIGHLY recommend mediation. Lawyers are costly (and money hungry, IMO) and in the end it's so not worth it. The law is what it is. And all the "stuff" is just that. The process can even go quicker than if using attorney's. Brian was wonderful to work with. Never during the process did I doubt his abilities - he surely knows what he's doing. He was very fair in looking out for both of us. He let my husband and me say what we needed to say to one another, but he didn't let us get carried away. I respected that about him. When I had questions or concerns and needed to email him, he was very responsive. From 1st mediation to divorce being final - it was 4 1/2 months. Start to finish - it was a pleasure working with Brian and I will continue to refer him out. I have no reason to give Brian anything less than 5 stars.
Debbie V.

Brian James and Ellen Feldman were of outstanding help in my divorce. They both remained sympathetic and professional throughout a difficult and acrimonious process. The mediation process is much faster and less costly than a litigated divorce and all divorcing couples should consider it, particularly with children. I strongly endorse them for the process.
Will C.

Brian James was very helpful in the completion of my divorce. Only thing is I wish We would of used him much earlier. In a 2 year court battle, with not finalizing or even close to finalizing the divorce, it cost a ton of money. We found Brian and in 2 weeks time, we completed/agreed with things that we could not agree with in 2 years. Thank you for what you do!
Donald M.

Brian James and Ellen Feldman were very help during a difficult time. Mediation is the way to go it's much more sane and holistic than retaining a lawyer who make money off conflict. Even a few years later when I had questions I was able to reach out to Brian who was super responsive. I really appreciate their approach and their attentiveness.
Jennifer M.

Brian and Ellen were wonderful to work with - Going through a separation is never an easy thing and Brian/Ellen really tried to make everyone involved feel comfortable. I found them to be very fair and professional during the whole process. They were always available for questions and took the time to explain the process to ensure everyone was at ease. Brian and Ellen are a great team whose workstyles complement one another - I would highly recommend them.

I have used Brian James services since 2012. He worked through most of our mediation and we were successful in agreeing to almost everything outside of lawyers. He placed emphasis on what was best for our kids always. I have recommended him to a good friend and her and her spouse were also successful in agreeing to all their terms through Brian James. I will continue to recommend him.
Heather S.

In the most difficult time a person could go through, finding an intermediary that you feel you can trust is paramount. I felt like Brian was that throughout a very contentious process.
I recommend Brian if you ever find yourself in the middle of the divorce nightmare.
Josh S.

Brian James and Ellen Feldman mediated my divorce in 2016. They were extremely helpful and thorough. They bring a calm to the table when there could be so much animosity in the room. They were very professional and caring throughout the process keeping my daughter's best interest in mind. I also needed their help after the divorce at tax time when things got very confusing. Brian was extremely helpful and always got back to me right away until all was resolved.
Laura H.

Brian and Ellen really helped my ex-husband and I divorce in a very civil way. They were both kind, but firm and helped us negotiate the difficulties of splitting up a household with kids. They made me feel like they weren't taking sides, they explained what was fair and expected of both of us. We completed the process in a timely manner and never had an unproductive meeting. They had great referrals for outside providers for us to use to help us (accountants, a lawyer to file the papers in court etc) and really made the process bearable.
We ended up spending a fraction of what it would have cost if we went the traditional route with each of us having an attorney.
Peggy S.

It seems strange to be saying something very positive about a divorce experience, but here I am. When my ex and I decided to end our 11 year marriage (it was a mutual decision and we were on good terms) we decided to hire a mediation team instead of attorneys. Neither of us wanted to bring the interests of outside attorneys into our private lives.
Brian James and Ellen Feldman guided us through the maze of choices and commitments we had to make and together we discussed our options and made decisions based on the best interests of our children and fairness/equity between us. Once the agreement was completed, they recommended that we have it reviewed by an attorney and presented to the court by an attorney. The attorney they referred us to was fantastic and stuck to a negotiated flat fee.
I especially appreciated Brian's ideas around co-parenting. We had no idea how to set up a schedule, and his creative suggestions resulted in a schedule that is very manageable -- and our kids love it.
Leslie R.

Brian James and Ellen Feldman were helpful during a very difficult time. Many things we would never have even thought of were put on the table for discussion, and they helped us come to an agreement on some issues that did not seem like we'd ever work out.
We were also able to follow up with them several months later for clarification. The response time was fast and the answers were clear. I would recommend CEL & Associates for anyone facing divorce.
Dave H.

Brian helped me through one of the hardest years of my life. I was very glad I did mediation, even though it ended up being lawyer assisted mediation. The process was shorter and less expensive by using mediation. He was always very available.
Amy W.

We worked with Brian via Zoom due to Covid restrictions. Brian was very flexible on scheduling our meetings. He was very thorough in explaining everything to myself and my ex-wife. We were able to finish everything within 4 meetings. I recommend working with Brian. He definitely made this process smooth for us in such a rough season. 
Michael R 

As someone who has never experienced a divorce process, I was incredibly nervous and overwhelmed to begin this path. From the first phone call with Brian, he made it clear that there were "no stupid questions" and he walked us through step by step and made the whole process as simple as possible. I appreciated his warm, kind nature and highly recommend him if you've found yourself in a position where mediation is an option.
Emily H.

I was intimidated by the whole mediator process, but Brian was able to help us. He was very professional and patient with us. Brian always tried to be accommodating with our schedule. He knew what information was relevant and how to break things down to where both parties felt they were being heard. Thank you Brian for helping us cross this bridge...
Vanessa K.

Brian at CEL made what was easily the most difficult time in my life so much more manageable.Divorce is so hard for everyone involved but he made that process so much easier by explaining everything step by step and going above and beyond to take some of the pressure off of me.Theres so much paperwork involved and so many little things you wouldn’t think about during the divorce process because you are so overwhelmed and Brian made sure we had everything we needed.Brian was always available when needed wether that be through email text or phone call.He stated right from the start that if there was ever any questions or I felt overwhelmed to message him and let him know and he would help to lessen the burden where he could and he did absolutely that!From typing up my paperwork and being super flexible for meetings,I will highly recommend his services in the future to friends and family!
Gary R.


Our Services: Pre-Decree Divorce Agreements | Post-Decree Divorce Agreements | Marital/Family Mediation | Co-Mediation Services

Contact our Chicago Divorce Mediators at C.E.L. & Associates, Inc. for a consultation.

Our offices are located in Chicago, Libertyville, Rolling Meadows, Northbrook, Kenosha, Crystal Lake, Naperville & Paddock Lake.

Contact Chicago’s Parenting Coordinator & Divorce Mediators at C.E.L. & Associates, Inc. for more details on divorce mediation services.