Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court
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Clerk of Circuit Court Self Represented (Pro Se) Resources

Family, Juvenile, Adoption, and Name Change


Family and Juvenile – Introduction

Clerk’s Office Relevant Bureaus and Divisions

Self Help Resources

Additional Resources

Family and Juvenile – Introduction

This section includes many areas of law and many of the Clerk’s Offices Divisions. The Family Law Bureau includes the following areas:

Each of these areas is explained in detail in the Operational Division pages of this site.

Clerk’s Office Relevant Bureaus and Divisions

Domestic Relations

Domestic Relations handles the following:

Civil Order of Protection

A court order entered to protect a petitioner (the person who is seeking the relief) from the respondent (the person who allegedly hurt the petitioner). A civil order of protection can only be filed against certain persons with whom the petitioner has a special relationship with: people who are married or formerly married; people who are related by blood; people who live together or formerly lived together; people who are dating or formerly dated; people who are engaged or formerly engaged; and people with disabilities, against their caregivers.


Case type filed to determine the care, control and maintenance of a child or children;

Dissolution of Marriage

Case type filed when a party would like to obtain a divorce;

Invalidity of Marriage

Case type filed when a marriage is not valid;

Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

Case type filed between parties who meet specific criteria. The marriage could not have exceed eight years; there are irreconcilable differences, the parties have been separated six months or more, and efforts at reconciliation have failed or future attempts would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family; there are no children and the wife is not pregnant; neither party is dependent on the other for support; each party waives the right to spousal support; neither party has an interest in real estate; the total fair market value of all marital property, after deducting all debts owed, is less than $10,000; the total annual income of both parties is less than $35,000 and neither party has a gross annual income from all sources in excess of $20,000; both parties have disclosed to each other all assets and tax returns for all years of the marriage; and the parties have executed a written agreement dividing all assets in excess of $100.00 in value and allocating responsibility for debts and liabilities between themselves;

Legal Separation

Case type filed when a legal separation is desired; and


Case type filed to obtain permission by the court to visit a child or children.

Child Protection

Child Protection handles the following:

Adjudication hearing

The adjudication hearing is a trial at which the court determines whether allegations of abuse or neglect concerning a child are sustained by the evidence presented, and if so, whether those allegations are legally sufficient to support state intervention on behalf of the child. If the petition seeking court intervention on behalf of the child is sustained, the court may proceed to the disposition stage of the case.

Disposition hearing

The disposition hearing allows the court to determine, after a finding that the child has been abused and/or neglected, whether it would be in the best interests of the child that the child be made a ward of the court. At the hearing, the court determines who shall have custody and control of the child, and whether out-of-home temporary placement should continue, based upon, in part, the child care agency’s plan to protect the child from further harm.

Permanency hearings

Permanency hearings allow the court to determine the permanent placement of a child. The court decides whether a child should be permanently returned home, or whether efforts to return the child home should cease. Where a family has made substantial progress for the child to be returned home prior to the permanency planning hearing, the court may authorize the return home of the child within a short time after the hearing. When the decision at the permanency planning hearing is not to send the child home, the court may consider adoption before accepting a lower priority option of placement such as extended foster care or long-term custody.

Status hearings

Status hearings take place after the disposition hearing and allow the court to review the progress made by the parties since the conclusion of the disposition hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to make sure that the case progresses and the child spends as short a time as possible in temporary placement.

Temporary custody hearing

The temporary custody hearing (TC) is a preliminary protective hearing to determine if a minor(s) should be immediately removed from the custody of the accused parent(s) or caretaker(s) and placed under the temporary and protective care of the State of Illinois based on evidence presented which indicates that the child has been unlawfully harmed or will be unlawfully harmed.

Termination of parental rights hearings

The termination of parental rights hearings allows the court to determine whether the custodial and all other legal rights of a parent(s) to his or her child should be severed based upon evidence clearly showing that the parent is unable or unwilling to provide for the safe care of the child.

Child Support

The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court is a participant in the federal and state funded child support collection and enforcement services known as the IV-D Program. The Child Support Division maintains permanent records of court ordered child support payments to custodial parents.

The Clerk’s Office performs no actual enforcement of duties. The State’s Attorney’s Office represents the interests of the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA) and IV-D Program participants for enforcing child support orders. Individuals who are not receiving public assistance may apply for IV-D services (assistance by the State’s Attorney’s Office), or obtain legal representation either through a legal assistance agency or private attorney. You have the option to be a self represented litigant

County Division

The County Division court cases deal with a variety of matters. Jurisdiction has included municipal incorporation's, land titles, election contests, child support, and tax objections. The County Division hears actions and proceedings concerning the following:


The act of petitioning the courts to become the legal parent of a minor child or an adult.

Emancipation of a minor

A petition to the courts for a determination of the maturity of a minor at the age of sixteen or older to handle his/her own affairs as an adult (e.g., sign a lease, sign for school, contracts, etc.).

Mental health

A petition to the courts to declare that an individual is subject to involuntary admission to a mental health facility for treatment due to behavior that is threat to self or others.

Juvenile Justice

The Juvenile Justice Division has jurisdiction over all delinquent minors who have violated a federal or state law or municipal ordinance (other than a traffic, boating, fishing or gaming law violation) prior to their 17th birthday.

Other Divisions

The Chancery Division handles name changes. Probate Division handles guardianships.

Self Help Resources

General Family Law Resources -- Divorce, Kids and Child Support

Illinois Legal Aid provides a great deal of relevant Family Law information on areas including the following: divorce, parental rights, child support, termination of parental rights, domestic violence, custody, name change, etc.

The American Bar Association website includes resources in the following areas: Family Law; Children and the Law ; and Domestic Violence.

The Illinois State Bar Association also has a comprehensive Family Law resource section including the following:
Getting a Divorce in Illinois
Online Divorce Forms May Not Be The Best Choice
A Brief Guide for Parents to Juvenile Court Abuse and Neglect Proceedings

The Southern Illinois Self Help Center includes information on the following areas:

Additional Family Law information can be found at the following sites:

· Cornell University of Law

· Divorce Net

· Divorce Source

· Gitlin on Divorce

· Illinois Complied Statutes (ILCS 750-Family) -Table of Content

Child Support

Clerk of the Circuit Court Child Support Division Forms

Clerk of the Circuit Court General Forms

Illinois Department of Public Aid
If the customer has IV-D enforcement, call, (800) 447-4278

Illinois State Disbursement Unit
(877) 225-7077

Clerk’s Office Unclaimed Child Support Search

The Illinois Department of Public Aid -- State Disbursement Unit administers Child Support in Illinois:

Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA)

Juvenile Court Abuse and Neglect

ISBA published a pamphlet entitled “Caring for Kids-A Brief Guide for Parents to Juvenile Court Abuse and Neglect Proceedings”.

Illinois Legal Aid information on juveniles and children. 

Adoption in Illinois

Chicago Bar Association Adoption Law Fact Sheet ( Adoption - Basic adoption procedure, types of adoption, and how to obtain information about an adoption. )

ISBA Adoption Information

Legal Aid on Adoption and Guardianship

Illinois Legal Aid Adoption Information

Access to Cook  County Adoption Records
Adoption records are impounded in Illinois and are not available for public inspection.  This section describes the options available for requesting court authorized access to an adoption record.

Additional Resources

Illinois Supreme Court

Clerk of the Circuit Court -- Court Forms

Self Help Resources in and Around the Daley Center

Finding an Attorney


ACCESSIBILITY: The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County provides reasonable accommodations to customers with disabilities who need access to the Clerk’s Office services and programs. If you have a disability that you believe may be affecting your access to our services and programs, please contact our ADA Coordinator Patience Keys, at 50 W. Washington Room 1003, Chicago, IL 60602, telephone number 312. 603.4048 or send email to prkeys@cookcountycourt.com. For GENERAL INFORMATION, please call 312-603-5030.

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