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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for Domestic Relations Division

A packet of dissolution forms is available at the Domestic Relations Division front counter upon request. A petitioner seeking to file their own dissolution without the help of an attorney can fill out these forms and self-draft a Petition for Dissolution. 

Once the forms and attachments are completed, the petitioner will receive a case number and judge (Calendar) assignment. Court dates can be set up at the motion counter in the Domestic Relations Division. At a later date, if there has been no activity on the case, you will receive a white postcard in the mail notifying you of a status court date. Should you fail to appear, you could risk your case being dismissed.
If you cannot afford an attorney, you can find a lawyer's group that will represent you for no fee or a reduced fee. The Clerk's Office can provide you with a list of Lawyer Referral Services. That information is available in Room 802 of the Richard J. Daley Center or online (Finding an Attorney).

You can also submit an application and affidavit to sue or defend as an indigent person, also known as the "298 Petition." You may qualify to proceed as a pro se litigant (self representing litigant) without having to pay any fees. This form is available in Room 802 of the Richard J. Daley Center.
You may request an application for the child support enforcement program service, also called the IV-D (4-D) program, by calling the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) at (800) 447-4278. If you have an existing child support pay order, you may call the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Child Support Division at (312) 345-4188, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
If you have questions regarding this matter, please contact the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services (HFS) at (800) 447-4278.
The State of Illinois requires all Clerks of the Circuit Courts to collect a fee of $36 ($3 each month) for processing services associated with child support.
As a pro se participant, you can file a motion to have a judge review your case to determine if a change in the amount of child support is warranted.

As a IV-D program participant, the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services (HFS) re-evaluates cases for possible increases and decreases every 36 months.
If you have questions regarding this matter, please contact Illinois Department Healthcare & Family Services (HFS) at 1-800-447-4278.
Even if you have already notified the Illinois Department Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) you must notify the Clerk's Office so that we can send a change of address affidavit to you. When you receive the affidavit, you should provide your current information, sign it and have it notarized. Once you have completed the affidavit, you should return it to the Clerk's Office so that we can update our records. To request an affidavit, please call office at (312) 345-4069.
Since 1994, termination dates are listed on the order of support. In the event that the termination date is not listed on the order, a party may file a motion requesting a judge determine if the child support obligation may be discontinued. A motion can be filed at Richard J. Daley Center located at 50 W. Washington, Room LL01, Chicago, IL 60602.
In an uncontested dissolution, both sides agree on the dissolution, division of marital property, and child custody and visitation issues, if any. A contested dissolution is filed when the parties disagree about one or more of the issues typically surrounding dissolution. 
Certifications are processed in Room 802 of the Daley Center, (312) 603-6300. The cost associated with certifications are dependent on the number pages in the document.  The Illinois State Legislature mandates that the Clerk's Office charge a copying fee of $2.00 for the first page, $.50 per page for pages 2 - 20 and $.25 per page for page 21 on.

If you also want it certified, it's an additional $9.00. If you live in a state that requires exemplified copies, you are charged $18.00 plus the cost of copying. There is also a mailing fee of $15.00 plus the cost of weight based postage.

Yes, there is a service called C.A.R.P.L.S. that is available to assist you for free. C.A.R.P.L.S. stands for Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services and is staffed by volunteer lawyers.

CARPLS is a legal aid agency that provides legal consultations to eligible persons in all subjects, including family law questions or cases. Legal services are provided through the CARPLS legal hotline and the CARPLS Domestic Relations Advice Desk. The CARPLS Domestic Relations Advice Desk is located at the Daley Center, in Room CL16. The desk is open Monday to Friday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. excluding court holidays.

To be eligible for CARPLS' services, the potential client must be income eligible, not have a complex or highly litigated case, and the agency has no conflicts of interest. There are a limited number of openings every morning at the desk, and persons cannot be seen if the available openings have already been filled. You should have the important documentation about your legal matter with you when you talk to the CARPLS desk attorney. Depending on the facts of your situation, documentation may include court orders (if a case has already been filed), your ID, proof of income, contact information for you, the name, birth date and address of the person who you are having problems with (your spouse or other parent), marriage license and birth records for the children.

In some limited matters, attorneys at the CARPLS Domestic Relations Advice Desk may provide assistance with the drafting of legal pleadings, or make a referral to another legal aid agency if the person needs in court representation and an agency may be available. CARPLS attorneys DO NOT represent clients in court.

If you were not able to see a CARPLS attorney at the CARPLS Advice Desk because no openings were available, you can call the CARPLS legal hotline at 312-738-9200, where an attorney can review and advise on your legal situation, and determine whether the Domestic Relations Advice Desk is an option for your particular situation or case. Phone consultations with a CARPLS hotline attorney are available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Monday and Wednesday evenings until 7:30 p.m.

Yes, persons seeking to view a case file should visit the File Request Counter in the Domestic Relations Division located in Room 802. If your case was filed within the last four years, your file is on-site and can immediately be viewed. Access will be granted with valid photo identification. Original files  cannot be removed from Room 802, so a practical matter, persons should reserve enough time to view the file on site. 

Our public access terminals are available for you to view your file and document images, if the documents were filed/entered on or after May of 2012. If your file is off-site, the Clerk's Office will order it for you and let you know when to return to review it. If you would like to order a file that is older than four years, you may order it at Counter 3A in the Domestic Relations Division or order it over the telephone by calling (312) 603-4085 or (312) 603-7714.
Yes, but for dissolution of marriage only. Civil Unions became legal in 2011, so there are no records for dissolution of civil unions prior to 2011.

To order a copy of a dissolution of marriage:
  • You can phone, mail, e-mail or deliver your request in person.
  • Domestic Relations can conduct a search upon a in upon request with the the party names and/or the case number. Cases can be found on the computer, on microfilm or on microfiche.
If the case is older than 1987, you can get it from the Archives Department in Room 1113 of the Daley Center. Archives can be reached at (312) 603-6601.

If you want to see the entire file, the clerk can order it from the Record Center.
If the parents of the child were never married, you should go to the Child Support Division located in the Lower Level Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington, Chicago, Illinois, Room LL01. If the parents were married at any point in time, or are still married, you should go to Room 802 of the Daley Center.
Yes, cases may be transferred to another district or county. If the parties motion the court to transfer the case to a suburban district and the judge grants this request, the clerk will transfer the case for no fee to that district.

Cases can also be transferred out of Cook County if the judge orders it, but there is a fee for the transfer, plus mailing fee, plus Certified Mailing Rate, plus Return-Receipt, plus the cost of weight based postage ($.48 minimum). Contact the Domestic Relations Division for the current fee at (312) 603-6300.

Cases filed in the suburbs may be transferred to the Daley Center if the judge orders it, or pursuant to Circuit Court Rule 13.3(e). Rule 13.3(e) provides that pre-judgment cases shall be transferred to the Daley Center when the Respondent files his/her appearance together with a District Transfer form (CCDR N050).
There is no recommended direction in this matter. Many people file Domestic Relations Division cases pro se, meaning that they act as their own lawyer, others prefer representation. The choice is up to the petitioner. If you proceed pro se:
  • The Clerk's Office will provide the forms for you, but you will have to draft the petition and judgement yourself. The forms are also available online by visting the “Court Forms” tab on this site and identifying Domestic Relations Division forms. Please note that, the Clerk's Office is not allowed to help you fill out forms and cannot give legal advice.
  • The Clerk's Office can provide sample forms for you to review (excluding the petition and judgement).
  • The Clerk's Office can provide a list of attorneys that may be able to represent you for free or for a reduced fee. This list is also available at Finding an Attorney. Also, many bar associations, such as the Chicago Bar Association, have a lawyer referral phone line, but these lawyers typically charge fees.
The Clerk's Office does not automatically mail out court orders after a court appearance. If you are representing yourself and would like a copy of your court order, do not leave until you have received a copy from the court clerk. If an attorney is representing you, you should obtain your entered court order from your attorney.

If the respondent (the person the case is against) resides in Cook County, take the completed summons and a copy of the petition to the Sheriff's Office in Room 701 of the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 West Washington, so that they can serve it on the opposing party to your case. There is a fee for this service, unless you have a granted Indigent Person Application or some other fee waiver.

If the respondent does not reside in Cook County, you are responsible for ensuring that the respondent receives a copy of the summons and petition. You must contact the local police agency in the respondent's county regarding this and request that they bring or mail an affidavit of service to the following two addresses:

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County
Richard J. Daley Center
50 West Washington Street, Room 802
Chicago, IL 60602

Cook County Sheriff's Office
Richard J. Daley Center
50 West Washington Street, Room 701
Chicago, IL 60602

The regular fee for filing all cases in the Domestic Relations Division is $359.00. If you cannot afford this fee, you can fill out an application and affidavit to sue or defend as an indigent person and see a judge to determine if the filing fees will be waived or perhaps, deferred.
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