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Glossary of Legal Terms




 A formal statement of account from one partner to others in order to obtain a judicial determination of rights of the parties in a shared asset.

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.
Administrative Review Action Lawsuit seeking a judicial review of a final decision by an administrative agency.
Adoption The act of petitioning the Court to become the legal parent of a minor child or an adult.
Appointment of Trustees, Successor Trustees, and the Removal of Trustees Lawsuit concerning trustees outside of the period of estate administration.
Arbitration Submission of controversies, by the agreement of the parties thereto, to a person of their choosing for determination.
Asbestos An action for damages arising from asbestos exposure. See information concerning the Asbestos Registry in the Law Division section of this site.
Breach of Contract An action that is filed when parties that have entered into a contract are in conflict.
Breach of Warranty An action for damages resulting from the failure of a party under contract to maintain or repair.
Certiorari except under the Workers' Compensation Act Lawsuit seeking review of a matter by the Supreme Court.
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 harmed 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.
Claims against Estates This is a claim that can arise in a contract, tort or otherwise.
Class Actions Lawsuit brought by a representative member(s) of a large group of persons on behalf of all members of the group. The class must be ascertainable and the members must share a common interest in the issues of law and fact raised by the plaintiff(s), among other special requirements.
Condemnation The process for a government agency to take a parcel of land.
Confession of Judgment A complaint for confession of judgment may be filed when the parties that have signed the Confession of Judgment have broken their agreement. Confessions of Judgment provide for a quick remedy if the borrowing party fails to comply.
Construction Injuries A complaint for damages arising from an injury at a construction site.
Consumer Fraud A financial remedy when a company engages in a fraudulent act.
Contract An agreement between two or more persons, which creates an obligation to do a particular thing. The bulk of these cases involve owing money to someone for something (breach of contract).
Contributions, Complaints for Lawsuit seeking to enforce the rights of a party required to compensate a victim for his/her injury to demand reimbursement from another party jointly responsible for that injury.
Cook and Other County Warrants Any criminal case that originated in another county, a warrant was issued in that county, and the defendant has been placed in custody here in Cook County.
Creditors Rights Lawsuit in which a judgment creditor attempts to gain a discovery, accounting, and deliverance of property owed to him by the judgment debtor, which property cannot be reached by execution at law.
Custody Case type filed to determine the care, control and maintenance of a child or children.
Declarations of Trusts and Wills Lawsuit concerning trusts and wills outside of the period of estate administration.
Declaratory Judgment Lawsuit seeking the judgment of the court establishing the rights of the parties or expressing the courts opinion on a question of law without ordering anything to be done. No executory process follows as a matter of course.
Detinue An action for the recovery of property or its value as damages. 
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 interest 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.
Dissolution of Marriage Case type filed when a party would like to obtain a divorce.
Dissolution of Partnerships Lawsuit regarding the statutory act ruling the formation and dissolution of corporations and partnerships.
Domestic Violence Any criminal case of a domestic nature in which a dispute is resolved. Domestic Violence cases involve domestic disputes and cases in which an Order of Protection is requested and/or obtained. All Domestic Violence cases must be accompanied by a criminal complaint.
Dram Shop A claim for damages arising from a defendant being over-served which results in a vehicular accident or other physical damage.
Election A petition to the Court to review a decision made by the electoral board.
Emancipation of a Minor A petition to the Court for a determination of the maturity of a minor at sixteen years of age or older, but less than eighteen to handle his/her own affairs as an adult.
Emergency Writ A writ to have an individual picked up by the police to be transported to a mental health facility for examination and evaluation due to behavior that seems dangerous. This writ expires within 72 hours.
Equitable Liens Lawsuit seeking to enforce equitable rights to have specific property applied in satisfaction of a debt.
Extradition The surrender of an accused to another state or nation with jurisdiction to try the accused and has demanded his or her return.
Felony-Preliminary Hearings A criminal case which is punishable by over one year in state prison. Preliminary hearings are heard to determine if in fact, a case has enough evidence to be prosecuted in the Criminal Division.
Fen-Phen /Redux Litigation An action for damages arising from the use of the diet drug combo Fen-Phen or Redux.
Forcible Entry & Detainer (Evictions) A summary proceeding in which the landlord seeks to restore possession of the premises or payment of rent when the tenant has wrongfully withheld rent or possession of the premises.
Fraud A financial remedy when an individual engages in a fraudulent act.
Guardianship of Estate One who has the legal authority and duty to care for another person's property as a result of that person's incapacity or disability.
Guardianship of Minor Person One who has the legal authority and duty to care for a person who has not reached full legal age, a child or juvenile. Also, referred to under the law as an infant.
Guardianship of Minor's Estate One who has the legal authority and duty to care for another person's property who has not reached full legal age, a child or juvenile. Also, referred to under the law as an infant.  
Guardianship of Person One who has the legal authority and duty to care for another person because of the others infancy, incapacity or disability.
Habeas Corpus A writ issued to bring a party before the court.
Housing A lawsuit which is brought into court by the City of Chicago in reference to housing violations, which includes, but is not limited to, lead paint, broken windows, broken stairs, heat cases, etc.
Indemnity A petition to the Court filed by the former property owner to be found faultless in losing their real estate property and to be awarded a judgment for the market value of the lost property.
Intentional Tort A claim for damages when a party commits a tort with intention to harm.
Interpleader Lawsuit in which a debtor, not knowing to whom among his creditors a certain debt is owed, and having no claim or stake in the fund or other thing in dispute other than its proper disposition, petitions the court to require that the creditors litigate the claim among themselves.
Intestate A person who has died without a valid will.
Invalidity of Marriage A case type filed when a marriage is not valid.
Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Case type filed between parties who are married and meet the following criteria: the marriage could not have exceeded 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 in value and allocating responsibility for debts and liabilities between themselves.
Legal Malpractice A remedy when a licensed attorney failed to meet the standards for the profession.
Legal Separation Case type filed when a legal separation is desired.
Libel/Slander An action for damages to a person arising from the use of defamatory information in writing or in a verbal manner.
Mandamus Lawsuit seeking an extraordinary writ from the court to an official compelling performance of a ministerial act that the law recognizes as an absolute duty, as distinct from other types of acts, which may be at the official's discretion.
Mechanics Liens Lawsuit seeking to enforce a lien filed for the purpose of securing priority of payment of the price or value of work performed and materials furnished in erecting or repairing a building or other structure.  And as such, attaches to the land as well as building and improvements erected thereon.
Medical Malpractice An action for damages arising from medical negligence.
Mental health A petition to the Court to declare that an individual is subject to involuntary admission to a mental health facility for treatment due to behavior that is a threat to themselves or others.
Misdemeanor cases Any criminal case that is punishable by one year or less in jail.
Mortgage Foreclosures Lawsuit filed by a lender seeking to compel payment of a mortgage. It is precipitated by non-payment of the debt and leads to the selling of the property to which the mortgage is attached in order to satisfy the debt.
Motor Vehicle An action for damages arising out of a vehicle collision.
Name Changes A petition to legally change a name from what is listed on a birth certificate to a different name.
Ne Exeat Lawsuit filed to secure the payment of a co-obligor who is about to move outside of the jurisdictional limits of the State and take their property with them.
Partition Lawsuit seeking the judicial separation of the respective interest in land of joint owners or tenants in common thereof, so that the parties hold their estates in severalty.
Pediatric Lead Exposure An action for damages to children from exposure to and/or ingestion of lead paint.
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.
Personal Injury Any wrong or damage done to another person, such as, physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition resulting from the careless or negligent actions of others. The most common cases involve auto accident injuries.
Petition to Register Foreign Judgment The registration process for judgments entered in other counties and states in order that monies owed may be collected.
Petitions for Discovery A petition to take depositions or subpoena records before a case is filed.
Petitions for Qualified Orders A petition to convert a structured settlement to a lump sum payment.
Petitions to Expunge A petition to completely cancel out or destroy records or arrests.
Petitions to Issue Subpoena A petition to take a deposition of a person residing in Cook County in a case pending in another state, territory or country.
Post Conviction Relief Petition A petition that a convicted person may file to challenge his or her conviction.  
Premises Liability An action for damages to a person from an unsafe condition on another person's property.
Pro Se Court The Pro Se Court section of the Civil Division resolves disputes between parties where the amount at issue does not exceed $3,000. The party may act as their own attorney. For more information on pro se cases, please call the Civil Division for the First Municipal District (Chicago), which is located on the sixth floor of the Richard J. Daley Center (312) 603-5116.
Product Liability An action for damages arising from the use of an unsafe product.
Professional Malpractice A remedy when a service provided by a licensed professional failed to meet the standards for the profession.
Property Damage An action for damages related to property. 
Quiet Title and the Setting Aside of Deeds Lawsuit seeking to determine all adverse claims to the property in question, so as to obtain a final determination as to the title to a specific piece of property.
Quo Warranto A writ challenging the authority of another to hold an office. 
Receiverships Lawsuit seeking the court appointment of a receiver to control and preserve property for the benefit of affected parties.
Redemption Rights Lawsuit seeking to enforce a statutory right to redeem property that has been forfeited because the mortgagor defaulted on the mortgage payments, which can be exercised only after the foreclosure and sale of property.
Replevin Statutory relief for property or money before a suit is filed.
Rescission and Reformation of Contracts Lawsuit seeking the decree of the court that a contract is cancelled and the parties are returned to the positions they would have occupied if the contract had not been made or that the contract should be rewritten because the written terms of the contract do not express what was actually agreed upon.
Retaliatory Discharge Action filed when an employee charges that they were fired as a punishment.
Settlement of Cause of Action in a Minor's Estate Authority to accept a settlement on behalf of a minor in a tort claim.
Silicone Implant An action for damages to a person arising from the use of silicone implants. For example, the use of silicone breast implants.
Special Assessment Court approval of an assessment for public improvement instituted by a local government that benefits affected property owners (e.g., alley improvements).
Specific Performance Lawsuit seeking to have a court order that the party guilty of a breach of contract undertakes to perform his or her obligations under the contract. This is filed when the party's remedy at law is inadequate.
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.
Statutory Action A complaint seeking damages related to a claim based on a statute.
Statutory Review Lawsuit challenging the legality of a statute.
Structured Settlement Sale Approval The authority to permit insurance companies to make payments on a structured settlement claim for personal injury to anyone other then the beneficiary of the settlement or by the beneficiary of such a structured settlement to assign the payment of the settlement to another.
Subpoena, Action Out of State, Compliance in Illinois Lawsuit filed seeking to have a subpoena issued to be served in another state.
Tax This is the appeal process for tax claims.
Tax Deed A petition to the Court by a tax buyer who has purchased delinquent real estate taxes on a particular piece of real estate to receive an order allowing that purchaser to have a deed issued for that particular property.
Tax Objections An objection to the assessed value or rate used by the Cook County Assessor on a particular property. 
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.
Temporary Restraining Order Lawsuit seeking the court to require a party to refrain from doing or continuing to do a particular act or activity.
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.
Testate A person who left a will at death.
Tort Private or civil wrong or injury other than a breach of contract for which the court will provide a remedy in the form of an action for damages. The majority of civil cases involve property or automobile damages resulting from accidents.
Unemployment Compensation The appeal process for unemployment compensation claims.
Uniform Gifts to Minor Act Lawsuit regarding the statutory method for making a gift in trust to minors.
Visitation Case type filed to obtain permission by the court to visit a child or children.
Will Contest The litigation of a will's validity.