Family Law Program

COVID-19 has led to widespread changes in how we all live and work, and family law cases are no exception. While there have been many changes to how courts operate to accommodate this public health emergency, the Chicago Legal Clinic continues to represent family law and domestic violence clients, and our intake line remains open for these cases.

Please note, the information provided on this page does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Chicago Legal Clinic still open? Are you accepting new cases?

Yes, Chicago Legal Clinic remains open. Our family law intake is open, with a focus on helping those who face new challenges because of COVID-19. Our physical offices are closed, but we have set up technology that enables our staff to work remotely. This includes video conference technology for both client meetings and court appearances.

If you are seeking legal assistance or advice for any of the questions below, please contact us at our intake number: (312) 726-2938.

Is the court system closed for family law cases?

The physical court buildings are closed in Cook County, except for emergency matters, until May 30, 2020. The court is equipped to handle a large amount of family law work remotely, and it is still possible to file in person if you schedule in advance with the clerk’s office.

To access a document with information about appointments for in-person services, click here.

I had a court date scheduled. What happened to it?

Court dates in Cook County scheduled between March 17, 2020 and May 30, 2020 have been rescheduled. Court personnel are in the process of notifying people about the new dates.

It is possible to check on the status of your case using the clerk’s online docket. For Online Case Search at the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, click here.

I had an Emergency Order of Protection. Was it continued as well?

Yes. All Emergency Orders of Protection in Cook County have been extended. Court personnel are in the process of notifying people about the new dates. The Cook County court system is not currently holding hearings on Plenary (final) Orders of Protection during the court closure. Those hearings will also be rescheduled.

I am seeking a new Order of Protection now. What can I do?

If you need immediate help to be safe, please call the Domestic Violence Helpline at (877) 863-6338 at any time.

Emergency Orders of Protection are still heard at the Domestic Violence Court located at 555 West Harrison Street in Chicago.

All Emergency Orders of Protection heard as part of a domestic relations case at the Daley Center are now being conducted remotely.

Procedures have been set up for Emergency Orders of Protection to be filed remotely and heard by a judge via videoconference, including remote representation by attorneys and assistance from domestic violence advocates. In addition, the Domestic Violence Court remains open for those seeking Emergency Orders of Protection in person (with social distancing measures in place, including the use of videoconference hearings).

Please call us at (312) 726-2938 for more information, including on how to seek a new Emergency Order of Protection as soon as today.

I need to file an emergency motion in my existing family law case. How do I do that?

The Cook County court system has set up procedures for emergency motions in family law matters to be filed via email. Detailed information about these procedures can be found on the Cook County Court website; the document is General Order 2020 D3 Amended. A judge will review these matters to determine if an emergency exists. If so, a hearing will be set up, with procedures in place for conducting that hearing remotely if at all possible and to give notice to other parties.

It is still possible to file in person if you schedule in advance with the clerk’s office. To access a document with information about appointments for in-person services, click here.

Please contact us via our intake line, (312) 726-2938, if you would like more information, or to have your case evaluated for possible representation.

I am seeking to file a new family law case (divorce, parentage, child support, etc.). Is that still possible?

Yes, e-filing for new cases works as before. For information about how to do this, visit the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s eFiling Informational Portal.

It is still possible to file in person if you schedule in advance with the clerk’s office. To access a document with information about appointments for in-person services, click here.

I recently lost my job or suffered a reduction in pay, and now I need to modify my court-ordered child support. What should I do?

You will need to file a petition to modify child support in court. The modification can backdate to the date you filed for modification, so time is of the essence. It is possible to have such a modification heard by the judge remotely during the period of COVID-19 court closure.

If you have an administrative child support case, you will need to request a modification within the administrative child support system. Please contact us via our intake line, (312) 726-2938, if you would like more information. Our Parentage and Child Support Pro Se Advice Desk is accepting cases for advice and consultation remotely.

The social distancing rules have made my scheduled court-ordered parenting time difficult or impossible. What should I do?

In general, parenting time schedules should be followed as they are written, even in light of COVID-19. That said, the court has admonished parents to avoid taking risks that would endanger their children.

The court has clarified that, even though school is currently closed, weekdays should still be regarded as “school days” for purposes of deciding whether to follow a school year or non-school year parenting time plan, if your order distinguishes between the two.

If details still need to be modified in light of changed work schedules or other issues, you may be able to work this out directly with the other parent, as most parenting time orders specifically allow for this without the need for a new court order.

If you are unable to reach an agreement, the Cook County court system remains open for filing Petitions to Modify Parenting Time, with mediation services now available remotely. Detailed information about submitting non-emergency motions can be found on the Cook County Courts website; the document is General Order 2020 D 13 Amended.

Is it possible to file other types of motions in pending family law cases during the court closure? Will judges hear them?

Yes, all filing types may still be e-filed in Cook County. For information about how to do this, visit the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s eFiling Informational Portal. Procedures are in place allowing parties to request that matters be set for remote hearing, pretrial, or case management.

It is still possible to file in person if you schedule in advance with the clerk’s office. To access a document with information about appointments for in-person services, click here.

I need a fee waiver to file my matter. How are those handled now?

The Cook County court system has set up procedures for Petitions for a Waiver of Court Fees and Costs to be filed via email. To apply, you must first complete the Application for Waiver of Court Fees—an editable .pdf of this application can be found here—then you must email the completed application to rvp.domesticrelations@cookcountyil.gov. Court staff will then submit it to a judge to rule on, and the decision will be emailed back to you. Detailed information about this process can be found on the Cook County Court website; the document is General Order 2020 D 5.

It is still possible to file in person if you schedule in advance with the clerk’s office and if you can use the e-filing waiver system (i.e. you have access to a computer, a scanner, and the internet). To access a document with information about appointments for in-person services, click here.

Is it possible to enter a temporary Agreed Order in an existing family law or domestic violence case now?

Yes. Cook County courts have set up procedures for the remote entry of temporary Agreed Orders in both domestic relations and domestic violence matters, including cases at the Domestic Violence Courthouse.

Is it possible to finalize a pending family law case during the court closure?

Yes, the Cook County courts have set up procedures for the remote completion of family law cases. This includes both agreed and default divorce prove-ups, as well as entry of final agreed orders in non-divorce matters and post-decree divorce matters. It also includes the entry of final agreed orders in order of protection cases, including cases at the Domestic Violence Courthouse. Detailed information can be found on the Cook County Court website: General Order 2020 D 10 and General Order 2020 D 18.

Are there are any family law court services that are now unavailable in light of COVID-19?

Yes. Emergency intervention and custody evaluations are no longer available through Family Mediation Services. The Children and Teens Speak program is currently suspended. In-person Focus on Children classes have been replaced by online Children In Between classes, and Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage cases are no longer possible unless brought as an emergency.