Parentage and Child Support Court

The Parentage and Child Support Court tries to help parents ensure that children have two loving and supportive parents who are not caught in the middle of parental hostility or court proceedings, that the children receive financial support, and that court assistance is available if needed to assist parents so that the children may grow up having a positive role model relating to parents and families.
  • Who are the biological parents and what is the appropriate amount of child support and related financial concerns?    
  • How will the child be insured for medical needs?  
  • What kind of custody is appropriate? (for example, sole custody in one parent or joint custody in both parents) 
  • What parenting time should each parent have and what are the details of how it should occur?
  • Should the custodial or residential parent be allowed to move from Illinois to another jurisdiction and, if so, what can be done to protect and foster the child’s relationship with the remaining Illinois parent?

Judge
The judge is there to decide matters in your case. The judge must be fair and impartial and cannot give legal advice.

Hearing Officers
Administrative hearing officers help parties to reach agreement on matters related to paternity and child support. They, too, must be fair and impartial and cannot give legal advice. If you do not agree with the order a hearing officer is recommending, you are entitled to be sent to a courtroom for hearing before a judge.

Circuit Court Clerks
The clerks are an integral part of the court system. They deal with paperwork, filings, dates, scheduling, questions about where to go or take things in order to comply with orders of the court and much more.

Sheriff’s Deputies
The sheriff’s deputies are in court to provide security for all who attend court and to preserve order.

Assistant State’s Attorneys
The assistant state’s attorneys represent the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) with relation to parentage and child support issues. HFS is a party, just like you are. The interests of HFS may be similar to those of either parent, depending on the nature of the pending issues. However, the assistant state’s attorney does not represent you even though HFS may have goals similar to yours, depending on what issues are pending.

The assistant state’s attorney’s positions and suggestions, while they should be considered by the parties, are not binding on the parties and do not carry any more weight than those of any other party.

Legal Assistance for People Without Lawyers
All litigants are entitled to have an attorney of their choice at their own expense.

If you cannot afford an attorney, there is an Advice Desk in the facility with a receptionist at the front desk. Staff provide procedural and legal advice to pro se litigants (people without lawyers) on either court or hearing room parentage and child support issues. “Pro se” means that a party does not have a private attorney. The staff at the Advice Desk will not represent you in court, but may counsel you, and, sometimes, even help you draft motions or petitions.

There is also a CARPLS Help Desk on the 30th Floor of the Daley Center that operates in a similar fashion.

Both the Advice Desk and CARPLS Help Desk are completely independent of the court system.

In addition, you can request a list of legal service providers from any of the court clerks in the facility. You can call anyone on that list to see if you can find someone you wish to represent you at less than the private attorney fee rates.

Foreign Language Interpreters
The court has a Spanish interpreter on staff who is usually available onsite. However, any other language or sign language interpreter must be requested in advance.

Facilitators
The Parentage and Child Support Court has two court facilitators who are able to help you work out parenting orders if it appears likely that, with a little help, there can be an agreement. They are sometimes available on the day you come to court or, if not, another date and time can be scheduled. The facilitators are not the same as court-ordered mediation and mediators.

Marriage and Family Counseling
Unless the parties are able to get along well enough to agree on the major issues relating to custody, parenting time, and other matters, the court is required to ask the parties to attend mediation. The court’s mediation service is called Marriage and Family Counseling. There can often be a wait of several weeks or months for an appointment, so it is recommended that you accept the first appointment offered, even if there is some hope that you may be able to reach an agreement before mediation will occur. 

If there are domestic violence issues in your case, the mediators will still meet with you and are well equipped to handle those issues and protect all parties. 

Focus on Children
Focus on Children is a four hour program ordered by the court and offered at many times and places in Cook County. It consists of taped materials, broken up by discussion among those attending. Parents do not attend this program together, but separately. The program concentrates on parenting skills and how parties can resolve the issues that face them without harming their children or placing them in the middle of the difficulties and antagonisms that may occur during the litigation.

Similar to mediation, it is ordered as early as possible in a case.

Children’s Rooms
There are two Children’s Rooms (link to page) available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. that provide court based child care while parents are in court. One is located at 69 West Washington, 10th Floor, in the Marriage and Family Counseling Office. It accepts children from age 4 to 17, and those from age 2 to 4 if they are toilet trained. The second Children’s Room is located in Room 1301 in the Daley Center. It accepts children from age 2 to12. Children age 2 to 4 must be toilet trained.

Front Desk
The staff at the Front Desk are there to help you. They will direct you to the right courtroom, hearing room or other location. Because there is limited seating capacity in many of the courtrooms and hearing rooms, please check in with the Front Desk when you arrive. You will be sent to the appropriate room as soon as everyone in your case is ready to be heard and there is available space in the courtroom or hearing room.

Orchard Cellmark DNA Testing Service
Orchard Cellmark performs onsite genetic testing. There is no cost in cases, in general, where Healthcare and Family Services is a party and an individual party is not sure of parentage or denies it. In other cases, the cost is $225.00 to test the mother, potential father and child ($75.00 for each person to be tested). Results take about three weeks after the last party has been tested.

Cases in which Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) has an interest at the time the case is filed are filed in the hearing rooms.  However, the hearing rooms will only determine matters related to parentage and child support.  Other issues will be sent to a courtroom.  If the case was initially on a hearing room calendar, it will keep that designation even when HFS has no further interest, or even when all remaining issues will need to be heard in a courtroom.

Cases in which HFS has no interest at the time the case is filed are filed in the courtrooms.  If the case was initially on a courtroom calendar, it will keep that designation even if HFS subsequently acquires an interest in the case. 

The court is required to have a written motion or petition in order to act.

The court may not issue orders based on oral requests.  This is to protect everyone so that the court record always reflects what issues have been raised by the parties and are properly before the court.

Every motion or petition must, at a minimum, comply with the following requirements:

  • You must specify the relief you seek (such as custody, child support or its modification, parenting time etc.)
  • If you are seeking to enforce or modify a prior order, attach that order to your pleading.  If you don’t have it, identify it specifically, for example, “Order of June 6, 2010.”
  • Identify the statute under which you are asking the court to act.  The more common ones are:
    • Determination of paternity, 750 ILCS 45/7
    • Child support, 750 ILCS 45/13.1, 750 ILCS 5/501 and 505
    • Modification of child support, 750 ILCS 5/510 and 505
    • Establishing and modifying visitation, 750 ILCS 5/607
    • Custody, 750 ILCS 5/601 and 602
    • Modification of custody, 750 ILCS 5/610
  • Be specific about the date, time, place or events causing you to seek relief so that the other side knows, when they read your pleading, what it is they need to respond to.
  • You can go to the Advice Desk at this facility or on the 30th floor of the Daley Center.
  • You may go online to www.illinoislegalaid.org.
  • You can request a list of legal service providers from any of the clerks at the facility. You can call anyone on that list to see if you can find someone you wish to represent you at less than the private attorney fee rates.
  • Personal picture identification
  • A copy of the petition or motion that brings you to court
  • Proof that all parties (or their attorneys if they have one) were served with notice of the pending petition or motion and the court date and time

If the motion or petition involves financial matters, bring the following on the date it is to be heard:

  • Bring a completed financial disclosure affidavit to court with you.

  • Your last check stub if it shows year-to-date income and deductions; if it does not, then your last 5 check stubs
  • Proof of any and all other income, paid or deferred this year, but not shown in your check stubs
  • Your last two federal income tax returns with all exhibits attached
  • If you have not filed last year’s federal tax return yet, copies of all W-2’s, 1099s and K-1s
  • Any other financial information you believe will be helpful to your case
  • If you are the party asking for money for particular expenses, bring proof of what those expenses are.

If both parties bring all the information required on the first date a financial motion or petition is up for consideration, it may be decided on that date and a continuance will not be needed.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services offers free child support enforcement services to Illinois families. To get more information, please visit the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ website at www.childsupportillinois.com.

Cook County State's Attorney IV-D Program
What is Child Support?
Setting and Modifying Support
How do you apply for Child support?
Establishing Parentage Q & A
Copyright 2014 by Circuit Court of Cook County