13.2 General Organization of the Domestic Relations Division
(a) Presiding Judge - The Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County shall have general administrative supervision of the Domestic Relations Division including the marriage and family counseling service. The Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division also shall have the authority to promulgate General Orders as necessary to administer the Division. In addition, the Presiding Judge shall have the authority to increase or decrease the number of individual calendar and team calendar judges as well as create new calendars in the Division.
(b) Teams, Composition of Teams - There shall be established teams of judges to which cases shall be assigned randomly. The calendar of cases so assigned shall be administered by the team from commencement through post-judgment. The number of teams and the number of judges assigned to each team will be determined by the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division.
(c) Three-Phase Proceedings - Each case in the Division shall proceed through three phases. The first phase shall be known as the pre-trial phase; the second phase shall be designated as the trial phase; and the third phase shall be identified as the post-judgment phase.
(i) Preliminary Judges - At least one member of the judicial team shall be designated by the Presiding Judge as a preliminary judge. The judge so designated shall hear all matters prior to the trial of the case unless in the court’s discretion, it assigns matters to other judges on its team. Those pre-trial matters shall include but not be limited to the following:
- Petitions and motions of every kind;
- Cases assigned to mediation and emergency intervention;
- Pre-trial settlement conferences; and
- Assignment of cases for trial or final disposition within the team.
The preliminary judge for each team shall be responsible for monitoring case progress, including case management conferences. When the preliminary judge certifies that a contested case is ready for trial, the case will be placed on the trial call and assigned to one of the available trial judges on the team, and if none are available, to the Presiding Judge for assignment.
(ii) Trial Judges - All judges assigned to a team, with the exception of the preliminary judge and the designated post-judgment judge, are trial judges. The trial judges shall hear the following matters:
- Default hearings and cases heard by stipulation;
- Contested trials; and
- Such other matters as may be assigned to the trial judge.
To the fullest extent possible, trial judges shall hear matters on a continuous day basis until conclusion of a trial.
(iii) Post-Judgment Judges - At least one member of the judicial team shall be designated to hear post-judgment matters. The judge so designated shall hear all post-judgment matters after the entry of a final and appealable judgment arising from contested trials or default, stipulated prove-ups heard by the trial team, all post-judgment matters arising from judgments entered and assigned to that team, and such other matters that are assigned to the post-judgment judge.
(d) Individual Calendar Judges - There shall be established individual calendars in the Domestic Relations Division that shall function as a team calendar with the judge undertaking all of the team calendar functions, to which cases shall be assigned randomly. Judges assigned as individual calendar judges shall be responsible for all aspects of cases assigned to them, including pre-judgment, trial, and post-judgment matters.
(e) Expedited Hearing Calendar - The Presiding Judge has the authority to designate one or more judges to an expedited hearing calendar to expedite cases heard in the Domestic Relations Division.
(f) Emergency Calendar
(i) At the discretion of the Presiding Judge, one of the judges of the Domestic Relations Division shall be designated as an emergency judge on a daily basis.
(ii) Whenever possible, emergency matters should be brought before the judge to whom the case is assigned.
(iii) If the judge to whom the case is assigned is unavailable, the emergency matter shall be brought before the judge who is designated as the emergency judge for the day.
(g) Reconciliation Calendar - There shall be established a reconciliation calendar for parties attempting to reconcile. Assignment to this calendar may be made by the judge to whom the case is assigned or the Presiding Judge, by the written agreement of both parties. The agreement shall specifically state that the parties are requesting that proceedings be suspended during the time they are seeking a reconciliation. The petition or agreement shall also be accompanied by a reconciliation plan which shall specifically state what the parties are doing in an attempt to reconcile. During this period, no progress shall be required of the case, except as hereinafter provided.
(i) All cases on the reconciliation calendar shall be called for status within one year, and if the matter has been on the calendar for twelve (12) months it will be dismissed or returned to the active calendar. If the case has been on the reconciliation calendar for less than twelve (12) months on the status date, then the court may continue the case on the reconciliation calendar for a period not to exceed twelve (12) months. Failure of the petitioner to respond to the status call shall result in a dismissal for want of prosecution.
(ii) Upon motion of either party, the case shall be removed from the reconciliation calendar and returned to the active calendar.
(iii) During the pendency of any case on the reconciliation calendar, all prior orders of court, including access to the court for enforcement and discovery, shall be considered suspended, unless otherwise expressly agreed to by the parties or ordered by the court.
(h) Military Calendar - There shall be established a military calendar which shall serve to ensure that no court action will take place while a party is engaged in active military service and that no default may be taken against a military member based upon an absence or inability to comply with court orders.
(i) Absent Judge
(i) The party engaged in active military service must demonstrate to the court by documentation from the JAG or commanding officer or other ranking member that he or she will not be able to participate in court proceedings on account of said active military service, and any such person called to active military duty may petition the court for the transfer of his/her case to this military calendar.
(ii) Any party may petition the court for the return of the case to the court’s regular calendar sixty (60) days after the termination of the active military service or upon a showing that the party is now able to participate in the court proceedings.
(iii) Cases transferred to this military calendar shall remain on the calendar until such time as the court transfers the case back to the regular calendar.
(iv) All existing orders at the time of the transfer shall remain in full force and effect while the case pends on the military calendar.
- In the event of the absence of the regularly assigned judge, the Presiding Judge shall designate another judge to hear the matters assigned to the absent judge in accordance with General Order 15.3.4 of the Circuit Court of Cook County.