Assignment of Domestic Relations Division Cases

Your case will either be randomly assigned to an individual calendar judge or to a judicial team. 

Individual calendar judges operate independently to administer each aspect of your case from commencement through post-decree. 

Judicial teams, conversely, are comprised of multiple judges operating as one cohesive judicial unit. If your case is assigned to a judicial team, it shall be administered by that team from commencement through post-decree. 

The presiding judge has designated one member of each judicial team as a preliminary judge. All other judges on the team are trial judges. Trial judges hear contested trials, default or stipulated prove ups, post-decree matters, and any other matter assigned to them. Pre-trial matters may be heard by the preliminary judge or by any other judge on the team that he or she may designate. When the preliminary judge certifies that a case is ready for trial or prove up, or determines that a pre-trial matter requires a hearing, the case may be assigned to one of the available team trial judges. 

Matters arising post-decree will typically remain with the team trial judge who presided over your trial. However, matters arising post-decree may be randomly assigned within the team if a team trial judge conducted a prove up but had minimal involvement with your case. If your case is randomly assigned within the team and, because of the trial or prove up judge’s substantial involvement in your case, you would rather address post-decree matters with the judge who heard your trial or prove up, you may request that the randomly-assigned judge send your case back to the preliminary judge. The preliminary judge will then assign the case to the trial or prove up judge to determine whether he or she will keep the case or return it back to the newly-assigned judge. 

What will happen if the judge to whom my case is regularly assigned is absent?

If your judge is absent on the day your case is to be heard, your case may be heard by another Domestic Relations judge designated by the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division or by the Preliminary Judge to hear your judge’s cases for that day.

Please proceed to your regularly-assigned courtroom for further information if your judge is absent. If you are unsure of where to go, please contact the Domestic Relations Division administrative staff by visiting room 1901A at the Daley Center or by calling (312) 603-3025.

Where will my case be assigned if I file an emergency motion?

Usually, emergency motions should first be brought before the judge to whom the case is regularly assigned. If that judge is not able to hear the matter in a timely fashion, your case may be transferred to the Domestic Relations judge designated as the emergency judge that day.

For more information about the assignment of cases for the purpose of addressing emergency motions, please see Cook County Rule 13.2(f).

How can my case be reassigned?

Your case may be randomly reassigned in the general course of court administration or the judge to whom your case is assigned may recuse herself.

You may also present a motion to have your case heard in front of a different Domestic Relations Judge.

Generally, each litigant is entitled to one substitution as of right once per case so long as that right is not exercised to delay or avoid trial and so long as the judge to whom it is presented has not yet made a substantial ruling in the case. Thus, to succeed on a Motion for Substitution of Judge as of Right, a litigant must establish that her motion was timely filed in accordance with the foregoing.

Conversely, to succeed on a Motion for Substitution of Judge for Cause, a litigant must establish that her judge demonstrated actual prejudice against her. When a Motion for Substitution of Judge for Cause is filed, the judge that is the subject of the motion may transfer the case to the presiding judge for assignment to another judge for hearing.

For more information on Motions for Substitution, see 735 ILCS 5/2-1001.

If your judge recuses herself, you substitute your judge, or your case is reassigned in the general course of court administration, your case will be randomly reassigned to either an individual calendar judge or to a judicial team.

However, if your case is reassigned via any of these mechanisms from a team trial judge, your case will remain within that judicial team and will be reassigned by the preliminary judge to another team member.
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