Child Related Legal Issues

In cases involving children, the Domestic Relations Division aims 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 in having children grow up with a positive view relating to parents and families.

The information provided below is not intended to be construed as legal advice and is only intended to answer general questions regarding the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County and relevant legal principles.


What is an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities?

“Allocation of Parental Responsibilities" includes the division of decision-making responsibility, previously know as "legal custody,” and parenting time, previously known as “visitation,” amongst the parties. Allocations are reduced to writing in the form of a Parenting Plan. 

"Parenting Plan" means a written agreement that allocates significant decision-making responsibilities, parenting time, or both. Except in cases of default, both parents must file with the court a separate or joint proposed parenting plan within 120 days after service or filing of a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities. 

For assistance drafting your parenting plan, click here and for a sample parenting plan, click here.

For more information regarding allocation of parental responsibilities, see 750 ILCS 5/600 et. seq

What is decision making responsibility and how is it determined?

Decision-making responsibility is broken down into four categories that can each be divided between both parents or solely assigned to one parent. The four categories of significant decision-making responsibilities are as follows:

• Education
• Health
• Religion
• Extra-Curricular Activities

A court will make a determination as to the allocation of parental responsibilities based on what is in the child’s best interest.  For more information on the specific factors considered, see 750 ILCS 5/602.5

What is parenting time and how is it determined?

"Parenting Time" means the time during which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to the child.  

A court will make a determination as to the allocation of parenting time based on what is in the child’s best interest.  For more information on the specific factors considered, see 750 ILCS 5/602.5


How is child support calculated?

Child support is calculated pursuant to statutory guidelines based on the income of each parent and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. These guidelines are known as the Income-Shares model. Under the Income-Shares model, each parent is presumed to have an obligation to support the child, and the child is presumed to be entitled to a level of support that would enable her  to enjoy the standard of living she would have enjoyed if her parents lived in one home. 

For more information on Income-Shares, please see 750 ILCS 5/505 and for more pointed guidance on how to calculate a support award, click here.

What is a Uniform Order of Support?

After the Court has determined a child support amount, the Court will enter a Uniform Order for Support.  The Uniform Order of Support will state the following:

• amount of child support payment
• frequency of payments (i.e., weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, monthly)
• who is responsible for providing health insurance for the child or children
• percentage of uninsured medical costs for which payor is responsible
• whether payments are to be deducted from payor’s paycheck or payor is responsible for making the payments directly
• whether the payments are to be paid directly to the payee or to the Illinois State Disbursement Unit
• termination date for support payments
• amount of penalty for late support payments


What is the Illinois State Disbursement Unit?

The Illinois State Disbursement Unit (ILSDU) is the payments processing center for all Illinois child support payments. The ILSDU processes child payments from the payors and issues checks or direct deposits to the payees. 
The ILSDU website is  On this website, you can view payments and disbursements that have occurred within the last 30 days.

ILDSU Contact Information:

Customer Service:






Business Hours: (Central Time)

Monday - Thursday

8 a.m. to 8 p.m.



8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Saturday (except holidays)

Temporarily Closed

For Employers:



For Correspondence:

Illinois State Disbursement Unit
P.O. Box 5921
Carol Stream, IL 60197-5921



Can anyone help me enforce or obtain a child support award?

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) offers free child support enforcement services to Illinois. For more information, or to enroll for child support services, please call 1-800-447-4278 or visit
Please note, however, that the Assistant State’s Attorneys that provide these services do so on behalf of HFS, not on behalf of the party seeking enforcement. Said differently, where HFS becomes involved in the collection of child support, they do not act as the attorney for the parent receiving child support. They act on the state’s behalf as a separate party to the action, just like each parent acts as a separate party to the action. 

For more information on Cook County State's Attorney IV-D Program, please see the following resources: 

What is the Child Support Enforcement Program?

How do you Apply for Child Support Services? 

Establishing Parentage: Most Frequently Asked Questions

Setting and Modifying Child Support: Most Frequently Asked Questions

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