Family Law & Courts

Chicago Appleseed engages in a broad range of projects related to the domestic relations courts and the experiences of families in them. We look at issues of access, as well as efficiency and equity, in the Domestic Relations courts. Innovations such as community courts, court-based legal or social services and non-adversarial court processes form the core of our advocacy as we seek to improve outcomes in the Domestic Relations courts.

Chicago Appleseed has played key roles:

  • In partnership with Domestic Relations Division Presiding Judge Grace Dickler’s task force to design a pilot court process, intended to reduce the amount of time before monetary support reaches children, improve compliance with child support and parenting orders, and connect families with appropriate services, both in and outside the court
  • In partnership with the Chicago Council of Lawyers to help shape the on-going legislative re-write of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, particularly as it relates to computation of support, relocation of children by the primary custodial parent, and the definition of who may petition for visitation with a child
  • In partnership with pro bono attorneys at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, to examine the Constitutionality of Cook County’s bifurcated child support systems, which hears cases concerning the support of non-martial children in a division separate from those concerning support of marital children
  • In partnership with pro bon attorneys at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, with assistance from staff at DHFS, to provide attorney guides and parent guides to the non-judicial process for child support enforcement available in Illinois
  • In partnership with pro bono attorneys at Baker McKenzie and at Latham & Watkins to examine innovations in domestic relations courts in California (under the Family Law Facilitators Act) and in Minnesota (under the Early Neutral Evaluation program) and help adapt them for use in Cook County’s domestic relations division.




A Constitutionality Analysis of the Cook County Parentage Court (2012)

Improving Parental Involvement in Illinois Under the No Child Left Behind Act: An Illinois Action Plan (2007)

Child Support in Cook County: A Call for Reform (2002)

A Call For Reform – Executive Summary (2002)

Op-Ed: Enough is Enough: Reform the Child Support System Now (2002)

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