The Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice sponsor a joint Advisory Committee on Child Support and Family Law Reform. The Committee 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.
The Committee has played key roles:
- 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.
- Worked with the Circuit Court of Cook County to bring about a consolidation of two separate but unequal court systems: the divorce courts and the parentage courts which provided unequal resources to unmarried parents seeking child support.
- Worked with the Circuit Court of Cook County to introduce a new role for administrative hearing officers who focus on bringing about a fair result for unrepresented parents seeking child support and a parenting time plan.
For more information, please contact Executive Director Malcolm Rich, at malcolmrich [at] chicagoappleseed [dot] org or (312) 988-6552.