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Not every person who works at the courthouse knows how to answer every question. When speaking to court personnel, tell them your goal and ask if that is something they can help you with. If they can’t, ask if they know who can. Most people who work in the courthouse cannot give you legal advice; meaning they cannot strategize with you, evaluate your likelihood of success, or present your argument to the judge. Some, not all, court personnel can provide legal information; meaning they can tell you what you can do, not what you should do. Others can only answer question about court procedures.
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A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is the document that starts the process and is filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Steps to follow to complete the filing process can be found at https://www.lakecountycircuitclerk.org/divisions/civil-division/simplified-divorce
“Service” is how a person who you are filing a lawsuit against is notified that a case has been started and told how they can participate in that case by y filing an appearance and responsive pleading or answer. Proper service is important because without it, a court does not have the power to order a party to do anything or resolve the dispute. A party is served when he or she receives a summons. Usually, the Sheriff delivers a summons to a defendant and there is a fee for the service.
A summons is a pre-printed legal form that tells a defendant that he or she is being sued. The defendant must file an appearance and responsive pleading or answer within 30 days of being served with the summons. An alias summons is a second summons that is issued by the court when the first attempt to serve a summons was unsuccessful.
A respondent must file an appearance and written response to the complaint/petition by filing either a responsive pleading (Motion to Dismiss) or an answer.
An appearance is a written form the defendant must file with the Clerk of the Court. The appearance tells the court that the defendant intends to have the court hear the matter for which the plaintiff has filed the complaint. The appearance form also tells the court if you are representing yourself, or whether you have hired an attorney to represent you.
An answer is the written statement filed with the court. It addresses each of the paragraphs in the plaintiff’s complaint by admitting or denying the allegations the plaintiff is making.
A motion is the written request for the court to do something, such as rule on an issue or schedule a hearing, filed by a party.
All documents are filed in the Office of the Circuit Clerk. Click here for instructions on e-filing. A party filing a motion must send it to all of the parties in a case after filing.
If you are representing yourself, you must come to the Circuit Clerk’s Office or call them at 847-377-3209 to set up a motion date.
A notice of motion is simply the form a party files with the court telling the court that all of the parties to a case have been informed that a motion has been filed. The notice of motion contains the time, date and place in which a motion will be heard and is sent to the opposing parties and the court along with a copy of the motion itself. If the other party files a motion, you should receive a copy of the motion and a copy of the notice of motion either in the mail or by hand delivery.
Motion can be set for an initial presentment Monday through Friday at 9:00 a.m. in C-107. Motions that are contested will be set for hearing at the discretion of the Judge or as the calendar allows.
Forms are available online at https://www.lakecountycircuitclerk.org/court-forms or at the Illinois Legal Aid website: https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/
In the event a respondent, after service of process, fails to file an appearance, responsive pleading or answer within 30 days of being served with the summons and petition, the petitioner may request the allegations in the petition be admitted as true and request the court enter a judgment in favor of the petitioner by default. The petitioner must schedule the case on the court’s motion call and follow the procedures for a Motion for Default.
A continuance simply means that the case will be continued on another date set by the court.
A status date means a future date on which the parties will again appear in court to tell the judge what is happening with the case. The court uses these dates to ensure that the case moves efficiently to resolution.
An order of court contains instructions to the parties regarding what they must do. Orders can contain instructions as simple as “the parties will next appear on Feb. 27, 2019,” or command the parties to do___ or to forbid them from doing ____ specifications. Generally, each time you appear in court, the court will order the parties to do something. All orders are kept in the court file.
Court files are public documents and can be viewed by anyone. To view the file for your case, you can either go to the Office of the Circuit Clerk located in the lower level of the courthouse or you can view limited case information online using the Circuit Clerk’s Public Access. You may also call the Civil Division at 847-377-3209 for case information.
Yes. There is a cover sheet for all civil suits and one for divorce/family cases. They are called Certificates of Attorney.
No. The Clerk’s office will accept cash, credit cards (a fee is charged for this), money order, cashier’s checks and certified checks made payable to “Clerk of the Circuit Court.”
You may obtain an attorney. The Lake County Bar Association, Lawyer Referral, 847-244-3140 can give you attorney or legal service referrals. You may also contact the state’s Attorney Child Support Division at 847-377-3131 to see if you qualify for their services. If you do not want an attorney and want to file for child support on your own, you may go to the Law Library, Center for Self-Representation, 847-377-2800 located on the main floor of the Courthouse to see if they have forms or obtain forms from another source.
You must file a Motion to terminate child support and a Notice of Motion with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and then appear in front of a judge. A form motion is available in the law library or on-line at https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/ . There must be no other children who are subject to an order for support, the youngest child must have graduated high school and there are no outstanding child support arrearages. Child support can be terminated only by court order.
You must file a Motion and Notice of Motion with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and then appear in front of a judge. A form motion is available in the law library or on-line at https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/ . Child support can only be modified by court order. Child support can only be modified upon a showing of a “substantial change in circumstances.” See 750 ILCS 5/510.
These payments are made in the Circuit Clerk’s Office, but the checks are issued by the State Disbursement Unit. Please allow 10 to 14 business days for your check to arrive.
You can request a payment record for your case from the child support division. Requests can be made in person or through the mail. The Clerk will require a photo ID. If you plan on requesting the payment record through the mail, please call 847-377-3324 first to find out the fee amount and specific procedures.
Parties who are in agreement to the changes can always file a motion to request that the judge modify an order pursuant to their agreement. The judge can reject orders that are not appropriate or in accordance with state law.
Parties who are not in agreement to the changes must file a motion and a response containing specific factual allegations that support the reason for the change.
You must file a Motion and Notice of Motion with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and then appear in front of a judge. A form motion is available in the law library or on-line at https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/ . Child support can only be modified by court order.
If it has been more than two years since the date the Order allocating parental responsibilities (or your Parenting Plan) was entered, you must file a motion to modify the allocation of parental responsibilities which alleges facts showing a change of circumstances has occurred that necessitates modification to serve the best interests of your child.
You may file a motion to modify the Order allocating parental responsibilities (or your Parenting Plan) within 2 years if you have reason to believe the child’s current circumstances may “seriously endanger his/her mental, moral or physical health” or will “significantly impair the child’s emotional development.” See 750 ILCS 5/610.5. You must file a motion containing factual allegations that support your beliefs.
You may file a motion to modify parenting time at any time. You must file a motion containing factual allegations that support there has been a change of circumstances since the last order which necessitates the modification to serve the “child’s best interests.” For more information go to https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/
There is a small, non-refundable, convenience fee for using the online payment system, that is charged by our vendor. The fee is neither charged, nor collected by the Circuit Clerk’s Office and will be disclosed prior to you submitting your payment.
Payments may take up to 5 business days to post. If your court date is within the next week or within the past few days, you should pay in person at any one of our court locations. You may check the status of your outstanding balance on our Public Access site.
By local court rule (LCR 4-3.19) in the Circuit Court of Lake County, parties to a contested allocation of parental responsibilities (custody) or parenting time (visitation) cases are referred to mediation to attempt to negotiate a settlement of their dispute before their case goes to trial. The parties may also agree to submit financial issues to the mediation process.
You should try to determine whether you and the other party can come to an agreement on any major issues such as:
If you cannot come to an agreement, each party will present their case to the judge and ask the judge to decide the matters they cannot agree on. This process is called litigation.
You will have to engage in the litigation process by filing pleadings, motions, discovery and participating in hearings. For more resources, go to https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/
When you file a pleading, you have to send a copy of that to the other party. Also, the Clerk’s office will not automatically provide a copy of what you’ve filed to the judge. Therefore, if the filing is very detailed you may want to provide the judge with a copy ahead of your hearing date. This is known as a “courtesy copy” and it must be clear that the document has been filed and sent to the other party before it is sent to the Judge.
Arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the court call and check in with the judge’s clerk sitting on either side of the judge’s seat. Listen for your name to be called and then step up to the bench.
You should receive a copy of whatever order is entered that day. Don’t leave the courtroom without it. Keep all of you court orders, pleadings, and any relevant documents in the same place. A folder or binder is very useful for this purpose. You should bring your folder/binder with you when you come to court.
Be specific about the issue you would like to address. Focus the conversation on the issue you’d like to address. Note that it might not be possible to address that issue today, but court personnel will try their best to help you. If needed, court personnel will ask you specific question to help you reach your goal.