To ease the tensions that can often be found in family cases, the traditional classification of Plaintiff and Defendant have been replaced by the less confrontational titles of Petitioner and Respondent. Additionally, cases are not designated as husband versus wife, but as "In re the marriage of."
The Family Division also handles cases involving minors who are charged with a crime or whose health and safety are at risk. Some common examples of these types of cases are truancy, termination of parental rights, child abuse, and felony or misdemeanor offenses where the minor is charged with committing a crime. To protect the privacy of children, juvenile cases are not open to the public.
The driving philosophy behind juvenile justice in Illinois is restorative justice. The philosophy of restorative justice holds that, along with the rehabilitation of the offender, the offender will work to "restore" the balance that existed in the community before the offense was committed. Common methods of restoration include compensating victims for their losses and public service for the offender.
Types of Cases
The Family Division routinely hears the following types of cases:
Adoptions can take the form of related adoptions or unrelated adoptions. In related adoptions, generally a stepparent adopts the natural child of his or her spouse. Unrelated adoptions involve adoption of a child that is not biologically related to either parent. Cases filed pursuant to 750 ILCS 50/0.01 et seq.
Dissolution with Children (DC)
Dissolution of marriage or civil union, declaration of invalidity (annulment), petitions for legal separation, or separate maintenance as defined in 750 ILCS 5/303 when at the time of filing there are minor children.
Dissolution without Children (DN)
Dissolution of marriage or civil union, declaration of invalidity (annulment), petitions for legal separation, or separate maintenance as defined in 750 ILCS 5/303 when at the time of filing there are no minor children.
Proceedings to establish the parent-child relationship, notice to putative fathers, and certain actions relating to child support.