—Updated Status re Zoom Court.
The divorce courts in McHenry County offer remote appearance ONLY for routine matters. This includes family-law cases before Judges Justin Hansen, Jeffrey Hirsch, Mark Facchini, and Judge Zalad. See: https://www.mchenrycountyil.gov/county-government/departments-a-i/circuit-clerk/virtual-courtroom-information.
June 15, 2022 Update from Chief Judge Hansen, family law division, McHenry County.
The Family Division updated its division-wide standing orders with two orders effective since July 1, 2022. Judge Hansen provided this explanation.
First, all hearings and trials will take place in person unless good cause and appropriate safeguards are shown, pursuant to Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 241. This includes non-evidentiary hearings. Remote appearances are still widely permitted for other settings.
Second, prove-ups via affidavits and submission of judgment documents to finalize our cases case are generally disallowed. Prove-ups return to the courtroom with sworn testimony, although participants may appear via Zoom.
Judge Hansen explained:
While we have tried to keep our family division courtrooms accessible during the COVID pandemic, these changes are necessary. Remote appearances have always included some difficulty handling documentary evidence and objections. Unfortunately, over time, many participants have trended toward an overly casual approach that undercuts the seriousness and finality of the court proceedings. Altogether, these difficulties warrant the changes found in these new standing orders.
Similarly, finalizing cases with the submission of judgment documents and affidavits has become more problematic with time. It is unfortunate but we regularly reject submissions that are out of compliance with the IMDMA, self-contradictory, or missing necessary terms. These kinds of issues were less frequent when prove-ups occurred in the courtroom and we will return to that process.
We acknowledge that this may create (or bring back) inefficiencies. However, these changes prioritize reaching the right result and we think they are necessary.
Family Division – Standing Order 22-01:
Family Division – Standing Order 22-02:
The 22nd Judicial Districted provided a recent press release on the impact of SCR 45 on in court appearances. It states:
Remote Proceedings under Supreme Court Rule 45. The Supreme Court of Illinois has mandated the use of remote proceedings in cases handled in the Circuit Courts of Illinois. The rule is comprehensive and also includes provisions to be included in summonses in civil and family court proceedings. Litigants and their attorneys are advised to consider what might be needed under the new rule, while available forms are updated to meet the dictates of the new rule.
The point made in the CLE presentation was that we will follow the dictates of 45. But in the very near future, it appears likely McHenry County will readopt much of what was in our current standing orders regarding appearance in court for all but the most basic of matters.
Emergency Motions. Other than petitions for orders of protection, stalking no contact orders, and civil no contact orders, a party presenting an emergency motion must do so in person.
McHenry County Family-Law Division Standing Orders.
The Gitlin Law firm created for our ease of reference pdfs of our older standing order that are searchable and remain in effect:
- McHenry County Family Law Division Order 2002-04
- Mediator List – Family Division-Current (Updated Mediator List)
Remote (Zoom) court remains an option for certain routine court appearances including return on summons, status, motion presentment, case management and conference scheduling. To ensure good communication, the parties and counsel are encouraged to coordinate to whenever possible either all appear in person or remotely.
The option for prove-up by submission of documents now requires approval of the assigned Judge with procedures otherwise similar to the ones that we had been using for prove-up based on affidavit.
By Administrative Order 2020-17, Supreme Court Rule 45 , Supreme Court Rule 241, and Pub. Act 102-853, the parties and witnesses for orders of protection and similar orders (stalking no contact and civil no contact) may appear by Zoom.
Gunnar J. Gitlin