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Common Abbreviations in Illinois Divorce and Family Law Cases

By Gunnar J. Gitlin, Woodstock, IL

Divorce lawyers and parties going through a divorce will often hear certain common abbreviations. We provide a list of some of these abbreviations and what might be called "shorthand references that divorce lawyers commonly use.  Many of these terms are used in this site.

18 Month Rule
This is a misnomer because this is a rule with significant exceptions.   Many people believe this so called rule being custody cases need to be concluded within 18 months of the filing of a the initial pleadings -- usually the divorce petition.  The first exception is that you begin to measure from the date of service, not the date the divorce petition is filed.  The other exception key exception is there being good cause shown.  It is this later exception that renders this rule more aspirational in nature.
AAML
Abbreviation for American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. The common abbreviation used in this site and also the National site is the AAML.
ABA
Abbreviation for the American Bar Association. Many Fellows of the AAML are also members of the American Bar Association Family Law Section.
ADR
Abbreviation for Alternate Dispute Resolution. Most lawyers within the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers concentrate their practices in traditional representation. Although the practice of many Fellows is in traditional representation, many have now added alternative resolutions including Mediation and Collaborative Law to their practices.
AFC
Abbreviation for Attorney for the Child. The role of the AFC role differs substantially from that of a guardian ad litem. Since 2006, Illinois law has provided that, "The attorney shall provide independent legal counsel for the child and shall owe the same duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as are due an adult client. as an attorney to represent the child." When an AFC is appointed the child(ren) have their own separate attorney to argue their position to the court.
CLE
Abbreviation for Continuing legal education. Illinois lawyers have an annual duty to continue their legal education. The Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is an accredited CLE provider.
CR
Abbreviation for Child’s Representative. A child representative is similar to a guardian ad litem. Illinois law most fully fleshes out the duties of a child representative. The law is at 750 ILCS 5/506. Section 506(a)(3) of the IMDMA addresses the role of the child's representative. A CR differs from a GAL in that a CR cannot be called as a witness in a hearing or trial.
HFS
Abbreviation for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Previously, this organization was called the Department of Children and Family Services. Their web site is at: http://www.hfs.illinois.gov. Their duties include investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect.
IICLE
Abbreviation for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education. The Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education provides continuing legal education programs for Illinois lawyers. Each year in January the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in conjunction with the IICLE produces its divorce financial seminar.
ISBA
Abbreviation for the Illinois State Bar Association. Many Fellows of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers are members of the Illinois State Bar Association Family Law Section. Among its duties this Section recommends legislation and changes in current laws to the Illinois General Assembly.
IRMO or IRCO
Captions of Illinois divorce cases are usually started with the reference "In Re the Marriage of:"  Paternity cases will then be In Re Parentage of:"  So, if you see in a a handwritten order the reference to IRMO or IRCO you will know that it refers to either "In Re the Marriage of" or "In Re Custody of." 
GAL
Abbreviation for Guardian ad Litem. A person appointed by a judge to prosecute or defend a case for a person legally unable to do so, such as a minor child. In Illinois there are three types of individuals who may be appointed with respect to minor children. In addition to a guardian ad litem, they are an attorney for the child and a child representative. See child representative and attorney for the child. The 2005 amendments to Section 506 of the IMDMA provides, "The guardian ad litem may be called as a witness for purposes of cross-examination regarding the guardian ad litem's report or recommendations. The guardian ad litem shall investigate the facts of the case and interview the child and the parties."
IMDMA
Abbreviation for the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This is the main provision of the law that applies to divorce cases although portions of it apply to paternity actions. It also is the law that applies in legal separation cases.
Maintenance
Alimony or spousal support. Illinois divorce lawyers generally use the term maintenance because this is the term used in the Divorce Act (Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act).
MSA
Abbreviation for Marital Settlement Agreement.
OP
Abbreviation for Order of Protection. This is a court order entered under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act which includes prohibitions against harassment, contact with another person and may include barring a person from living in their own home and going to the residence or job of the petitioning party. There are generally three types of orders of protection: emergency (not longer than 21 days); interim (not longer than 30 days) and plenary (often throughout the duration of the divorce proceedings).
Prenup
Premarital Agreement. A "prenup" is an agreement signed by a couple prior to their marriage, which addresses their rights in the event of dissolution of marriage (divorce) and/or rights to the estate of the other person upon that persons death. Regarding the enforceability of premarital agreements (prenup), Illinois has adopted the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. It provides for broad enforceability of such agreements so long as there is fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of each party, the agreement is executed voluntarily and the agreement was not unconscionable when executed. Such agreements addressing divorce often limit a party's ability to seek maintenance (alimony) from her or his spouse. Such agreements addressing estate issues often prevent a party from their legal right to renounce a will and take a statutory third of the other party's estate.
Prove-up
The final court appearance where the parties "prove-up" their divorce and marital settlement agreement. The actual court time for the prove-up is generally short, that is, the time before the judge is generally less than 10 minutes.
QDRO
Abbreviation for Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This acronym is pronounced "QUADRO" or "Q-DRO." It refers to an order of the divorce case (that is, a domestic relations order) that is determined to be qualified. The "qualified" part of this term generally refers to the approval of the QDRO by the plan administrator. The purpose of the Order is to distribute a non-governmental retirement plan and/or 40(k) plan following a divorce. If properly done, the Order will bind the Plan Trustee to distribute the proceeds of the retirement/401(k) Plan to the spouse who was not an employee of the company that provided the plan to the employee
QILDRO
Abbreviation for Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Orders. This court order distributes, to the spouse who was not the employee of a governmental agency, his or her share of the employee spouse's retirement benefit, at the time of the employees retirement. It is similar to a QDRO in many respects.
Updated:  March 15, 2012

"Common Abbreviations in Illinois Divorce and Family Law Cases" is a publication of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers - Illinois Chapter. ©2012. All rights reserved. "Common Abbreviations in Illinois Divorce and Family Law Cases" may be reproduced under the following conditions:

  1. It must be reproduced in its entirety with no additions or deletions, including the AAML copyright notice.
  2. It must be distributed free of charge.
  3. The AAML reserves the right to limit or deny the right of reproduction in its sole discretion.

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