Family Defense

  • Decrease font size
  • Default font size
  • Increase font size
Legal Services Print E-mail

Our legal services are targeted to individuals who need representation in DCFS administrative hearings and investigations in Illinois.

We handle the following types of cases: We do not generally handle the following types of cases:
  • Ongoing DCFS investigations for abuse or neglect
  • Safety Plan negotiations
  • Appeals of Indicated findings and Administrative Review Actions
  • A limited number of Juvenile Court cases in which DCFS is attempting to take protective custody if we have been counseling the client during an open investigation
  • Home day care licensing issues resulting from allegations of abuse or neglect
  • Divorce
  • Parentage/paternity
  • Child Support
  • Criminal cases
  • Open Juvenile Court cases (this means that if your Juvenile Court case has already started when you first contact us, we will most likely not be able to offer you legal representation)
  • Adoption
  • Private custody cases
  • Guardianship
  • Dependency
  • Mental health or mental health placement cases
  • Minors requiring authoritative intervention
  • Cases in Domestic Relations Court such as Orders of Protection
  • DCFS foster care placement appeals

Our direct representation of individuals at hearings is limited to individuals whose cases are being heard in Cook County or collar counties. If you are calling about a case that is NOT in the state of Illinois, please be aware that we may be able to provide a referral but that we cannot advise or represent you.

If you are seeking legal assistance with a case in an area we do not generally handle, please try CARPLS, Illinois Legal Aid Online or the Illinois State Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service.

We charge sliding-scale fees for legal services. Our fees are determined based on your income and the size of your family. Families whose incomes are below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for free or pro bono services and other clients may be eligible for partial fee reductions under our fee schedule. In order to have us determine the appropriate fees in each case, clients must complete the attached Affidavit of Assets and Liabilities and The Family Support Affidavit as well as the Prospective Client Information Sheet.

Even if your case does fall within our case acceptance guidelines, please be aware that we cannot give any individualized advice about your case without doing a screening by telephone, and no attorney-client relationship is created by your contact with our offices unless and until you are notified by our staff that your case has been accepted for representation by our legal staff. Fees for service following screening may be applied in accordance with our sliding scale fee schedule.


If you believe your case falls within the above guidelines and you are requesting legal assistance with a current legal matter, please call and leave a message with your name and telephone number on our Intake line at 312-251-9800 x18. Our office will return your call as soon as possible, and will proceed with your case based on our following 3-step intake process:

Step 1: Intake Forms

Our office will provide you with intake forms to fill out and return to us with your general information. The forms may be return to our office via fax, email, or mail. Additionally, you can skip this first step by paying a $25 fee over the phone by credit card, in which case our intake staff will take your information directly over the phone.

Step 2: Screening Phone Call

Once you have either returned the intake forms to our office or paid the $25 over-the-phone fee, a member of our intake staff will contact you to conduct a brief 10-15 minute interview to get your basic case information. Once this information is obtained, our intake staff will meet with a staff attorney to determine whether we may further consider assistance with your case, and if so, to determine further information that we will need from you concerning the details of your case.

Step 3: Full Intake

If our staff attorney decides that we need more information to consider representation for your case, our intake staff will contact you again for a more detailed interview, which should take about 30-40 minutes. Based on the information obtained during this interview, our legal team will conduct a careful merits assessment of your case. We will not be able to offer representation to all potential clients, and in addition we often cannot assist worthy individuals due to limited resources.


If you are interested in us generally or want to tell us about your experience with DCFS, you can email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  However, if you are requesting legal representation or advice, you MUST contact us by phone. Our office will not screen new clients by email, and any request for legal services that is sent by email will not receive a response. 


Please help us make justice for families a reality. Please make contribution to the Family Defense Center today:

The Family Defense Center is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Notice (12/4/2014): The Family Defense Center is hiring a Deputy Executive Director. The Deputy Executive Director will direct, administer, and coordinate the internal operations of the organization in accordance with policies, goals, and objectives established by the Executive Director and the Board of Directors. Please click here to read more about the position and learn about the application process.


Notice to all persons located in the state of Illinois who were:

A. Investigated or indicated for neglect under Allegation 60 from July 13, 2012 through December 31, 2013; 


B. Were indicated for neglect under Allegation 60 from May 31, 2014 through June 11, 2014. 

A class action lawsuit, entitled Ashley M., et al. v. Ill. Dep’t of Children & Family Servs., et al., No. 2013 CH 20278, is now pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, Cook County, Illinois.

Please click here to read the full notice of this proposed settlement and fairness hearing.


Quick Links:

  • If you would like to keep up-to-date on upcoming events at the Family Defense Center, please Click Here to join our mailing list.
  • If you are part of a group or organization interested in working with the Family Defense Center, please send your contact information (including your phone number and address) to: