Loyola University Chicago

Center for Urban Research and Learning


CURL and Cook County Domestic Violence Court Release Report

The Center for Urban Research and Learning in partnership with the Circuit Court of Cook County Domestic Violence Division have completed the research and evaluation of the Family Court Enhancement Project (FCEP). They have now released the report documenting their findings and offering recommendations for the FCEP model and the court.  

FCEP was a Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) funded initiative implemented at the Chicago Domestic Violence Court to improve safety outcomes for Order of Protection (OP) litigants (legal parties) who share children. The goal was to increase a sense of safety and procedural justice among litigants accessing legal protections within a domestic violence court division. Family Court Enhancement Project (FCEP) was instituted as a model to reform the civil court system to support litigant parents who share children in common and to ensure petitioners have access to full safety remedies permissible under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. 

The research team, including CURL faculty and research fellows, faculty from the School of Social Work and the School of Law, and our partners at the DV court, spent four years conducting research and evaluation of FCEP using a mixed methods approach. They spent this time examining hundreds of Order of Protection cases, holding conversations with civil judges, attorneys, advocates, and the Child Relief Expediter, as well as in-depth interviews with parents moving through the DV process at the court under FCEP.  

Overall, there were clear impacts of the various FCEP initiatives made on the culture of the court and ways in which the system moved to support parent litigants with shared children in receiving specialized child-related remedies and parenting options. More in-depth examination of the FCEP model, its impact on the court, and suggestions for sustaining the program can be found in the FCEP Full Technical Report and the FCEP Summary Report, a brief and accessible visual report.