Author BirtLaw

Reinstating An Illinois Driver’s License

Wooden judge gavel and car keys over sound box - view from topWhile the law firm often focuses on divorce and family matters, it also provides services relating to reinstating driving privileges.

In Illinois, a DUI offense–driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs–can result in a restricted driving permit or revocation of your driver’s license. In some situations, you may need the assistance of an attorney and/or a state-approved evaluation agency to restore driving privileges after DUI.

Here is a brief outline of the license reinstatement process.

DETERMINE ELIGIBILITY FOR REINSTATEMENT – Normally, your license will not be returned to you until the eligibility date set by the court. However, your license could be reinstated if you provide proof of ‘undue hardship’ for reasons of employment; medical; child, elder or disabled persons daycare; educational; support group; or court-ordered community service reasons, per the Illinois Secretary of State.

ATTEND INITIAL CONSULTATION – This occurs regardless of your reinstatement eligibility.

COMPLETE DRUG/ALCOHOL REQUIREMENTS – If your license was revoked for DUI, you will be required to undergo DUI Risk Education and Treatment within six months prior to your hearing date by a Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA)-licensed provider. The DUI evaluations determine what level of treatment, if any, each person must receive.

ATTEND A HEARING – This hearing determines either that your license will be fully reinstated or that you will have a restricted driving permit and perhaps a breath alcohol ignition device in your vehicle. If your offense was a first-time DUI or did not involve a fatality, it is an informal hearing. Fatalities or multiple DUI arrests warrant Secretary of State Formal Hearings, and you may request representation by a Driver’s License Reinstatement Attorney.

When a license reinstatement is denied after an informal hearing, you can apply for a formal hearing or attend another informal hearing in 30 days. If the denial is after a formal hearing, you must wait 90 days for a new hearing.

Anyone granted a Restricted Driving Permit will be informed of the conditions that must be met.

If your Illinois driver’s license has been revoked for a DUI offense, my office is a state-licensed counseling and treatment provider for drug and alcohol abuse, and we can represent you at a formal hearing if required. Contact me to learn more about how we can help with all aspects of license reinstatement and evaluations.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She also opened The Birt Group, a state-licensed DUI Counseling Firm in 2011.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

Create A Workable Post-Divorce Parenting Schedule

Loving father.Being a parent is often challenging; parenting after a divorce can be even more so for both custodial and non-custodial parents. Creating the right parenting schedule can make this very difficult situation that much easier.

From a recent article on the site SinceMyDivorce.com, here are some tips to develop and follow a workable parenting visitation schedule.

  • Know Your Court’s Guidelines – “Many states have guidelines in place for visitation schedules,” according to the article, and it’s important to know what is allowed in your state. You can obtain these guidelines from your DuPage County Divorce Attorney.

  • Avoid Court If Possible – In other words, try to work out the details outside the court system. It’s likely that you and your ex-spouse can come up with more effective and workable results than a judge who knows almost nothing about your particular situation.

  • Consider Mediation If You’re Struggling – If you can’t work things out alone, the court may recommend or even mandate that you use family mediation. “A properly qualified mediator will be experienced in both facilitating discussions and parenting complexities so the probability of being able reach an arrangement that is acceptable to both you and your ex is increased,” states the article.

  • Complete And Submit All Required Documentation – Enlist the help of a lawyer to ensure the proper documents are completed and filed correctly. If you wish to have sole physical and legal custody of your child, you will likely have to file additional documents about your child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent.

These last two items can help ensure that your parenting schedule, once created, continues to work as intended for your new family circumstances.

  • Stay On Schedule – Whether your schedule came from mutual agreement, mediation or a judge’s decision, you must follow it once it becomes a court order. If either parent cannot or will not follow the agreed-upon schedule, it’s likely that the court will again become involved. It’s also possible to request post-divorce modifications of the schedule based on changing life situations.

  • Be Respectful Of Your Former SpouseThis is particularly important in front of your children. Let them contact their other parent when they’re with you, and remind them that both of their parents love them and want what’s best for them.

Even the most beneficial visitation arrangements can be difficult at times. Remember that staying calm and doing your best will make it easier for everyone involved and keep communications flowing.

As a qualified DuPage County Divorce Lawyer and trained mediator, I can help you create the right custody and visitation arrangements for your needs. Contact me for more information.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37032Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

DuPage County Legal Resources

DCBA LogoFor lawyers and non-lawyers alike who live in DuPage County, Illinois, the DuPage County Bar Association (DCBA) is a valuable resource offering educational seminars, community service programs and even social functions to bring people together.

HISTORY AND MISSION STATEMENT

The DCBA was chartered on February 1, 1879, and according to its website “is the largest county bar association in Illinois with approximately 2,600 members.” It also boasts a “long history of commendations from the American Bar Association for its programs and operations.”

You can fully understand the importance and worth of this organization through its Mission Statement: “The DuPage County Bar Association serves the attorneys, judiciary and citizens of DuPage County, Illinois in providing legal education, business development and networking opportunities, designed to enhance and benefit our membership and community, while upholding the highest degree of civility and professionalism.”

BENEFICIAL PROGRAMS

For those in the legal profession, membership in DCBA offers many opportunities to learn and grow within their chosen profession. The general public can turn to DCBA for lawyer referrals, free legal help, and a variety of “self-help” information on Illinois legal matters. There is also useful information on the DuPage County legal system such as court locations, court rules, and county departments.

A variety of DCBA committees give DuPage County attorneys the ability to improve their own skills while also helping those in the community. Some key committees include:

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Business Law
  • Child Advocacy
  • Diversity
  • Elder Law
  • Family Law and Practice
  • Health Care Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Labor and Employment Law

PRIDE IN MEMBERSHIP

I’m pleased to say that I’m an active member of the DuPage County Bar Association and was recently appointed to chair their Diversity Program. In addition, for the past two years I was vice chairman and then chairman of the Child Advocacy Committee.

Regardless of your legal questions or requirements, the DCBA is a great place to start searching for answers and assistance. If you need legal support for a personal family law, child custody or Illinois divorce matter, please contact me to learn how I can help.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

A Positive Outlook For Divorce Mediation Services

mediation road sign illustration designMediation has become a successful tool for settling family law cases such as divorce or child custody. It’s actually just one part of a broad range of processes known as Family Dispute Resolution or FDR.

Over the last 25 years, mediation–and FDR as a whole–has grown and shifted based on changes in the legal system and government regulations, both of which have impacted family dynamics in various ways. But where will mediation go from here?

Peter Salem, executive director of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and an experienced mediator in his own right, discusses the future of mediation in a recent article on the site Mediate.com.

ASSESSING THE PAST

Salem believes that mediation has indeed made strides, but not necessarily in the ways he would have predicted 25 years ago.

The good news is that many divorce lawyers “have overcome their reticence about mediation” and are now largely responsible for handling divorce mediation in their own practices.

In addition, Salem notes that “a convergence of approaches” has led to more specific and helpful mediation and FDR processes such as collaborative divorce, cooperative law, parenting coordination, child custody counseling and conflict resolution conferences.

“Mediation has played a critical role as the catalyst for change, ushering the development of a range of FDR services that assist family members in resolving their disputes,” states Salem.

PREDICTING THE FUTURE

These new, integrative Family Dispute Resolution services will continue to thrive, according to Salem, because they “better meet the needs of the consumers” who use them, particularly parties in a divorce and the court systems that refer people to these services.

Several other factors also point to the on-going use of mediation. These include continued cuts in government programs and court services, an increase in parties who do not want or cannot afford a divorce lawyer, more complex family conflicts, and online dispute-resolution technology.

In addition, Salem has great faith in the continuing commitment of FDR practitioners. “There will continue to be a deeply committed cadre of professionals who dedicate enormous time and energy working toward expanding and improving the family dispute resolution process,” he says, which bodes well for the future of mediation services and other related processes.

As a family law attorney trained in divorce mediation and other FDR services, I can help resolve your Illinois divorce issues in a timely and cost-effective way. Contact me to learn more.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

Recent Illinois Family Law Decisions

Civil Law book with scales isolated on whiteIn an on-going effort to share helpful information for anyone currently or previously involved in Illinois divorce proceedings, here are summaries of two recent cases from the Appellate Court of Illinois.

REMOVAL OF A CHILD FROM ILLINOIS – Hedrich v. Mack

In October of 2104, a woman took her boyfriend’s car and drove herself and their 18-month-old daughter from Illinois to Minnesota, saying she would return in a few days. Shortly thereafter, the boyfriend filed a petition to establish paternity and requested that he and the child’s mother be named joint custodians.

The day before the mother was to return, the father was informed that she and the child were not coming back. Over the next month, the father repeatedly asked the mother to return to Illinois with their child, but the mother refused. Based on this, the father petitioned the trial court to require mother and child to return within two days and to prevent the mother from again removing the child from Illinois.

At a hearing of the trial court in November 2014, the mother moved for a finding which said the court had no authority to mandate the child’s return to Illinois because she had been removed from the state before the father filed his parentage action.

The trial court agreed with the mother, and the father subsequently filed an appeal of this ruling, stating that the trial court incorrectly interpreted Section 13.5 of the Illinois Parentage Act.

After review, the appellate court found for the father, stating that Section 13.5 “is the only mechanism available to the court to order the return of a minor child in situations such as this where the parents were never married and no proceedings whatsoever existed prior to the custodial parent leaving the state with the child.”

PATERNITY DETERMINATION AND CHILD SUPPORT – In re Marriage of Ostrander

In 2012, the husband in this case filed for dissolution of marriage. In this petition, he acknowledged two children born during the marriage but alleged that the youngest child, now age 8, was not his biological offspring. He was listed as the father on the birth certificate and did not refute his parentage at the birth; however he never legally adopted the child.

DNA testing did prove that the child was not his, and so the husband filed a “Motion Regarding Finding No Paternity,” asking the court to acknowledge that he “owed no duty of support for the child.” At the hearing, the wife stated that her husband knew all along he was not the child’s father but chose to stay in the marriage and work things out and provide for both children.

At trial in 2013, the court found that the father did not owe child support. The wife filed a motion to reconsider based on Section 8 of the Illinois Parentage Act which states that “An action to declare the non-existence of the parent and child relationship brought under subsection (b) of Section 7 of this Act shall be barred if brought later than 2 years after the petitioner obtains knowledge of relevant facts.” However, the court again found for the husband.

The wife appealed based again on the statute of limitations, and the appellate court found in her favor. The court cited that the husband did not meet the Act’s required burden of proof that he had only recently discovered that the child was not his. In fact, the court felt that his testimony helped show that he knew of the parentage issue early on.

Finally, the court stated that “the statute of limitations of the Parentage Act is intended to control in situations precisely like the one before us.” The order of non-paternity was reversed and the husband will be required to pay child support.

Contact me for information if you need help in matters of family law, child support, collaborative divorce and more.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

3 Reasons To Use Mediation In An Unwanted Divorce

Divorce and seperationThere are many reasons why it happens, but sometimes a spouse chooses to end a marriage with little or no warning to their significant other.

For the unsuspecting party who didn’t see it coming, this sudden life change can leave that person shocked, angry and depressed–often meaning they have no intention of cooperating with the person who turned their world upside down.

Yet even in this extremely difficult situation, divorce mediation is worth the effort of overcoming those challenging emotions. From an article by divorce mediator Joseph Dillon, here are three compelling reasons to participate in mediation when faced with an unwanted divorce.

  1. IT CAN AVOID LENGTHY DIVORCE LITIGATION – Dillon describes how one client (the spouse who walked away from the marriage) wanted to keep things civil and waited a long time for the other party to accept the situation and come to mediation. When that didn’t happen, they felt “they had no choice but to get an attorney and file.” In the end, it cost them a great deal of money and years of litigation that might have been avoided.

  2. YOU’LL POTENTIALLY REDUCE EMOTIONAL SCARS – It’s difficult to accept that your spouse no longer wants to be married to you. However, if that person wants a divorce then there’s going to be a divorce, says Dillon. How you deal with it will determine the overall effects it has on you (and any of your children). Participating in divorce mediation could make it easier for everyone involved in both the short- and long-term.

  3. YOU’RE INVOLVED IN KEY DECISIONS – Rather than leaving things to a judge, divorce mediation gives you the opportunity to push for positive outcomes on things like support or debt issues that could impact you and any children. Dillon believes it’s likely “you’ll be able to recover quicker as you won’t feel so powerless since you had a hand in your agreement.”

While you didn’t have a say in getting the divorce, you can have a say in how you go forward by participating in divorce mediation. And if the person who walked away doesn’t initiate the mediation, take back more control and arrange for it yourself.

Whether you need divorce mediation, collaborative divorce services, or assistance with Illinois child visitation and child custody issues, I can help. Contact me for more information.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

How Social Media Can Impact Your Illinois Divorce

love Dislike Icon. Thumb down SignSocial media (Facebook, Twitter, texting and more) has become a favorite way for people to share information about their lives in real time.

However, if you’re involved in a divorce and/or child custody case, what you post or text can have a huge effect on the ultimate outcome, and you need to be very careful about the information you share.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND FAMILY LAW

According to the site Divorcesource.com, “Lawyers are now more than ever using the social media websites as evidence in all types of family law cases. When people are typing on their computer, and no one is watching them, they have a false sense of anonymity when none really exists. However, in reality you are posting your private life to the entire cyber world.”

Social media can provide attorneys with information on everything from job search activities and spending habits to parental behavior, and it’s now “routinely used in divorce cases, alimony reduction/Lepis hearings, child support hearings, and child custody visitation disputes.”

Text messages can also create trouble, says Law Technology Today, since the message strands can be printed out and entered into the court’s record. “Anytime you pick up your phone to have a conversation, whether voice or text, there may be an exact record of what was said.”

WHEN IN DOUBT, LEAVE IT OUT

When you’re tempted to jump on social media to vent feelings about your spouse, discuss your children, or talk about a new relationship, stop and think of the impact it could have on your case. Even if you’ve blocked your spouse from your Facebook page or other accounts, you may not have blocked friends or relatives who will see the comments and pass them on to him or her.

If your spouse brings this to court, you’ll have to consider divorce mediation or spend time and money defending yourself against anything from poor parenting to potential adultery. Should your child happen to read negative comments you made about your spouse’s parenting skills, you could be guilty of disparaging a parent in front of a child, possibly violating a court order.

As Law Technology Today reminds us, “Because we now live in a world where we tend to share our frustrations or our private moments with more and more people, we need to remember that what we share with our ‘friends’ could end up in the hands of people who will use those frustrations and private moments against us.”

And always check with your divorce attorney before shutting down a social media account, as deactivation could be seen as an attempt to withhold potential evidence.

I can help you successfully navigate these and many other issues through mediation and collaborative divorce options. Contact me to learn more.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

Child Custody And Visitation For Parents In Different States

ed266c96-1665-4bbe-9ad1-c6f852414bb0Today’s mobile society often creates difficult decisions for divorced parents and their children, particularly when a parent needs to move out of the state where the children reside.

Last October, I wrote a blog about the importance and value of collaborative divorce for couples with children, which reviewed the case of a mother’s petition to move from Illinois to California with her minor child due to a change in employment.

Recently, my firm worked on a similar case that generated a very positive outcome, proving once again that divorce collaboration is a powerful tool for solving custody and visitation issues.

CASE OVERVIEW

The focus of this case was to resolve a child custody and visitation matter between parents who lived in two different states. Complicating the overall issues between the adults was the fact that their child had never left Illinois and was not comfortable traveling to another state.

Our initial strategy was to make the custody and visitation matters a priority, working to first resolve the parenting plan so that everyone involved, especially the child, would have the time they needed to work on the emotions they were all experiencing.

SATISFYING RESULTS THROUGH COLLABORATION

By helping the parties to focus on the child and not the entire divorce settlement (money, debt, support, etc.), they were able to develop a parenting plan that first and foremost met the needs of their child.

Once that parenting plan was established, the other aspects of the divorce were resolved more quickly, in part because the parties had first settled the emotionally difficult matter of child visitation and custody.

This case is another great example of how collaborative divorce and divorce mediation services can create outcomes that work for all parties in the Illinois divorce process, often without much or any time spent in a courtroom.

As an attorney who is specially trained in these practices, I can help you achieve the same kinds of positive outcomes in your divorce. Contact me for more information.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

 

Making Divorce Mediation More Effective

Keep calm and ListenMany people believe that a divorce mediator will resolve the issues that are stalling their Illinois divorce process. However, successful divorce mediation results from the commitment and involvement of the parties involved in the divorce, not the mediator alone.

A recent article by Sandra Crawford in the Illinois State Bar Association Newsletter entitled Mediation, meditation—Let’s pause for more peaceful outcomes approaches mediation from a different perspective. Crawford discusses how meditation practices–specifically what she calls “the power of the pause”–can help parties reach the agreements they seek in the mediation process.

THE PAUSE TECHNIQUE

Crawford describes how the pause technique can help parties to better address issues in a mediation setting, stating:

“Far too often in the litigation process (be it pre-trial conferences, depositions, hearings) there is little room left for ‘the pause.’ When a lull in conversation comes in that venue it is typically instantly filled in by an opponent without acknowledging what the other person has just said. Even sometimes in court hearings the lawyers and judges are talking over one another and not pausing sufficiently to allow for adequate listening or reflection back so that deeper understandings might flourish.”

She goes on to remind us that it’s actually the parties involved in the mediation, not the mediator, who are responsible for the ultimate outcomes. The mediator’s job is to give those parties the time and space needed to work through the problems and get to resolution.

A good mediator, says Crawford, will protect “the pause” and not be intimidated by silence or need to instantly fill up that silence with discussion. This allows the parties to “take a pause, take the time to reflect back on what they are hearing, and to add clarification if what someone is reflecting back is imprecise, inadequate or incorrect.”

WHY IT WORKS

Mediators who are even somewhat skilled in meditation practices can often better hear what is being said because they have set aside the need to be right in favor of generating “better problem solving and more sustainable outcomes and resolutions of legal disputes in the long run.”

According to Crawford, this allows a mediator to really be of value to clients by helping to move them out of conflict and into resolution–which is the reason people come to divorce mediation or child custody mediation in the first place.

Regardless of the mediation techniques to be used, it’s important for mediators and clients to discuss how the process will work so everyone is clear on behavioral boundaries and what is ultimately at stake.

If you feel that mediation could help resolve your divorce or custody issues, contact me to learn how I can help.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.

Recent Court Decisions Worth Noting

Judge Knocking GavelBelow are summaries of two recent cases from the Appellate Court of Illinois.

Each one has something worth noting, whether your Illinois divorce proceedings are beginning soon, presently in process, or already completed.

CHILD SUPPORT EXPENSES – In re Marriage of Saracco

This appeals case centered on continuing payment of college tuition and expenses by the ex-wife for the couple’s son.

The original divorce proceedings in 2008 stated that college expenses would be split, with the father paying 40 percent and the mother paying 60 percent. At that time, the father was disabled and the mother’s salary was substantially larger than that of the father.

In 2013, the mother petitioned to stop her portion of the tuition payments because of a “substantial change in circumstances.” She stated that her ex-husband was receiving an additional $11,000 of disability income for his daughter. The mother also felt she should no longer contribute because her son’s grades were low, he would not work to help with expenses, and their relationship was strained.

At that time, the court agreed with this assessment and granted her petition to stop her portion of the payments.

In 2014, the father petitioned to reinstate the original payment agreement, and the appellate court agreed. Upon review, the appellate court did not concur with any of the mother’s arguments and stated she did not prove a “substantial change in circumstances.” As a result, the mother was ordered her to resume her payment of college expenses.

GRANDPARENT VISITATION RIGHTS Robinson v. Reif

In 2010, an auto accident killed the mother of two young children and severely injured their father who required a long-term hospital stay and extensive recuperation. Over the next 18 months, the children (who were unhurt) lived with and were cared for by their maternal grandparents, where they appeared to be happy and thriving.

By 2011, the father had recovered and remarried, at which time the grandparents sought to obtain sole custody of their grandchildren. After a long court battle, the father was awarded custody and changed his phone number so the grandparents could not have any contact with him or the children.

Later that year, the grandparents petitioned for permanent and temporary visitation under the grandparent visitation statute of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The grandparents also requested mediation, but the father would not participate.

Finally in 2013, a hearing was held regarding this petition. Testimony was presented by child psychology experts on both sides, one particular expert stating that the children had indeed become emotionally attached to grandparents during the 18 months of living with them. After hearing from the experts and from many witnesses for both sides, the court found for the grandparents and set a visitation schedule.

The father appealed, arguing that the evidence failed to prove that his decisions on visitation were harmful to the children’s mental, physical or emotional well-being. However, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision of allowing grandparent visitations, believing that any harm that might come from grandparent visitations was overruled by the harm of ending the children’s relationship with their grandparents.

Contact me for information on how I can help with your initial divorce proceedings or an appeal of the court’s decisions regarding your divorce.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37033-199x300Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.