Author BirtLaw

Resolving Divorce Debt Issues Through Mediation

Divorce decreeOne of the most difficult issues for divorcing couples in Illinois is how to handle the debt that has been accumulated during the marriage. It is definitely not as simple as “handing it off” to one party or the other.

While a divorce can allocate debt between both parties, it cannot change existing contracts with third-party creditors such as a mortgage lender or a credit card company. For example, the court could assign $25,000 of credit card debt to the husband, but if this was a joint account the wife is still liable for that debt should the husband fail to make payments.

In other words, someone still has to assume responsibility for the debt regardless of the divorce.

OPTIONS FOR HANDLING DIVORCE DEBT

There are generally three ways to resolve debt issues in a divorce:

  • Pay off the debt
  • Refinance the debt
  • Sell the property to pay off the debt

A key step prior to finalizing a divorce is for both parties to determine whether either party can quality for a new mortgage, a refinance loan or a personal loan to handle any existing debt. Whoever cannot qualify will then know it’s not worth the time and court costs to fight for a certain asset such as the house or car since they cannot pay for it.

In situations where couples cannot refinance or pay off debt for certain property, a court will often order the sale of that property rather than create an alternative since the ultimate goal of divorce is to sever all property interests and liabilities between the parties.

SOLUTIONS THROUGH DIVORCE MEDIATION

In some cases, neither party can maintain or refinance the debt nor sell off the property. When this happens it’s important to develop a feasible payment plan to potentially prevent either party from being sued or to keep their credit history from being harmed due to non-payment.

An experienced divorce attorney or mediator can help parties develop these payment plans when debt cannot be completely severed upon divorce. And if debt allocation is possible, divorce mediation allows parties to talk out issues around desired property and what–if anything–can be done to meet everyone’s needs.

Contact me for more information on using divorce mediation to resolve debt issues for your unique situation.


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 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.

Collaborative Divorce & Mediation Can Solve Pet Custody Conflicts

Pet DivorceCustody issues in divorce are no longer just about children. As shown in a recent web article, hostile and passionate battles are now often fought over placement and/or visitation rights for pets in many divorce cases.

This is another situation where divorce mediation can find a solution that works for everyone, human and non-human alike.

PETS ARE PROPERTY UNDER THE LAW

Under Illinois divorce law, pets are treated as property. As such, a judge will try to fairly “distribute” pet custody based on the normal factors of property ownership such as how each person acquired the property and what they contributed to the marriage.

This can become a sensitive and emotional issue for owners who see their pets as beloved members of the family, not a piece of jewelry or a set of golf clubs.

When deciding where a pet will go post-divorce, some sympathetic judges may try to determine which party is more bonded to the pet and/or who invested more time and money for its care. It’s more likely, however, that the person who wants the pet will be required to give up another asset that’s similar in value to the cost of the pet’s ongoing support.

And all this assumes that a judge will even allow a pet custody issue to be discussed at all.

WHAT COLLABORATION & MEDIATION OFFER

It’s pretty clear there are no guaranteed outcomes when the issue of pet custody is played out in court, which is all the more reason to settle the issue through mediation, collaborative divorce or uncontested divorce procedures.

When parties meet to talk in a neutral setting, they can potentially negotiate and detail a mutually agreed upon pet custody arrangement. Mediation allows time and space for everyone to have frank conversations about who really wants the pet as well as who is prepared and able to care for it financially and physically.

From this can flow a visitation schedule, shared care possibilities or other options based on each party’s needs and desires.

Unless you’ve created a prenuptial agreement that covers how pets will be handled in a divorce, services like mediation offer more reliable, flexible and cost-effective results than working through the courts.

If your divorce scenario involves pet custody, contact me to learn how mediation can help create a workable solution.


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 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.

Collaboration And Mediation Help With Holiday Visitation Issues

Composite image of couple not talking holding two halves of broken heartDivorcing and divorced couples with children have a little extra planning to do for the holiday season; namely, when and where those children will connect with each parent for holiday visitations.

If not thought out well in advance, issues with visitation schedules can increase everyone’s stress levels and make for a not-so-wonderful time of the year.

COLLABORATION AND MEDIATION CAN HELP

Experience has shown that courts are less than pleased with last-minute or emergency petitions regarding holiday visitation schedules, so the issue should be addressed as early as possible if each parent hopes to have their requested time with the children.

When an unexpected or difficult situation arises, mediation and collaborative meetings can often help find a timely solution that works for everyone involved.

A REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE

One of my recent mediation cases shows what can be done when people are willing to come together and talk.

The couple in this case had a change in their customary Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations because extended family had moved out of state. The Mother asked the Father for a change in the already-established Joint Parenting Agreement so the children could visit with the extended family either on Thanksgiving Day or for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Although the Father was not happy about the request, he and his ex-wife agreed to attend mediation to save money on litigation and hopefully solve the issue quickly. During mediation, each parent got to hear the other’s concerns about their children’s future holiday traditions–something that might not have been permitted in a court room.

In the end, both Father and Mother agreed to modify their existing holiday parenting plan which allowed enough time for all family members to adjust to and make arrangements for the upcoming changes in November and December.

Even when a case is not this extreme, collaboration and mediation are very successful in resolving the legal issues around holiday parenting time and can reduce or eliminate the cost and stress of turning to litigation during the holidays.

Contact me for more information about using collaborative meetings and mediation to revolve your holiday visitation issues.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT:

Erin_Birt_37034Illinois 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 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.

The Benefits of Flat Fee Divorce Services

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Divorce is a decision that comes with its own set of challenges, not the least of which is how to pay for the services of a divorce attorney.

Thankfully, there are legal firms in DuPage County–such as The Law Firm of Erin N. Birt, PC–that offer flat fee options for family law services to help make the divorce process more accessible for those who would normally not be able to afford legal help.

FLAT FEE ADVANTAGES

Choosing flat fee over hourly rates in no way diminishes the quality of service you get from your divorce attorney, and in fact offers several advantages.

•  You know your costs at the outset of the process and what services you’ll receive for your fee. This eliminates the worry of receiving an unexpected bill that would create financial and/or emotional distress.

•  Being able to afford legal advice can help you avoid custody or spousal payment situations that end up costing more in the long run.

•  Once the flat fee is negotiated, you can generally contact your attorney with questions, concerns or update requests as needed without the worry of minute-by-minute billing.

•  The ability to freely communicate with your attorney as needed often completes the divorce process more quickly and with less conflict.

SERVICES DETERMINE YOUR SPECIFIC LEGAL COSTS

Whether flat fee or hourly, your overall cost depends on the actual services your attorney needs to perform.

Court litigation is the most expensive process because it requires discovery, court appearances, filings, contested pleadings, civil procedures or more. Collaborative divorce costs less than litigation, and divorce mediation is less than the collaborative option. A la carte divorce services are another affordable option in Illinois.

If you need the help of an Illinois divorce attorney but are concerned about the cost, contact me to learn how our flat fee divorce services can work for you.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Illinois 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 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.

Is A Divorce Mediation Agreement Legally Binding?

woman refusing to sign contract or divorceFor couples who turn to mediation for resolving divorce issues in Illinois, it’s essential to know whether or not the mediation agreement is enforceable as divorce settlement agreement.

A recent Illinois Appellate Court case, In re Marriage of Akbani, highlights the critical role of the mediation agreement.

The couple in this case initially signed a divorce and separation agreement in 2008, but several matters were left for further discussion and resolution including division of business assets and other financial issues.

In 2010, the couple participated in voluntary (non-court-ordered) divorce mediation in an attempt to solve the remaining disputes. The mediation was overseen by a retired judge and attorneys were not present for either party during mediation.

Upon completion of the mediation, the couple both signed a hand-written agreement that stated, “The above parties, having submitted this matter to mediation, do now agree that their dispute has been compromised and settled on the following terms: Review and consultation with respective attorneys.”

The handwritten agreement was later typed into an official document which the husband signed but the wife, after having it reviewed by her attorney, refused to sign the document or agree to its terms. When the husband filed a motion to enforce the agreement, the court ruled that it was unenforceable due to the attorney review provision, which they found to be a clear and unambiguous condition of the agreement.

The appellate court agreed with the trial court’s ruling, stating that “the attorney review provision is plain and unambiguous in that, as a term of the contract, each party is allowed the opportunity to review and consult with his or her respective attorney.”

In short, the ex-wife had the legal right to review the mediation agreement with her attorney and then sign or not sign based on her attorney’s advice.

Divorce mediation offers many benefits and can help parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement. However, because a mediation agreement may in fact be binding under certain circumstances, I always recommend that divorcing parties should not sign without first reviewing it with an attorney.

As further protection and in consideration of situations such as the above case, my mediation agreements, also known as a Memorandum of Understanding, also contain a provision stating that it is non-enforceable until signed by a judge. This removes any ambiguity that could result in on-going court appearances in regard to the final mediation agreement.

Handled properly by a trained mediation attorney, divorce mediation is an excellent way to resolve difficult issues and bring closure to an already difficult situation. Contact me to learn how my divorce mediation services can help you.


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 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.

All Legal Services Are Not The Same

lawyer in the officeFrom online law companies to firms like the Law Firm of Erin N. Birt, PC, there are many ways to get legal services in DuPage County and Illinois as a whole.

However, it can sometimes be difficult to know which option will provide the best results for your particular situation.

Here are some important and helpful criteria to use when deciding on legal services in Illinois.

SERVICE SPECIALIZATION – Make sure you can get exactly what you need. For example, our firm specializes in the areas of Illinois family law and mediation. Specific services include adoption law services, divorce mediation, family law mediation, and collaborative divorce with the goal of providing a supportive and respectful environment where parties can openly discuss their wants, needs, and expectations throughout the legal process.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH – As proud members of the local DuPage County community, we want to give back when we can. One way we do this is by offering free Illinois Divorce Seminars for anyone seeking information about Illinois divorce options. Our firm also offers presentations to local organizations and businesses to help members/employees understand the benefits of mediation or collaborative law practices.

BEST INTEREST REFERRALS – If you come to us for a service that could be more easily (and less expensively) handled by an online legal site, we’ll tell you that upfront. We’ll also be more than happy to work with you if you’d prefer face-to-face service. If what you need could be better handled by a firm with different specializations, we’ll provide you with a referral. Our goal is for you to get the services that best meet your needs.

INTERVENTION SERVICES – Legal proceedings sometimes reveal the need for other assistance such as drug and alcohol counseling or other mental health services.

As an Illinois Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and attorney, I run The Birt Group, which provides private alcohol and drug counseling as well as court-approved Illinois DUI risk education classes and DUI counseling. At times, this kind of intervention can help resolve legal issues in a way that benefits everyone involved.

Many firms don’t yet have mediation experts on staff and don’t have intervention services readily available as we do.

PERSONAL AND LOCAL CONNECTIONS – Using a smaller firm generally means working with the same attorney over time, someone who will get to know you on a personal as well as professional level and develop solutions that work both legally and emotionally.

You also benefit from a local county attorney who understands that a divorce in Cook County is very different from a divorce in Kane County and that each requires a tailored approach.

In the end, the key to excellent legal service is what people have come to expect from smaller firms: sound expertise with a personal and local touch.

If you’re looking for legal assistance with divorce, mediation, adoption or family law in Illinois, please contact me to learn all that my firm can do for you.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT:

Erin_Birt_37034Illinois 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 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.

Divorce Mediation Builds Cohesive, Durable Solutions

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-business-people-meeting-team-casual-looking-having-office-image33412873When couples find it difficult to agree on the legal aspects of their separation or divorce because of ongoing conflict or emotional issues, divorce mediation is a proven way for both parties to come to terms on the issues that matter most to each of them.

How It Works

No two mediation processes are exactly the same, but the goal is to create consensus and develop the skills that help divorced couples make good decisions now and in the future.

A family law mediator or divorce mediator is a neutral third party who is trained to help couples communicate clearly and calmly with each other. The mediator’s role includes:

♦ Creating a setting that is confidential and non-adversarial for everyone involved
♦ Ensuring each party has time to speak without interruptions
♦ Getting clarification from either party when necessary
♦ Asking questions as needed to make sure everyone is on the same page
♦ Offering information on how lawyers or judges would view the issues and presenting alternatives that could work more effectively in court to save time and reduce court costs

It’s important to note that the mediator cannot provide legal advice or legal strategy to the parties involved in mediation. A different attorney will perform that service.

Benefits Of Divorce Mediation

In mediation, the process is controlled by the couple and the mediator, not the courts. This provides the space and time for a couple to develop strong and lasting agreements, and most parties are inclined to abide by a solution they have helped create.

Even if total agreement isn’t reached, divorce mediation narrows down the issues so couples know specifically what to focus on in court or what could potentially be set aside and brought back to mediation in the future.

The mediation process is particularly helpful for couples with children who need to find workable parenting solutions and make ongoing collaborative decisions that are in the best interests of their children.

Depending on how easily everyone can reach consensus, mediation can move very quickly. For example, I recently finished an Illinois divorce mediation where the parties were able to complete their entire settlement process in as little as four sessions.

If you’re struggling with your current separation or divorce process, mediation could be the answer. Contact me for more information on our effective divorce mediation services.


About Erin Birt:

Erin_Birt_3703Illinois 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 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.

Collaborative Divorce Now Key For Couples With Children

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-broken-family-loving-parents-eps-image521714For couples with children, one of the more difficult aspects of the divorce process is creating a workable parenting solution where both parents can regularly participate in their children’s lives.

Any contention between the divorcing couple often leaves one parent or the other on the short end of parenting opportunities, which can have a negative effect on everyone in the family.

While the emotional aspect is very important, there is now also a key legal reason for divorcing couples in Illinois to develop a collaborative parenting solution post-divorce.

Lower Standard Of Evidence

Recently, the Illinois Appellate Court established an evidence standard that now makes it easier for a parent to move to another state with a minor child.

This change comes from the case In re Parentage of Rogan M, in which a mother appealed a circuit court’s ruling denying her petition to move from Illinois to California with her minor child due to a change in employment.

The circuit court ruled that a removal petition is a petition to modify the child’s custody, requiring “clear and convincing” evidence that the move is in the best interest of the child.

The appeals court reversed this decision and ruled in favor of the mother, stating that “a removal petition is not a petition to modify custody under section 610 of the Marriage Act.”

It then further established the evidence standard of a request to permanently remove a child from Illinois as the low “preponderance of the evidence” standard and not the high, more stringent, “clear and convincing” evidence standard.

While this ruling benefits a parent who wishes to move to another state with a child, it can be a difficult burden for the parent remaining in Illinois.

Collaboration Can Make A Difference

The lower standard of evidence ruling now makes it easier for one parent to remove a minor child to another state, even over the objections of the other parent.

Not all situations are this drastic, but the ruling is a critical reminder for divorcing couples in Illinois to develop parenting solutions that allow both parents to continue to play an active role in the lives of their children.

As an experienced attorney in Illinois collaborative divorce law and uncontested divorce services, I can help divorcing parents to create the practical and effective solutions that work in the best interests of both the parents and the children–even when they don’t reside in the same state.

Contact me to learn more about these services and how they can help continue parent involvement after divorce.


About Erin Birt:

Erin_Birt_37031Illinois 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 uncontested divorce expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such as flat fee uncontested divorce packages 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.

Uncontested Divorce That Really Works

Rear view of couple with judge writing at desk in courtAsk many divorced people about their experience of the process, and you’ll likely hear that it was just too much–too much aggravation, too much time, too much money.

Even uncontested divorce, where both parties have reached an agreement before going to court, can be time-consuming, expensive and difficult if the proper documents are not prepared by a qualified divorce attorney. Thankfully, there is a very viable option for divorcing couples in Illinois.

A Kinder, Gentler Divorce

For those going through an uncontested Illinois divorce, our firm offers a Flat Fee Uncontested Illinois Divorce Package that really can get you through the process quickly, easily and less expensively, as one of our recent actual cases proves.

A husband and wife decided that their troubled marriage could not be repaired and struggled with the decision to start the legal process to divorce. They decided to physically separate at a time they believed would be in the best interests of their daughter and thus decided to maintain separate residences within the same town for a period of time.

During their separation, they had the freedom to figure out a non-traditional parenting schedule (i.e. not the traditional every other weekend visits with Dad) that worked well for them. They learned what worked and what didn’t work for them, adjusting the parenting schedule several times to find the right fit.

Once everyone adjusted to the new living arrangements, the parents next tried to figure out how they could minimize the costs of a formal divorce but still protect their family by having a lawyer guide them through the process.

The Mother contacted the Birt Law firm and retained our Flat Fee Uncontested Divorce services, allowing her and the family to be confident that they could afford legal services with no surprising monthly invoices for more than the parties earned at their jobs. It took approximately six weeks to create the initial legal documents, and once the Father had these documents reviewed by an independent attorney, he signed and agreed to them.

The Judge appreciated that the parties had practiced their non-traditional parenting plan for over six months so that they could attest that their parenting plan was successful for their family. The Judge approved their agreement and the case was ultimately finalized within three months. This was a huge success for that family, as parenting/custody cases can sometimes last 18 months or longer.

Client Feedback

After the conclusion of the case, the Mother shared that she greatly appreciated being able to contact our firm via email or telephone anytime with questions, concerns or updates.

She was thankful that we never billed her for each minute she spent communicating with the firm and also grateful that the firm did not reject her family’s parenting plan, as other litigation attorneys did.

Lastly, she valued our suggestions to the family to help the Judge believe that their parenting agreement was in fact in the best interest of their child.

If an uncontested divorce is in your future, contact me to learn the details of our flat fee package and how we can make it work for your specific situation.


About Erin Birt:

Illinois 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 flat fee uncontested divorce packages 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.

Amended Spousal Maintenance Laws in 2015

Judge Hitting Mallet On DollarBeginning January 1, 2015, significant changes will take effect in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

For divorcing couples in Illinois, 2015 will bring standardized rules for determining the amount and length of court-ordered financial support payments (aka spousal maintenance or alimony) by one spouse to the other.

It appears there will be no change in how the court decides whether or not maintenance is necessary.

♦ AWARD AMOUNTS ♦

• Proposed ChangesCurrently there is a great deal of subjectivity in spousal maintenance decisions which have led to inconsistent maintenance awards in Illinois. The inconsistent awards stem from the permitted subjectivity and discretion of a Judge who is influenced by their own personal background and experience.

When the new law takes effect, the court must follow updated guidelines based on a mathematical formula that uses the income percentages of both spouses as well as the length of the marriage.

These guidelines should help judges to more easily and objectively determine both the amount and length of any financial support, making awards more predictable and consistent.

This in turn should help prevent additional appeals litigation, reduce divorce attorney fees and decrease frustration for divorcing couples by providing realistic expectations of what will be paid or received.

• Who It AffectsThese new rules will primarily apply to divorcing couples with a combined household income of $250,000 or less and where neither person has children from a previous marriage.

• One CautionThe court isn’t obligated to follow the new formula to determine a maintenance award. It, however, must create findings that clearly explain why it did not follow the formula.

♦ AWARD EXTENSIONS ♦

• Proposed Changes – Current law prevents a Judge from terminating maintenance payments awarded for a fixed period of time without consent of both spouses. In other words, court ordered maintenance payments are always reviewable under current Illinois law.

Under the new law, Illinois divorce courts will now have the authority to block renewals of fixed-term maintenance payments without the agreement of both divorcing parties.

A terminating maintenance award protects the paying party from the financial difficulty of unexpected payment continuation because the receiving party cannot return and ask the court for a time extension.

• Who It Affects – Couples married less than ten years will feel the most impact from these changes.

Contact me today to learn the specifics of this new law, how they would impact your divorce proceedings and how I can help you navigate this updated process.


About Erin Birt:

Erin_Birt_3703.compressed web pageIllinois 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 team of collaborative professionals develop creative outcomes 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.