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Teaming Legal and Mediation Services In Your Divorce

conflict resolution cycle illustrationTo get through your divorce with the best concessions in place, hiring a lawyer is always a good idea. To reach those concessions through effective communication and negotiation versus anger and conflict, hiring a lawyer such as a Mediation Consulting Attorney will help you determine those best concessions.

In some situations, the court will specifically require divorce mediation assistance, and a new trend to help you meet your goals is retaining a Mediation Consulting Attorney.

The good news is that currently legal divorce services and mediation services do not have to be separate and distinct during the divorce process. Rather, they can work as a team to help all parties get the results they desire at the end of the marriage.

THE ROLE OF A MEDIATION CONSULTING ATTORNEY

Also known as a Limited Scope Attorney, a Divorce Legal Consultant, or a Collaborative Divorce Attorney, this person helps all parties to come to agreement on the various issues of their particular divorce case. This includes facilitating dialogue, identifying any issues between parties, clarifying points of consensus, preparing a spouse for the mediation sessions and/or divorce litigation, and exploring any and all alternatives to reach a settlement everyone approves.

A Mediator must work equally in the best interests of both parties, does not act as an attorney or advocate for either side, does not provide legal counsel, and does not make any decisions on disputes between the divorcing parties. A Divorce Mediator stays impartial to any one party’s needs and neutral around the results of the collaboration efforts. Hiring a Mediation Consulting Attorney, however, provides you with an advocate for your side and a convenient and timely way to obtain legal advice without disrupting or prolonging the mediation process.

THE ROLE OF THE DIVORCE LAWYER

Unlike the Mediation Consulting Attorney, divorce lawyers are obligated to work for the specific party that hires them, advising them and preparing any required legal documents in preparation for litigation. Lawyers are always partial to the needs of their client and will work to create the best possible outcome for that person. A good Mediation Consulting Attorney, however, also knows the value of mediation, particularly in difficult or contentious divorces and will work with the mediation process, not disrupt or terminate it.

HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER

Working as a collaborative team, lawyers and mediators can help divorcing couples to reach effective agreements. In this scenario, parties can agree to meet with the Mediation Consulting Attorney with both of their lawyers present, with one or the other’s lawyer present, or without either of their lawyers present.

If one party wants to bring a lawyer, the other party is notified of this prior to the mediation session to determine whether that lawyer will also participate.

When necessary, the divorcing parties can agree to bring on other collaborative professionals to help with financial issues, property division, child custody and support matters, or any other situations that need expert assistance to reach a solution. I spend my time networking and collaborating with other divorce professionals so that I can assist my client with building the best team for support and knowledge during the divorce process.

I am available to work as a Mediation Consulting Attorney to fill the gap between mediator and divorce litigation and I can help support you through any aspect of your divorce process. My focus is DuPage, Cook, Will, and Kane Counties, including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Chicago, Plainfield, Elgin and others.

Contact me for more information on services for your specific area.


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. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

Tips For Your Final Divorce Hearing

Midsection of male judge with mallet and weight scale at desk against black backgroundYour divorce planning is done and your final divorce hearing, or Prove Up Hearing, has arrived.

This is when the divorcing parties formally request that the judge approve the terms of their settlement, enter a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, and finalize the case.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for this hearing so you’ll know both what you should expect and what’s expected of you.

  • First and foremost, it’s ok to be nervous. Your attorney will be there to assist you, and the actual hearing generally takes just a few minutes.

  • Prepare for this hearing with your attorney ahead of time. This preparation will lower your anxiety and fear of the unknown. If you’ve done any family mediation, things should go very smoothly.

  • Wear business-like clothing, a dress, or slacks and a top. Jeans are not appropriate when appearing before a judge. A suit is not required but can be worn if that is your typical business day attire.

  • Leave your phone, tablet or other electronic devices in your car to quickly get through courthouse security. Every county is a little different on this, but if these items cause a delay you could potentially miss your court appearance. Better safe than sorry.

  • Make sure you bring a copy of your most recent settlement agreement to present to the judge. Make a final review before the hearing of this and all other documents to be given to the judge.

  • Other people will be in the room when you appear before the judge. However, don’t worry if you get emotional. Most judges have tissues available or will take a break if you need it.

  • Listen carefully to the questions you are asked. You will have prepared for them with your attorney before the hearing, but emotions can sometimes disrupt how well you understand what was asked. It’s perfectly fine to request that a question be repeated.

  • Be ready for the judge to make a speech after the hearing. This typically includes the findings made by the judge and an approval of the settlement agreement.

  • Once the hearing is over, your attorney will answer any new or remaining questions you have, discuss the finality of the Judgment, and advise you how to best obtain a certified copy of the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.

Whether you’ve just begun your divorce process, have scheduled the final hearing, or need post-divorce modifications, I can provide the legal support and guidance you need. Contact me for more details.


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. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

Is Divorce Truly The Best Solution?

Vector concept of Questions Couples, question markIf divorce has been put on the table by you or your spouse, stop and consider one very important thing: Are you truly ready for all the emotional and legal issues that come with divorce planning?

This idea is explored in a recent article on Mediate.com titled “Are You Really Ready for Divorce? The 8 Questions You Need to Ask by Bruce Derman and Wendy Gregson, both experts in Collaborative Divorce.

Below are the eight specific questions from the article and a brief overview of each.

  1. “Do You Still Have Feelings For Your Partner?” – Many people who still love each other will consider divorce because of power struggles or intimacy issues. The authors state, “If this is you, it is best that you work on your relationship prior to deciding to divorce otherwise your feelings of loss will overwhelm you and you may find yourself worse off after the divorce than you are now.”

  2. “Were you ever really married?” – We’re talking about the emotional aspects, not the legal state. The authors describe it as a relationship that has no “us” to it; rather it’s just two people meeting their own needs. “If you have not developed a genuine ‘we’ in your relationship,” say Derman and Gregson, “this would be the time to either commit to learning how to do that or to admit that you have never really had a marriage.”

  3. “Are you truly ready for divorce or are you just threatening?” – Are you using the threat of divorce to force your partner to change or to raise awareness of your marriage issues when you don’t really want to split? Those truly ready for divorce will want to move on with their lives and don’t have to blame their partner for making it happen, according to the authors.

  4. “Is this a sincere decision based on self-awareness or is it an emotionally reactive decision?” – Derman and Gregson state, “To be ready for divorce is to have a lower emotional attachment to the person you are separating from, otherwise, the divorce process itself will be roller coaster of intense feelings, including anger, distrust and hurt.”

  5. “What is your intent in wanting a divorce?”If it is for any other reason than ending your marriage, you need to rethink things, say the authors. A divorce will not fix all the things that were wrong in your relationship.

  6. “Have you resolved your internal conflict over the divorce?” – Know that you can (and will) feel guilty or betrayed while simultaneously feeling glad that the marriage is over. As the authors put it, “Recognizing the conflict and owning that different parts of you will be struggling with the impact of divorce, at different times, is part of the process of getting ready for divorce.”

  7. “Can you handle the unpleasant consequences of divorce?” – It’s a fact, say Derman and Gregson, that your divorce will cause pain for your children, extended family and friends. It will probably change your lifestyle financially and personally. There will be times of feeling lost and afraid. If you’re not ready to accept these consequences, you probably aren’t ready for divorce.

  8. “Are you willing to take control of your life in a responsible and mature way?” – People have many different reactions to ending a marriage. “They can come from a position of bitterness, revenge or helplessness or they can negotiate for their future from a position of strength, understanding and respect,” say the authors. “The attitude you choose will determine the type of divorce you have.”

Knowing the answers to these questions can mean the difference between a long, expensive, emotionally-damaging process and a divorce where each party gets what they need through Illinois Collaborative Divorce Law.

As a Dupage County divorce attorney, I can help you work through these questions and any others to end your marriage in a positive, respectful 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. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

Potential Changes to Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act

Exit strategyThe Illinois General Assembly has passed a major update to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). If signed by the Governor, the new IMDMA will offer many positive changes for divorcing couples in Illinois.

Here is an outline of proposed changes taken from a recent article in the Illinois Bar Journal by Matthew Hector.

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

  • Except in cases of irreconcilable differences, the new Act will remove all grounds for divorce previously listed in the IMDMA.

  • The term “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage will automatically be presumed when divorcing parties have lived separate and apart for at least six months.

  • Couples who are in agreement about divorce can now proceed immediately, no six-month waiting period required. Divorcing couples who don’t agree to a six-month waiting period no longer have a mandatory two-year wait for divorce.

  • A judge must enter an order of dissolution within 60 days of the closing of proofs.

CHILD CUSTODY

  • Emphasis is now on parental responsibility rather than who will get custody of a child.

  • While some decisions (health, religion, and extra-curricular activities) will be shared between both parents, in some cases the responsibility for specific decisions will be granted to the parent who can best make those decisions. For example, a parent who is a teacher might be assigned to make educational choices.

  • The best interests of the child remain paramount.

CHILD RELOCATION

  • Custodial parents in the following counties can relocate with a child up to 25 miles without court approval: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will.

  • Those in other counties can move up to 50 miles without court permission.

  • Any move of 25 miles or less can be across the state line without leave of the court; Illinois courts will retain jurisdiction over custody issues.

PROPERTY DIVISION AND MAINTENANCE

  • The court must now provide the reasons for allocation decisions.

  • For marriages of ten years of less, fixed periods can be set during which a maintenance decision cannot be changed by a court order.

  • Allocation decisions are no longer automatically subject to review by either party filing a motion.

“HEART BALM” DECISIONS

  • The following divorce actions will be eliminated in the new IMDMA:

    • Alienation of Affection

    • Breach of Promise to Marry

    • Adultery/Criminal Conversation

Contact me if you would like to learn more about current Illinois family law or the proposed changes to the IMDMA and how they could affect your divorce planning.


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. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

More Effective Illinois Divorce Options

Negotiate You and I Want Street Signs Negotiation AgreementAnyone dealing with legal issues, divorce in particular, deserves to have all the information necessary to make the best possible decisions. This can be tricky if you’re not a legal professional or can’t afford one to help you, but a new Illinois policy will help change this for the better.

THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT SPEAKS

The Illinois Supreme Court recently issued a new policy to help ensure that litigants are informed about the many important and helpful services available to them. These include pro-bono (free) and low-cost legal services, legal aid hotlines, and internet-based resources.

For anyone who is or will be involved in divorce proceedings, two of these services are worth noting. They are:

  • Limited Scope Legal Services
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Services

While the names are fancy, the important part is that both of these services fall under the larger umbrella of Illinois collaborative divorce law and divorce mediation, which have a proven history of successful divorce resolutions with little or no time spent in court.

CLIENT SUCCESS STORIES

Below are summaries of two Birt Law divorce cases where clients started out in the formal divorce litigation process, with little or no success. When they began working with us using limited scope services including divorce mediation and the collaborative divorce process, they were able to create solutions that satisfied all parties.

  • Case 1 – A young couple with no children initiated their divorce at the courthouse and soon realized that the amount of time spent at the courthouse and with attorneys might be better served with a mediator. They came to me with much anger about the process and hurt emotions. We worked around their schedules to minimize time off from work, which also minimized hostility and anger during the sessions, and soon the parties were able to discuss matters without arguing. They quickly resolved their differences within five mediation sessions.

  • Case 2 – After attending couple’s counseling for several months, a couple with children determined they should divorce. Each consulted with divorce attorneys who informed them of the litigation process and the fees associated with the divorce process. Both parties determined that litigation was not what they had anticipated and sought the help of attorneys who would meet with both of them periodically to discuss and negotiate a parenting plan. They also wanted to work with a financial professional to address the allocation of assets and debts. After explaining limited scope services, our client stated, “I am thankful that I can hire an attorney that listens to what I want and not tell me what has to happen.” The parties reached an agreement to settle within four weeks.

As a DuPage County divorce attorney and trained practitioner in these processes, I know that limited scope and alternative divorce resolution can create results like those outlined above, regardless of where you are in your divorce litigation. Contact me to learn how you can get started.


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. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

Facts And Benefits Of Collaborative Divorce

Teamwork EssentialsThere’s been little or no fighting. You’re on relatively good terms with each other. You actually even like each other. It’s just that you don’t love each other any longer and divorce is the inevitable outcome. In situations like this–and even ones with more emotion–collaborative divorce planning may be a very good option.

At Birt Law, we offer a Collaborative Divorce Knowledge Kit, prepared by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, which outlines the process and helps you know what to expect. Here are a few excerpts from that kit.

WHAT IS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE?

  • Collaborative Divorce, also called Collaborative Practice, is a new way for you to resolve disputes respectfully–without going to court. It offers you and your spouse or partner the support, protection, and guidance of your own lawyers, and allows you the benefit of child and financial specialists, divorce coaches, and other professionals.

  • You and your spouse control the process, make the final decisions, and pledge mutual respect and openness.

  • The discussions and negotiations of the process are kept private.

  • It is a flexible divorce solution that allows you to control your outcomes.

CASE STUDIES

These are just a few of the case studies presented in the kit that show the effectiveness of the process.

Case Studies

WHY IT WORKS

Along with providing the support of caring and talented professionals, a collaborative divorce:

  • Encourages mutual respect

  • Emphasizes the needs of children

  • Utilizes a problem-solving versus an adversarial approach

  • Identifies and addresses the interests and concerns of all

  • Prepares participants for their new lives post-divorce

As a trained collaborative law attorney, I can help you determine whether your situation could benefit from Illinois collaborative divorce law services. Contact me for more information.


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 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. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

Redefining Joint Custody in Illinois

Child custody concept.The recent Illinois Appeals Court case In re Marriage of Perez shows that the courts now favor a decision of joint custody (often without naming a custodial parent) for minor children in divorce cases.

Yet this is not always the best outcome for the children, writes Champaign County Circuit Judge Arnold F. Blockman in the June Family Law Newsletter of the Illinois State Bar Association.

CHANGES IN THE CHILD CUSTODY LAWS

In the past, the Illinois joint custody statute was defined as joint legal custody and joint physical custody, and the court could not order joint custody unless both parental parties agreed.

However, a revision of the statute in 1986 removed those two separate definitions and replaced them with the term “joint custody” along with other significant changes.

Now joint custody can be created by the court itself or by an independent request from either parent. The parties must present a Joint Parenting Agreement for court approval, and the court can “impose its own Joint Parenting Agreement if it finds that joint custody is in the best interests of the child.” Lastly, the cooperation of parents for joint parenting is a major factor in a court’s decision to award joint custody.

THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

Judge Blockman believes there is inherent danger in the trial court “imposing a joint custody order on the parties when one or both does not want joint custody or when the parties cannot agree on parenting times or the residence of the child.”

He feels a child would be harmed by the ongoing conflict in this situation, and Blockman would encourage the trial courts “to take a much more active gatekeeper role in approving joint custody agreements and adequately fulfilling its responsibility in insuring that joint custody is, in fact, in the best interest of the child.”

In the case of In re Marriage of Perez, there were major disagreements between the parents on several issues including where the child would live and specific parenting time with each party.

Blockman argues that these disagreements and lack of a custodial parent would have an ongoing impact on the child. “It is this writer’s opinion,” he states, “that when there is substantial conflict and lack of cooperation, there has to be someone making the major decisions or, at the least, someone designated as the primary custodial parent.”

For Judge Blockman, the court’s decision is simply postponing a day of reckoning when these issues will have to be addressed because the family relationships will have become strained and dysfunctional, with the child caught in the middle.

It’s his hope that the concepts of custody and joint parenting will be abolished in divorce planning in favor of litigation that actually protects minor children as they struggle with a very difficult, life-changing situation.

A divorce with child custody and visitation issues can be difficult without the right legal guidance. Contact me to learn how family mediation can help you make the best decisions for your children.


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. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

Handling Alcohol Abuse In Divorce Mediation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor divorcing families, the mediation process can be extremely helpful but also quite stressful. If anyone in the family struggles with alcohol abuse, they may manage their anxiety by coming to sessions under the influence–making the process more challenging for the mediator as well as the participants.

Author and trained mediator Charlie Mulvey addresses this issue in a recent article on the site Mediate.com, suggesting that mediators should be able to screen participants prior to a session using a portable alcohol recognition device to ensure all parties are sober. This is particularly important when negotiating child custody and visitation.

WHY SCREENING IS CRITICAL

Mulvey cites studies which show that separation or divorce rates are four times higher for alcoholics than for the general population, which means that at some point a mediator will be assisting a family struggling with this issue.

Research has also shown that alcoholism often equates with a higher rate of domestic abuse and violence, particularly with what Mulvey calls “high conflict couples” who struggle with any form of divorce mediation.

Screening for the presence of alcohol not only ensures more effective mediation but might also shine a light on domestic violence within the family. In addition, says Mulvey, it’s “just plain common sense, both for your own protection and safety, as well as the successful operation of your mediation practice.”

AN EFFECTIVE NEW TOOL

There have been many iterations of the “breathalyzer,” a device that measures a person’s blood alcohol content, but most were difficult to use and quite often inaccurate. Recently, the company Soberlink has developed a blood alcohol measuring device that is accurate, reliable and portable, making it a viable tool for family law mediators to perform DUI evaluations.

First, Soberlink can be used to confirm the sobriety of all mediation participants prior to the session. Perhaps an even more valuable use of Soberlink is to ensure child safety during visitation with the non-custodial parent.

Soberlink employs facial recognition to confirm the identity of the person using it, uses GPS to show the person’s location, and transmits results to the other parent within 60 to 90 seconds by internet, text or email. In child custody situations, this can provide peace of mind regarding a child’s safety during visitations and perhaps redevelop trust between the divorced parents, says Mulvey.

Finally, Mulvey states that “few investments in the family mediation arena have a higher potential for screening matters appropriate for mediation, providing safety and security, and ensuring a productive and successful mediation outcome for parents and children alike…”

As a trained mediator and licensed counselor for DUI risk education and treatment, I can help you successfully navigate a divorce process that involves alcohol abuse and/or domestic violence. Contact me to learn more.


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 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.

A Better Father’s Day For Divorced Dads

father and daughter playing on the beach at sunsetFather’s Day for divorced dads can be anything from bittersweet to devastatingly sad, depending on child custody and visitation decisions. According to a recent article on the website Divorce360, “Depression for men is more closely tied to the loss of children than it is to the loss of the marriage.”

POST-DIVORCE MODIFICATIONS 

The National Fatherhood Initiative has discovered that a majority of men who don’t currently live with their children believe that they spend too little time with their kids. As a result, many divorced men carry around a lot of guilt that the family breakup is damaging their children in some way.

If you’re a divorced father who wants to spend more time with your children than the standing court order currently allows, schedule a family mediation session with a qualified DuPage County divorce attorney. The mediator will help you and the other parent come together to create a post-divorce parenting schedule that works as well for you as it does for the other parent. Furthermore, your children’s emotions and perceived needs can also be discussed in the mediation, which may or may not occur in litigation.

The result could be more frequent and/or longer visits with your kids on Father’s Day, summer vacations and major holidays.

OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION

The links below will take you to web pages full of useful tips and ideas to get through Father’s Day (with or without the kids) and resources that support divorced dads in general.

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, there is a Father Absence Crisis in America. Mediation can be the first step to taking your family out of that equation.

As a qualified divorce mediator, I can help you get the process started. Contact me for more information or to schedule a mediation session.


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. She is a past board member and presenter for the Mediation Council of Illinois.

Illinois Family Law Case Summaries

wooden gavel and book isolated on whiteHere are summaries of two recent family law cases from the Appellate Court of Illinois.

PAYMENT OF OVERDUE CHILD SUPPORTIn re Marriage of Rocha

When this couple divorced in 1998, the husband was ordered to pay child support of $150 per week.

In 2001, three years after the initial “Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage,” the husband filed a motion to reduce child support because he was unemployed, and the court reduced the support amount to $74.40 per week.

Later that year, the wife informed the court that her ex-husband was actually receiving 95% of his pay from his former employer, and the court increased child support back to the original $150 per week. Eighteen months later, the ex-wife returned to court because her ex-husband had been failing to make regular support payments and was now behind on them.

The ex-husband paid some of what was owed, but fell behind again due to another job loss. He was ordered to stay current on support payments and provide evidence of a job search. Nothing else was brought before the court until 2010 when the ex-wife petitioned the court “to vacate prior court orders based on the court’s finding” because her ex-husband “fraudulently concealed his income and employment from the court beginning in 2003.”

On appeal by the ex-husband, the appellate court found in favor of the ex-wife and maintained that the ex-husband “tried to hide information for purposes of minimizing his child support obligations” and “committed a fraud on the court in 2003” because he was not truthful about his employment status and salary at that time.

As a result, the appeals court upheld the order for the ex-husband to pay $32,419.47 in unpaid child support plus $17,640.77 in interest dating back to the time of the fraud in 2003.

CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATIONIn re Marriage of Perez

As part of the dissolution of marriage in 2012, the court granted both parents in this case joint legal custody and visitation for their daughter, giving physical custody to the mother and liberal visitation rights to the father.

However, two years later, the father filed a motion for mediation to help create a new, more balanced parenting schedule. Witnesses for each parent said both were extremely committed to the happiness and stability of their child, and many extended family members also helped in the child’s care.

The child’s mother would not participate in the family mediation process, so the court created a joint parenting agreement which gave each parent joint legal custody and “joint care of the child” as well as a 50/50 schedule for parenting time. Neither home was designated as the child’s primary residence.

On appeal, the child’s mother said that the trial court was in error by granting the 50/50 parenting and for not designating her home as the child’s primary residence. The appeals court disagreed on both counts, stating that the trial court found it was in the child’s best interest “to fashion its custody order to maximize the involvement of both parties.”

Because both parents lived near each other, shared joint legal custody and had equal parenting time, the schedule was not a hardship for either party. For these same reasons, the appeals court concluded that the trial court was also within its scope when it refused to designate either parent as the “‘primary’ residential custodian.”

If you need the help of a DuPage County Divorce Attorney for child support, mediation, or other family law issues, 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