Category Collaborative Law

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.

Modifying Child Custody After Your Illinois Divorce

Child CustodyAfter a divorce many couples realize that although some decisions looked great on paper, they don’t always work in real life. This is particularly true for child custody agreements.

Once everyone has actually lived with the agreement, one parent may decide that they would prefer sole custody of the children rather than joint custody, or vice versa. However, it is not easy to modify the custody agreement of a DuPage County divorce–especially right after the divorce is finalized.

CHILD CUSTODY IN ILLINOIS DIVORCE LAW

Illinois courts encourage stability for the children of divorce in their custody decisions and generally will not modify a custody agreement earlier than two years from the original implementation date. This means it will be very difficult to modify your child custody arrangements within the first 24 months after your divorce unless your situation meets the Court’s high standard of “serious endangerment” to the child.

Specifically, the requesting parent must provide affidavits stating that the child’s current situation may be seriously endangering his emotional, physical, moral or mental health. The Court then applies the standard of clear and convincing evidence to determine whether modification is in the best interests of the child.

JOINT CUSTODY IS NOT ALWAYS AN ADVANTAGE

It’s important to note that modifying custody is not necessarily easier if a parent already has joint custody. A joint agreement that provides for sharing major decisions but not sharing parenting time does not necessarily give an “every-other-weekend” joint parent an advantage when later requesting sole custody. Joint Custody and equal parenting time, however, could be more of an advantage for a parent seeking sole custody.

Parents, however, should be aware that equal parenting time is granted in very limited circumstances and only when parents can demonstrate an ability for frequent effective communication, mutual approval of the shared parenting time agreement, and acknowledgment that the parenting schedule has worked for a period of time.

Therefore, parents should be cautioned not to believe the myth that settling for joint decision making is a stepping stone to gain sole custody in the future.  It is best to focus on the current parenting agreement as it may be binding for a very long time.

REQUESTING CHILD CUSTODY MODIFICATION

Any requests to alter a child custody arrangement must begin by meeting with a court-approved mediator. A custody evaluation with a mental health professional may follow, and absent an agreement, the case will proceed to a trial in court.

If you have any concerns over how child custody will work after your divorce, it would benefit everyone to work out the issues through DuPage County mediation prior to the actual divorce proceeding. Often a mediator will make suggestions such as enacting a proposed custody agreement pre-divorce to ensure that it meets the needs of both the parents and the children, which can potentially prevent modification after the divorce.

Contact me to learn more about my Illinois divorce mediation services and how I can help you create workable child custody arrangements.


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 Tips For A Quick Divorce In DuPage County

Divorce Signpost Means Custody Split Assets And LawyersMost people think that divorce is a long, drawn-out process that takes years to be finalized.

The truth is that with some practical planning and professional assistance, it is possible to have your DuPage County divorce completed quickly and with a minimal amount of stress.

These are three good ways to get started.

1: IDENTIFY YOUR ASSETS AND DEBTS – Start by creating a list of all your assets (including property). Be sure to note a) when the asset was obtained or the account opened; b) the names on the account or asset; and c) the item’s current value or the account’s cash balance.

If possible, talk with your spouse about how the assets and debts will be allocated. For difficult or strained relationships, an attorney can help facilitate the discussion.

TIP: Create a spreadsheet to list all this information. You can sort it by specific details, quickly add more information as you find it, and easily share it with your attorney by email.

2: SCHEDULE PARENTING TIME NOW – Issues over child visitation schedules  often create long delays in the divorce process. Coming to the divorce with a schedule in place goes a long way toward a quick settlement.

Discuss and know the details of:

  • Each party’s regular parenting time (Monday-Sunday) for both school and summer months.

  • Holiday and vacation parenting time (school holidays, government and religious holidays).

If discussions become challenging, consider hiring a mediator to help resolve these parenting issues.

TIP: Use a blank calendar and draft out the proposed parenting agreement for 24 months to truly get a sense of the parenting time each person will have and then adjust as needed.

3: HIRE AN ATTORNEY – Qualified legal assistance from a Collaborative Attorney or Uncontested Divorce Lawyer will often shorten the overall divorce process. These professionals are trained to help couples work through and come to consensus on difficult issues, and they know how best to approach judges in their local courts.

Bring the information above to the attorney to review and discuss timetables. Cases in DuPage County can be finalized relatively quickly as long as all information is properly shared with an attorney and the other party in the divorce.

My experience in collaborative and uncontested divorce in Illinois has helped many couples to reach a quick divorce settlement. Contact me to discuss your specific situation in more detail.


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.

Is Your Spouse Ignoring The Divorce?

man refusing to sign a documentDivorce is often the best solution for a troubled marriage–but what if one spouse is not ready to accept that conclusion or one party simply wants to make the divorce process long and difficult out of spite or anger?

Some couples spend months negotiating a settlement for an amicable divorce in Illinois only to have one party refuse to sign the final divorce papers. Yet even if your spouse won’t sign, you’re not doomed to stay married forever.

You have three possible approaches to end the marriage, two of which will sometimes work and one which always succeeds.

OPTION 1: TRY AN ILLINOIS DIVORCE COACH

When one party is emotionally unable to handle the end of the marriage, consider a Divorce Coach. This person is trained to help parties work through those emotional aspects of a divorce which are often not addressed during the legal process. Coming to terms with these issues through this type of divorce resource, which can also assist divorce mediation, often results in a signature, but there’s no guarantee.

OPTION 2: SUGGEST A SETTLEMENT MEETING

In this scenario, commonly called a four-way settlement conference, both spouses meet with divorce attorneys present to review and discuss all the provisions of the divorce agreement and sign the papers at the end of the meeting. However, there are situations where changes must be made and reviewed at another meeting before both parties are comfortable signing the agreement, but attempting a settlement meeting, or initiating a collaborative divorce which contains several settlement meetings, can sometimes open the door to compromise and finality.

OPTION 3: FILE A PETITION FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE

This is the choice that always works when one party will not agree to participate in the divorce. Your legal options include seeking a default judgment or setting a trial date to finalize the divorce in court. As long as you can prove the grounds for divorce (mental cruelty, irreconcilable differences after a two-year waiting period, etc.), the Court can enter a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage without the agreement or signature of the other party.

In the end, a person does not have to remain in a bad marriage simply because the other spouse refuses to cooperate with the divorce proceedings.

If your spouse is not willing to collaborate or participate in your divorce, contact me to learn all the options for finalizing the process without dual consent.


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 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 Adultery Relevant In Illinois Divorces?

lipstick shirtIllinois couples dealing with adultery should know that it is not used in an Illinois divorce court except in very specific circumstances.

In other words, it’s often not relevant unless there are children involved or funds are being used to support the affair.

THE LEGAL SPECIFICS

Because Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, adultery does not factor into the court’s decisions unless:

  • It creates a serious child custody issue or
  • The affair depleted marital assets in some way.

Most often, however, the court follows the Illinois no-fault divorce law and makes its determinations for division and maintenance of marital property without regard to marital misconduct. For child custody issues, Illinois law suggests that “the court shall not consider the conduct of a present or proposed custodian that does not affect his relationship with the child.”

The only part of Illinois divorce law that considers fault is for a claim of dissipation (or depletion) of marital property which occurs when one spouse uses marital property or funds for something unrelated to the marriage while it was experiencing an unresolvable collapse.

In this case, the party charged with dissipation must prove that the property or funds were spent for a marital purpose. However, there are other factors that can prevent reimbursement so it’s worth reviewing this with an experienced divorce attorney.

ADULTERY AND COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

Using a collaborative divorce in cases of adultery can be tricky, but not impossible. For collaboration to work, both parties must agree to the terms of the dissolution of marriage before the divorce case can be filed with the court.

If the wronged party can overcome the emotional issues that come with adultery, collaboration is a way to create workable solutions around child custody issues and spousal maintenance payments. A skilled collaborative divorce lawyer can be of great help in these situations.

If you have specific questions about filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery, contact me for more information on your options, including collaborative divorce.


 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.

Client Feedback On Divorce Mediation And Counseling Support

PrintPeople dealing with divorce or mental health issues have a great deal on their plates. Whether I’m working out a parenting plan through divorce mediation or performing addiction counseling, I love helping my clients find the path to a new (and hopefully happier) life.

When asked, my clients are very willing to share their thoughts on how I’ve helped them, and I can’t thank them enough for their wonderful feedback!

COMMENTS FROM ILLINOIS LEGAL CLIENTS

  • “I appreciated her availability and her knowledge of the legal process.  She was very flexible and adapted easily to all of the curve balls that came our way through my divorce.” ~ Client, Wheaton, Illinois

  • “I valued the way in which Erin would intercede in a very direct yet calming and consultative way when a dispute was encountered. Erin is truly a gifted mediator.  Needless to say, when ending a 20+ year relationship, there is no shortage of emotions.  Erin handled all of them beautifully, always smoothing things over and making it look easy.” ~ Client, Roselle, Illinois

  • “She was very down to earth. Erin made it very comfortable to work through the situation and very fair.  I felt I could trust her and that she was genuinely trying to help us do what was best.” ~ Client, North Aurora, Illinois

  • “I really enjoyed having Erin represent me. Erin is very sincere, trustworthy and is very quick to respond to any and all issues which arise.” ~ Client, Naperville, Illinois

THOUGHTS FROM CLIENTS OF The Birt Group

  • “Learned a lot of information about alcohol & drugs I wasn’t aware of before. Definitely would be my number one recommendation to others”. – TBG Client

  • “I just really appreciate the acceptance I felt here. It has helped me tremendously in me with my situation”. – TBG Client

  • “Erin was very kind and compassionate and made group both entertaining as well as educational. I found this group to be very helpful.” – TBG Client

  • “Welcoming environment, great information, Erin is awesome!” – TBG Client

  • “Erin is very approachable and allowed us all to feel that we could be open and honest.” – TBG Client

I believe my success comes from understanding people and working with them right where they are, just as they are to find the best possible solutions for their specific situations. This is not just my job. It’s my passion, and my clients make it all worthwhile.

If you need legal advice or counseling assistance in Illinois, please contact me to learn how I can help.


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.

Creating New Thanksgiving Traditions After Divorce

Father and sonFor divorced couples and their families, Thanksgiving can be anything but a day of celebration.

While it may always be a difficult day, creating new traditions can eventually help Thanksgiving to again become a special rather than a dreaded time of year.

HOLIDAY IDEAS FOR DIVORCED SPOUSES

Divorced partners with no children can feel especially lost on this family holiday, but there are options to keep the blues at bay.

  • Consider visiting your parents or perhaps some distant relatives you haven’t seen for a while. Better yet, invite them to your place for dinner and bring back the joy of creating a family celebration.

  • Check with co-workers, church members or gym friends to see if any of them will also be alone for the holiday and invite them for a formal dinner or a potluck gathering. You may find that this becomes your new extended family for many holidays throughout the year.

  • Reach out to help those less fortunate than you. Contact local charity groups to see what help they need such as serving a holiday meal at a homeless shelter or food pantry. When you focus on helping others, you forget your own problems for a while and generally feel better about yourself.

  • Embrace your alone time. Tackle that project you’ve been meaning to do or rent that movie you’ve wanted to watch. Make a list of the things you can be thankful for right now such as good health, a great job or supportive friends.

Whatever you choose, remember that it’s ok if emotions bubble up. That’s to be expected, even when you’re with other people. Be kind to yourself and remember that you’re doing the best you can to move on and create new, happier memories.

TIPS FOR FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN

Even divorced couples on good terms with each other can find themselves in conflict over where the children will go for the holidays. Consider using divorce mediation to create a formal agreement around holiday visitation to prevent this additional stress on yourself and your kids.

Once the situation is settled, start thinking about how to enjoy Thanksgiving in a new way.

  • For the parent who will be with the children, don’t try to recreate everything you did before the divorce. Instead, make new memories such as eating on tray tables in the living room while watching a holiday movie or even going out for a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. (Pizza, anyone?)

  • Pick up craft kits for you and the kids to do during the day or have a board game marathon with older kids.

  • If your children won’t be with you on the actual day, have your own Thanksgiving with them on a different day. You can be thankful for your blessings on any day of the year!

  • Remember that your kids may feel guilty and sad about leaving you, so send them off with a smile. Tell them you’ll miss them but they’re going to have a great day and you’ll see them soon. Then consider some of the options in the first section to keep you from feeling lonely.

With a little flexibility and imagination, you can create new Thanksgiving traditions that will become cherished memories for both you and your children.

Contact me to learn about using divorce mediation to create a workable holiday visitation schedule.


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.

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.