Category Family Law

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.

Helpful Tips For Adjusting To Divorce

Love word erased by pencil eraserFor some of us, the end of the year is the time to leave painful memories behind and focus on new beginnings in the coming twelve months. This is particularly true if you’ve experienced a separation or divorce–even if it was amicable.

In my blogs and posts this year I’ve shared advice and tips of my own and from others that I hope were helpful in adjusting to divorce, particularly at this time of year.

In case you missed any or would benefit from reviewing them again, here’s a quick summary of three posts that offer some very beneficial information.

  • 5 Things You Need To Know About Happiness After DivorceThis Huffington Post article says that you certainly can be happy after divorce–depending on how you choose to look at it. Obviously a positive approach will be beneficial, and the article offers five uplifting thoughts that were posted online by actual divorcés to describe how they’re handling this new life situation. Chances are you’ll find something to help you.

  • Tips for Surviving Christmas as a Divorced ParentAlthough this piece focuses on Christmas, the advice it offers is helpful for getting through celebrations at any time during the year. This includes birthdays and graduations as well as the biggies like Thanksgiving. Kids or not, these ideas could help you not only survive but enjoy your special days post-divorce.

  • Newly Separated? Here’s A Story You Should ReadAgain, this title is a little misleading as there’s good information here whether your divorce was yesterday or three years ago. The author takes a more spiritual approach to the situation and shares some of the questions she asked God as well as herself. In the end, she states, “Remember that your strength is YOUR gift, and a silver lining not just of divorce, but of any nightmare.”

My hope is that you found these and other articles I’ve offered to be helpful in some way. As an experienced Illinois divorce attorney, I love to offer support from both a personal and professional perspective throughout the year to anyone who could use it.

Please feel free to follow my blogs, connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn or contact me directly for more information as you need it. May you continue to move forward and truly have a Happy New Year!


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.

Will Your Postnuptial Agreement Stand Up In Court?

Prenuptial ( premarital ) agreementIllinois couples creating a postnuptial–similar to a prenuptial or premarital–agreement should carefully develop this document to ensure it will be valid and enforceable in the event of a divorce.

As noted in the recent case In re Marriage of Iqbal and Khan, it’s important that the document does not “overreach” in what is required of either party or it will not stand in court.

The summary that follows is taken from the article “In re Marriage of Iqbal and Khan: A reminder not to overplay your hand in drafting postnuptial agreements” by Patrick B. Hurley which appeared in the December Family Law Newsletter of the Illinois State Bar Association.

FACTS OF THE CASE

This particular case is somewhat different from other PNA cases in that, along with the more standard terms, it stated that the couple would base their relationship on the Holy Quran and appointed a person as a third party “Religious and Marital Counselor and Arbiter” of the couple’s marital affairs.

The terms also included that the couple must consult with and obtain the approval and authorization of this third party arbiter for major issues such as finances, child rearing, work and divorce or separation.

In addition, if the wife should seek an “unreasonable divorce” she would lose all rights to her share of the marital home and either party seeking an “unreasonable divorce” would forfeit all custody rights to their three minor children, regardless of what is in their best interests.

Both parties were also prohibited from calling authorities for any incident except life-threatening emergencies without the arbiter’s approval. Any party that did so would be in violation of the agreement.

THE COURT’S RULING

After review, the appellate court ruled that the PNA was invalid and unenforceable for several reasons.

First, the lawyer who created it was the husband’s nephew and later represented him for a time during dissolution of marriage proceedings. In addition, it was not clear whether the wife had legal counsel when negotiating the agreement.

The court also found the term unreasonable divorce (which is the basic grounds for the agreement) to be “vague, ambiguous, and uncertain” and stated that the overall terms of the PNA were “significantly one-sided or oppressive” in that they were aimed at keeping the wife from ever filing for divorce.

Finally, the forfeiture of custody requirement was too excessive for the court to agree with.

THE LESSON FOR COUPLES AND LEGAL COUNSEL

When done well, a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement can create peace of mind for couples. As the outlined case shows, however, the agreement needs to benefit both parties in the event of dissolution of marriage and must be reasonable in its requirements for seeking a divorce.

If you are considering a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage in Illinois, or a postnuptial agreement after marriage, contact me for assistance with this important pre-marriage or post-marriage document.


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.

Rights of Birth Parents In Illinois Adoptions

AdoptionIllinois has enacted progressive adoption laws that protect the rights of birth parents (as well as adoptive parents) throughout the adoption process.

The document Birth Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities in Illinois defines the specific entitlements of birth parents and what they can expect in adoption proceedings. Some key points are highlighted here, but it’s important to read the actual document for a full understanding of your rights.

BASIC BIRTH PARENT RIGHTS

Birth parents in Illinois have a number of basic rights. These include confidentiality, being treated with respect, not being pressured into decisions and the ability to work with a social service agency if needed during the adoption process.

Be aware that that your “non-identifying social, medical and mental health information” is always shared for an agency-assisted adoption and “may be shared with adopting parents in private adoptions.”

PARENTAL RIGHTS IN AGENCY-ASSISTED ADOPTIONS

When working with an Illinois adoption agency, birth parents have the right to request “after-placement communication” with the child’s adoptive family. However, these agreements are not enforceable under current Illinois law.

You are also entitled to know everything about the agency you’re working with, including success rates and any complaints made against the agency.

Finally, you can ask to work with an attorney at no cost to you or you can retain one at your own expense. This is not a requirement for agency adoptions, but it can be helpful and prevent time-consuming errors.

RIGHTS OF BIRTH PARENTS IN PRIVATE ADOPTIONS

Probably the most important privilege in this situation is the option to choose an attorney to assist you during the process. When choosing your own adoption attorney, you have a right to:

  • Verify the attorney’s law license is active.

  • Ensure the attorney is not representing both you and the adoptive parents simultaneously.

  • Give or withhold permission to share your private information.

  • Consult with more than one lawyer before making a decision and be charged reasonable legal fees for services related to the adoption. As stated in the Rights and Responsibilities document, “Illinois laws do not permit an attorney to be paid to provide adoption services.”

As an experienced Illinois adoption lawyer, I successfully guide clients through the legal requirements to complete the adoption in a time efficient manner and help them navigate the emotional issues involved.

Contact me to learn more about the Illinois adoption law services I offer.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

Erin_Birt_37034Erin Birt is an experienced Illinois adoption attorney 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 a variety of services including adoption assistance, alternative divorce resolution, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law solutions. 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.