Category General Information

DuPage County Legal Resources

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

HISTORY AND MISSION STATEMENT

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

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

BENEFICIAL PROGRAMS

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

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

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

PRIDE IN MEMBERSHIP

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

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


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

Understanding The Role Of A GAL

GAL WorkIf your Illinois divorce includes child visitation or custody arrangements, you may be assigned a Guardian Ad Litem, often referred to as a GAL.

In Family Court, the role of this specially trained, court-appointed advocate is to protect the interests of minor children in a divorce by making recommendations to the Judge regarding custody and visitation decisions. While Judges are not required to follow a GAL’s recommendations, they often do.

The attorneys of both parents have the right to cross-examine the GAL regarding the recommendations given to the Judge.

GAL DUTIES

Once appointed, a GAL has two main duties during the custody discussions:

  • To determine what decisions will be in the best interests of the children;

  • To investigate and report to the Court on anything the GAL determines will have an effect (positive or negative) on the children.

Information is gathered in a variety of ways, most often through in-depth discussions with the child and the child’s parents. Known as a home study, this can include questions about the current situation and what you believe your child requires both now and in the future.

If necessary, the GAL will also speak with others who have insights about the child’s welfare such as teachers, neighbors, friends, relatives and doctors. The parents must provide signed releases in some of these situations.

Parents and parties involved in an Illinois divorce case should know that while there are certain duties and obligations of the GAL, information provided to the GAL is not confidential and can be disclosed to the court.

GAL TRAINING

To perform the role of a GAL, a person must participate in on-going specialized training for their particular legal jurisdiction to understand the relevant laws and specific procedures that must be followed. Topics can include mediation and negotiation skills, family and domestic violence issues, child development issues, dynamics of child abuse and neglect, and more.

For Illinois child custody cases, a Guardian Ad Litem is often an attorney who has been practicing for a specific number of years before being appointed to the role. A GAL’s report usually carries a great deal of weight with the court, so it’s important to cooperate as much as possible with the GAL and follow instructions.

I am a trained GAL who has been appointed several times a year as a Guardian Ad Litem for children in a divorce or parental custody situation. A significant amount of my practice is devoted to working with children, and I welcome the opportunity to seek their best interests in a DuPage County divorce situation.

If you need information or assistance on working with a GAL in your divorce or custody case, 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.

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.

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.

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.

The Benefits of Flat Fee Divorce Services

p_1255_00

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

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

FLAT FEE ADVANTAGES

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

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

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

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

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

SERVICES DETERMINE YOUR SPECIFIC LEGAL COSTS

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

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

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


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

All Legal Services Are Not The Same

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ABOUT ERIN BIRT:

Erin_Birt_37034Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

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

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

Collaborative Divorce Now Key For Couples With Children

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

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

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

Lower Standard Of Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collaboration Can Make A Difference

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

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

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

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


About Erin Birt:

Erin_Birt_37031Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

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

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

Amended Spousal Maintenance Laws in 2015

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

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

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

♦ AWARD AMOUNTS ♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦ AWARD EXTENSIONS ♦

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

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

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

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

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


About Erin Birt:

Erin_Birt_3703.compressed web pageIllinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.

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

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