Category General Information

Family Law In Action

Family LawAt some point, everyone needs the assistance of an experienced legal professional. This is especially true for couples experiencing separation or divorce and their attendant issues of child custody, property division and support payments.

In these situations, it can be great to have a DuPage County family law firm on your side to help ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of everyone involved. A family lawyer trained in collaborative law also works closely with a variety of financial, psychological and other experts to meet the very specific needs of each case.

There’s no better way to understand and appreciate the value of family law than to see it in action. Below are summaries of two appellate cases outlined in the Family Law section of the Illinois State Bar Association Newsletter of August 2014.

Equal Visitation Rights

The core of this appellate case centered on a mother’s visitation rights for her young child. At the time of divorce, the father was named the custodial parent and the court ordered that visitations could only occur if both the child’s mother and father agreed on the time and place of visitation.

Given that the parents rarely agreed on anything and had a difficult relationship, the mother believed that her ex-husband would never agree to any proposed time or place, thus limiting her options to see her child.

In the end, the appellate court ruled that the initial trial court was in error stating: “[T]here must be a scheduled visitation which will occur when [the parties] fail to agree,” and especially in this case where the ex-spouses had difficulty cooperating.

Support Payments

During original divorce proceedings, the court did not cap the amount of money an ex-husband would owe his ex-wife as a percentage of his future work bonuses.

The appellate court reversed this, stating that a cap should be in place. According to the court, the ruling of no cap “sets up a potential windfall for [the ex-wife] and has no evidentiary relation to her present needs or the parties’ standard of living during the marriage.”

However, the same appellate court also found for the ex-wife and kept in place a timeframe of seven years of maintenance payments before review rather than the three years requested by the ex-husband.

These are just brief summaries of the many positive things happening in Illinois Family Court every day, thanks to family law attorneys who work hard to ensure that their clients achieve the best possible outcome from a very trying situation.

Contact me to learn more about my skills and experience with family law and how I can help you through your initial proceedings as well as after your divorce.

About Erin Birt:

Erin_Birt_37034Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and family 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.


Erin Birt Published in November Issue of DCBA Brief

smiling girlsThe November issue of the DCBA Brief is out. DuPage County Family Law Attorneys Erin Birt and Elizabeth Chacko co-authored the article “The Changing Role of the Tender Years Doctrine: Gender Bias, Parenthood, and Illinois Law” in this months DCBA Brief.  Click here to read the article on page 26.

Erin and Elizabeth are also the vice-chair and chairman of the DCBA Child Advocacy Committee.  Attorneys are invited to attend the next meeting scheduled for November 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM when 4 child experts will present on the effects of divorce, the stages of change for a child, the helpful resources available for a child, and how to use the available resources to help any child cope with a separation or divorce.


Erin Birt has been a family law attorney for the last 10 years.  Prior to that she worked as a clerk at the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office in both the criminal division and the child support enforcement division.  Erin focuses her practice of law on the delicate issues of family law and strives to reach a private resolution in all matters for the benefit of the parties and their children.  To learn more about her services and practice philosophy, please visit our website or contact us at (630) 891-2478.

Erin Birt is Vice Chair of DCBA’s Child Advocacy Committee

During 2013 – 2014, Erin Birt will serve as the Vice -Chair of the DuPage County Bar Association’s Child Advocacy Committee.  The committee will organize and present on various topics such as child custody evaluations, juvenile criminal matters, juvenile probation matters, contested adoption matters, and child endangerment concerns and preventative measures.

In November 2013, the DCBA Brief will publish and article co-authored by attorneys Elizabeth Chacko and Erin Birt which highlights the changing legal aspects of custody matters.  In November, we will provide a link to the article and a brief summary.

For additional information about children and the law, custody matters, or family law matters, please contact The Law Firm of Erin N. Birt, P.C. for a no obligation consultation.  Ms. Birt has provided family law services to the community since 2001 and concentrates on adoption matters, Illinois divorce, custody and visitation, custody mediation, and Illinois collaborative divorce.  Erin is a past faculty member for the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and currently teaches in the Criminal Justice Masters Program at Aurora University.  Ms. Birt and her firm can be reached at (630) 891-2478 or privately through the firm’s website.

Erin Birt Elected Chairman for the College of DuPage

On May 6, 2013, Wheaton Atorney Erin Birt was elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the College of DuPage.  One of Ms. Birt’s first events as the Chairman was to attend and address the graduates at the 46th Commencement for the College of DuPage.

COD Board

At the 46th Commencement, Chairman Birt stated, “if there is one thought that I hope you all take with you today, it is that your hard earned degree is not an end, but rather a beginning to your commitment to lifelong learning.”

Ms. Birt is also a graduate of the College of DuPage.  Erin studied addiction counseling at the College of DuPage and has turned her education into a business that helps others.  She is the owner and a counselor at The Birt Group, an alcohol and drug counseling and DUI services agency. Ms. Birt is also a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the DePaul College of Law.



Erin Birt is a Family Law Attorney, Collaborative Divorce Attorney, Family Law Mediator, and Addictions Counselor.  She is the owner of The Law  Firm of Erin Birt and The Birt Group.  She is a past presenter for the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, the Collaborative Institute of Illinois, the Mediation Council of Illinois, the DuPage County Bar Association, and she is an adjunct professor at Aurora University.  Click here to learn more about Erin and her professional services. To contact Erin, please call (630) 891-2478.

Illinois Uniform Collaborative Law Act Update

On February 13, 2013, members of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois (“CLII”) traveled to Springfield, IL and met with many various groups, legislators, and senators.  It was very productive and valuable information was learned by the members of CLII.  CLII hopes to have a continued discussion with law makers over the next few weeks/months and are hoping to have the Illinois Uniform Collaborative Law Act up for hearing in the near future.  For additional information please visit or feel free to contact Erin Birt at (630) 891-2478 to learn more about collaborative law and the UCLA.

Divorce in the News & Around the Web

We can learn divorce lessons from others.  Below are links to divorce topics in the news and around the web for this week:

PTSD After Divorce [Huffington Post]

How do I pay debts after divorce? [Fox Business]

When the Vows Break: Celebrity Divorce Lists Offer Opportunity to Learn from Marriage Mistakes [Huffington Post]

When Divorce Makes a Better Dad [The New York Times]

There are many reasons why couples decide to end their marriage. Often, lessons can be learned from others.  Know that there are many divorce options available for couples.  For an assessment of your Illinois divorce needs, please contact The Law Firm of Erin Birt at (630) 891-2478.



Illinois DUI Risk Education: Alcohol as a Drug

In Illinois, an arrest for a DUI offense will include requirements to attend risk education, early intervention class, or treatment groups.  Illinois DUI Risk Education generally covers the following: alcohol, drugs, the effect of alcohol and drugs on the body and driving, the effect on the family, and the penalties associated with a DUI and subsequent DUI offenses.

One of the topics that is included in DUI Risk Education is Alcohol as a Drug. The DUI Risk Education at The Birt Group (TBG) and other Illinois licensed DUI agencies generally starts with the group discussing their experience or a topic of relevance to the risk education group.  After the group discussion, the class will focus on the content that the State of Illinois wants every DUI offender to learn.  For the class “Alcohol as a Drug”, TBG covers the following topics:

1. Current issues in the news about Alcohol;

2. Alcohol as a drug;

3. What can Alcohol do? (Physiological and Pharmacological Effects);

4. How Alcohol effects driving;

5. BAC – what is it, how is it measured, gender differences, and # of drinks for a BAC level;

6. If time permits, a 10 minute video is viewed that explains alcohol abuse, dependency, and resources for help; and

7. At the end of class, a coping skills exercise is presented.

Clients that attend risk education and learn new coping skills have a lower chance of being arrested for a subsequent DUI offense. In Illinois, the DUI risk education program is 10 hours in duration which is divided over a period of 4 days.  The Birt Group, Inc. offers DUI Risk Education on Saturday mornings from 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM. Clients can finish the program in 4 weeks.  TBG also offers an expedited DUI Risk Education Program, please contact us at (630) 891 -2478 for details and cost. We also offer Moderate Risk and Significant Risk Groups.

The Birt Group serves clients in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville, Winfield, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Lombard, Elmhurst, Downers Grove, and Oak Brook as well as other cities located in DuPage County. We have experience serving clients in Coles County, Cook County, McLean County, Will County, and Kane County as well as other counties throughout Illinois.


Erin Birt, the owner and one of the counselors at TBG, has over 10 years of experience working with clients affected by a DUI offense.  In addition to being an attorney with past DUI experience at the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office, she has been working in the field of substance abuse and addiction since 2008.  Ms. Birt has presented to various audiences including lawyers and mental health professionals on the topic of alcohol & drug abuse and dependency. She is also an adjunct professor at Aurora University in the Criminal Justice Department.


Assessment for Illinois Divorce Options

Considering a divorce in Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, or Will County? There are many Illinois divorce options to consider such as: Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, Cooperative Divorce, A La Carte Divorce, and a service unique to the Law Firm of Erin Birt, The Flat Fee Uncontested Divorce Package.

To assess what is an appropriate divorce option for a client, several questions should be asked.  Below is a sample of questions that our firm provides to its clients to help determine the appropriate divorce method and to minimize the time, conflict and frustration that is often associated with a divorce.


  1. Have you exhausted all attempts at reconciliation?
  2. Is there past or current physical or mental abuse in the relationship?
  3. Are there past or current alcohol or drug abuse issues?


  1. Do you know there are two types of child/ren issues – financial and non-financial?
  2. Do you know who the child/ren will primarily live with?
  3. Do you know the difference between joint custody and sole custody?
  4. Do you anticipate any issues with you or your spouse removing the child/ren from the state of Illinois?
  5. What does your parenting schedule look like during the school year?
  6. What does you parenting schedule look like for the summer?
  7. Are you aware of – or – Have you attended the parenting program required for your county?

Parent’s Property & Financial:

  1. Have you made a list of assets acquired during the marriage and before the marriage? Do you need assistance with the characterization of assets (marital verses non-marital)?
  2. Will you or your spouse need financial support?
  3. Are there any health issues that prevent a party from working?

There are approximately 70 questions that can help a couple minimize conflict in a divorce and help assess what Illinois divorce service options are appropriate for your family.  Related questions and considerations can also be found in our December post “Divorce by the New Year?“.  Additional assessment questions will be included in future posts.

Individuals contemplating a divorce in Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County and Will County can meet with Erin Birt, an Illinois Divorce Attorney, for a consultation and assessment to learn more about an appropriate divorce option.  One divorce method does not fit all families and at The Law Firm of Erin Birt, our clients are informed upfront about the many divorce options and fee options available.  The firm’s goal is to meet our clients needs and financial expectations.

To schedule a 1/2 hour consultation, please contact our office at (630) 891-2478 or via our Contact Page on our website.Wheaton Illinois Family Law Attorney, Erin Birt, serves clients in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville, Winfield, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Lombard, Elmhurst, Downers Grove, and Oak Brook as well as other cities located in DuPage County. We also have experience serving clients in Cook County, Will County, and Kane County.


Illinois Divorce Attorney Erin Birt has over 10 years of experience in family law & divorce law and has been a divorce & family mediator since 2004. Ms. Birt has presented on the topics of mediation & divorce for various continuing education forums including the DuPage County Bar Association (DCBA) and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). She also serves as an elected board member to the Board of Trustees for the College of DuPage and is an adjunct professor at Aurora University.






Divorce by the New Year?

Do you plan to be divorced in Illinois by the New Year?  At the time of this post, there are approximately 12 days until the New Year.  If you and your spouse want to finalize your divorce in Illinois before January 1st, here are 12 things to consider:

  1. Grounds for Divorce?  In Illinois the two most common grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences and mental cruelty.  There are timing requirements associated with irreconcilable differences, so you will need to know if you meet those requirements.
  2. Custody?  Have you and your spouse decided on joint vs. sole custody?  There are three main issues that will indicate if joint custody is appropriate.  Do you know them?
  3. Parenting time?  Have you resolved where the child/ren will be during the school year and summer months and do you have a holiday schedule?
  4. Health insurance?  Who will cover the children and how will uncovered expenses be handled?
  5. Child support?  Do you know what the guidelines are?
  6. Children Expenses?  How will you divide such expenses?
  7. Assets?  What assets will be divided and how?
  8. Debts?  What debt exists and who will be responsible?
  9. Spousal Support?  How much for how long?
  10. Do you know the tax consequences of your settlement and obtaining a divorce before or after December 31st?
  11. Who will be the Plaintiff and file the petition?
  12. Obtain and attend the prove up hearing date.  How will you do so and are you aware if your county has time requirements for when to set a prove up hearing?  Do you know how to waive any time requirements? Do you know what documents you need to submit to a judge and that you will need to testify?

It is not impossible to finalize your divorce in Illinois by January 1st.  An experienced Illinois divorce attorney can help you accomplish your goal.  The Law Firm of Erin Birt provides a la carte Illinois divorce services and flat fee divorce packages to help clients achieve their goals of minimizing time and costs.  Call us today to help you answer the above questions and to learn more about your Illinois Divorce options (630) 891-2478.

llinois Divorce Attorney, Erin Birt, serves clients in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville, Winfield, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Lombard, Elmhurst, Downers Grove, and Oak Brook as well as other cities located in DuPage County. We have experience serving clients in Cook County, Will County, and Kane County.


DuPage County Divorce: Domestic Violence

On December 18, 2012, DuPage County Divorce Attorney, Erin Birt, attended the DuPage County Bar Association’s Family Law Committee Meeting.  The topic “Assessing Abuse & Alienation in Domestic Violence and Custody Matters” was presented by David Finn, Psy. D., of Associates in Human Development Counseling, LLC.

Dr. Finn highlighted the following abuse statistics (Kelly and M. Johnson, 2008):

  • One in every three women will be the victim of a physical assault from an intimate partner throughout her lifetime.
  • an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partners each year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • Females aged 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

Dr. Finn stated that most victims are reluctant to call for help due to a fear of attention, shame, embarrassment and the consequences of the spouse being arrested. In Dr. Finn’s experience, victims (mostly women) often think or feel:

  • Will he lose his job?
  • Will he divorce me?
  • How angry will he be when he returns home?
  • What about the kids?

Dr. Finn’s recommendations for how to handle domestic violence cases are contrary to how most divorce attorneys practice or handle such cases which indicates attorneys still have much to learn when handling this type of case:

  • Don’t order anger management treatment – anger is a “use” problem not an “anger management” problem;
  • Don’t order family or couple to counseling – may inadvertently endanger family members;
  • The issue of domestic violence (which is not the same a domestic battery) must be treated before the offender can engage in other therapeutic treatment;
  • Domestic Violence treatment can and should occur concurrent with substance abuse treatment.

DuPage County Divorce Attorney & Mediator, Erin Birt, has experience working with clients that are victims of domestic violence.  Please feel free to contact our office to discuss your legal options and available resources.  We, through The Birt Group, can also help individuals in need of substance abuse treatment.  We are here to help, call us directly at (630) 891-2478.