Tagged as child custody

Separating Parents: What’s Best for Children?

How does a parent contemplating divorce or separation keep a child feeling loved, supported, and safe? This is a question often posed by clients and it was covered recently in an article published by The Washington Post, “Separating parents want what’s best for their 2-year-old. What is that?” Here are a few tips to help separating parents:

Understand the child’s perspective.

For instance, a young child does not understand time and cannot comprehend a parenting time schedule. To help a child feel safe at either house, a good solution is to have things that remind the child of a parent at both parent’s homes such placing a photo of the other parent in the child’s room, developing the tradition to wish (mommy or daddy) a good night too, re-telling family stories such as the child’s birth story that includes both parents, or asking the other parent to provide a recorded bed-time story for the child.

Allocate 5-10 minutes for drop-offs and pick-ups of the child.

Plan with the other parent to discuss simple topics such as the weather, upcoming child events, or just make small talk. If both parents are discussing simple topics in a calm manner, the child will likely remain calm during the transition as well. Please save your irritation or anger at the other party for the ear of a dear friend or counselor. Drop-offs are not a time to express dissatisfaction with the other parent.

Do not take a child’s rejection personally.

Even if both parents do their best to make transitions calm, the child may cling to the parent they are leaving. This is natural and common. As the article states, a young child “just wants and needs to be with her main attachments.” She may cling to you one day, and then cling to the other parent the next day. Try not to take it personally. It is common for parents to report their child does not want to visit the other parent’s house when in fact it might just be the child expressing its natural attachment.

Parenting is hard. There are often no right or wrong answers but there are tips and tools that can be used to help a child feel loved, supported and safe in both parent’s homes. If you are contemplating separation or divorce and are worried about your children, please contact me to discuss
developing your parenting plan.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

Safe And Stress-Free Child Custody Exchanges

Post-divorce child custody exchanges can be happy, peaceful, awkward, or downright horrible, depending on the relationship or issues between you and your ex-spouse. Family mediation might be needed in very difficult situations, but here are some general tips to make the swap easier on everyone.

CHOOSE A NEUTRAL SITE

To reduce stress on all involved—especially the children—child custody exchanges are often done on neutral ground rather than at the home of either parent.

Some potential public places for a custody exchange after divorce include:

  • Your child’s school or daycare
  • A large department store such as Target, Walmart, or Sears
  • The local grocery store
  • McDonalds, Burger King or other restaurants in your area
  • The parking lot of your city’s police station or fire house

Any public area will generally have other people and/or security cameras close by, ensuring that everyone remains on their best behavior during the exchange.

Families in DuPage County, Illinois, might consider the DuPage County Family Center as an exchange site. If your divorce included mandated parent education, the Family Center provides programs to improve the relationships between parents and children.

SET SOME GROUND RULES

To make an already difficult situation a little easier, both parents can agree to certain tenets for the exchange.

One of the most important rules is consistently being on time. The site CustodyZen.com explains why this little thing can become such a big deal.

“Situations such as traffic congestion will happen from time-to-time, making a parent late for an exchange.  But when one parent is consistently late it can be disrespectful to the other parent. Furthermore, it can be very stressful for the children and escalate conflict. Repeated tardiness to custody exchanges may result in legal consequences such as being found guilty of custodial interference, a crime in many states.”

Another ground rule can be that one parent remains in the car or at a distance during the exchange if meeting face-to-face will create a quarrel. Again from Custody Zen, “Depending on the amount of conflict, driving to custody exchanges can often…escalate a parent’s frustration. If one parent remains in the car the other can assist with transferring the kids to the other vehicle.”

USE A THIRD PARTY

If all else fails, have a trusted third party make the exchange.

You can enlist a reliable family member or friend, and there are now professional “supervised visitation and exchange services” in many states. Two options are the Supervised Visitation Network and Family Wise. There is a cost involved for these services, and it’s critical to ensure that the person you hire is trained and certified for the role.

It may take a little effort to create a workable child exchange, but it’s important to allow children time to be with both of the parents they love—even when the parents no longer love each other.

Contact me to learn more about handling custody situations or other issues affecting your divorce.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

Recent Illinois Divorce Maintenance And Child Custody Rulings

divorce decreeSummarized below are two recent court rulings involving spousal maintenance and child custody issues in two Illinois divorce cases.

SPOUSAL MAINTENANCEIn re Marriage of Roberts

After 37 years of marriage, a public school teacher filed for dissolution of marriage from her husband, a disabled pharmacist. When determining spousal maintenance, the trial court ruled to divide the wife’s pension plan equally between both parties but denied the wife’s request for spousal maintenance. The court did not include the husband’s Social Security disability benefits as part of the decision, citing that these benefits cannot be considered in property division.

The wife filed a motion for the court to reconsider this, stating that this ruling would cause her financial hardship upon retirement because it would prevent her from having the same standard of living she achieved during the marriage, while her husband would have the ability to pay. She requested that the pension money be awarded solely to her or, if split with her husband, that he pay monthly maintenance to her equal to the amount he would receive from pension plan. When the trial court denied this motion, the wife filed an appeal.

The appellate court ruled that the trial court was correct in not considering the husband’s Social Security benefits in marital property division. However, Social Security benefits can be used in determining a maintenance award, and “the trial court abused its discretion in denying petitioner maintenance outright and not reserving the issue of maintenance until a later date.”

They reversed the trial court’s order denying maintenance and ruled that when the wife retires the court must consider the value of her husband’s Social Security benefits in determining the amount of maintenance that she will receive.

CHILD CUSTODYHeisterkamp v. Pacheco

In this case, a father filed a malpractice suit against the clinical psychologist appointed by the court as an expert in the father’s divorce proceedings. The psychologist diagnosed the father with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The father contended that this “diagnosis deviated from the standard of care in clinical psychology and, as a direct and proximate result, [he] lost custody of his children.”

The father claimed that the psychologist was appointed only to advise the court of his children’s wishes around child custody and visitation, and the psychologist exceeded this role by seeking and being granted approval to force the father into psychological testing.

In the end, the court ruled against the father and in favor of the psychologist stating that the “[psychologist] acted at the direction of the court in the dissolution proceedings and [is] entitled to absolute immunity regardless of whether the direction given was proper under section 604(b)” of the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

These two cases highlight the hardships–legal fees, time in court, family disruption–that can often be avoided by using settlement-based divorce practices such as family mediation or collaboration in the divorce process.

If you’d like to reduce or prevent these types of difficulties in your divorce, contact me for more information.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

How Divorce Affects College Funding

529 college savings plan theme with textbooks and piggy bankDivorce planning for parents with a child in or on route to college includes navigating some potentially difficult issues to ensure the best possible financial aid benefits.

According to a recent article by Andrea Williams on USNews.com, there are three specific areas that can affect the child’s ability to receive adequate financial aid funding.

OWNING A 529 PLAN

If you and your spouse opened a joint 529 college savings plan, you must decide who will take ownership of the plan after the divorce.

“If one parent becomes the sole owner, he or she will be the only person who can make decisions regarding the use of account funds, so it is important that parents come to a mutual agreement,” says Williams. Divorce mediation can be a huge help in reaching a consensus on this issue.

College aid specialists often recommend that the plan be owned by the non-custodial parent because this person’s income and assets do not need to be included on the FAFSA form when requesting financial aid. If the custodial parent owns the 529 plan, that asset will have to be reported.

Only one person can “control” the plan, but experts say that the non-owning parent should be designated as an authorized user who can see the assets but cannot move them around. The non-owning parent should also be named the “successor owner” on the death of the owner parent.

CLAIMING THE CHILD ON TAXES

The parent who claims the child as a dependent on their annual taxes will receive the available tax reduction as well as any college credits given by the IRS that year. It’s important to take a good look at potential financial implications before making this decision.

For example, a parent who makes too high a salary is not eligible for certain IRS credits so it might make more sense for the lower-earning parent to claim the child and be eligible for financial refunds. Check with the IRS for specific salary thresholds.

CUSTODY DECISIONS

The child custody decision can have an effect on how much financial aid a child can receive. Williams states that “it is the custodial parent’s finances that are used to determine financial aid eligibility – unless the noncustodial parent still resides in the same household. Additionally, if the custodial parent remarries, the new spouse’s finances will be considered also.”

Colleges can also ask for additional financial aid forms and these generally do not require the non-custodial parent’s financial information. So if the potential non-custodial parent makes $40,000 per year and the custodial parent makes $250,000, the child has a better chance at financial aid if the lower-earning parent has custody.

These are very tough, complicated decisions that often cannot be made without the help of a separate party such as a family mediator or collaborative law expert.

If you are a divorcing parent with a child in college, contact me to learn how I can help you make the best possible decisions for the child’s college education.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

New Illinois Divorce Act Benefits Children

Marital agreementIllinois couples with children who are planning a divorce now or in the near future should note that Illinois divorce laws will change on January 1, 2016.

The new Illinois Divorce Act will likely have a significant impact on how your divorce is ultimately resolved.

PURPOSE OF THE NEW LAWS

There are three primary aims of the newly updated Illinois Divorce Act:

  1. To protect children from exposure to conflict and violence during the divorce process;

  2. To recognize and enforce the right of children to continue a healthy relationship with both parents post-divorce;

  3. To expressly uphold that frequent contact with both parents–absent domestic violence or other harmful factors–promotes the healthy development of children.

COURT ENFORCEMENT STRATEGIES

To honor and achieve these stated goals, the Illinois Court will:

  • Promote or order parents to participate in educational programs so they learn how to minimize the negative effects of divorce litigation.

  • Facilitate parental planning discussions, including explicit allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities, to help reach a mutual agreement about the children’s upbringing after the divorce, including child custody and visitation.

  • Safeguard the continuation of existing parent-child relationships to ensure each parent’s maximum involvement in the well-being of their children.

IMPACT ON YOUR DIVORCE PLANNING

If you want to avoid the impact of these new laws on your divorce, you must ensure that it is finalized by December 31, 2015. Any matter currently pending that has not entered a final judgement before January 1, 2016, and any new matter filed after that date, will need to comply with the updated laws.

An experienced DuPage County divorce attorney trained in divorce mediation can help divorcing or already divorced parents to create an Allocation Judgement that complies with the new Illinois divorce laws as well as the spirit and purpose of the new Divorce Act.

Contact me if you need assistance and support navigating through these restructured laws.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

Potential Changes to Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act

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

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

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

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

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

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

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

CHILD CUSTODY

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

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

  • The best interests of the child remain paramount.

CHILD RELOCATION

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

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

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

PROPERTY DIVISION AND MAINTENANCE

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

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

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

“HEART BALM” DECISIONS

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

    • Alienation of Affection

    • Breach of Promise to Marry

    • Adultery/Criminal Conversation

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


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

Redefining Joint Custody in Illinois

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

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

CHANGES IN THE CHILD CUSTODY LAWS

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

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

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

THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

A Positive Outlook For Divorce Mediation Services

mediation road sign illustration designMediation has become a successful tool for settling family law cases such as divorce or child custody. It’s actually just one part of a broad range of processes known as Family Dispute Resolution or FDR.

Over the last 25 years, mediation–and FDR as a whole–has grown and shifted based on changes in the legal system and government regulations, both of which have impacted family dynamics in various ways. But where will mediation go from here?

Peter Salem, executive director of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and an experienced mediator in his own right, discusses the future of mediation in a recent article on the site Mediate.com.

ASSESSING THE PAST

Salem believes that mediation has indeed made strides, but not necessarily in the ways he would have predicted 25 years ago.

The good news is that many divorce lawyers “have overcome their reticence about mediation” and are now largely responsible for handling divorce mediation in their own practices.

In addition, Salem notes that “a convergence of approaches” has led to more specific and helpful mediation and FDR processes such as collaborative divorce, cooperative law, parenting coordination, child custody counseling and conflict resolution conferences.

“Mediation has played a critical role as the catalyst for change, ushering the development of a range of FDR services that assist family members in resolving their disputes,” states Salem.

PREDICTING THE FUTURE

These new, integrative Family Dispute Resolution services will continue to thrive, according to Salem, because they “better meet the needs of the consumers” who use them, particularly parties in a divorce and the court systems that refer people to these services.

Several other factors also point to the on-going use of mediation. These include continued cuts in government programs and court services, an increase in parties who do not want or cannot afford a divorce lawyer, more complex family conflicts, and online dispute-resolution technology.

In addition, Salem has great faith in the continuing commitment of FDR practitioners. “There will continue to be a deeply committed cadre of professionals who dedicate enormous time and energy working toward expanding and improving the family dispute resolution process,” he says, which bodes well for the future of mediation services and other related processes.

As a family law attorney trained in divorce mediation and other FDR services, I can help resolve your Illinois divorce issues in a timely and cost-effective way. Contact me to learn more.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

3 Reasons To Use Mediation In An Unwanted Divorce

Divorce and seperationThere are many reasons why it happens, but sometimes a spouse chooses to end a marriage with little or no warning to their significant other.

For the unsuspecting party who didn’t see it coming, this sudden life change can leave that person shocked, angry and depressed–often meaning they have no intention of cooperating with the person who turned their world upside down.

Yet even in this extremely difficult situation, divorce mediation is worth the effort of overcoming those challenging emotions. From an article by divorce mediator Joseph Dillon, here are three compelling reasons to participate in mediation when faced with an unwanted divorce.

  1. IT CAN AVOID LENGTHY DIVORCE LITIGATION – Dillon describes how one client (the spouse who walked away from the marriage) wanted to keep things civil and waited a long time for the other party to accept the situation and come to mediation. When that didn’t happen, they felt “they had no choice but to get an attorney and file.” In the end, it cost them a great deal of money and years of litigation that might have been avoided.

  2. YOU’LL POTENTIALLY REDUCE EMOTIONAL SCARS – It’s difficult to accept that your spouse no longer wants to be married to you. However, if that person wants a divorce then there’s going to be a divorce, says Dillon. How you deal with it will determine the overall effects it has on you (and any of your children). Participating in divorce mediation could make it easier for everyone involved in both the short- and long-term.

  3. YOU’RE INVOLVED IN KEY DECISIONS – Rather than leaving things to a judge, divorce mediation gives you the opportunity to push for positive outcomes on things like support or debt issues that could impact you and any children. Dillon believes it’s likely “you’ll be able to recover quicker as you won’t feel so powerless since you had a hand in your agreement.”

While you didn’t have a say in getting the divorce, you can have a say in how you go forward by participating in divorce mediation. And if the person who walked away doesn’t initiate the mediation, take back more control and arrange for it yourself.

Whether you need divorce mediation, collaborative divorce services, or assistance with Illinois child visitation and child custody issues, I can help. Contact me for more information.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT

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

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

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

How Social Media Can Impact Your Illinois Divorce

love Dislike Icon. Thumb down SignSocial media (Facebook, Twitter, texting and more) has become a favorite way for people to share information about their lives in real time.

However, if you’re involved in a divorce and/or child custody case, what you post or text can have a huge effect on the ultimate outcome, and you need to be very careful about the information you share.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND FAMILY LAW

According to the site Divorcesource.com, “Lawyers are now more than ever using the social media websites as evidence in all types of family law cases. When people are typing on their computer, and no one is watching them, they have a false sense of anonymity when none really exists. However, in reality you are posting your private life to the entire cyber world.”

Social media can provide attorneys with information on everything from job search activities and spending habits to parental behavior, and it’s now “routinely used in divorce cases, alimony reduction/Lepis hearings, child support hearings, and child custody visitation disputes.”

Text messages can also create trouble, says Law Technology Today, since the message strands can be printed out and entered into the court’s record. “Anytime you pick up your phone to have a conversation, whether voice or text, there may be an exact record of what was said.”

WHEN IN DOUBT, LEAVE IT OUT

When you’re tempted to jump on social media to vent feelings about your spouse, discuss your children, or talk about a new relationship, stop and think of the impact it could have on your case. Even if you’ve blocked your spouse from your Facebook page or other accounts, you may not have blocked friends or relatives who will see the comments and pass them on to him or her.

If your spouse brings this to court, you’ll have to consider divorce mediation or spend time and money defending yourself against anything from poor parenting to potential adultery. Should your child happen to read negative comments you made about your spouse’s parenting skills, you could be guilty of disparaging a parent in front of a child, possibly violating a court order.

As Law Technology Today reminds us, “Because we now live in a world where we tend to share our frustrations or our private moments with more and more people, we need to remember that what we share with our ‘friends’ could end up in the hands of people who will use those frustrations and private moments against us.”

And always check with your divorce attorney before shutting down a social media account, as deactivation could be seen as an attempt to withhold potential evidence.

I can help you successfully navigate these and many other issues through mediation and collaborative divorce options. 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.