Tagged as Illinois Divorce

A Two-Day Divorce

The traditional divorce process can last years. If you are contemplating divorce and do not want to wait several months or years, a Flat Fee Two Day Divorce plan can assist you in minimizing your time spent with an attorney and in the stressful divorce process.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Choosing a Flat Fee Two Day Divorce plan means that you will receive prioritized expedited divorce services. You will also share in the responsibilities of gathering information for your divorce settlement negotiations. Typically, the process works like this:

  • Your attorney will assess your goals and discuss a range of settlement options with you.
  • You will gather parenting and/or financial information and make copies to share with your attorney and spouse.
  • Your attorney will prioritize your divorce and set aside two days to devote to resolving your divorce.
  • Day 1, you will meet with your attorney to prepare for Day 2.
  • Day 2, you, along with your spouse, your spouse’s attorney, and/or other divorce support professional, will meet to discuss divorce settlement options.

The success of completing your divorce in two days depends on your preparation prior to the group settlement conference. Most clients in the process agree to share document gathering responsibilities and are relieved to minimize time spent on the hurtful and difficult topics of divorce.


WHAT CASES ARE THE BEST FOR THE TWO-DAY PLAN?

Both parties must be committed to a settlement based divorce process. Best examples for the process are cases that have participated in or are ready to take part in divorce counseling, divorce mediation, and/or financial mediation. Many other cases are successful as well when both parties are still amicable, knowledgeable about their marital assets and debts, and are willing to make available all information needed to facilitate settlement discussions.

Cases where the parties have not worked with other divorce professionals in the past and that may have unique complexities involving parenting or asset/debt allocation will need an attorney to devote more time to their case. There are other Flat Fee Divorce Services that can accommodate additional time with an attorney or divorce support professional. It is important to share all of the facts of your divorce with your attorney so that you can receive appropriate legal advice and services. Our firm can assess and discuss our recommendations with you for the legal services you may need.

HOW DO I START?

As a trained divorce mediator and divorce collaborative attorney, I can provide you with an array of divorce settlement based representation that is custom tailored for your situation, including the above described Two Day Divorce Plan. Contact me for more details or to discuss if there is a better-suited divorce option for your legal needs.

 

ABOUT ERIN BIRT:

Illinois Attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over fourteen years of expErin Birterience in divorce law and divorce settlement based practices 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.

Are Limited Scope Services Right For Your Divorce?

Day in CourtIf the cost of an attorney is keeping you from finalizing your Illinois divorce, Limited Scope representation could help you complete the process effectively without spending more than you would like or can afford.

In short, you’re hiring a lawyer to help you represent yourself.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Choosing limited scope representation means that you will handle some the responsibilities of your divorce case while your attorney performs other tasks, and you are only billed for the things your attorney handles. Here are some examples.

  • Your lawyer would prepare certain pieces of evidence and you would present them in court.

  • You gather financial records or other data; your attorney drafts the paperwork for the court.

  • The attorney coaches you on appearing in court by yourself or just advises you on how to handle the simpler aspects of your case.

  • You draft certain documents and your divorce lawyer reviews/edits them.

There are a variety of options available based on your time and budget restrictions and your attorney’s advice for your specific case.

If you choose this type of service, take note. You must be ready to share all the details of your case with the attorney—including things you want to handle yourself as well as any issues you have with organization, negotiation, and public speaking. This avoids any complications arising later in the case that could require more of your attorney’s time and cost you more money.

WHAT CASES ARE BEST FOR THIS PROCESS?

Any case that is time-intensive, not overly technical, and/or has just a few issues that can be divided between you and your attorney is a good match. You’re paying for your lawyer’s time, so it makes sense to have him or her in a situation that uses time most effectively.

Family mediation and collaborative law cases often work well with limited representation for just this reason. You can choose to wait at court rather than paying your attorney to do so. That leaves your budget available for your lawyer to coach you on handling more law-intensive issues or to handle them for you if you’re at all uncomfortable.

WHERE CAN I FIND A LIMITED SCOPE ATTORNEY?

As a trained DuPage County Divorce Attorney, I can provide limited scope representation for your situation. Contact me for more details.

You can also contact your local County Bar Association for local referrals if our office is unable to assist you.


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.

Maintaining A Parenting Plan After A Second Divorce

Parenting Plan Book For Child's Education And UpbringingYour first marriage ended in divorce, but you and your ex used divorce mediation to set up a workable parenting plan for your minor children. Now your second marriage is ending, and your current spouse wants you to rework that initial parenting plan in favor of your current family.

The good news is that you aren’t required to do this as part of your divorce planning. Here’s why.

“FIRST FAMILES FIRST” DOCTRINE

Under Illinois divorce law, and indeed in most states, support owed to a child from a first marriage/relationship does not have to be adjusted in order for a parent to provide support to a child/children from a second relationship.

From the court’s perspective, the second marriage is undertaken with the full knowledge of the existing support obligation and parties must accept that obligation as is. Thus the court will first deduct the support obligation owed to the children of the first marriage before calculating the amount owed to the second family.

Here’s a “real life” example. A man makes $100,000 and pays 20 percent in child support for his first marriage. He marries again, has a second child, and divorces again. The child of the second marriage is also awarded 20 percent, but it is of the remaining income of $80,000, meaning that child would get $16,000 (20 percent of $80,000). The first child’s support will not be affected in any way.

PARENTING PLANS

You worked hard in your first divorce to allocate parenting time and decision making. Perhaps the second divorce is causing an increase in stress within your home and for your children from the first marriage.

Generally, the court will not modify the first parenting plan without a compelling reason. These include mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal activity, a troubling environment—in short, anything that can be clearly shown to have a negative effect on a child’s health, safety, and welfare.

Modification of an Allocation Judgment or Parenting Plan, however, will also be considered if both parents agree to the new plan parameters and for other situational factors, all of which consider the child’s best interests. Any modifications should be written, signed by both parents, and entered with the Court.

DIFFICULT DECISIONS

Ending any marriage is difficult, but your second divorce does not have to affect your first parenting plan or allocation judgment, unless you or the court feel it’s in the best interests of the children.

Family mediation and the collaborative divorce process can help divorcing couples resolve their issues to everyone’s satisfaction. Contact me to see how your divorce can benefit from this process.


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.

More On New Illinois Divorce Laws

A judge?s gavel coming down on a broken heart designFor the past several months, I’ve been providing information on the new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act that went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Outlined below are a few more important changes from a recent article by P. André Katz and Erin B. Bodendorfer in the Illinois Bar Journal.

This is key information for those in the midst of an Illinois divorce, particularly parties with children.

RESTRICTIONS ON EDUCATIONAL EXPENSES AFTER HIGH SCHOOL

Educational expenses for children continuing beyond high school can be incurred until a student turns 23, but no later, unless for good cause or on the agreement of both parents. However, awards cannot be made under any circumstances once a student is 25 years of age.

Without good cause, the allowed amount for tuition, fees, meals, and housing cannot exceed what is charged for these expenses at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Medical and other living expenses are not part of this capped amount. Students receive this benefit as long as they maintain a “C” average or better.

This provision ends when a student reaches the maximum age allowance, receives a bachelor’s degree, or gets married. However, it will continue if the student becomes pregnant, goes to jail, or joins the military.

When setting the award for post-secondary education, the court can consider how this decision will affect the current and future financial situation of both parties.

SUPPORTING A NON-MINOR CHILD WITH DISABILITIES

Under the new law, the court can now order that awards to support a disabled non-minor child be paid to a trust for the benefit of that child. Parties must apply for this award either when the child is eligible for child support or is eligible for post-secondary educational expenses.

USE OF FINANCIAL EXPERTS

When valuing assets or property, the court may appoint financial experts or other specialists to reduce or eliminate the costs of each party engaging their own professional for the purpose of asset protection in divorce.

MARITAL AGREEMENT MODIFICATIONS

The new law describes what is and is not open for modification in a marital agreement. Decisions on property can never be modified. The following are open to revision based on the requestor showing a major change of circumstances: parental responsibilities, child support, maintenance, and educational expenses. Parties can also decide on modifications of maintenance amounts, time, or both.

These new laws are meant to be more fair and transparent for all parties involved in a divorce. They also provide the opportunity for open discussion so that all parties can come to mutual agreement on various issues. Sometimes, however, parties reach an impasse. When this happens, divorce mediation can often help everyone to reach a consensus.

The professionals of Birt Law are trained in the effective use of family mediation and collaborative law procedures. Contact me to learn how we can help in your specific situation.


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.

More Court Involvement in Illinois Parenting Agreements

Cropped image of male judge signing document at desk against black backgroundDoes the joint parenting agreement from your Illinois divorce need updating? It might, based on several new family and divorce laws taking effect in 2016.

Parents who are already divorced or still in the process of divorce planning should be aware of how these changes will affect them and of the potential for more court involvement in post-divorce parenting arrangements.

RE-DEFINED PARENTING ORDERS

After January 1, 2016, a parenting order will be referred to as an “allocation judgment.” Under the new laws, the Court can allocate parenting plan rulings (formerly called visitation) and can also assign specific parenting and decision-making responsibilities to each party. These include:

  • Education
  • Religion
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Nutritional needs
  • Bedtime/wake-up routines
  • Illness and injury care
  • Hygiene, grooming, dressing
  • Ensuring attendance at activities
  • Transportation
  • Protection of child’s safety

MODIFIED PARENTING PLANS

In addition, any changes or modifications by the Court to a parenting plan or allocation judgment will now be considered and determined by a preponderance of evidence rather than the higher standard of clear and convincing proof.

This means that the Court will be involved in many more parenting issues than before, which may help some parents but may also be an invasion of privacy to others.

MAKING USE OF MEDIATION

Developing a professional relationship with a divorce mediator or attorney can help separated parents maintain control and privacy and prevent over-involvement of the court in the parenting of their children.

My practice offers family mediation and collaborative divorce services by trained professionals. We show divorced parents how to work as a team to reduce or eliminate the Court’s involvement in their parenting duties. 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.

Your Virtual Illinois Divorce Attorney

Search DivorceOne often-overlooked challenge of divorce planning is time. In addition to regular life activities, divorcing couples must also research information, complete a variety of documents, meet with their attorneys, and attend any number of court proceedings.

Important and necessary as they are, these additional tasks require time away from work which can then affect a person’s job performance in actuality or as perceived by supervisors and co-workers.

A 21ST CENTURY SOLUTION

The age of technology has brought us virtual shopping, virtual employment, and now a virtual option for some divorce services: the Virtual Divorce Attorney. This is a fully-trained and licensed attorney who provides limited scope divorce or separation services that can be done via computer or phone.

I’m proud to announce that I am available as a Virtual Illinois Divorce Attorney offering any Illinois resident these virtual options in addition to my family mediation, in-person divorce, and collaborative law services.

VIRTUAL DIVORCE ATTORNEY BENEFITS

Probably the most important benefit offered by a Virtual Divorce Attorney is cost savings coupled with custom-tailored personal service. Unlike big companies offering virtual legal services and forms, I will work directly with you and help you assess your needs at all times.

Our custom-tailored limited-scope services can help keep your overall divorce costs down. In addition, working virtually allows for fewer days away from work and/or a smaller time commitment outside of work hours as your finalize your Illinois divorce.

SERVICES OFFERED

Among other offerings, a virtual attorney can help ensure that your prepared documents are up to date and comply with current law. All communication can be handled via phone, video conferencencing, or email and all work is submitted to you for review via email, everything at your convenience.

You save time and money and will not miss additional work while going through a difficult time. Contact me to learn how virtual divorce services can help with your divorce or separation.


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.

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.

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.

Recent Illinois Family Law Decisions

Civil Law book with scales isolated on whiteIn an on-going effort to share helpful information for anyone currently or previously involved in Illinois divorce proceedings, here are summaries of two recent cases from the Appellate Court of Illinois.

REMOVAL OF A CHILD FROM ILLINOIS – Hedrich v. Mack

In October of 2104, a woman took her boyfriend’s car and drove herself and their 18-month-old daughter from Illinois to Minnesota, saying she would return in a few days. Shortly thereafter, the boyfriend filed a petition to establish paternity and requested that he and the child’s mother be named joint custodians.

The day before the mother was to return, the father was informed that she and the child were not coming back. Over the next month, the father repeatedly asked the mother to return to Illinois with their child, but the mother refused. Based on this, the father petitioned the trial court to require mother and child to return within two days and to prevent the mother from again removing the child from Illinois.

At a hearing of the trial court in November 2014, the mother moved for a finding which said the court had no authority to mandate the child’s return to Illinois because she had been removed from the state before the father filed his parentage action.

The trial court agreed with the mother, and the father subsequently filed an appeal of this ruling, stating that the trial court incorrectly interpreted Section 13.5 of the Illinois Parentage Act.

After review, the appellate court found for the father, stating that Section 13.5 “is the only mechanism available to the court to order the return of a minor child in situations such as this where the parents were never married and no proceedings whatsoever existed prior to the custodial parent leaving the state with the child.”

PATERNITY DETERMINATION AND CHILD SUPPORT – In re Marriage of Ostrander

In 2012, the husband in this case filed for dissolution of marriage. In this petition, he acknowledged two children born during the marriage but alleged that the youngest child, now age 8, was not his biological offspring. He was listed as the father on the birth certificate and did not refute his parentage at the birth; however he never legally adopted the child.

DNA testing did prove that the child was not his, and so the husband filed a “Motion Regarding Finding No Paternity,” asking the court to acknowledge that he “owed no duty of support for the child.” At the hearing, the wife stated that her husband knew all along he was not the child’s father but chose to stay in the marriage and work things out and provide for both children.

At trial in 2013, the court found that the father did not owe child support. The wife filed a motion to reconsider based on Section 8 of the Illinois Parentage Act which states that “An action to declare the non-existence of the parent and child relationship brought under subsection (b) of Section 7 of this Act shall be barred if brought later than 2 years after the petitioner obtains knowledge of relevant facts.” However, the court again found for the husband.

The wife appealed based again on the statute of limitations, and the appellate court found in her favor. The court cited that the husband did not meet the Act’s required burden of proof that he had only recently discovered that the child was not his. In fact, the court felt that his testimony helped show that he knew of the parentage issue early on.

Finally, the court stated that “the statute of limitations of the Parentage Act is intended to control in situations precisely like the one before us.” The order of non-paternity was reversed and the husband will be required to pay child support.

Contact me for information if you need help in matters of family law, child support, collaborative divorce and 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.