Tagged as mediation

Moving in with Your Boyfriend? Develop a Plan

More millennials and divorced people are deciding to live with their boyfriend or girlfriend in lieu of marriage. For some, marriage is not desired; for others, marriage might only be considered after a period of cohabitation. Either way, moving in with your significant other creates both personal and legal issues to be considered and discussed.

According to a recent New York Times article, What I Wish I’d Known Before Moving In Together by Anna Goldfarb, couples planning to move in together need to develop a plan first. In the article, Galena Rhoades of the University of Denver accurately summarizes the issues cohabitating couples face:

“When you live together,” Dr. Rhoades explained, “you face all the issues dating couples face — time together, managing friends, jealousy, ex-partners — but you also face all the issues married couples face, like household contributions, managing money together and planning for future expenditures.”

If you are considering moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend, here are several tips:

1. DEVELOP A ROADMAP

Before signing a lease or purchasing a home together, you need to resolve who will stay in the event of a breakup. It sounds harsh to discuss a breakup during an otherwise exciting time, however, knowing who will stay and pay the lease/mortgage/taxes/utilities and who will help contribute to relocation costs after a breakup can actually help relieve unnecessary stress during the relationship. Also, create a list of items each person wishes to keep, including any pets; such a discussion is often impossible to have at the end of the relationship.

2. DISCUSS FINANCES

Both parties should be fully aware of the joint budget and the other person’s ability to pay for house related expenses. Also, both parties should prepare for an illness or death so that the other party is capable of maintaining their home. Consider obtaining a term life insurance or disability policy to help with unexpected life events.

3. ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES

Discuss and establish mutual expectations for roles within the house such as decorating, cleaning, cooking, caring for pets, limiting screen time, and setting up an environment that can be shared or retreated to for privacy.

As a mediator and family law attorney, I am available to help you develop a legal and personal plan for your future living arrangements. Cohabitation in Illinois, especially after divorce, may create legal obligations that you should discuss with an attorney to ensure you are truly comfortable with your living arrangements.

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

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

Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals 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 Court Decisions Worth Noting

Judge Knocking GavelBelow are summaries of two recent cases from the Appellate Court of Illinois.

Each one has something worth noting, whether your Illinois divorce proceedings are beginning soon, presently in process, or already completed.

CHILD SUPPORT EXPENSES – In re Marriage of Saracco

This appeals case centered on continuing payment of college tuition and expenses by the ex-wife for the couple’s son.

The original divorce proceedings in 2008 stated that college expenses would be split, with the father paying 40 percent and the mother paying 60 percent. At that time, the father was disabled and the mother’s salary was substantially larger than that of the father.

In 2013, the mother petitioned to stop her portion of the tuition payments because of a “substantial change in circumstances.” She stated that her ex-husband was receiving an additional $11,000 of disability income for his daughter. The mother also felt she should no longer contribute because her son’s grades were low, he would not work to help with expenses, and their relationship was strained.

At that time, the court agreed with this assessment and granted her petition to stop her portion of the payments.

In 2014, the father petitioned to reinstate the original payment agreement, and the appellate court agreed. Upon review, the appellate court did not concur with any of the mother’s arguments and stated she did not prove a “substantial change in circumstances.” As a result, the mother was ordered her to resume her payment of college expenses.

GRANDPARENT VISITATION RIGHTS Robinson v. Reif

In 2010, an auto accident killed the mother of two young children and severely injured their father who required a long-term hospital stay and extensive recuperation. Over the next 18 months, the children (who were unhurt) lived with and were cared for by their maternal grandparents, where they appeared to be happy and thriving.

By 2011, the father had recovered and remarried, at which time the grandparents sought to obtain sole custody of their grandchildren. After a long court battle, the father was awarded custody and changed his phone number so the grandparents could not have any contact with him or the children.

Later that year, the grandparents petitioned for permanent and temporary visitation under the grandparent visitation statute of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The grandparents also requested mediation, but the father would not participate.

Finally in 2013, a hearing was held regarding this petition. Testimony was presented by child psychology experts on both sides, one particular expert stating that the children had indeed become emotionally attached to grandparents during the 18 months of living with them. After hearing from the experts and from many witnesses for both sides, the court found for the grandparents and set a visitation schedule.

The father appealed, arguing that the evidence failed to prove that his decisions on visitation were harmful to the children’s mental, physical or emotional well-being. However, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision of allowing grandparent visitations, believing that any harm that might come from grandparent visitations was overruled by the harm of ending the children’s relationship with their grandparents.

Contact me for information on how I can help with your initial divorce proceedings or an appeal of the court’s decisions regarding your divorce.


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.

Collaboration And Mediation Help With Holiday Visitation Issues

Composite image of couple not talking holding two halves of broken heartDivorcing and divorced couples with children have a little extra planning to do for the holiday season; namely, when and where those children will connect with each parent for holiday visitations.

If not thought out well in advance, issues with visitation schedules can increase everyone’s stress levels and make for a not-so-wonderful time of the year.

COLLABORATION AND MEDIATION CAN HELP

Experience has shown that courts are less than pleased with last-minute or emergency petitions regarding holiday visitation schedules, so the issue should be addressed as early as possible if each parent hopes to have their requested time with the children.

When an unexpected or difficult situation arises, mediation and collaborative meetings can often help find a timely solution that works for everyone involved.

A REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE

One of my recent mediation cases shows what can be done when people are willing to come together and talk.

The couple in this case had a change in their customary Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations because extended family had moved out of state. The Mother asked the Father for a change in the already-established Joint Parenting Agreement so the children could visit with the extended family either on Thanksgiving Day or for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Although the Father was not happy about the request, he and his ex-wife agreed to attend mediation to save money on litigation and hopefully solve the issue quickly. During mediation, each parent got to hear the other’s concerns about their children’s future holiday traditions–something that might not have been permitted in a court room.

In the end, both Father and Mother agreed to modify their existing holiday parenting plan which allowed enough time for all family members to adjust to and make arrangements for the upcoming changes in November and December.

Even when a case is not this extreme, collaboration and mediation are very successful in resolving the legal issues around holiday parenting time and can reduce or eliminate the cost and stress of turning to litigation during the holidays.

Contact me for more information about using collaborative meetings and mediation to revolve your holiday visitation issues.


ABOUT ERIN BIRT:

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

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

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

Erin Birt to Present at MCI Conference 5/3/13

DuPage County Divorce Mediator, Erin Birt, will be presenting this Friday, May 3, 2013 at an all day conference hosted by the Mediation Council of Illinois.

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The Mediation Council of Illinois issued the following statement:

“On Friday, May 3, 2013, The Mediation Council of Illinois will hold an all day all day conference, “Current Issues in Mediation” at the Wojcik Conference Center at Harper College, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine, Illinois 60067.  Attached are the registration forms and MCI flyer.  Register today before the fees go up after April 27, 2013!!

Issues covered will be:

**Screening for Alcohol and Drugs – Presented by Erin Birt, JD, CADC

**Overview of Parenting Coordination, Presented by Dr. Rocio Munoz, PhD and Jerry Kessler, JD

**Dollars and Divorce:  Navigating Through the Financial Uncertainties – Presented by Nick Cosky, CFP and Matt Mikula, CFP, CDFA

**Managing High Conflict Clients – Presented by Joe Canevello, LCSW

Mark your calendars and we hope to see you there!”

Click here to view the MCI Flyer May 2013.  Click here to view the MCI Conference Registration Form May 2013(1).

Erin_Birt_37902Erin Birt is an Illinois Divorce Mediator.  She has been mediating family disputes since 2004 and is a qualified and court approved mediator for Domestic Relations Cases in Dupage County, Illinois.  Ms. Birt often works with clients and families located in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Winfield, Carol Stream, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Elmhurst, Lombard, Villa Park, Chicago, Schaumburg, and other cities located throughout DuPage County, Cook County, and Kane County.

For more information or to set a mediation appointment with Erin Birt, please contact us privately via our website or via telephone at (630) 891-2478.

 

Quality Divorce Options located in DuPage County

Yesterday, while sitting in divorce court, I observed a woman, representing herself, engaged in a hearing with a divorce attorney. She obviously researched her issue and came to court with her organized binder, however, she unfortunately did not understand the true legal issue before the court and all of her time and efforts were misplaced and incorrect.  She lost the hearing and was ordered to pay opposing counsel $1,250.00 in attorneys fees.

This is a familiar occurrence in divorce court.  People fail to hire or work with attorneys because of the misconception that an attorney’s rate is unreasonable.  What people often forget is the true value of a divorce attorney’s fee.  A divorce attorney’s fee considers many things including experience, education, and other costs the attorney incurred to be able to provide quality services for a client.  For instance the hourly rate may consider such things as the value of that attorney’s law school education, years of experience, costs for continuing education, costs for licensing and insurance, and costs for administrative functions and office space.  Such training and experience allows most experienced attorneys to accomplish certain tasks within one hour whereas it may take a pro-se (self represented) party approximately 10 hours in time and a day or two off from work to complete the same task.

The woman representing herself in court most likely would not have to pay a judgment of $1,250.00 if she had invested in an attorney.  She may not have had the funds to hire an attorney.  Even if she did consult with an attorney, she likely consulted with an attorney that did not offer affordable divorce options such as collaborative divorce or a la carte divorce services.

There are many different divorce options that can help anyone receive some form of legal representation, advice, or guidance.  The Law Firm of Erin Birt offers many quality divorce services that work for all types of budgets such as:

*A La Carte Divorce Services

*Mediation Services

*Uncontested Flat Fee Divorce Services

*Collaborative Divorce Services

*Divorce Consulting

Don’t waste your time and ultimately your money.  Experience the value of quality divorce services that match your budget.  To find out what divorce services are appropriate and/or meet your financial goals, please contact the office for a 1/2 hour consultation at (630) 891-2478 or via our website’s Contact Page.

The Law Firm of Erin Birt provides quality divorce services for 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 Chicago, Oak Park, Roselle and other cities in Cook County, Will County, and Kane County.

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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), the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), and the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois. 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.

 

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.

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?

Children:

  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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

DuPage County Divorce: 5 Ways to Divorce

In Illinois and DuPage County, there are several ways to divorce and save money & time.  Some options are presented below:

1. Pro se Divorce.  Pro se means to act as your own attorney.  Often when spouses are amicable enough to have productive communication, the estate is limited or both parties are knowledgeable about their assets/debts, and there are no emotional or physical issues, the parties can resolve the outstanding issues without paying for an attorney.  The parties can visit the local law library to obtain information on how to prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement and proposed Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.  Problems, however, may arise if the paperwork is not sufficient. Pro se parties should anticipate spending a lot of time on research, document preparation, and court appearances. Pro se parties are encouraged to review settlement agreements and proposed judgments with an attorney.  See #2 below about how to hire an attorney on a limited scope basis to review documents.

2. A la Carte, Unbundled, Limited Scope, Uncontested Divorce Services.  Many states now allow a client and an attorney to reach an agreement about what services will be provided. This is an affordable service that is tailored to a client’s specific needs. Read more about these services on our website.

3. Neutral professionals to guide divorce. Divorce Coach, Mental Health Professionals and/or Financial Planners. Neutral professionals can work with both parties in an attempt to resolve the outstanding issues.  Each professional can help education and provide options that are specific to their field of expertise. This is a valuable resource when a divorce goal is to minimize overall costs and time.  Neutral professionals typically charge a lower hourly rate than attorneys.  Once the issues are resolved, the parties can hire an attorney on a limited scope basis, again see #2 above, and the attorney need only prepare the divorce documents to be used to finalize the divorce and appear at the final court hearing.

4. Mediation. A neutral mediator facilitates the discussion and negotiation of the divorce settlement. Read all about mediation and our services.

5. Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative Divorce is a proactive negotiation and settlement based alternative to litigation. Read all about Collaborative Divorce and download your free Collaborative Divorce Kit to learn about the real experiences and benefits of others and to see if Collaborative Divorce is a good fit for you.

There are many more ways in Illinois and DuPage County to divorce and save money and time.  DuPage County Divorce Attorney, Erin Birt, offers 1/2 hour consultations to discuss a client’s needs and goals.  Services are then tailored to the unique needs and goals of the client.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation or to learn more about affordable divorce options.

The Law Firm of 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 Mediator | November Mediation Month

DuPage County Mediator, Erin Birt, wants to remind couples and families that November is Mediation Month.

The holidays are quickly approaching, client’s that have not resolved issues relating to holiday parenting time or visitation can set an appointment with DuPage County Mediator Erin Birt during the day, evening, or weekend.

The benefits of DuPage County Divorce Mediation and Family Law Mediation include:

*Direct communication;

*The parties control the process;

*Mediation agreements are determined by the individuals, not third parties;

*Parties are more inclined to abide by an agreement that they have created;

*Mediation helps narrow the issues (even if an agreement is not reached);

*Mediation is cost and time efficient.

DuPage County Mediator, Erin Birt has been approved by the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court as a qualified custody, parenting time, and visitation mediator.

It is best practice to attend mediation with a court approved mediator as soon as a parenting issue is known. To begin mediation services, please contact the firm to set an appointment and provide the firm with a copy of the court order or Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, if applicable.

DuPage County Court Approved Mediator, 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.  She also has experience with clients in Cook County, Kane County, and Will County.

DuPage County Approved Mediator: Mandated Reporter?

On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, DuPage County Domestic Relations Division held their mediation training for Court Approved Mediators.

Erin Birt was honored to be a member of the Discussion Panel. During the discussion, the issue of mandatory reporting for child abuse was raised.  There were differences in opinion about the role of a mediator and whether or not mediators are mandatory reporters for child abuse.

In DuPage County, the Local Court Rules for the Mediation Referral Program (15.15) state:

“E. REPORTING RISK OF BODILY HARM AND ABUSE

(1) A mediator shall promptly reveal information to the appropriate law enforcement agency to the extent it appears necessary to prevent a party from committing an act that would result in death or serious bodily harm.

(2) Attorneys, when acting as mediators, shall reveal information required by Rule 1.6 “Confidentiality of Information” under the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.

(3) The mandated reporting requirement of the Abuse and Neglected Child Reporting Act, 325 ILCS 5/1 et seq., as applied to mental health professionals shall also apply to all mediators.”

Therefore, mediators for the DuPage Mediation Referral Program are mandated reporters pursuant to DuPage County Local Court Rules.

As discussed at the 9/18/12 training, Ms. Birt recommends that mediators take all comments about abuse seriously and learn to ask appropriate follow ups questions to assist in information gathering and to assist in the making the determination to report a statement to the appropriate authority.  Ongoing training in domestic violence and child abuse is highly recommended for any mediator.

For more information about the Mediation Referral Program and DuPage County Court Approved Mediation, please visit our webpage devoted to the program.

Erin Birt has been approved by the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court as a qualified mediator.

It is best practice to attend mediation with a court approved mediator as soon as a parenting issue is known. To begin court approved mediation services, please contact the firm to set an appointment and provide the firm with a copy of the court order or Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, if applicable.

DuPage County Court Approved Mediator, 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.

 

Parenting Time for Labor Day? Mediate.

In Illinois, parents that have not been able to agree upon holiday parenting time, most likely need to attend mediation prior to seeking assistance from a court.  In DuPage County, Illinois, local court rules mandate that parents attend mediation with a court approved mediator prior to seeking assistance from its courts.

Mediation through The Law Firm of Erin N. Birt, P.C. is available based upon the parents schedule: mornings, evenings, weekends.  If the Labor Day parenting schedule has not been set, or needs to be modified, please contact us to set an appointment. We assist clients in coordinating scheduling with the other parent.

Why mediate? The benefits of DuPage County Divorce Mediation and Family Law Mediation include:

*Direct communication;

*The parties control the process;

*Mediation agreements are determined by the individuals, not third parties;

*Parties are more inclined to abide by an agreement that they have created;

*Mediation helps narrow the issues (even if an agreement is not reached);

*Mediation is cost and time efficient.

DuPage County Divorce Mediator, Erin Birt, is a family law mediator and an Illinois divorce lawyer.  As a DuPage County Divorce Mediator and lawyer, she understands the legal requirements for an enforceable and equitable divorce or family law agreement in DuPage County, Illinois.  When requested, she can present to parties various options that have been previously accepted by a divorce court to help move the parties forward.  Ms. Birt, however, cannot provide the parties with legal advice or present legal strategy to either party in her role as a DuPage County Divorce Mediator.

DuPage County Divorce Mediator, 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.

To set a mediation appointment, please contact us at (630) 891-2478.