Call 312-554-5433 to get started with your Illinois divorce or family law matter. Serving clients in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will.

Having an Illinois order of protection against you can be scary. That’s why you need an Illinois order of protection defense lawyer. Representing yourself is risky, and increases the chance that you will be stuck with an order or protection against you. Check out his FAQ about being served with an order of protection.

What is an order or protection?

An order of protection is a court order which prohibits an accused person from taking certain actions relative to the accuser. For example, the accused person could be prohibited from the following:

  1. Being in the same place as the accused
  2. Contacting the accuser by any method, such as phone and/email
  3. Going to the accuser’s workplace
  4. Going to the accuser’s home
  5. Taking certain property from the accuser
  6. Going to a home that is shared with the accuser
  7. Having contact with kids where the accuser is the other parent
  8. Posting things on social media about the accuser

Orders of protection are sometimes called “restraining orders.” In Illinois, however, the correct term is “order of protection.

Is an order of protection criminal, or civil?

An order of protection case can be civil, or criminal. Aside from this particular part of this article, the rest of the article is about civil orders of protection, because we don’t handle criminal law (but we can refer you to a criminal defense attorney).

Civil orders of protection are obtained by a person who makes an accusation, called the petitioner, against an accused person, the respondent. But for the sake of this article, we will refer to the person asking for the order of protection as the accuser, and we will refer to the person defending against the order of protection as the accused.

Why didn’t I know about the court date?

Perhaps you were surprised when a sheriff’s deputy showed up and served you with an emergency order of protection.

You might feel alarmed, and scared. And you might wonder how someone could get an order of protection against you without the court having given you any chance to defend yourself.

The reasons there might be an order of protection against you before you’ve had a chance to go to court is because the law allows for the accuser to obtain an order of protection without having provided any notice to the accused. That type of order of protection is called an “emergency order of protection.”

It is very easy to get an emergency order of protection. Obviously, an accuser can go into court, make up lies that seem kind of bad, and without the accused person there, the judge can order an emergency order of protection.

But after the accuser gets the emergency order of protection, the accused has the right to a court hearing.

What if I didn’t do it?

If you tell me you “didn’t do it,” I’ll probably believe you until I see proof otherwise.

Accusers often get orders of protections as a way to get revenge against an ex, or a way to get the upper-hand in an Illinois divorce.

Here are some claims that have been made about my past clients, and the facts that prove they were untrue:

  1. Rape: The accuser claimed she was raped by my client on Father’s Day. But on that day he was in Illinois, and the accuser’s Facebook page showed she was on a float trip – in Michigan!
  2. Phone harassment: The accuser claimed my client was harassing her by calling her “all day, everyday” for a week. Did the accuser forget about phone records? It turns out my client only called the accuser 4 times in one week.
  3. Verbal harassment: The accuser filed an emergency petition for order of protection claiming that the accused verbally harassed her over many months until she finally got the courage to move out. She said he was so horrible that she could barely function. But the evidence told a different story. Even after the accuser moved out, she went to dinner with my client, took road trips, and had him over to her place. After I proved all that, her credibility was shot.

What if the accuser is a great liar?

If you think the accuser is a great liar, you might be worried that the lies will hold up in court.

But often, they don’t. That’s because the accuser has probably never been cross-examined before, and has probably never had to testify in court.

My cross examination has lead to liars crying, and passing out. Chances are, the person who you think is a great liar is only a frequent liar that lacks the skill of a truly “great” liar.

Can I represent myself in an order of protection?

You can certainly represent yourself in an Illinois order of protection case.

If you do, you will likely fail for the following reasons:

  1. You don’t know the rules of evidence, so you cannot use evidence you want to use.
  2. You don’t know how to gather the evidence that would help you.
  3. You don’t know how to cross examine someone
  4. You don’t know the law
  5. You are too worried an emotional about the accusations being made against you
  6. The accuser’s lawyer is probably a lot more skilled at litigation than you are

Should I just agree to an order of protection?

Some people call me and tell me that plan to agree to the order of protection since they don’t want to see accuser again.

That’s totally stupid.

Employers and potential employers could find out about an order of protection against you, and that could cost you a job.

So imagine if someone filed a petition for an order of protection against you, and it was filled with extravagant lies about all the atrocities you committed, then a judge granted an order of protection, and then a potential employer (or someone else) look it up. Whoever checked out the file would probably think all the allegations are true.

How do a I get an order of protection lawyer?

If you are looking for an Illinois order of protection lawyer, you’ve come to the right place. We have phenomenal experience in defending people against unwarranted attempts to get an order of protection.

If you have a house and want to get divorce in Illinois, then you might have questions about what will happen with the house. Check out this FAQ about dealing with a house in a divorce.

Who gets the house?

Many people want to know who will get he house. That depends on a lot of factors. Some of the factors a judge might consider are the following:

  1. What would be best for kids involved
  2. Who can afford the house after the divorce
  3. Whether the parties disagree on who should get the house

If people getting divorced cannot agree on what to do with the house, the most likely outcome is that the house will be sold. The primary reason for that is often one party cannot buy out the other party, or the party who wants the house cannot afford to refinance the mortgage.

Will we have to sell the house?

In fact, if you and your spouse do not agree on what to do with the house, or on how much the house is worth, it is VERY likely that the judge will order the house sold.

So if you hand your souse want to make sure that neither of you gets the house, a good way to accomplish that would be to fight about it.

I have some news for you. Even though a judge’s job is to hear people argue, judge’s like to make things as simple as possible. That means a judge would probably rather order the house sold instead of hearing two people go back and forth about who should get the house in the divorce.

Who gets to chose a broker?

Here’s a shocker: people sometimes have a hard time coming to agreement when getting divorced.

So how do they choose a real estate broker?

Here are the primary ways a real estate broker can be chosen in an Illinois divorce:

  1. The Parties agree
  2. The judge picks one different from each of the Parties’ choices
  3. There’s a hearing, and the judge decides which of the Parties’ preferred broker will be chosen
  4. The Parties have 2 brokers pick a 3rd broker (pretty stupid)

When I have a client who needs to sell a house during a divorce, I try to refer them to the best brokers I know. And that means people with expertise who don’t screw my clients over to make a quick buck.

You need to be really careful when choosing a broker, because many of them have almost no expertise at all, and further, they will throw their own clients under the bus by encouraging price drops so they make a quick commission.

What about refinancing?

Suppose one person will be awarded the house, but two people are on the mortgage. In that case, the person getting the house will have to refinance so as to allow the other person off the mortgage.

If you are getting divorced an refinancing might be in your future, then it can be a good idea to get all the info as soon as you can. Refinancing can be time consuming, and you don’t want surprises.

Spouse hiding money in a divorce?

Are you getting divorced and you suspect your husband or wife is hiding money? Then you are not alone. Many people think their spouse has secret accounts, cryptocurreny, or piles of case hidden under a mattress.

If you are worried about hidden money in an Illinois divorce, here are some questions you might ask.

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Let’s say you’ve been been injured at work, or driving a car. If that’s the case, then you might sue someone for a personal injury, or maybe you have ea worker’s compensation case. If so, you might receive a large sum of money as damages. But will you have to split that with your spouse?

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Divorce Actuary: What? Why?

What is an actuary? And why would an actuary be involved in a divorce? As you may know, divorce sometimes involves complicated financial matters, such as splitting retirement accounts (see this article about that). Actuaries can help a great deal with splitting retirement accounts. This article explains a bit about why an actuary would be involved in a divorce. [continue reading…]

If you’ve already gotten divorced and now you are in a disagreement about how retirement should be divided, you’re probably annoyed your divorce is still impacting your life. But you can’t ignore post-decree retirement division disputes. That’s why I wrote this FAQ relating to retirement division litigation.   [continue reading…]

If you are dividing a pension, 401k, or 403b, or deferred compensation plan in your divorce, then you will need a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO (pronounced “KWAH-dro”). But people have many questions about QDROS, and I hope to answer some of them in this article. [continue reading…]

If your are getting divorce with kids in Illinois, then you’re probably thinking about “child custody.” But as of 2017, that’s a term no longer used in Illinois. It’s now called “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Per the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are various factors a judge is supposed to consider when making an “allocation” decision. As a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I’ve presented the factors in a FAQ format to help you better understand how a court will allocation parental responsibilities.

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Emergency Order of Protection FAQ: Defense

If you have been served an order of protection, you are probably worried, and maybe scared. You should be. If you are subject to an Illinois order of protection there can be serious consequences to your personal and professional lives. This is an FAQ on what to do if you have been served with an order or protection.

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It’s summertime again. And for an Illinois divorce lawyer, that means it’s time for fake vacations that lead to interestate custody battles.

What happens is that a parenting claims to be taking the kids on vacation to another state – then they don’t come back! It’s sick, but it happens more than you might expect. And that leads to an interstate child custody battle involving the Uniform Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).

If this has happened to you, there are steps you need to take NOW. If you wait, you are risking time with your kids in involvement in their lives.

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If you think you need to prepare to start a divorce in Illinois, you’re probably right. As a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I know that people are often curious about preparing to start a divorce. Unless is your divorce is one by agreement, then preparing in advance can be a good idea. You might be able to gain a strategic advantage if you prepare for your divorce before your spouse knows you’ve talked to a lawyer.

If you need to talk to a lawyer know, you can call our office at 312-554-5433. Or, check out this article about how to prepare for a divorce in Illinois. We represent clients in the counties of Cook, DuPage, and Lake, among others. [continue reading…]

You’ve got to know this BEFORE filing for divorce!

There are some things you’ve got to know before filing for divorce.

As an Illinois divorce lawyer, I get calls from people who want to start a divorce, people in the middle of a divorce, and people who cannot wait for their divorce to end. They want to call me and get some answers that could solve their problems. If you want to start an Illinois divorce, you should read this article.

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As an Illinois divorce lawyer, sometimes help people get a prenuptial agreement. And unlike various garbage websites like LegalZoom and others, I actually consult with my client to create custom documents. Prenuptial agreements are very useful for some people. However, I noticed there are some common questions about prenuptial agreements in Illinois. So I wrote this FAQ about Illinois prenuptial agreements. [continue reading…]

If you are looking for a free divorce consultation, beware. You probably won’t get what you’re looking for – and if you do, you’re probably not looking for the right stuff.

As an Illinois divorce lawyer who handles uncontested and contested divorces, I get many calls from people asking for divorce consultations – and man people want a free consultation. That’s understandable. But some things that are understandable are still a bad idea.

Let me explain the myth of the free divorce consultation.

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As an Illinois divorce lawyer, it’s important to take note of major changed in the law. Beginning January 1, 2016, there term “custody” will not a legal term so far as the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”) is concerned.  In other words, there will be no more “joint legal custody” or “sole legal custody.” Instead, parents will be allocated various rights in regards to children.

The movement away from the use of “custody” as a legal term is just one change of many in the new law. That’s why I wrote this article – to help people understand Illinois’ new divorce law as it relates to kids. [continue reading…]

Other Parent Run off with your Kid?

If the other parent has run off with your kid, then you need to take action immediately. I have handled a number of these delicate child custody situations, and I treat them like a sting operation. If your child is taken by the other parent, there are some things you need to know.

When dealing with any Illinois child custody matter, emotions can run high. However, it’s necessary to play the long game, and to think strategically. Please check out the below article if your child has been take and you find yourself in an Illinois child custody emergency. [continue reading…]

FAQ – Divorce Mediation with or without lawyers?

Lately I’ve noticed many divorce mediators who seem to be masquerading as lawyers in Illinois. Sure, they don’t literally claim to be lawyers. And they claim they are not giving legal advice. But there is as very thin line that separates illegally practicing law without a license and what many mediators are doing.

Are you looking for an divorce mediator? Great – you found one! I’m even part of a website devoted to divorce mediation in Illinois [link]. And I’m a lawyer. But you don’t have me to mediate your divorce. But please, if you want to mediator your divorce, choose a mediator who is also a divorce lawyer in Illinois.

I wrote this article to help people understand what’s going on with non-lawyer mediators. [continue reading…]

When a divorce in Illinois is litigated, each side has the right to certain information. The process of acquiring that information is called “discovery.” Another way to put it is that discovery is the evidence-gathering process. In a litigated divorce in Illinois, each party has the right to engage in discovery. However, the process can be time consuming, and frustrating. I wrote the FAQ on divorce discovery to help people understand the process.

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Divorce Tip: Hire a black lawyer

If you want to get divorced in Illinois, then you might be searching the internet for tips on getting divorced. Your divorce might involve child custody, division of assets, and spousal maintenance (alimony). And of course, you want a good lawyer. There are lots of articles out there about finding the best divorce lawyer.

But has anyone come right out and said you should hire a lawyer because the color of that lawyer’s skin? Probably not. Until now.

Read on to find out why I think there are some great benefits to hiring a black lawyer. [continue reading…]

If you are getting a divorce in Illinois, you don’t want a lawyer who is scared of trial. The concept seems funny, doesn’t it? But in Chicago, and other parts of Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties, many lawyers are scared of trial. Within the most recent two weeks, I’ve had several prospective clients want to hire me only a week before a trial – even thought they had other lawyers that have handled their cases for many months. That really go me thinking about how some Illinois divorce lawyers are scared of trial.

I wrote this article about the problems with Illinois divorce lawyers that are scared of a trial.

Why would a lawyer be scared of a trial?

As a divorce lawyer in Chicago and elsewhere in the counties of Cook, Lake, and DuPage, I’ve notice that many divorce lawyers are scared of conducting a trial. Here are some of the reasons they might be scared:

  1. Getting paid: Trials can become expensive. So lawyers sometimes want to avoid trials because they are worried they won’t get paid for one.
  2. Client expectations: Many times divorce lawyers in Illinois give false high expectations to clients to get their business, even though it’s fairly clear those expectations won’t be met. Or, a client might wrongly have expectations that cannot be met. So if either of those are the case, I lawyer might pressure a client to settle and avoid a trial.
  3. Unprepared lawyer: Sometimes, lawyers are as prepared as they should be. No one’s perfect, right? But some lawyers got to court unprepared to make arguments. If your lawyer is like that, then you might wonder what the persuasive arguments are in your case. You shouldn’t have to wonder that. You’re lawyer should have told you.
  4. Just bad at conducting trials: Some lawyers are not good at putting on a trial. Divorce trials can be very intense matters. In an Illinois divorce, there can be contested issues of property division, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, and child support.

How can I determine if a lawyer is scared of a trial?

I’ve noticed some common traits in lawyers that seem scared of having a trial. Here are some of them.

  1. Invisible partner: Many times a client hires a firm based on speaking to a “name” partner – one of the divorce lawyers with his or her name on the door. And guess what – that partner becomes invisible. Instead of truly being represented by the partner that the client had faith in (for some likely-unsupported reason), the client will instead actually be represented by an associated who’s just taking orders. In my experience, partners who show up at the last minute before a trial are rather scared of going to trial – they were probably hoping all along they could simply settle the case while making boatloads of money of the associate trudging to court doing basically meaningless tasks.
  2. Bumbling other hearings: Trials don’t happen at the beginning of a case. They happen at the end. Before a trial there have likely been other hearings – maybe on temporary custody, visitation, or child support. If a divorce lawyer seems to be unable to pull off one of those hearings, that same lawyer is probably scared of a trial.
  3. Lack of passion: If you’re lawyer seems to lack passion for your case, there is a good chance he or she is scared of a trial. This can even be the case for good lawyers. To be frank, sometimes I have clients who think they have good cases, but don’t. I tell them. But if they want to go to trial instead of settle, that’s their choice.
  4. No strategic explanation: Good divorce lawyers should be able to discuss strategy with you in regards to how a trial would be handle. What are the major issues, and how will they be approached? Is credibility an issue, and if show, how will the lawyer attack the credibility of the other side? If there is no discussion of this nature, than that divorce lawyer may very well be scared of trial.

How will I be harmed if my lawyer is scared of a trial?

I feel sorry for people who hired divorce lawyers in Illinois that are scared of a trial. In my opinion, clients of those lawyers are at risk of serious harm. Here’s how:

  1. Pressure to take bad deals: I’ve noticed that lawyers who are scared of trial often pressure client to settle when they shouldn’t. That’s opposite behavior of what many clients think a lawyer will do. Many clients initially think lawyers just want to keep dragging a case on to bill more. Maybe they will – until a certain point. Then, they beg a client to settle because they are scared of having a trial.
  2. High bills: If your lawyer is scared of having a trial, your case might actually end up costing more than if you had a trial. A trial (absent a later appeal), will put at end to a case. On the other hand, negotiations can drag on forever. I had several cases that were greatly sped up by my demand for a trial.
  3. Endless cases: Lack of a trial date can cause a case to drag on for years – often when it doesn’t need to.
  4. Stress: One good thing about a trial is that it should put an end to your case. The problem with endless negotiations is that they can drag on forever – and that can be more stressful than actually dealing with the consequences of a trial.

What lawyers aren’t scared of a trial?

As a divorce lawyer in Chicago and the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, and Lake, I’m not scared of going to trial. On one hand, I have many cases that settle quickly. On the other, if I think a trial will help my client, I’ll push for one.

If I cannot take your case, I can refer your case to numerous lawyers who I know are capable and willing to take cases to trial. In my opinion, if a lawyer is scared of trial your case will not end as well as it could – even if you settle.


If you want a fast and affordable uncontested divorce in Illinois, I’m an Illinois divorce lawyer who can help you out. Call me at 312-554-5433 if you want to get started now.

In many cases, you divorce can be done in about one month, for a flat fee. I do handle nasty litigated cases, but if you an manage it, an uncontested divorce in Illinois is the way to go.

I practice in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will.  I wrote this FAQ on uncontested divorce in Illinois to help you get the answers you need to get a quick and affordable divorce in Illinois. [continue reading…]

If your child has been taken from some other state to Illinois – without your permission – then you are likely experiencing a child custody emergency. That being the case, you will need a lawyer with expertise in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”). The UCCJEA is a “uniform law” that has been adopted by nearly every state.

The problem is that most lawyers have little to no useful familiarity with the UCCJEA – let alone familiarity with using it within the context of an emergency. But I do. 

Furthermore, I was the winning appellant in my own UCCJEA case that was heard before the Michigan Supreme Court.

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If you are involved in a divorce in Illinois, you might wonder, “What is a deposition?” Long story short, it’s an interview of a party or witness that can be used in court. But as a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I know that people actually have many more questions about depositions. That’s why I wrote this FAQ about depositions in a divorce in Illinois. [continue reading…]

As a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I often have to deal with dividing retirement accounts as part of a divorce. Here’s the deal with dividing 401ks, pensions, and the like – it’s complicated.  Splitting 401ks and pension plans requires a special court order, called a “qualified domestic relations order.” or QDRO. Most QDROS are prepared by specialists because of the technical knowledge required. If you need a QDRO, then you might want to hire the best QDRO lawyer in Illinois. If so, read on. [continue reading…]

As a divorce lawyer in Chicago Skokie and Evanston, people often ask me if they can keep their house after a divorce. The answer? It depends. If you want an answer to the question what happens to the house after divorce, read this article about dividing this important piece of property. It is often one of the most critical areas of a settlement or trial of a divorce in Illinois. [continue reading…]

Need a QDRO Lawyer in Illinois?

If you need a QDRO lawyer, that means you need someone to draft a qualified domestic relations order – it’s what’s used to divide 401ks and pensions pursuant to a divorce in Illinois. You might be glad your divorce is over, but now you have to deal with the pain of figuring out what to do about your QDRO. It can be hard to get a QDRO drafted afer a divorce is complete, because many divorce lawyers do not draft QDROs themselves, so if a judgment for dissolution (the “order” that says you’re divorced).

I wrote this article about how to get your QDRO. [continue reading…]

An uncontested divorce in Illinois can be quit simple – so long as you use a lawyer. As an uncontested divorce lawyer in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties, I find that whether it’s Chicago, Skokie, Deerfield or Wheaton, people often have the misconception that an uncontested divorce means a lawyer isn’t necessary. While it’s true that an uncontested divorce in Illinois can be affordable and fast, it’s important not to forget that divorce is as legal process best handle by a lawyer. I wrote this article to explain why people who want an uncontested divorce in Illinois should use a lawyer. [continue reading…]

If you are thinking about an uncontested divorce in Illinois, you may have talked to family and friends who have been divorced. Getting support from your family and friends is important. But the problem is they can spread the Top 5 Myths about getting an uncontested divorce.

This article is about dispelling the Top 5 Myths about divorce in Illinois. [continue reading…]

Many people have heard about a new “right of first refusal” provision that is taking effect on January 14, 2014. As an Illinois child custody lawyer, I find parents are often concerned about this issue. Too bad the new right of first refusal provision is a failure.

I wrote this article to provide a basic explanation of the law, and some commentary.

Long story short: the statute has no teeth and doesn’t go far enough in creating and protecting the right of first refusal in child custody and visitation situations. [continue reading…]

As a divorce lawyer, many people contact me asking for help with a “no-fault divorce.” Most of those people are actually looking for an “uncontested divorce,” also known as a “amicable divorce” or a “divorce by agreement.”

I wrote this article to help people understand the term “no-fault” and why that’s not the same as an uncontested divorce.

Grounds for divorce in Illinois [continue reading…]

It seems like a lot of people want to know how to save money with a lawyer. If you are involved in a family dispute, or a divorce in Illinois, you probably want to know how to decrease the costs of litigation.

Whether you have one of the best divorce lawyers in Illinois, very expensive divorce lawyer, or a relatively affordable divorce lawyer, you probably want to know how to spend less money on your lawyer about getting the same result in your case.

Hiring an Illinois family law attorney is no easy task. Obviously, you want to hire an attorney that is best for you. To address that I wrote the article “Who is the best divorce attorney in Chicago?

But there are other things you can do to make better use of your financial resources.

Use an attorney that leverages technology

While here are numerous factors that can make some one of the best attorney for you, one of it overlooks factor is the attorneys use of technology.

Let me explain to you how I use some technology. I use secure online storage to their clients can have easy access to the document. Then also enables them to easily send me documents. Further, I make extensive use of email, some attorneys do not. I use email extensively with communicating with my clients, and with opposing counsel. That saves a lot of money that would otherwise be wasted on the expense of postage and the time involved in mailing hard copy communication.

I ran across one attorney who did an excellent job leveraging technology for the benefit of her client. Chicago divorce lawyer Marie Fahnert received permission from a judge to conduct a hearing via Skype. In that case, the man was bed-ridden, and the attorney’s use of technology was key to the success of his case. While your case may not be that extreme, Attorney Fahnert’s case does illustrate the important role played by an attorney’s creative and effective use of technology.

Avoid unnecessary communication

One of the biggest wastes of time and money is creating unnecessary communication. Divorce and child custody disputes can be very stressful. But you should be careful not to use your lawyer as a therapist. First of all, lawyers do not tend to be good therapist.

You will also want to be careful not to flood an attorney with unnecessary communication about the facts of a case. In divorce and child custody cases, some facts are relevant to the proceeding, and some facts are not. Your lawyer should help you understand what facts are relevant. If you flood an attorney with too many irrelevant facts, you are likely to waste money and to distract from the more meaningful facts.

Organize your evidence

As an Illinois divorce lawyer, one of the most time-consuming aspects of my job is to organize my clients’ testimony and evidence. Here are a few tips you can use to keep your communication organized:

  1. Use email efficiently: Don’t send 10 emails a day, unless there is an emergency. It is much better to have one email with clearly delineated topics. Using bullet-points can help keep your emails organized.
  2. Label evidence effectively: I normally coach my clients how to keep their evidence organized. When clients send me their evidence in an organized fashion, that’s less time I have to spend organizing the client’s evidence. And that saves the client’s money.

Can your lawyer explain technology

The use of technology is one of the major drivers in attorney efficiency. But how can you determine how well your attorney utilizes technology? Most likely, at attorney would not just up and admit “I have no idea how to make use of technology, therefore our communication will be slow and your bill will be 10 percent higher.”

I suggest asking any attorney you’re thinking about hiring the following questions:

  1. Do you communicate via email?
  2. Can I access my case file online?
  3. Do you have the capability to conduct a teleconference?
  4. How do you prefer to communicate with attorneys on the other side?

A lawyer that cannot explain technology is probably not going to be any good at using technology to help you prove your case. Using technology can be important in cases involving hidden money, secret accounts, and cryptocurrency (like bitcoin); you can learn more about that at this article.

“Is property divided 50-50 in an Illinois divorce?”

As an Illinois divorce, I get that question a lot. The answer? Yes. And no

I wrote this short FAQ on division of property in an Illinois divorce.

How is property divided in an Illinois divorce?

Property is decided “equitably” in an Illinois divorce. Equitably is a fancy word for fair – it’s probably used just to make things seem more sophisticated. Lawyers like that. I’m just going to use the word “fair.”

A fair division of property might mean that you get 60 percent of the property, and your spouse gets 40 percent, or vice versa. Or perhaps the property will be split equally(50-50).

Who decides what is fair?

Judges decide what a fair division of property is, unless the parties can agree. If  spouses can settle a divorce without a trial, or get an uncontested divorce, then the sp0uses choose for themselves what they think is fair.

But what if spouses don’t agree?

Then the judge decides what is fair. If you go to trial, you may very well find out that your version of fair does not comport with the judge’s version. Who do you think will win?

What property is divided in a divorce?

Not all property the spouses own is subject to division upon divorce. Only marital property is divided. Marital property is property that is acquired during the marriage – with a few exceptions that are beyond the scope of this article.

By the way, it doesn’t usually matter much whose name is on the property, or who purchased it. For example, if both spouses have separately-titled bank accounts that were opened and funded during the marriage, they might be under the impression that they get to keep an account simply because only his or her name is on it. That would be wrong. The accounts would be marital property and could be divided upon divorce.

Property division misconceptions are one reason I answer “yes” when someone asked me “Do I need a lawyer for a divorce in Illinois?”

For a bit more about dividing property, you might want to checkout my articles “Dividing property in divorce: Overview,” and  “Uncontested Divorce & Marital Settlement Agreements: The Home.”

Divorce mediation can be a way to speed up you divorce and avoid animosity. As a Chicago divorce lawyer, I write about many contentious topics on this site, including child custody, child support, and dividing marital assets.

But I want to make sure that people know about divorce mediation and some of what I see as the main benefits.

Mediation = Vegas?

What happens there, stays there.

What happens in mediation stays in mediation. In other words, mediation is confidential – for the most part.

Allow me to compare mediation to litigation in regards to privacy. [continue reading…]

As an Illinois family law attorney practicing in Chicago, Naperville, Skokie and elsewhere, I know many people getting divorced have questions about how much alimony will be paid for how long. They often contact me with considerable anxiety about the issue.

First, you should know that in Illinois, what used to be called “alimony” is now called “spousal maintenance.” So that’s how I’ll refer to it in this article.

Here is the real truth: it’s up to the judge. All judges are different, and the facts of your case are different than the facts of other case.

Length and amount maintenance

The length and amount of maintenance is determined by the degree of existence of the following factors:

  1. The age of both parties
  2. The health of both parties
  3. The property owned by each party, including what was awarded in divorce
  4. The income and future earning ability of each party
  5. The needs of each party and the standard of living of the marriage
  6. The time required for the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting
  7. The extent to which the party to receive maintainance contributed to the career/education/licensure o the other party

Termination of maintenance

If maintenance is awarded, these days its almost always temporary. For one year, two years, or something else. The days of lifetime maintenance are pretty much over.

But however long maintenance is for – whether that be through judgment or settlement – it can be terminated early.

Section 510(a-5) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the “IMDMA”) outlines various factors that can be used by the court in deciding to terminate maintenance:

  1. Any change in the employment status of either party and whether the change has been made in good faith;
  2. The efforts, if any, made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and the reasonableness of the efforts where they are appropriate;
  3. Any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either party;
  4. The tax consequences of the maintenance payments upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties;
  5. The duration of the maintenance payments previously paid (and remaining to be paid) relative to the length of the marriage;
  6. The property, including retirement benefits, awarded to each party under the judgment of dissolution of marriage, judgment of legal separation, or judgment of declaration of invalidity of marriage and the present status of property;
  7. The increase or decrease of each party’s income since the prior judgment or order from which a review, modification, or termination is being sought;
  8. The property acquired and currently owned by each party after the entry of the judgment of dissolution of marriage, judgment of legal separation, or judgment of declaration of invalidity of marriage; and
  9. Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

Hiring a spousal maintenance lawyer

If you are concerned about the payment of spousal maintenance (formerly known as “alimony”), there is probably enough at stake to warrant hiring an Illinois family law attorney.

If you are concerned about a change in maintenance – such as terminating, increasing, or decreasing it – that is accomplished by filing a motion in court. If you contact me we can get started.

As a lawyer who represents clients in spousal maintenance issues, I can’t guarantee results, but I make arguments designed to lead the court to the desired result.

You may also like to read my article, “Dividing property in divorce: Overview” and “Divorce in Illinois: Financial disclosure basics.”