Family Law Lessons: The Significance of In-Person Court Appearances, Financial Disclosures, and Mediation Pitfalls

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Family Law Lessons: The Significance of In-Person Court Appearances, Financial Disclosures, and Mediation Pitfalls

In this episode, we delve into the intricate world of family law, exploring the nuanced benefits of in-person court appearances versus the convenience of short, quick Zoom sessions. Our expert guests shed light on why the traditional approach to court proceedings can offer a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities involved in family matters.

We also emphasize the critical role of completing financial disclosures in family law cases. Unveiling your financial circumstances through detailed disclosures not only ensures transparency but also aids in making informed decisions. Our legal team breaks down the importance of this process and how it influences the outcomes of divorce, child custody, and spousal support cases.

As we pivot to family law mediation, we provide a crucial tip to our listeners: never neglect to fill out your financial affidavit or show support for your financial circumstances. Our seasoned mediator highlights the pitfalls that arise when crucial financial information is omitted during mediation sessions. Learn from our mediator, Erin Birt, to discover strategies to navigate mediation successfully.

Listen to the Podcast, here.

[00:00] Erin Birt: Welcome to the Restorative Divorce podcast, where we focus on all things divorce and parenting related to help you find clarity, stay informed and stay out of family court. With 20 plus years of family law experience, our attorney and mediator, Erin Birt, has seen too many times how family court will negatively impact your health, your relationship with your kids, and your wallet. This podcast aims to turn that around and empower our listeners to take back control of their family law process and their lives by working with divorced professionals that seek to help and not hurt. Our goal is to provide you with expert tips that you can implement today to restore your finances, emotional well being and co parenting skills. Of course, our team at Birtlaw.com is always here to customize a restorative divorce plan for you. But for now, listen to this episode to get help today.

[00:59] Erin Birt: Well, thank you for joining us for our November complimentary gathering. This is an opportunity for us to update you on some news or current events for family law matters, and it's also an opportunity to meet our team, if you haven't already. I'm Erin Birt. I am the mediator and the attorney and parenting coordinator here at Burt Family Law and I am joined with me by Tyler. Perhaps you can introduce yourself.

[01:27] Tyler Birt: Hi everybody, I'm Tyler. I am the paralegal and office manager at the firm.

Changes in DuPage County Family Law Court

[01:33] Erin Birt: Great. Well, today I wanted to talk about some of the new things that are happening in DuPage County. So if your case is in DuPage County, it's a little different than other counties. They are deciding that in person appearances for status dates are very important and they are no longer doing status dates via Zoom. So this is a big change for a lot of our clients. This is a big change for scheduling purposes, and it's a return to how we used to handle things pre pandemic. There are several reasons for why the courthouse has decided to go back to having domestic relations cases, so those are your divorce cases and family law cases, why they've decided to go back to in person? The one big thing that I've heard is that they're hopeful that it brings attorneys, guardian ed litems and anybody else involved in your case together in person so that you're able to talk productively about your case.

And it appears that it's the judge's opinions that a lot of the cases could be resolved by bringing people back in person rather than litigating behind screens when we don't have opportunities to meet in the attorney resource center, we don't have opportunities to meet in the hallways before or after status dates. So that's one big announcement for November that I wanted to share with everybody.

If your case is in other counties, know that other counties are still doing, a lot of other counties are still doing, status dates via Zoom. A lot of other counties are doing hearings via Zoom. But it's important to touch base with us if you have any questions or concerns about whether an appearance for court is going to be in person or via Zoom, and there are some things that you should consider.

It's going to change the budget of your case. Going in person, unfortunately, means that we're spending more time in court than we do for our brief Zoom calls with a judge. And it also, I think, provokes thoughts of, can we get certain issues resolved faster and how do we best do that? So just wanted to share that with everybody that that's a pretty big update even though some other counties are still allowing Zoom meetings.

I think that's it on my end about big announcements that I wanted to share with anybody about some changes in family law, at least at the court level. Perhaps we can talk about some other common issues that are coming across our desks these days.

I know, Tyler, you're working a lot on financial affidavits and financial disclosures at this time as we're heading into the end of 2023. Maybe you have some pointers or tips for people that need to be updating their financial affidavits now that we're heading into the end of the year.

Illinois Financial Affidavit Updates

[04:53] Tyler Birt: Sure. Completing the financial affidavit is a very important step in the process for any case that we handle in the divorce process. And a financial affidavit of it is a quick reminder. It's a tool used to provide you, the attorneys, the parties involved, with a look into how much you make and spend each month. It's like a profit and loss and balance sheet in easier terms. And one of the most important things in completing the financial affidavit is just to make sure that you're filling it out completely, using the most accurate numbers that you can for each category, and providing sufficient support documents for any of your checking account balances, credit card balances. And that allows us to be able to move through this portion of your case faster than if we have to go back and look at each line item and ask questions about each line item. The more you, our clients, do on their own, the faster this process is and the easier it is for me and for you in the end to help them move on to the next steps.

[06:39] Erin Birt: Right. And I think it's important for anybody to know that if they work with our office, that we ask our clients to update this on a quarterly basis. And so most local court rules say that you need to update financial affidavits every 90 days because accounts are revolving, assets might change, income might change, expenses change. And so we honor that by reminding our clients every quarter that you need to update your financial affidavit. Some of our clients might only have to do it one time. If you're in mediation, and perhaps we're in the middle of a flat fee package where we're only going to meet for eight weeks, we'll do the financial affidavit once. So that gives us a framework to deal with where we can identify all of your assets, debts, and liabilities, and income and expenses all in one spot. Now, if you are our legal client, you very well may update this a few times. And so we will remind you on a quarterly basis to update this, to use your prior financial affidavit as a resource to then update your new financial affidavit. So, just to let you know, you might have to do it a couple of times, but we're here to help. Tyler's always here to guide you through it as well. I'm here to answer any questions.

Tip of the Day: What Not to Do During Divorce Mediation

Something else that I wanted to talk about today, perhaps, are some tips. Tips of perhaps what not to do if you're going through the mediation process. And one is to not fill out your financial affidavit, or at least prepare adequately and provide support with gathering checking account statements, savings statements, if your children have a college account, grabbing that information as well.

But something else I wanted to highlight is the emotional side of going through mediation. For those who might not know it, mediation is an out of court process where you are attempting to compromise on issues that are either before the court or could go before a court. And you're trying to find a way to reach an agreement without having to proceed through hearings and trials, but you're also discussing very important things about your children, about the needs of your children, the best interest of your children. And then we also talk about the financial repercussions of either a divorce or separation. And so a lot of times, I'm noticing that a lot of clients might neglect to focus on the emotional side. Right. We've got that financial side. We've got the financial affidavit. We've got preparation that we can do before, but we also need to start thinking about the emotional side of mediation. And that can be, you're a client of mine, that's in mediation or it could be that you're a legal client of mine and you're going into mediation.

[09:56] Erin Birt: Thanks for listening to the restorative divorce podcast with your hosts, attorney and mediator Erin Birt and our paralegal Tyler Birt. A special thanks to our contributors and to the authors of the many articles that inspire us and keep our clients informed. We hope you enjoyed our deep dive into the separation, divorce, or parenting tips covered today that you can use now to help restore yourself if you strive to improve your life or the lives of your children after a separation or divorce. Join us next week when we will cover more restorative divorce topics. You can head over to birtlaw.com to get the podcast transcripts, follow us on social media, and even find more valuable family law information, all for your benefit. Get help today and work with us one on one. Contact us to set up a consultation or planning session to start rebuilding your life today. Enjoy this day and we'll see you next time.

Our Attorneys

  • Erin Birt

    Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on pa...

  • Tyler Birt

    Since 2007, Tyler Birt has been a legal assistant and bookkeeper fo...

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