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Throughout my decades of practice as a Divorce and Custody attorney, I have worked tirelessly to deliver the best results possible for my clients with respect to their complex child custody cases. As many of you are aware, many divorce cases with child issues also have significant financial issues, sometimes involving complex financial concerns such as business valuations and allocation of complex financial assets and liabilities.

I tried a case in 2015 and 2016 that had both complexities with the child issues and with the marital property concerns. The trial itself took two months to try, with the trial going nearly day to day for an extended period. Months after the trial ended, the Court returned with a judgment, but I can say that the Court’s conclusions on a number of property issues were seen to be incorrect. As a trial lawyer, I can say that despite the best efforts of both counsel and the Court, courts sometimes do not get it right the first time. This is why we have an appellate process.

Only last week, the Appellate Court ruled that the trial court, in rejecting some of what I considered to be very strong issues (ie: business valuation, allocation of retained earnings), evidence and arguments at trial, erred in doing so. In fighting for my client on every issue, we are now vindicated and the appellate court has sent the case back for retrial on the most important financial issues.

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Our Illinois Dissolution of Marriage Act ( IMDMA) has been going through a number of changes over the last year. One major change last year was the introduction of a spousal maintenance formula that created an entirely new landscape for the calculation for spousal support in divorce cases. This year we saw a major change to our child custody statutes, and went from an archaic “custody and visitation” model to a presumptive allocation of parental responsibilities or “shared parenting” model. Now, we are aware that the way we calculate child support is about to change, with these legislated changes becoming effective in July of 2017.

In 2017, we move to an “income shares” model, which takes into account the incomes of both parents vs. the prior system which looked only to the noncustodial parent’s income. The new law will then take a percentage of that income to determine the total amount that should be allocated for child support, with DHFS ordered to develop tables that will set out the amounts that are to be paid for child support, based on DHFS’ findings to as what families spend on their children as a percentage of income.

Interestingly, the new law (SB 3982) also allows a window of opportunity for parents with true sharing of parenting to offset the amounts to be paid, and the parent with the higher income paying only the overage amount of the offset.

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My office is pleased to announce that once again Illinois Divorce Lawyer Blog has been recognized as one of the top Divorce Blogs….in fact, we’re Number 16 ! I’d be happier with a Number 1 ranking, but at the end of the day, this is some recognition for what I consider a labor of love to write about Divorce and Custody issues that face my clients…as well as the solutions that my office provides.

” Divorce blogger and attorney Michael Roe is experienced in dealing with high-conflict divorce and child custody cases involving psychological disorders. With his divorce blog, Michael wants to simplify divorce processes and make life better for parties going through a divorce.”

” Going through a divorce is always stressful. During this period of your life, you’ll need emotional support and understanding to better manage the stress in your life. It’s also important to know what your legal rights and obligations are.

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Dr. Amy Baker is a nationally recognized expert in parent child relationships, especially children of divorce, parental alienation syndrome, and emotional abuse of children. One of her books occupies a permanent place on my office bookshelf: The High-Conflict Custody Battle Protect Yourself and Your Kids from a Toxic Divorce, False Accusations, and Parental Alienation

Dr. Baker helps targeted parents navigate the legal and mental health systems. Topics addressed include:

How to find the right attorney for your case.

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I have always been comfortable meeting with people in broken marriages at any time of stage of the marriage breakdown. Many people know they are ready to end a marriage once they make that first step to talk to an experienced divorce lawyer for advice and strategy. However, some people with a ‘dependent personality’ arguably stay in bad marriages far too long, and can sometimes become victimized by a marriage partner that is controlling or abusive. Many people with these dependent traits are very good and kind people, who simply do not have a good sense of healthy boundaries. One of my goals is to help coach good people in difficult or abusive situations, and engineer a better life for them and their children.

Here is a fine article on what 9 things people with these traits tend to do:

There is a temptation in relationship dependency to focus on the relationship itself. But the key to knowing how susceptible you are to relationship dependency is to focus on your part of the equation. You need to ask yourself, “Do I have a dependent personality, or do I tend to display dependent personality traits?” If you do, then it is likely those traits will show up in your relationships.

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Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day. My practice has been focused rather intensely on the problem of the pathology of parent alienation for over 20 years. I have seen both Fathers and Mothers the victims of attacks, and targeting for alienation, by the disordered parent that seeks to damage the relationship between the parent and the child(ren). Parental Alienation exacts a terrible toll on both the targeted parent, as well as the child, whose developmental life is always impacted by being removed from a beloved parent’s life.

Fortunately, within the court system, guardians ad litem, evaluators and judges are becoming more aware of the traits and symptoms of PAS. It has been my job, for over these 20 years, to identify these pathologies, and do all possible to intervene in the alienation, and to use proper methodologies in the court system to reverse it, and reunify the child with the loving parent.

Continue reading →

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I receive many calls from men and women in toxic relationships with people that have narcissistic personalities. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and often others. It is a DSM cluster B personality disorder.

One important tactic in dealing with a narcissist is proper boundary setting. This must be done carefully, and with skill and training, but it is necessary in order to defuse anger and chaos in the home. Preston Ni has published a set of methods for dealing with a narcissist, one of which includes boundary setting.

Know Your Rights and Set Boundaries:

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Being in a marriage with a narcissist can be extremely challenging, and a number of my clients have exhibited symptoms of a post-traumatic stress disorder after years of living with a partner with narcissistic traits. My firm’s practice has a focus on divorce and custody issues for clients separating and divorcing a person with toxic narcissism. Dr. Johnson’s article, below, highlights some aspects of this pathology.

Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that the narcissist is someone who has “buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.” This alternate persona to the real self often comes across as grandiose, “above others,” self-absorbed, and highly conceited. In our highly individualistic and externally driven society, mild to severe forms of narcissism are not only pervasive but often encouraged.

Narcissism is often interpreted in popular culture as a person who’s in love with him or herself. It is more accurate to characterize the pathological narcissist as someone who’s in love with an idealized self-image, which they project in order to avoid feeling (and being seen as) the real, disenfranchised, wounded self. Deep down, most pathological narcissists feel like the “ugly duckling,” even if they painfully don’t want to admit it.

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When parents come to court with a dispute over children, such as allocation of parenting time, most of the judges in northern Illinois counties will insist that the parties make an effort at resolution of their issues through mediation. In my experience with high conflict cases, mediation is usually not a useful approach at resolution of cases; the disordered or angry party will often refuse to participate in the mediation appropriately. However, in some cases where the parents are not in a high degree of conflict and are otherwise looking to reach a resolution, versus a court battle, mediation can be effective. So what kind of approach is best to bring to mediation?

1. First, communicate with your attorney beforehand. As a mediator myself, I spend time with my clients coaching them on the mediation process and how to best use mediation to work toward resolution. It’s important for me to hear my client’s concerns, so I can provide clarification, validation, and direction. It’s also important for me to develop an agenda with my client to make sure that mediation is effective, and that goals are set and fully in mind before the mediation begins.

2. Be effective. Only do or say those things which will be effective and help you move forward. Being effective means advancing toward goals which are consistent with your interests and principles.

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The article below was written by the author of “Splitting,” the landmark book on divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist. I wrote the foreword to the first edition of “Splitting,” and have admired the work that Bill Eddy has done since that time in the field of High Conflict Divorce. Here’s an excellent article that discusses high conflict communications, and the BIFF response.

Hostile email, texts and other electronic communications have become much more common over the past decade.When people are involved in a formal conflict (a divorce, a workplace grievance, a homeowners’ association complaint, etc.) there may be more frequent hostile email. There may be more people involved and it may be exposed to others or in court. Therefore, how you respond to hostile communications may impact your relationships or the outcome of a case.

Do you need to respond?