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Explore our focus areas within our family law practice.
While collaboration and cooperation are certainly preferable when a marriage dissolves, divorces are often adversarial. Unless you have an attorney with the experience and capacity to be your strong advocate, your interests will not be protected in this often-traumatic transition.
At Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona, our client’s best interests always come first–from divorce petitions to post-decree modifications. Over many years, our firm has developed a reputation for strong advocacy in the courtroom and at the negotiation table, never compromising simply to smooth the way. Our role is to aggressively assert our client’s claims–whether to marital property or for more time with his or her children.
We take the most active position in ensuring that the divorce award or settlement meets our client’s needs, and we adeptly unearth assets kept hidden by the other spouse.
Many clients are referred by other lawyers to Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona when it becomes clear that they need an effective strategy for a contentious divorce. We welcome these referrals and fight tirelessly for their interests.
Visitation, Parenting Time,
& Complicated Child Custody
Visitation & Parenting Time
Our family law practice at GKWW is particularly attuned to issues surrounding children. Partner Lynn Weisberg, for instance, is frequently appointed as a child representative by judges, and has undergone specialized training for this position.
Our firm attempts to facilitate mutually agreeable custody and parenting time agreements. If such an agreement cannot be reached between divorcing spouses, we will fight for the appropriate custody and parenting time arrangements for our client.
In divorce court, the judge will ultimately decide custody and parenting time issues. However, before a judge makes that decision, he or she may appoint a guardian ad litem (or a child’s representative) for the purpose of representing the interests of the child and advocating for the child in court. If the recommendation of the guardian at litem (or the child’s representative) proves inconsistent with our client’s best interests, we will seek to have a psychologist or psychiatrist conduct an evaluation and make a recommendation regarding custody and parenting time. In some cases, the mental condition or addictions of a parent may require that contact with the children should be supervised or restricted. We work exclusively with the finest professionals for these evaluations.
Complicated Child Custody
In our increasingly mobile society, parents often travel extensively–or are required by their employer to move. This complicates issues of custody and parenting time, but we are knowledgeable in the law in these areas and demonstrate exceptional skill in protecting our clients’ interests when such issues exist.
Child custody is further complicated when parents reside in different countries. We have extensive experience with such situations and know the law well.
Child Support, Allocation of Parental Duties and Child Expenses
Parents are obligated to support their children. For the custodial parent, that support comprises the responsibility to provide a home for the child and to pay everyday expenses. The non-custodial parent, then, has an obligation to pay child support to the custodial parent.
State guidelines apply in the vast majority of cases, but our firm has successfully reduced child support payments as a percentage of income for business owners and high-income parents.
Parents have an obligation to contribute to a child’s education–his clearest path to success. In many dissolving marriages, however, disagreements regarding post-secondary education are used as a tool by one spouse against another: for example, when one parent wants to send the child to an Ivy League school and the other favors community college.
We are adroit in facilitating resolutions of college disputes, and in presenting these disputes to judges when no agreement can be reached.
Increasingly, parents support adult children in transition. These children may be unable obtain work; perhaps, they are pursuing internships that will position them in better stead for the future. Although parents do not have a legal obligation to provide support for such children, we can assist in including such support in a marital settlement agreement. We can also establish trusts to provide such support.
Special Needs Children
Special needs children, of course, require us to fashion solutions to fit the particular disability–and may have a significant impact on parents’ child support obligations. Special needs trusts can be established for such children, allowing them to take advantage of public programs.
The establishment of fair alimony (also known as “maintenance”) is one of tne of the key factors in determining realistic obligations and responsibilities between the spouses. When we’re engaged in these matters, we argue for the best interests of our client and carefully consider the financial needs of the parties involved. Much like child support/allocation of parental duties, there are state guidelines that apply to many situations involving maintenance. (Things have changed since the 1950’s. Maintenance is now a two-way street–and husbands can get maintenance, too.)
Business Interests During Divorce
One of the biggest concerns of business owners when getting divorced is the impact that the divorce will have on the business. As outside general counsel to over 180 businesses, our firm is expert at addressing these issues for business owners–from dealing with the divorce’s impact upon the board of directors and the public, shareholders’ agreement provisions, transition of a spouse out of a working role with the business, etc. Our practice is to plan for all issues and handling them so that the owner or officer of the company can run the business while we minimize the personal distractions.
401(k) Plans & Retirement Investments
Retirement planning often takes a dramatic turn when a marriage dissolves, so a clearheaded review of the proper allocation of retirement funds becomes essential.
Tax implications for both current and future disbursements must be considered. (For example: a Roth IRA would likely have a higher present value than a traditional IRA.)
The variety of retirement vehicles–with many persons involved in multiple plans–adds a level of complexity that requires thorough analysis of cash flows, tax implications, timing and actuarial issues. In evaluating a marital estate, we attempt to structure asset distributions to meet our clients’ goals: such as trading current assets to preserve retirement funds, where such a goal is indicated.
Investments, Securities & Stock Valuation
If securities investment and stock option valuation is mishandled during a divorce, your portfolio (and your future) will show the scars. At GKWW, our attorneys are experienced in the division of complex securities holdings (including stocks, bonds, stock options, managed funds, hedge funds, and other investments).
After analyzing your portfolio, we’ll work with qualified financial experts to achieve your specific goals while protecting the value of your assets and optimizing the tax landscape. We are skilled at recognizing the issues surrounding stock option valuation, we will ensure that you are not shortchanged in the division of these important material assets. You can expect us to be eminently efficient and effective in the process.
Complicated Property Division
Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona offers experienced and highly skilled representation to divorce clients whose property division issues are large and complex. For such clients, asset protection, legacy desires and taxability are often the key issues.
Under Illinois law, family court judges are required to make a “just distribution” of marital assets between the spouses during the marriage. What constitutes a “just distribution” of property is left largely to the court’s discretion, subject to a list of factors that the judge is required to consider. In divorces involving couples with high net worth, family business assets or executive compensation packages, several problems must be addressed and resolved:
Can either spouse claim a particular asset as separate, non-marital property not subject to just distribution?
What is a particular asset actually worth?
Have both spouses fully and accurately disclosed their income and assets?
Does a prenuptial agreement restrict either spouse’s rights to marital property?
Should a particular asset–say, vested stock options held by a Section 10(b)(5) controlling person–be treated as income for maintenance and support purposes, or be regarded instead as marital property subject to division between the spouses?