Last night it was announced that Cook County courts will be closed until May 18th, except for emergencies and specific court proceedings.  As they did in March, it is likely that the collar counties will follow Cook County and extend their closures as well.

We know many of you are fielding anxious client calls seeking enforcement of child support orders or guidance on whether parenting schedules should be followed. Your clients may be seeking access to the court system to move their case forward. Who wants to be quarantined with your soon to be ex-spouse!! Your clients want answers, they want results and they want it from you, now.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the solution to the current courthouse closures and the unavoidable back log that is certain to follow once the courthouses are back to “business as usual”. Levin & Brend is in a unique position to provide 3 confidential methods of ADR to you and your clients, all while social distancing.

During these stressful and unprecedented times, we can help you and your clients keep moving forward with their divorce. Utilizing Zoom videoconferencing, we can safely mediate or arbitrate temporary issues that may arise in a case such as discovery compliance, temporary support and parenting plans. Resolving these temporary issues will allow you to continue serving your client’s goals while the courthouses are closed.

We, of course, can also mediate or arbitrate your client’s entire case. Again using Zoom video-conferencing (which is free for you and your client) and practicing our social distancing we can assist parties and their attorneys in reaching a global agreement in attorney assisted mediation or provide an arbitration ruling that can be incorporated into an Agreed order or final Judgement for Dissolution of Marriage.

The Collaborative Law Process is another ADR solution to the current crisis as this process does not rely on the court system at all until a fully executed agreement is reached with the help of a team of professionals who specialize in law, mental health, children’s issues and financial issues. This process is fully confidential and helps preserve the party’s relationship so that they may be co-parents or even friends at the end of the process.

Thanks to the extraordinary leadership of The Honorable Judge Dickler, the Presiding Judge of the Cook County Domestic Relations Division, Agreed Orders can then be entered electronically with the Court, and prove-ups held virtually thereby ending the parties divorce. She has issued several General Orders which allow the courts to operate remotely on a limited basis. Attached below are the General Orders issued by Judge Dickler to date. We expect additional General Orders in the coming days as well.

As always we will continue to assist attorneys in litigation or ADR by determining divorce income, preparing marital and non-marital balance sheets, preparing life style analysis, preparing forensic accountings and conducting business valuations as part of whatever process your client has chosen to participate in.

Jen Fletchall and Jeff Brend are American Academy of Matrimonial Law (AAML) Fellows who were trained and certified by the AAML as Arbitrators. Jen, Jeff and Greg Papiernik are also certified Mediators. Jeff is the co-chair of the National AAML mediation committee and is one of the teachers for the AAML advanced and basic mediation training classes. Jen is on the Collaborative Law Committee of the National AAML and serves on the Board of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois.

Levin & Brend employs three attorney-CPAs, one CPA, one CPA/CFA, one accountant/CFE, and one accountant and a financial analyst who are all trained in taxes, income determination, business valuation and forensic accounting.

Greg, John, Jen and Jeff are looking forward to courts reopening and returning to some sense of normalcy. We strangely miss being peppered on the witness stand with your cross examination questions.

If you or your clients feel more than physically “stuck” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, contact Levin & Brend and we will be happy to assist in any way…. that complies with all state regulations related to social distancing of course!   We welcome the opportunity to help resolve an issue or an entire case in a virtual setting with real results.

Stay safe. Stay Healthy. Stay in Touch.