December 2013

The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore


In This Issue
Affordable Health Care
Transition Planning: Top 10 Things Parents should Know
Divorce and the Special Needs Child
Divorce and the Special Needs Child: Planning for the Holidays
On Families
Transition Planning  for Students on the Autism Spectrum and other Disabilities 
Presented by Micki Moran, J.D., of The Child & Family Law Center and Ken Kozin, Ed.D., of Orchard Academy

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
7:00-7:45 p.m.



Guardianship, Powers of Attorney and other Forms of Surrogates for Disabled Adults   

Presented by Joe Scally, J.D. of The Child & Family Law Center


 Wednesday, January 29, 2014

7:00-7:30 p.m.



Call 847-926-0101 for information 


Announcements and Upcoming Events:


We would like to welcome
Autism Family Center
to the North Shore


Located at 560 Green Bay Road in Winnetka, the  
Autism Family Center provides a multidisciplinary approach to treating autism. Services include ABA, Speech, Social Skills Groups, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Family Support for Caregivers and Siblings.

Upcoming events at the Autism Family Center include:
Nanny Training Workshop
Children's Autism Awareness Book Reading and Signing.

For more information about 
Autism Family Center, contact Lauren Rabin at 847-814-1096
(cell), 847-386-7809 (office)
Is your group or organization having and event? Email us or call our office at 847-926-0101 with the information and
The Child & Family Law Center will be happy to publish it in our newsletter.
Lisle Office

The Child and Family Law Center is pleased to announce the opening of a branch office in Lisle, Illinois. Attorneys Micki Moran and Joe Scally will meet with clients by appointment at 5950-E Lincoln, Lisle, IL.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 847-926-0101.
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In addition to traditional divorce services,  

The Child and Family Law Center now offers:


Divorce Mediation


  • Cost Effective.
  • Experienced Mediator.
  • Child Centered.
  • Problem Solving Focused. 

Please call us at 847-926-0101 for more information.

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The Child and Family Law Center provides representation and consultation in the following areas:
  • Special Education and School Law
  • Family Law
  • Juvenile and Criminal Law
  • Mental Health and Disability Law
 Check our website for a complete list of our services

The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd.  

1950 Sheridan Rd.
Suite 201 
Highland Park, IL 60035
phone: 847-926-0101
fax: 847-926-8500

Consultations by appointment in our Lisle, IL office. Please call for information. 
We provide representation in the following Northern Illinois counties:  Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, McHenry,and Will. 
Hello and Welcome.  Each month The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore, Ltd. will provide articles of interest and updates on areas that our office deals with on a regular basis.  We appreciate and welcome feedback, so please feel free to send us an email at with questions or suggestions.
If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much.
Marian Wright Edelman
President and Founder of the Children's Defense Fund
A Word on Affordable Health Care or the Lack Thereof

Today's articles in the New York Times, and discussions with  our clients over the past week that have resulted in tears regarding the lack of access to appropriate health care, has prompted me to write this blog post. The headlines read: As Hospital Prices Soar, A Single Stitch Tops $500.00: Huge Emergency Bills Shock Patients and Reflect System with Few Controls. (New York Times, December 3, 2013); A New Wave of Challenges to Health Care Law. (New York Times, December 3, 2013).

If you haven't been living under a rock, you are probably aware that certain people are opposed to the Affordable Care Act (A.C.A.) or ObamaCare. This has more than baffled me over the months and years that this controversy has played out in Congress and in the media. In my office, I represent families and children with disabilities. Many, if not most of these families, have spent every cent they have on securing appropriate interventions for their children. Some have lost their homes and retirement savings. The worst stories in our office are of those who have lost their children. Sadly, the ability to secure appropriate scientific based interventions for children and young adults is a luxury afforded the wealthy in this country. This surely can't be the America I believe in that would deny access to good quality care to everyone but the affluent. Living and getting well shouldn't be foreclosed to all but a select few.

The tragedy isn't simply economic. Many children and adolescents will die or their lives will be forever damaged because they cannot access health care and interventions available to those with money who can privately pay for this care. This is especially problematic in the areas of mental health and addiction treatment which has been mostly unavailable or very limited even to those with health insurance. Yes, there have been gains. Some children with autism can now receive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) covered by insurance in Illinois.* Still many cannot because their parents employers refuse to cover this service. Mental health treatment is in a dark place where parents cannot find psychiatrists or pay for medication that would help their children.

Sitting across a table counseling parents about interventions and services available is often very hard. It is much easier when a family can afford the proper treatment. Our goal is to help to secure services for families primarily from school districts and other government agencies. While schools are an important linkage in the intervention chain for children with disabilities, they are only a part of the solution. Access to health care, including mental health care, is essential.

It is unthinkable to me that anyone, regardless of party affiliation, can stand for anything less than full health care coverage for all Americans. It is not a luxury to have access to health care-it is a moral imperative.

*ABA is a research based intervention that has been proven effective as an intervention for children on the autism spectrum.
Top 10 Things Parents Should Know About Transition Planning  


Have a current, comprehensive evaluation(s) that accurately describes your child's cognitive abilities, academic and adaptive functioning. This is the best use of resources. Transition assessment is "the ongoing process of collecting data on the individual's needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational living, and personal and social environments." Assessment data serve as the common thread in the transition process and form the basis for defining goals and services to be included in the IEP.

  1. Start early. In Illinois, transition IEPs begin at 14.5 years-old. (or earlier)
  2. Prioritize what needs to be done and in what order.
  3. Agree in advance who will do what.
  4. Develop measurable IEP goals that include:                   ~Present Levels of performance (accurate, objective and data driven). Describe levels of support needed to accomplish the goals.                                                      ~Identify who will take the data, how often, and when it will be reported.                                                            ~Remember to ask why? (for what purpose).
  5. Student must be at the center of the IEP. It must be individualized, realistic, and taking into account the student's interests and desires.
  6. Identify what transition services, including courses of study, are needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.
  7. Develop an Agenda prior to the IEP meeting.
  8. Share evaluations in advance.
  9. Circulate drafts of IEP goals and transition plans in advance of the meeting.
  10. Agree on how much time will be needed. Avoid marathon IEP meetings.  
Divorce and the Special Needs Child 

Divorce is rarely easy. However, there are a number of unique issues families face when they have a child with special needs. The following are examples of considerations that must be addressed when there is a child with a disability in the family:
  1. Which parent will be the residential parent for school district purposes? All school districts are not created equal. It is important for the parties to assess what school district will provide the best services for the child. The election of a designation of a residential parent can be made only once per year in Illinois.
  2. Who will be the major decision maker? Joint custody may be appropriate when parents agree on most major issues. It is not workable when parents disagree on most items and cannot work through these problems.
  3. Child support may be in excess of the statutory guidelines as a result of the child's unique needs. There may be private therapies, costs of equipment and care that are well in excess of those for a typical child. While both parents have a duty to support a child, one parent may be required to stay at home or work part-time to care for the child.  
  4. Health care expenses are often above and beyond what is covered by insurance. This may require additional support.
  5. Parenting and "standard" visitation plans are not necessarily appropriate for children with special needs. The child may have difficulty with transitions, require care that is specialized and have needs that must be accommodated in each household.
  6. In Illinois, child support continues for adult children with disabilities under certain circumstances. (Section 513).

How do I choose a lawyer? Ask the following questions in your interview:

  • Is the lawyer familiar with your child's disability?
  • What are the costs of the divorce? Speak candidly with the attorney.
  • How will the lawyer educate the judge about my child?
  • What documents are needed? (e.g. evaluations, IEP's, schedules)
  • What is the lawyers approach?

To schedule a consultation in the matter of a divorce when there is a special needs child in the family, call 847-926-0101. 

The Special Needs Child and Divorce Planning for the Holidays:
A few thoughts for making the season less stressful
  • Plan ahead. Which parent will have the child and when? Posting the schedule and preparing your child for the transition is helpful. It is best to work this out well in advance of the holidays. Sit down with your ex, if possible, and agree on the schedule. Transitions are often harder for children with disabilities.
  • Developing a predictable schedule and keeping it in the season of chaos is very important.
  • If there is a disagreement over the holidays that may require court intervention, the emergency is when you know that a problem exists. Courts are often flooded with "emergencies" of this nature and will often refuse to grant relief.
  • If your child is on medication, be sure that refills are at hand and can be available to the parent who is exercising parenting time.
  • Make a checklist with itineraries/schedule for each household.
  • Prepare your child with a social story or a discussion to let them know what to anticipate.
  • A well-drafted Parenting Plan is very helpful in all custody situations, even when both parents are in agreement. It is essential for children with special needs.

 Elements of a good Parenting Plan:

  • Specific. (e.g. times and dates are clear and concrete)
  • Detailed.
  • Contains a description of how decisions will be made on important issues.
  • Has a built in agreement on how communication between the parents will be handled.
  • Contains a dispute resolution mechanism built into the process. (e.g. mediation) 
On Families

On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece entitled The Changing American Family. The article chronicles the changing face of the American family and the complexities behind those statistics. In this article, the families were complicated. They were bi-racial, gay and lesbian, Protestants, Catholics, married, single, blended families, rich and poor. These families didn't exist fifty years ago. In reading the article and looking at the photographs, I realized that these are the families we represent in our office. Our families have adopted children, complicated step-parents, grandparents, and parents who are incarcerated. Yet they remain families committed to helping one another.

I want to urge everyone to read the article because when we get starry-eyed or nostalgic about family, it is important to note that the expanding definition of what it means to be a family reflects a different but more inclusive concept. I am thankful for that inclusion and celebrate and welcome the families who turn to our office for help in all of their complexity.

The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore is a unique legal practice that specializes in providing legal services to families and children in the areas of special education, IEP consultations, divorce and custody, parenting agreements, mediation, guardianship and juvenile law, including criminal law, DCFS and mental health. Where possible, we have initiated flat fee billing for appropriate matters.


The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore 

1950 Sheridan Rd.

Suite 201

Highland Park, IL 60035 


For more information about The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore, please call 847-926-0101 or visit our website at 

Micki Moran
The Child and Family Law Center of the North Shore