March 2013
The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore Newsletter             

In This Issue
Special Needs and Divorce: Choosing a Lawyer
Alternatives to Guardianship
Mental Health Treatment Declaration Act
Top 10 Ways to Assure a Due Process Request
April Webinar:
Adult Services in Illinois
Thursday, April 18
Registration details to follow.

Announcements and Upcoming Events:



 The Child and Family Law Center's  

Spring 2013 Conference

Special Education and Autism Summit: Advocacy throughout the Lifespan

Saturday, May 18th 

Stay tuned for details  



Center for 

Independent Futures  

upcoming events:


Open House

Friday, March 15, 2013


R.S.V.P. 847-328-2044


SPARK Spring Fundraiser

April 19, 2013

Galleria Marchetti

Call Jan Walch for information:


Retail Program Open House 
March 14, 2013 
10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. 
2020 Dempster St. 

In partnership with Walgreens, Have Dreams is proud to announce a new retail training course designed to increase employment opportunities.

Call or email Tom Dempsey for information 

Light the Darkness


A Benefit for the  

National Alliance on Mental Illness  

(NAMI) of Greater Chicago


Thursday, April 11

Galleria Marchetti

Chicago, IL 





The Arc of Illinois 2013 Annual Convention 



"Living A Full Life"

April 24th and 25th

Hilton Hotel



Speaking Engagements:

Rockford Area Autism Conference

Presented by Autism Home Support Services
Saturday, March 23, 2013

Micki Moran. J.D. will present:

"Getting Everything you can out of your IEP Meeting"


Chicagoland Autism Connection

14th Annual  
"Spring Fling for Autism Awareness" 
Resource Fair

Saturday, April 6, 2013 
7:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 
Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences

Micki Moran, J.D. will present on "Special Education and School Law" at 12:30 p.m. 

TACA Crystal Lake

Saturday, April 20, 2013 1:30 p.m.

Micki Moran, J.D. will present 
"Developing Effective IEPS for Students on the Spectrum"

Home State Bank 
611 S. Main Street 
Crystal Lake 

Send us your announcements! 
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.


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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 
 We provide representation in the following Northern Illinois counties:  Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, and McHenry.
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.
One of the things I learned the hard way is that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.      
                                                                                              Lucille Ball
Special Needs and Divorce:
Choosing a Lawyer

Our office represents many clients with children with special needs who are in the process of divorce or post-decree matters. Recently, I hosted a webinar entitled Special Needs Divorce. One of the questions that we often are asked is what to look for in choosing a divorce attorney given the unique circumstances. The following list will hopefully help you in identifying those qualities that are important to you and assist you in finding a divorce attorney that is the right fit for you:
  • Ask Friends: Did the attorney return phone calls? Explain the process? Be clear about client expectations?
  • Determine what they found most helpful in their attorney and what they disliked.
  • Interview several attorneys.
  • Ask about their experience with special needs children and families.
  • Attorneys often are called upon to be therapist and confidant. However, they are not mental health professionals.
  • Determine how complex your divorce will be in these discussions.
  • Bring a list of questions.
  • Be upfront about all the issues.
  • Ask about costs and billing practices. (Paralegal time, travel)
  • Ask your attorney how quickly you can expect a return phone call. Our office has a policy of returning calls in almost every case on the same day it is received.
  • The costs of a case can hinge on the other spouse and their desire to be reasonable or to litigate every issue.
  • Ask your attorney about their philosophy regarding settlement or trial.
  • No one can guarantee results. Be wary of attorneys who do.  
Alternatives to Guardianship

I recently gave a presentation regarding the legal issues that parents and and caregivers confront when they have an adult child or relative who has mental health issues. One of the topics was the use of alternatives to guardianship. In the  next several newsletters, I will discuss the options available as alternatives to guardianship as well as how to determine if guardianship is necessary.
There is no clear test (I.Q.) for guardianship. Many parents approach our office asking if a guardianship is an option for a variety of scenarios. Simply because a young adult is making poor decisions, the law doesn't allow for parents to assume guardianship automatically. The courts require that an individual have a disability. However, the fact of having a disability isn't enough. The disabled person must be incapable of handling his or her own affairs. A few considerations are important and are factors the probate court will address:
  • Does the person understand the concept of guardianship?
  • Are there other alternatives? Can the disabled person understand the other alternatives?
  • Is the disabled person unable to communicate the options?
  • Do the options offer an alternative that can be implemented?

Guardianship is a significant legal intrusion. In Illinois, a person adjudicated incompetent and in need of a guardian may not hold a valid driver's license. The alternatives to  guardianship should be explored in many cases. The law says that a guardianship should be utilized only if it is necessary to achieve all of the following:

Protect the well being of a person with a disability;

Protect against neglect, exploitation or abuse; and

Encouraging maximum development of self-reliance and independence. 

Mental Health Treatment Declaration Act

Our office represents many young adults with mental health issues. Frantic parents call our office reporting that the hospital refuses to talk with them regarding their mentally ill young adult. They simply want information and to be in on the decision making. This may not be something that their son or daughter desires regardless of whether this is a good or bad option.

Options: Mental Health Treatment Declaration Act may be of some assistance in these circumstances.
  • Everyone should have the discussion in advance of the need for this kind of document.
  • The Declaration allows you to appoint someone to make your mental health treatment decisions for you and to make sure that your wishes are followed by your doctors and other mental health providers.
  • The person you appoint is called your attorney in fact.
  • The Mental Health Declaration may be useful if your son or daughter has a mental health issue that is highly variable. For example, some people with bipolar disorder may have episodes of mania or depression that require hospitalization or other treatments. Some mental illnesses may follow a more progressive course and getting this document in place may provide comfort to everyone.  

Mental Health Covered by Declaration:

  • The use of electro-convulsive treatment;
  • The use of psychotropic medications; and
  • The admission to a mental health facility for a period of up to 17 days.

People who are considering signing this document should consult an attorney. 


I attend IEP meetings several times a week. Most of the time, school personnel are professional and genuinely want to work things out. However, there are those exceptions where districts create an atmosphere that makes it more likely that things will not be resolved and the parents will ask me to request the appointment of an Impartial Hearing Officer (due process) to resolve their dispute. A few years ago, I did a presentation for school administrators entitled: Lawyer


The Top 10 Ways to Assure a Due Process Request:


1.  Roll your eyes at the parent or their private provider each time they speak.

2.  Text constantly throughout the meeting. After all, this is boring and you have better things to do.

3.  Write notes and circulate them between the staff in clear view of the parents.

4.  Explain to the parent that their child is doing as well as could be expected given "who they are".

5.  Suggest that the parent seek psychiatric help.

6.  Blame the mother or father for the disability and emphasize that things at home are really the issue. 

7.  "Surprise" the parents with evaluations or progress reports.

8.  Insist that the parents make all decisions in the meeting.

9.  Look at your watch repeatedly. Indicate at 10 minute intervals that your staff has another meeting and that the parents are limited to one hour. In fact, be sure to let them know that all IEP meetings have one hour limits.

10.  Dismiss all the parents' concerns and refuse to include them in the IEP because your district doesn't address those issues.

11.  Finally, remind them that all students with that disability get the same level of service . (e.g. all students with autism get no more than 60 minutes per week of speech).


This was an attempt to poke fun at things that as a special education attorney, I have witnessed in IEP meetings. In the interest of fairness, some of the same things have been done by parents and assured that the district stopped listening. The point is that the actions listed above are to be avoided by all parties. They don't work and are sure to result in stilted discussions and limited results.  

by Joe Scally, J.D., L.C.P.C.

National Public Radio recently reported about a nursing student who graduated with good grades and job prospects only to be denied her nursing license. The reason? Her arrest as a juvenile for fighting in school. She was released at the police station. She was never prosecuted. In her mind, the matter was over until the State Licensing Board discovered a record of the arrest during a background check. This student eventually obtained her nursing license, but only after a good deal of worry and hours of work cutting through red tape.

Many arrest records in Illinois can be sealed or expunged. They won't show up on a standard background check. The process of expunging records can be difficult to navigate.

Attorneys at The Child and Family Law Center have experience expunging records for both juvenile and adult offenses. Please give us a call if you have questions about expunging records. We would be glad to talk with you about your case and whether it would be worthwhile to pursue expungement.
Spring IEP Tune UP


An Office Consultation
Review of Records
2 Hour IEP Meeting
Follow up.


Call Karen Royko at 847-926-0101 for more information or to schedule your Spring IEP Tune Up.

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