~In this Issue ~
Family Law:
Attorney Assisted Mediation

Special Education:
Tips for parents of students with disabilities on surviving the start of the school year 

Illinois House Bill 3586-Pending legislation could benefit children

The Children's Lawyer Podcast

Listen to the first episode of Micki Moran's 
The Children's Lawyer Podcast here!
Getting Ready for Your IEP, Part I


Special Needs Estate Planning

Nine months ago, The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore became a division of Grund & Leavitt, P.C. As  result, we are now able to expand the range of legal services we can offer our clients. Our office has added an estate planning division with the addition to our firm of Attorney Richard Klott and will now be able to assist clients in creating special needs trusts, guardianship, alternatives to guardianship and estate planning. Richard has been an expert in handling a full range of estate planning for over 38 years. Call our office at 312-640-0500  to schedule a consultation.

Planning for your disabled family member's future is essential. The creation of a special needs trust and other estate planning tools can prevent the loss of government benefits which may result if the disabled person inherits money of is the beneficiary of a well intentioned relative's gift. The most common document created to protect a disabled child's benefits is a special needs trust. Depending upon the needs, this trust can be used to pay for activities, home care, items that help your disabled child sustain a quality of life that would be otherwise out of reach. 

The decision on whether or not your disabled child requires a guardianship is a complex decision and does not lend itself to a one-size fits all solution. For some parents, there is a bright line that makes it clear that their child cannot make informed decisions, so guardianship becomes the right choice. For others, the decision is not as clear. Guardianships carry some limitations that may seem too onerous and may not be required when a person can make some of their own decisions. A discussion of supported decision making is embedded in our process of meeting with families to discuss what works best for the disabled family member. 

Alternatives to Guardianship:
Powers of Attorney for Health Care
Declaration for Mental Heath Treatment
Illinois Statutory Short From Power of Attorney for Property

Estate Planning
Call our office to schedule a consultation with Richard Klott for a consultation regarding your estate planning needs to protect your disabled family member's future. 312-640-0500


Juvenile Law
Juvenile Interrogations HB 2627 amends the School Code to require law enforcement or school security personnel to take certain actions before detaining or questioning a student under the age of 18 on school grounds during regular school hours. These actions include attempting to notify the student;s parent to ensure that the parent or guardian is present during questioning. There is an exception if a reasonable person believes that urgent and immediate action is necessary. Drop date: August 27, 2019. Effective immediately.


Divorce - Decision Making: Allocation of Decision Making Responsibilities
Section 602.5(b) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/602.5(b) (West, 2016) permits the trial court to allocate to one or both of the parents, the decision making responsibility for significant issues affecting the child as to education, health, religion, and extracurricular activities. The decision is based on the best interests of the child standard. 750 ILCS 5/602.5(c) (West 2016). To determine the child's best interests for purposes of allocating the decision making responsibilities, the court should consider all relevant factors, including: (1) the child's wishes; (2) the child's adjustment to home, school and community; (3) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (4) the parents' ability to cooperate to make decisions; (5) the level of each parents' participation in past decision making about the child; (6) any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents regarding decision making; (7) the parents' wishes; (8) the child's needs; (9) the distance between the parents' residences (10) whether a restriction on decision making is appropriate under section 603.10 of the Act; (11) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a relationship with the other parent; (12) the physical violence or threat of physical violence directed against the child; (13) the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child's household; (14) whether one parent is a sex offender or resides with a sex offender; and (15) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant. 750 ILCS 5/602.5. (West 2016). 
Not all factors are relevant in every case and some factors may be weighed more heavily buy a trial court in the determination of what is in a child's best interest. In determining decision making, the court can allocate certain decisions to one parent exclusively if it finds that this would be in the child's best interests. Keep in mind that shared decision making requires that parents have some minimal ability to cooperate with each other and to act in their child's best interests.
The allocation of decision making may mean that certain areas of decision making are divided between the parties. For example, in one case, a court required the parties to confer on all medical decisions regarding their autistic son. However, ultimately the court determined that the father was in the best position to make the final decision on the choice of providers. The parties shared equally in decision making in other areas such as education and extracurricular activities. 

Call our office for a free consultation regarding your divorce and the best customized legal solution for your family in this difficult time.   312-640-0500

Surviving the Start of the School Year for Parents of Students with Disabilities

Let me say a word about the fact that the start of the school year is smack dab in the middle of August. Yuck! If you are a parent of a child who has learning challenges, the sight of school supplies popping up in stores can cause your stomach to clench. I remember those days when my son was younger. It was always too hot to think of school and the dread, despite the new back pack and sneakers, was always below the surface. Here is what helped me and are some tips I share with parents.
  1. It's a marathon not a sprint.
  2. Ask for a meeting within the first six weeks of school as a way of checking in. This allows time for everyone to address any problems that are developing before they become big issues.
  3. Agree on a communication system. (e.g. email, daily sheets)
  4. Agree on homework expectations. If you are reteaching the entire school day in the evening, pick up the phone. Homework should not ruin anyone's life.
  5. Pick a point person for communications. This is especially important in  middle school and high school.
  6. Avoid nasty emails or notes to teachers and staff.
  7. Pick your battles. (or prioritize concerns)
  8. Organize your paperwork. Keep it all in one place.
  9. Don't sit on your concerns. Address them in a timely way so there is time to fix the problem.
  10. If you aren't sure about what is going on at school, ask.

"Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." ~Malala Yousafzai


"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework." ~Lily Tomlin



The Child & Family Law Center



Illinois State Board of Education

Autism Society

What Works Clearinghouse


Attorney Assisted Mediation: 
An Option for Divorcing Clients

Mediation is increasingly used by divorcing couples as an alternative to litigation as an means of both reducing conflict and cost. 
The mediator in divorce is a neutral professional (often an attorney trained in mediation) who assists the parties in creating an out of court settlement of all of the issues in the divorce. The mediator helps the parties discuss financial concerns, parenting time and allocation of decision making. The parties in the course of mediation exchange relevant information on financial matters, property, debt, child related matters and any other issues that need to be resolved in the marital settlement agreement. Parties are encouraged to consult an attorney for guidance to understand the legal implications of their choices and the available options.
The attorney's role in the mediation process depends on the situation. At the very least, it is important to educate the client regarding their options and how the existing law applies to their case. This assists the clients in making informed decisions.
Assembling Needed Information
Divorce can be overwhelming. One of the roles an attorney plays in facilitating mediation is to help the client assemble the necessary documentation that is required in a divorce. In Illinois, both parties must complete a Financial Affidavit that discloses their current financial data. parties need to provide pay stubs, credit card statements, tax returns and other documents as part of this process. This is an opportunity to educate the client on financial issues.
Click here to continue reading
Pending Legislative Changes Impacting Special Educatio n

Illinois HB 3586

HB 3586 was supposed to apply only to Chicago Public Schools. However, due to a "drafting error", the bill reads that the following will apply to every school district in the state. If the bill is signed by Governor Pritzker, the following will be the case:
  1. All School districts will be required to send home copies of all documents that will be reviewed at an IEP meeting at least three business days prior to the meeting. (Excluding placement and related service minutes.)
  2. All school districts will be required to keep service logs for each provider and to make these service logs available at each IEP meeting and to notify parents about these logs at the beginning of each year. If the services are not implemented consistent with the IEP, the district must notify the parents about the fact that they have not been implemented as soon as possible, including information about the right to request compensatory services. These logs must be provided to parents upon request.
  3. All school districts will be required to utilize Response to Intervention ("RTI"). If these changes are applied to all school districts, this would be very pro-child legislation. The Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education ("IAASE") is opposed to the bill's applicability to all schools. Let's hope that the governor signs this into law as it is.

Micki Moran, J.D.
The Child & Family Law Center of the North Shore
A Division of Grund & Leavitt, P.C.
600 Central Avenue, Suite 248
Highland Park, IL 60035
Phone 312-640-0500
Fax 847-681-1295