Tag Archive for: Masters Law Group

Chicago Divorce Attorneys: Working with Masters Law Group in 2023

If you are contemplating divorce or your spouse recently dropped the “D Bomb,” you may be on the fence debating whether you should hire a divorce attorney or if you should represent yourself. If you’re about to go through a divorce, here’s why you should invest in a divorce attorney.

If you are currently in a bad situation with your partner and you want to settle for divorce, you might consider getting a lawyer. When choosing a divorce attorney, there are a few factors you should consider. Experience, costs and reputation are just a few of the most important considerations.

Having a reputable attorney by your side will help ensure your interests are well-represented. Having a lawyer will also ensure that the settlement you receive is fair and your rights are protected. You will also want to know whether any loopholes in the law may result in an unfair settlement.

How to Choose the Right Divorce Attorney

You may be reluctant to hire an attorney for many reasons such as trust and associated costs, but without one, you may find yourself facing costly repercussions. Divorce is no simple feat, so having a good relationship with your divorce attorney can make the process so much easier. Maintaining good communication with your attorney will only help you in the long run.

If you live in the state of Illinois and are in need of legal representation for a family law matter, look no further. Here’s what you need to know about working with Masters Law Group in 2023.

Working With Reliable Lawyers

Reliability is key when it comes to working with a divorce lawyer. When looking at your options for lawyers, pay attention to how they communicate with you. It’s important to develop a positive rapport with your lawyer, as most divorces take several months to settle. 

Throughout the divorce process, you’ll have an array of questions, concerns, or disputes you’ll want to take care of. As such, you’ll want someone on your side who will alleviate your stress, address your concerns, and answer your questions to the best of their ability.

When we first meet with our clients, we ask them what they hope to achieve from their divorce and how they would like to feel after it is complete. We then carefully discuss their goals so that we can provide the best legal representation possible. We offer complimentary consultations so that you can get a feel for our firm before deciding whether or not we are right for you!

Google Reviews and Client Testimonials

Word of mouth advertising has always had a leg up in certain markets. For the law industry, hear-say isn’t always credible. But looking at client testimonials and reviews of previous clients that have worked for a law firm can be extremely beneficial.

Lawyers that provide high quality services will have more clients who are willing to share their experiences with other potential clients. The law industry is no different from any other when it comes to word of mouth advertising.

If you want to get a better idea about a certain law firm, then it is important that you take some time to look at client testimonials and reviews of previous clients that have worked with your lawyer. A great tool and resource is google reviews. When you type in a business name, the reviews automatically pop-up. Another way to look for testimonials is by checking out their website.

At Masters Law Group, we are fortunate to have a great relationship with many of our clients. Our reviews and testimonials truly bear witness to our commitment to our clients.

We believe that each client deserves a legal team that will be willing to go the extra mile for them. We will always provide you with honest advice and guidance on all matters related to your case.

Client Reviews:

“Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph are an amazing duo. They helped me get through my divorce. In the words of my newly ex husband “your lawyer looks like a shark.” You’re damn right they are. They will go as far as you need them to go with any battle you are going through and I love that about them. I would recommend them to anyone in need of incredible lawyers who are not only knowledgeable but keep every aspect of the process very real. Anthony and Erin thank you very much for handling my case. You are very much appreciated!”

-Bianca 

Divorce Client

 

“Masters Law Group was incredibly helpful with my divorce. Erin and Anthony were a pleasure, very responsive, efficient, and very knowledgeable. I always felt that my case was in good hands and it was a relief to trust them with the process. I highly recommend Masters Law Group to anyone needing help with a family law matter.”

-Luz

Divorce Client

A Little Bit About Masters Law Group

Recognized Best Law Firms 2023 by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News & World Report, Masters law group is located in Chicago, Illinois and handles family law matters in Cook county and other surrounding areas. They concentrate in areas such as divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, and other family law matters. 

Masters Law Group is highly esteemed and well respected by peer review publications such as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers. Our Lawyers Erin E. Masters and Anthony Joseph have been recognized by such prestigious publications numerous times. This not only speaks volume about their work–but also their character.

Having an attorney who is respected by their peers is a testament to both their work ethic and their character. When you’re facing a legal issue, having someone you can trust on your side makes all the difference.

Working with Masters Law Group in 2023

Here at Masters Law Group LLC, we’re committed to helping you achieve the best outcome in your case. With a long history of awarded recognitions in Family Law, we have a unique depth of knowledge, experience, and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field.

Our highly experienced divorce attorneys are dedicated to providing you with the best possible service. No matter what kind of case you may have—divorce, child custody or relocation—we will work tirelessly to help you get the results you deserve. We have over 10 years of experience handling family law cases and we know how important it is for our clients to feel comfortable with their lawyer. That’s why we offer free consultations so that you can meet with us before deciding whether or not to hire us.

Contact us to schedule a consultation today!

Hague Convention – International Child Abduction – San Francisco

When San Francisco courts determine custody arrangements, they ultimately consider the best interests of the child involved. However, a custody agreement can get extremely complex when the issues are international. 

The Hague Convention was enacted to protect children from international abduction and to return children to their home country residence. It also includes child custody conflicts when a parent or guardian resides in a different country to the home country of the child.

If you’re in need of legal representation to protect your rights or the rights of your child, Masters Law Group can help. We can represent parents and children in a variety of complex international abduction cases. 

Here’s everything you need to know about international abduction cases and the Hague Convention in San Francisco. 

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is a treaty that works to help parents whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained from their custody by enabling them to petition for the child’s return to their country of habitual residence. A number of counties have joined this treaty which was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and officially entered into force in December 1983. 

According to the Convention, the removal or retention of a child is “wrongful” when it breaches custody rights attributed to a person or any other body. Even if a parent already has legal custody of the child, the Convention is needed to return the child back to their habitual residence. 

The Convention’s framework allows countries to help one another find solutions for difficult custody cases where a child is abducted. This doesn’t rely on the immigration status or nationality of the child. In certain situations, a child may be wrongfully detained in another country, where they are not a resident. Violations of custodial rights happen if the child is wrongfully removed from their habitual home and are now living in a foreign country. 

Presenting a custody order is not needed to prove that a parent’s custodial rights were violated when the child was taken from their country. This can be proven by showing proof of parenthood. 

Filing a Hague Application in San Francisco

Whether or not the Hague Convention is an appropriate solution for you depends on a variety of factors. Perhaps after separating from their partner, a parent wants to take their child and move to another country. Another situation may be that a parent moved internationally in violation of a custody agreement. It’s important to know that filing a case under the Hague Convention does not automatically guarantee the child will be returned. 

To obtain the return of the child, it must be proven that:

  • The child was habitually resident in one Convention country and was removed to or retained in another Convention country.
  • The removal or retention of the child is considered wrongful and was in violation of custodial rights, and those rights were exercised at the time of removal or retention.
  • The Convention must have been in force between the two countries at the time of the wrongful removal or retention. 
  • The child is under the age of 16.

If a court decides the child must be returned to its country of habitual residence, they may make the return contingent upon certain obligations from the petitioning parents. This might include: 

  • Paying for the travel of the respondent and child to the country where the child habitually resides.
  • Arranging housing or paying for living expenses for the respondent and child in the country of the child’s habitual residence. 
  • An order that the petitioner have no contact with the respondent if the respondent returns to the country of the child’s habitual residence. 
  • An order that the petitioner will have no contact or limited contact with the child once the child returns to the country of the habitual residence. 

Getting the Legal Help You Need in San Francisco

High-stakes international child abduction cases require experienced, knowledgeable and fast-acting attorneys. Your lawyer should be ready to file a Hague Convention application and institute or defend a Hague Convention lawsuit on short notice.

Our attorneys at Masters Law Group have extensive experience in international child abduction cases.  Instead of trying to navigate international law issues alone, take advantage of the experience and knowledge of our attorneys at Masters Law Group. We are committed to vigorously representing our clients in these high-stakes proceedings. 

Contact Masters Law Group Today

The award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group have successfully represented clients in such cases across the country and globe; including Hague cases across the United States and Internationally in New Zealand, but to name a few.

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today.

What are my Legal Rights As a Birth Parent of an Adopted Child?

Adoption, like childbirth, is a life-changing event in your life. If you are seeking to adopt a child, or if you have already started the adoption process but you are encountering legal barriers, you will need to be advised by the right legal team. Learn about a biological parent’s rights after an adoption below. 

Deciding to give up a child for adoption is a very difficult decision and definitely should not be committed until you, as the biological parent, have fully understood what this means for your parental rights. Once the adoption process is finalized, you have relinquished your parental rights and responsibilities by law. However, during the pregnancy, you have undeniable parental adoption rights throughout the adoption process. 

If you are considering adoption, it is important to know the limits of your parental rights and how they may affect you long-term. 

First, let’s discuss the rights you do have prior to the adoption, during pregnancy.

The Right to Change Your Mind at Any Time

Prior to completing any adoption paperwork, the birth mother has a legal right to change her mind at any point in the process. This means you will always have the option to parent your child, whether you change your mind early in pregnancy, after you’ve met the adoptive parents, or even after you’ve given birth, as long as no paperwork has been completed. Your adoption specialist will respect these inherent legal rights you have as the biological parent. 

The Right to Create Your Own Adoption Plan and Choose the Adoptive Family

As the birth mother, you have the right to create your own adoption plan from start to finish. You will have an adoption specialist with you to support and help you through the process, but you should never be forced into making decisions you’re not comfortable with. Once of the decisions you also get to decide is if it’s going to be an open or closed adoption. With open adoption, you also have the right to choose the family that you wish to place your child with. Normally, your adoption specialist will thoroughly discuss with you what your desires for the adoptive family are, and show you profiles of families who meet those preferences. 

Additionally, you will be able to meet with and get to know the prospective families. You can take as long as you need to find the family you believe is the right fit for your child. 

The Right to Choose Your Post-Placement Relationship

Another factor in open adoptions is choosing the contact you want to have with the adoptive family before and after the adoption is complete. While you have no legal parental rights after you give up your child for adoption, open adoption allows you to remain a part of your child’s life. Your adoption specialist helps coordinate communication to make sure the adoptive family maintains their communication with you. 

The points discussed above dealt with rights parents have prior to the adoption being finalized, but following the finalization, your parental rights are completely terminated. Let’s discuss what this means and if there are other options. 

Voluntary vs Involuntary Termination

Generally, birth parents have the right to choose what’s in the best interest of their children, this includes the difficult decision of adoption. When parents choose to offer their child for adoption, they are voluntarily terminating their parental rights. Alternatively, when birth parents are forced to terminate their parental rights, it’s known as an involuntary termination. This can determine how the adoption moves forward and the long-term situation. 

Before voluntary termination can take place, one or both parents must legally consent to the adoption. Most states require this to be done in writing and before a judge or court-appointed person. 

There are other times when birth parents’ rights are terminated involuntarily. For this to take place, someone must be going on that endangers the well-being of the child. Common occurrences include:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Mental illness
  • Incapacity based on alcohol or drug use 
  • Conviction of a crime by the parent

Timing 

The exact moment the birth parents’ rights are terminated depends on the state, but can range from immediately after the child’s birth to 30 days after. Terminating birth parents’ rights is a serious matter and most states have very strict timing requirements that must be set and agreed to prior to the termination. 

Visitation Rights

Following the adoption, the adoptive parents have sole authority to decide on visitation rights. If they feel it’s in the best interest of the child, they may enable a healthy relationship with the birth family. 

Although, if a post-placement relationship was agreed upon and put into the paperwork, you have the authority to choose what kind of relationship you wish to have with your child. 

It’s important to note that, generally, adoptive parents are not required to communicate with birth parents after the adoption. The only exceptions being severe illness or death. 

Free Counseling for Birth Parents

Every birth parent has the right to counseling during both the pregnancy and following the adoption. This can help a lot of mothers and fathers cope with emotional and physical trauma. Birth mothers are at a much greater risk of experiencing depression due to the negative feelings of guilt and shame. Which makes pre-adoption counseling very beneficial for all parties involved. 

Revoking Consent

In most states, consent to adoption is irrevocable since consent is meant to be a lasting and building agreement to help ensure a stable environment for the child. Although, in extreme cases, some states allow for revoking consent to adoption, usually only before the adoption has been finalized. Some situations include; 

  • Fraud or coercion was involved
  • The state allows a set period of time for revoking consent
  • The state determines the revocation is in the best interest of the child
  • The birth parents and adoptive parents mutually agree

Can Adoptive Parents Cut Off Acces?  

The current trend for adoptions seems to be to allow open adoptions that encourage a relationship between birth and adoptive parents. Unfortunately, if the adoptive parents do not want them in the child’s life, there is not much you can do as a birth parent. Again, this is why it’s important to enter a visitation agreement into the paperwork. 

Final Thoughts

Adoption is a lifelong commitment and a permanent decision. Once you have given consent and signed the paperwork, it’s extremely difficult to go back. That’s why it’s so important to work with a legal team that understands these kinds of situations and knows just what to do. Our award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group have seen it all and can help create solutions right for you. We’re here to help guide you through these difficult times. 

If you need help with any family law issues, reach out today.

Beaming With Pride: Illinois Civil Unions

With just two days left of Pride Month, Masters Law Group looks back at the history of LGBTQ rights, as well as the legalities of Civil Unions in our great state of Illinois. 

June is widely celebrated as Pride Month to the world. The month of June commemorates the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City when LGBT people stood up against police brutality and injustice and demanded fair treatment for all. LGBT people and their allies celebrate accomplishments achieved since Stonewall, but they also advocate for what needs to be done in order to secure full equal rights.

Anti-LGBT discrimination and violence are unfortunatley still rampant. Marriage equality still remains an issue at the forefront of Pride. What better way to close out Pride Month than with love and acceptance. Here’s what you need to know about Illinois Civil Unions.

What is a Civil Union?

Civil unions allow two adults, of either the same or opposite sex, to enter into a legally recognized relationship.

Civil unions first became legal in Illinois on June 1, 2011. A civil union is a legal relationship granted by the State of Illinois. A common misconception is that civil unions are only for same sex-couples. Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who are in committed relationships can enter into a civil union in Illinois. Partners who enter into a civil union in Illinois are entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits that state law provides to married spouses. 

It is important to note that civil unions entered into in Illinois are not recognized under federal laws. Partners to a civil union in Illinois are entitled to almost none of the obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits that federal law provides to married spouses. 

Civil Union Guidelines

You can enter into a civil union in Illinois if you are a same-sex or opposite-sex couple in a committed relationship. You and your partner must both be at least 18 years old (or with the sworn consent of your parents or legal guardians if you are 16 or 17 years old) and neither of you can already be in a marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship.

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may enter into a civil union in Illinois if your parents or legal guardians appear before the county clerk when you apply for a civil union license, provide valid identification, and give sworn consent to you entering into a civil union. 

Illinois also does not allow civil unions between close relatives. Illinois law prohibits you from entering into a civil union if you or your partner are currently married or in a civil union or substantially similar legal relationship. To enter into a civil union, your prior marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship must either be dissolved or your previous spouse or civil union partner must have died. 

What Happens if We Enter into a Civil Union and Our Relationship Later Ends? 

If you enter into a civil union in Illinois, and later divorce or become legally separated, you will need to apply for dissolution of the civil union before the court can end your legal relationship. If you and/or your partner move to another state after entering into a civil union in Illinois, the courts of that state may dissolve your civil union. If your civil union cannot be dissolved by the courts in the state of your residence, it can be dissolved by an Illinois state court.

 The dissolution of civil unions follows the same procedures and is subject to the same rights and obligations that are involved in dissolving marriages. Illinois law will dissolve a civil union if either you or your partner establish grounds for dissolving the union, or if you have lived apart for at least two years and can establish that the union must be dissolved due to irreconcilable differences.

It is important to dissolve your civil union when the relationship ends. If you do not, your legal relationship with your civil union partner will continue.

Do You Need a Family Law Attorney for Your Civil Union? 

At Masters Law Group, we are committed to providing exceptional, individualized services to clients in civil union disputes. Our firm has extensive experience in this area of family law. We handle family law matters in civil unions and same-sex marriages, providing legal representation for clients throughout the state of Illinois. 

Whether you want to form a civil union or are in need of a civil union dissolution, we will take the time to fully understand your situation and provide honest advice regarding your options. Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

Post Divorce Disputes on National Ex-Spouse Day

Tomorrow is National Ex-Spouse Day, and while it may seem like a strange day to “celebrate”, it’s an opportunity to review your separation and understand your options should you have a post-divorce dispute. 

Celebrated annually on April 14th, the National Ex-Spouse Day is celebrated to encourage the people who have dissolved marriage to forgive their particular former spouses and successfully move beyond any bitterness and anger against them which might be present. But for many, this day isn’t a happy one. Some ex-couples engage in fighting about issues after the final divorce decree, and they need to head back to court to resolve them.

What is a Post-Divorce Dispute?

Also known as a post-decree dispute, post-divorce disputes often arise when one party does not fulfill obligations indicated in the divorce settlement. Often, one ex-spouse determines that the other has violated a court order relating to the divorce, for example, when one ex-spouse fails to pay court-ordered alimony.

Some of the most common issues involve:

  • the payment of college expenses,
  • recalculations of child support and emancipation of children,
  • as well as modifications of maintenance.

Illinois has specific legal standards that relate to each of these issues, and we can help inform you of the law that relates to your post-judgment issue.

Post-Divorce Modifications in Illinois

While divorce decrees in the State of Illinois are considered “final” once they are admitted to the court, there are circumstances that warrant post-divorce modifications.

Whether one party’s financial situation changed and post-divorce child support or spousal maintenance awards must be updated accordingly, or if one of the parents wishes to move a marital child out of state, any official changes to the divorce decree require court intervention.

To request a post-divorce modification, one of the former spouses must file a “motion to modify” the divorce judgment. This motion is typically filed with the same court that issued the original divorce decree. The first step is to file the post-decree change request. You should make it clear what terms you want to be changed, and why. Then:

  1. File your motion with the court clerk’s office that originally issued your divorce decree.
  2. Serve your ex-spouse with the paperwork to notify him or her of the request and hearing date.
  3. Attend mediation or pre-hearing conferences if required.
  4. Appear in court for your hearing.

At the hearing, a judge will hear from both parties and any witnesses who can speak on their behalf. Once the judge makes a decision or final ruling on your motion, you could receive the final order that day; otherwise, it will be mailed to you.

Enforcement and modifications can be just as complicated as the initial settlement agreement, so it’s important to consult a qualified and experienced family law attorney.

How to Celebrate National Ex-Spouse Day

Even if you never envisioned yourself celebrating such a holiday, it’s something that millions of people go through with you and maybe there’s a silver lining to your partnership coming to an end. 

Here are some ways to positively celebrate Ex-Spouse Day this year: 

  • Make it a day that’s really all about you! There’s no day like Ex-Spouse Day to focus on yourself. There’s tons of activities that are even easier to do as a single man or woman without someone else’s opinion. Do what makes YOU happy today. Whether that is a self care day with a massage and a nice dinner or a new outfit, it’s a step forward in your progress and emotional recovery in your situation.
  • Enjoy time with the kids: If you share children with your spouse, today is an opportunity to fully embrace them and appreciate their presence. Go for an ice cream or a movie, and recognize the massive accomplishment it is to raise children.
  • Acknowledge your growth post-divorce: The odds are that you are stronger, more resilient, and more than capable of handling problems you once thought you never could. Maybe you reflect on something that made you insecure in your relationship, that now you have completely conquered. This is proof you can conquer any fear if she was willing to face it head on.
  • Remember that divorce happened, but it doesn’t define you: It may be hard to remember at times, but you are so much more than one single life event like divorce. Your divorce is only part of your story, which means you still get to write the ending. It’s important to release the past so it can stay where it belongs. The past remains in the past. So take the good – take the lessons – and leave the rest.

Final Thoughts

At Master’s Law Group, we are highly experienced in post-divorce disputes and offer a wide range of services that are tailored to our client’s unique needs.

Masters Law Group LLC has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the family law and divorce field. Are you in need of consultation regarding a post-divorce dispute? Contact us today and we’re here to help you resolve any issue we can. We look forward to hearing from you and supporting you through this time.

Chicago Divorce Attorneys: Work with the Best

Chicago has a lot to offer its residents and you can find some great resources in the windy city. But if you’re searching the market for a Divorce Attorney in Illinois, you should do some serious research to find the right divorce attorney for your unique situation. 

If you are considering filing for divorce from your spouse, you will most likely need to find a divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys (a subsection of Family Law) specialize in the entire divorce process from start to finish, help smooth over differences between disagreeing parties, and even offer a sympathetic ear to listen when you feel overwhelmed or upset.

Choosing the right divorce attorney is a very personal decision: one that can make all the difference in your case. It isn’t as simple as searching for “divorce lawyers near me,” as this will produce a plethora of options in your area. Location is obviously an enormous factor, but to identify the perfect Illinois attorney for your situation, it’s crucial that you select a law firm that specializes in the unique issues involved with your case. Here are four tips to help you do just that.

Choose a Reliable Divorce Attorney

When looking at your options for lawyers, pay attention to how they communicate with you. It’s important to develop a positive rapport with your lawyer, as most divorces take several months to settle. Throughout the divorce process, you’ll have an array of questions, concerns, or disputes you’ll want to take care of. As such, you’ll want someone on your side who will alleviate your stress, address your concerns, and answer your questions to the best of their ability.

Check Certifications and Education

The firm and their attorneys you choose should be board certified. Most attorneys will mention their board certification on their website. If you can’t find this info on their site, then ask them directly. While you’re at it, ask your prospective attorney where they received their education.

Read Reviews and Testimonials

Quality services can help your case especially if it has to go to court. Online reviews will always give you an idea about the quality of services an attorney offers. You cannot afford to go and spend your money on services that you cannot trust. Therefore, before you hire a divorce attorney, you have to be sure that they can offer the best services.

Make a List of Questions

Make a list of questions to ask your potential lawyer. Interviewing divorce lawyers can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. So, it is always a good idea to have a list of prepared questions before starting the interview.

Here’s the list of questions that we’ve put together to help you select the right divorce lawyer for your case.

  • Are you experienced in divorces and divorce mediation?
  • What can I expect my divorce process to be like?
  • How long will it take to resolve my case?
  • How will we communicate with each other?
  • What is your strategy for my case?

You may feel that you would like to just get an attorney and get this divorce over with as soon as possible without too much in-depth thought. The problem with that is you risk missing out on the right representation for you. At the end of the day, a good attorney is responsive to client and court needs, knows the contours of family and divorce law, and can demystify an otherwise complex system to walk their client through each step of the way.  Because of the legal reality of divorce, finding your best Illinois divorce lawyer is priority one.

About Masters Law Group

Located in Chicago, Illinois, the firm handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters. Our Attorneys have a lot to offer, here’s why you should work with the best.

Both of our senior Attorneys have been recognized by multiple peer review publications such as, Best Lawyers. Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. If the votes for a lawyer are positive enough for recognition in Best Lawyers, that lawyer must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain in each edition. 

Our Attorneys

Erin E. Masters

Erin Masters is the principal of Masters Law Group, located in Chicago, Illinois. Masters Law Group concentrates in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and Hague Convention/ international child abduction matters.

Erin E. Masters

Ms. Masters received her Juris Doctorate and Certificate in Child and Family Law from Loyola University of Chicago, School of Law, in May of 2004. She was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2004 and to the General Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2005 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020. Ms. Masters was admitted to the United States Supreme Court in March 2009.

Throughout her career Ms. Masters has represented a variety of clients, both pre-decree and post-decree. Additionally she has prepared Prenuptial Agreements, drafted Marital Settlement Agreements and Final Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Orders, as well as prosecuted and defended Orders of Protection. Ms. Masters has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

In addition to representing clients, Ms. Masters is also a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Further, she has also been appointed by the Circuit Court of Cook County to mediate complex family law cases. Since 2016, Ms. Masters has been named “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers and has been named as an “Emerging Lawyer” by Leading Lawyers. In 2020, Ms. Masters was named “Super Lawyer” by Illinois Super Lawyers, and in 2021 and now for 2022, she has been recognized by Best Lawyers for her work in Family Law Mediation.

Anthony G. Joseph

Anthony G. Joseph is an attorney at the firm of Masters Law Group, LLC. Mr. Joseph received his B.A. degree in Global Economic Relations from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.

Anthony G. Joseph

He obtained both his J.D. degree and Certificate in Trial Advocacy from The John Marshall Law School. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November 2010, the Federal General Bar and Trial Bar for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2012 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in 2020.

Mr. Joseph is an active trial lawyer. Mr. Joseph publishes in the area of civil litigation. Mr. Joseph has also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University. Mr. Joseph is “AV” Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review, which is the highest peer review rating available and has been named a “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers in both 2019, 2020 and 2021. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers for his work in Family Law.

Mr. Joseph concentrates his practice in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities and child support. Mr. Joseph has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time as well as prosecuted and defended Orders of Protection. Ms. Joseph has also successfully litigated matters concerning modification and enforcement of child support. Mr. Joseph has also litigated cases in both state court and multiple United States Federal Courts involving The Hague Convention and international child abduction issues.

Karly Armstrong

Karly Armstrong received her B.A. in Political Science & Interdisciplinary Social Sciences – International Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2016 and graduated magna cum laude.

Karly Armstrong

Throughout her time at the State University of New York at Buffalo, she was in the advanced honors program and wrote her undergraduate thesis on Middle Eastern women’s rights movements.

Karly received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May 2021. At Loyola, she was on the ABA Negotiations Team. She also was a student clinician at the Loyola Community Law Center where she served as a Guardian ad litem in contested minor guardianship proceedings. Karly took her Illinois bar exam in July 2021 and passed. She has been admitted to the Illinois bar since November 2021.

Karly thoroughly enjoyed her time spent as a clinician at the Loyola Community Law Center and is excited to start her new career as a family law attorney at Masters Law Group.

Client Reviews

“I can not thank him enough for what they have done to help me and continue to help me!”

I found Anthony Joseph and Erin masters of masters law group on Avvo. Needing desperate help for a case that I had been dealing with alongside the state for years. Calling in tears Anthony assured me he’ll fight for me. He has done nothing less! Dealing with a tough year he was always there to tell me it’s going to be okay and deal with my ever so gracious ex. He is there whenever you need him! Email, call, how up in court the day before Thanksgiving! I would highly recommend it!

-Lynn

Divorce Client

“Excellent, caring attorney”

I went to Erin after I realized I couldn’t finish my divorce on my own (it was dragging for a year at that point). She took action right away and my divorce was settled 3 months later! I got everything I wanted in my settlement, which was to keep my kids and home! I would recommend Erin for divorce, family law problems. She is prompt in answering phone calls and emails and provides the best service. She is very knowledgeable on allocation of parental responsibilities and child support matters as well. She is definitely a 5-star attorney.

-Rayah

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Client

Final Thoughts

With a long history of awarded recognitions in Family Law, Masters Law Group LLC has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field. 

Come and work with the Best Chicago Divorce Attorneys in the city. Schedule a consultation here today.

How to Request a Modification of Child Support in Illinois

Divorces and separations can be emotionally overwhelming. Especially when a child is involved. In Illinois, it is always possible to ask the court to change a custody order, but getting a judge to agree to make a change isn’t always a straightforward process.

There are several ways that a child custody arrangement (also known as Parenting Time) can come about in Illinois. The parents of a child can develop their own agreement and then have it approved by a court. Or, the court can order custody based on the state’s laws.

Either way, there could come a time when one or both parents wish to change the arrangement in place. Here’s a look at what constitutes a “substantial change in circumstances” that would allow an agreement to be modified.

Modifications to Child Support Orders

In Illinois, a temporary child support order that has been entered while a child support proceeding is pending may be modified any time before the entry of a final judgment. Child support that has been established by a final judgment may be modified at any time from the entry of the order until the termination of the obligor parent’s obligation to pay child support under the order.  

Although child support may be modified at any time, a “substantial change in circumstances” must be demonstrated in order for the child support obligation to be modified. If you file a petition to modify a child support order based on “substantial change in circumstances” the child support obligation in question can be modified retroactively to the filing date of the petition, but can not have an earlier effective date.

Illinois child support obligations can only be modified by filing a petition for increase or decrease in child support with the court that has jurisdiction over your case.  The petition should state the basis for the request for modification explaining the change in child support obligation that you are requesting from the court.

Because you are seeking modification of an existing order, you do not need to serve the petition by the sheriff.  You can serve notice of the petition by mail at the responding party’s last known address. Note: if the petition seeks other action by the court other than the modification of child support, such as a change in the allocation of parental time and responsibility, the petition must be served by certified mail 30 days prior to the date of the hearing.

If you are seeking child support modification after a final judgment has been entered in your case, the notice must be delivered to the responding party, as opposed to his or her attorney, because the attorney’s representation is deemed to have ended at the entry of the final order.  

You should note that you cannot use self help to modify child support in Illinois.  If the other party fails to comply with visitation rights, you are not entitled to suspend your child support payments without obtaining an order from the court. 

Child Support Payments & Appeals

If you are appealing the final order in your child support case, you are still required to pay child support according to the terms of that order while the appeal is pending. However, you can request the court that entered the order to modify your child support obligations during the appeal process based on a showing of “substantial change in circumstances.

Reasons for Modification of Child Support in Illinois

The court has discretion to modify child support obligations based on either a substantial change of circumstances, upon a showing that the modification is necessary to provide for the healthcare needs of the child, or upon a showing of a substantial deviation between the child support obligation and the guidelines set forth by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“the IMDMA”). 

Child support modifications can be modified without a showing of a substantial change in circumstances if the petitioner can show that the obligor’s child support obligations differ from the guidelines set forth in the IMDMA by more than 20%, but no less than $10.00 per month, unless the court that entered the existing order intentionally deviated from the amounts shown in the guidelines.  

However, this option is only available to individuals who are receiving child support enforcement services from the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services and whose child support order was entered more than 36 months prior to seeking modification.

Those who may request a review include: 

  • Non-Custodial Parent: the parent who does not live with the child(ren),
  • Custodial Parent/Caretaker: the parent/caretaker who lives with the child(ren),
  • Healthcare and Family Services, or
  • Another state’s child support agency.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to remember that all existing orders will remain in effect until a court or an administrative agency modifies the order. Your support order may be modified (increased or decreased) based on the income of the non-custodial parent and state law. Hiring an attorney highly experienced in family law will help you understand your legal options and create a plan for what comes next. 

Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. We help clients put aside their grief and educate them about their options in Child Support modifications and  Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. If you need to request modification of parenting time in Illinois, contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

 

Can I Appeal a Family Court Judge’s Order in Illinois?

The Family Court will make decisions related to divorce, divorce mediation, civil unions, child custody, child support, orders of protection and more. But did you know if you disagree with the judge’s decision from trial, you can file an “appeal”? Here’s everything you need to know about applying for an appeal in the state of Illinois. 

Do you need help seeking an appeal from an unfavorable ruling in a divorce, child support case or other family law related matter? Judges can sometimes make an error that adversely affects the outcome of your case. In that situation, you may have a solid legal base for an appeal. An appeal is a request to have a higher court change or reverse a judgment of a lower court.

When you appeal, the entire case is reviewed by a higher court. Here are some points to note if you’re considering appealing a family court judge’s order.

Appealing a judge’s decision in family court

In some states, family court rulings can be appealed. This type of request is made to a higher court that will involve a judge, or panel of judges, to review the decision made by the lower court. This is not a rehearing, and you will not be able to present new evidence. The court of appeals’ objective is to review the trial record and determine whether or not the judge acted within their discretion. If the appeals court finds the judge acted accordingly, the decision will be upheld regardless of the appellate judges’ opinion on the matter.

In a majority of states, final orders given by the family court are the only cases that can be appealed. For example, in a divorce, a final order may include the final divorce decree, which might address asset distribution, child custody, and more. Temporary orders are pending and can only be appealed when you ask the appellate court to review them. It’s important to note that not all family law cases can be appealed. Grounds for an appeal are solely limited to:

  • Errors in law: A mistake in a court proceeding. For example: when state law requires a parent who has been convicted of domestic violence to complete counseling before being awarded visitation rights, but a judge grants visitation without any proof of counseling.
  • A mistake in fact: When a judge reached a final conclusion that no other person could have reached based upon the evidence. For example: when a parent is awarded sole custody even though they have been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and the other parent has demonstrated to be a fit parent with no criminal record.

Appeals in Illinois

Because each state differs in law, you need to do your due diligence to ensure you follow the correct steps for the state you live in. In Illinois, a Notice of Appeal needs to be filed within 30 days of a final order, so if you don’t act quickly, you lose your right to an appeal. The appeals process can be lengthy and difficult. Should you decide to appeal your case without an attorney, you will need to follow the Rules just like those parties who have an attorney.

As of July 1, 2017, all documents filed in the Illinois Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court must be filed electronically (“e-filed”). If you need assistance, you may take your documents to the appellate court clerk’s office, where you can use a public terminal to e-file your documents. You can bring your documents on a flash drive or on paper. The terminal will have a scanner where you can scan, save, and then use the computer to e-file your documents.

IllinoisCourts.gov released a guide for appeals here which includes a full checklist of items to cover, along with a timeline of events in an appeal and where it is best to consult a family law attorney in this often-complex process.

Process for appealing a case

As mentioned, if you want to appeal a circuit court decision, you have 30 days after the final judgment to file a Notice of Appeal with the appellate court. This notice states what decision you are appealing and what you want to happen. Your Notice of Appeal must contain:

  • The court you are appealing to. 
  • The court you are appealing from. 
  • The name and number assigned to the case by the circuit court.
  • Who is filing the appeal (the appellant) and who will be responding to the appeal (the appellee).
  • What orders of the circuit court you are appealing from and the dates they were entered.
  • What you want the appellate court to do. For example, reverse the decision of the circuit court.

Next Steps

Each year in Illinois, thousands of families seek answers to questions regarding divorce, legal separation, allocation of parental responsibilities, support and other matters of family law. If you are thinking about appealing a decision related to divorce, child custody, child support, or another family law issue, you should really schedule a consultation with Masters Law Group immediately. 

If you or your loved ones are looking to appeal a family court judge’s order, contact the attorneys at Masters Law Group for guidance on these matters.

Learn more about the U.S. Courts of Appeals here. 

 

Preparation for a Family Court Trial

Your divorce and/or custody has been set for trial. With so much at stake, being well-prepared can help you feel more confident and calm. Here are some useful steps that can help you to prepare your case effectively in family court.

When parents divorce in the state of Illinois, their divorce settlement must outline a plan for different issues regarding their children. This plan should include child support, custody and visitation. Some parents are able to utilize mediation or work together to determine where their children will live and how much time will be spent with each parent.

There are some cases in which parents are unable to resolve custody disputes without legal intervention. In that situation, it is best to get a family lawyer to advise parents to prepare themselves for a potential child custody evaluation. Here’s some ways to prepare for a family court trial.

Preparing For Trial

Attorneys will guide you through the preparation process and help you gather evidence. Your job is to provide everything your attorney asks for and be 100% honest so they can prepare for arguments the other party may be compiling. 

If you plan on representing yourself, most legal experts would recommend consulting with an attorney to ensure you’re ready for court. This is different from hiring a lawyer to represent you since they will provide you with advice during meetings.

You’ll need to present evidence to support your case, which includes exhibits and witnesses. It’s always important to review the Illinois Rules of Evidence, and remember that witnesses cannot testify to hearsay.

Examples of Evidence You Can Provide

  • Bills and medical reports 
  • Photos/Videos of you and your child
  • Phone logs and visits with your child
  • A calendar showing when you care for your child
  • Anything that proves you to be fit as a parent and meets evidence requirements

It’s important to be prepared and have the judge know your stance on what is best for your child. You can do this by providing a parenting plan and parenting time schedule to trial. Along with all documents, bring a copy for the court, one for the other parent and one for yourself.

Witnesses can be anyone with knowledge relevant to the case. Parents almost always testify as witnesses. A child is more likely to do an interview with the judge outside of the courtroom, since the probability of them testifying is low. Expert witnesses provide professional opinions and are appointed by the court or hired by a party. Examples of expert witnesses are child custody evaluators or psychologists. Lay witnesses do not offer expert opinions, but they testify about their personal knowledge of a situation. These witnesses include family members, friends, and teachers.

Trial Scheduling

Trials usually take place several months after the initial filing. If the case is not progressing 18 months after filing, the judge may decide to issue a ruling at that time. Trials typically tend to be a few hours and will often be done in one sitting. 

Longer trials may be broken up into sessions spread out over days, weeks or, in some complicated cases, months. Be aware that the court may delay your trial date due to requests for more time from the other parent.

Trial Procedures

The parent who requested parental responsibilities, also known as the petitioner, may give an opening statement to explain how they see the case. The other parent, also known as the respondent, can then follow. 

If you are represented by an attorney, they will speak on your behalf. The petitioner calls witnesses and presents exhibits first. Any number of witnesses can be called to testify, as long as they were on the list that was filed with the court and provided to the other parent. 

Following Procedures:

  • Next, the respondent calls their witnesses and presents their exhibits.
  • Later, each side can submit additional evidence (called rebuttal evidence) to disprove the other side’s claims.

Finally, both parties give closing arguments to summarize their points. Judges announce rulings immediately following closing arguments, but they can take several days or weeks to decide. The final judgment replaces temporary orders previously put in place. Your options for changing a final judgment include appealing to a higher court or applying for a modification.

Final Thoughts

Masters Law Group understands that preparation for a family court trial can be a stressful situation. Our firm makes sure they are with you every step of the way. We currently handle family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties and concentrate in the area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters.

We offer a wide range of services tailored to our clients’ unique legal needs and have a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field. Click here to set up a consultation today.

What Does a Family Law Attorney Cover?

Most people will use the terms “Family Law” and “Divorce Lawyer” interchangeably with each other.  The truth, however, is that Divorce Law is only one aspect of Family Law. 

What is family law and what do family lawyers do? Family law is a legal practice area that focuses on issues involving family relationships, such as adoption, divorce, and child custody, among others. Therefore, family law attorneys are legal professionals that specialize in these specific matters. Family lawyers can also act as mediators when family disagreements develop and represent litigants in family conflicts that end up in courts.

Below are some of the things that an experienced and reputable family law attorney can do for you.

Child Custody/Child Support agreements

In the hardest of times when a couple separates, one of the most challenging problems to solve is children.

Court orders and settlement agreements involving both custody and support usually are included in the larger divorce case, but may be revisited as conditions change. For instance, child support may be altered after the non-custodial parent’s financial situation changes.

A child support order is determined by what is reasonable and necessary for the support of the child or children. It is presumed that the guideline support amounts represent the amount of support that is reasonable and necessary, unless it can be demonstrated to the court that circumstances exist that would make the guideline amount inappropriate.

Divorce and Divorce Mediation

Undergoing a divorce is probably one of the most draining experiences that a family can face, and divorce cases involving substantial assets or complex estates require specialized knowledge. A good divorce attorney is skilled at dividing marital property, calculating spousal support, and proposing a plan for child custody, visitation, and support (if applicable).

Attorneys can also cover divorce mediation. Divorce Mediators work with a couples involved in family break-ups to make arrangements, either to plan for a separation or divorce, or after the split has taken place, without the need for court intervention.

Domestic Violence Protection

Domestic violence is described as abusive behavior when a family or household member uses physical or mental maltreatment toward another family or household member. The IDVA uses the following terms as abuse:

1. Physical abuse
2. Harassment
3. Intimidation of a dependent
4. Interference with personal liberty
5. Willful deprivation
6. Exploitation
7. Stalking

An Order of Protection is a court order made in writing which prohibits, by law, further abusive behavior.

Who are persons considered to be family or household members?
The IDVA defines members to include:

1. A spouse
2. Ex-spouse
3. Girlfriend/boyfriend who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship
4. Parents
5. Children
6. Stepchildren
7. Significant other/partner
8. Persons who share or allege to have a blood relationship through a child
9. Persons who live together or formerly lived together
10. Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants

International Child Abduction (Hague Convention)

Although not a common practice for most family lawyers, some specific attorneys have the knowledge, experience and skills in Hague Convention cases to take on international parental child abduction cases. 

The Hague Convention is a treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined. Its purpose is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent. Proving claims in international child abduction cases under the Hague Abduction Convention requires analysis and careful development of all evidence and testimony that may support or defeat defenses to claims of wrongful abduction or retention. Therefore, choosing an attorney who has extensive experience in cases involving international child custody disputes is vital.

Reasons to Hire a Family Law Attorney

Now that you know what a family law attorney is, you’re probably wondering how hiring legal representation in your family law case would benefit you. Here are the major benefits that come with hiring a family lawyer.

Legal Protection

How realistic are the claims coming from the other party? Can the other party actually receive what they’re stating they’ll receive? A family law attorney knows the law, as well as the outcomes of past verdicts, and can use that knowledge to help you receive the best possible outcome.

Legal Knowledge

There’s a lot of red tape and substantial paperwork when it comes to family law proceedings. And that’s before it goes to trial. By hiring a family law attorney, you can rest assured the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Consequently, you will not have to sweat about your case being thrown out as early as possible.

Court Experience

If a case goes to court, experienced attorneys can make sure that their client is prepared for everything that is going to happen when they enter the courtroom room, and will know exactly how to handle any particular situation that arises during the pendency of a family law case. This will keep the judge happy and the proceedings running smoothly and efficiently.

Peace of Mind

Ultimately, one of the best benefits of hiring a family law attorney to represent your interests in a case is the fact that you will be able to trust your legal issues are being duly dealt with. Whenever you have an issue or a family matter that requires legal representation, it’s essential to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced professional.

Last Words

There are areas of Family Law that involve people who are involved in Civil Unions, Domestic Partnerships, and same-sex relationships.  As a Chicago-based Family Law practice, we can ensure that the appropriate contracts and agreements are in place to help to avoid any issues in the future.

If you are facing a family law issue, contact the family law attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our firm handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters.

We offer a wide range of services tailored to our clients’ unique legal needs. Masters Law Group LLC has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field. Click here to view our practice areas. And click here to set up a consultation today.