Historically speaking, pets were always treated like personal property when determining a settlement in a divorce case. There were no considerations legally for one party to retain “custody” and no provisions for the other party to have visiting time with the pet. The family pet would be awarded to one party in the same manner a vehicle or record collection would be, with the other party being left out in the cold with no recourse. However, a new law in Illinois will change the way pets are dealt with in the context of divorce.

As of January 1, 2018, Illinois family law judges will now be able to take into consideration the best interest of the pet when determining who gets to keep the pet. This includes provisions for if the pet was acquired during the marriage or if one party owned the pet prior to the marriage. Meaning, if you brought a pet into the marriage and are the primary caretaker of the pet, more than likely you will be awarded ownership of the pet in your divorce settlement. The new law also provides for companion pet owners to have sole or joint ownership dependent on the pet’s needs if the pet was acquired during the marriage. Who is better suited to care for the pet will be determined in the best interest for continuing care of the pet. The one stipulation to the new law is that “companion” animals are not the same as “service” animals. If a person has a service animal, that person would keep the animal.

While it’s not exactly the same, in many ways the best interests test is like what is done during child custody cases in Illinois. It makes sense as pets are like a member of the family.  My wife and I certainly view our dog that way and I know we are not unique in that regard.  Just like child cases, it’s important for you to document what you do for your pet, e.g. time spent walking them, feeding them, taking them to the vet, etc.

If you are considering divorce or break up and worried about who will retain custody of the pet, or if you have questions about pet parenting time, feel free to call us. We will provide a free consultation and put you in touch with a qualified divorce attorney in your area.

Zinbryta (daclizumab) is a medication used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that scars nerve tissue and causes a range of symptoms, including pain, vision loss, impaired coordination and paralysis. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

Zinbryta is not a cure for MS, but helps prevent the immune system from attacking the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Doctors generally prescribe Zinbryta to patients who have tried two or more other MS medications and not experienced positive results. It is injected under the skin, typically once a month.

Why was Zinbryta withdrawn?
Biogen and AbbVie, the makers of Zinbryta, announced a voluntary withdrawal of the drug from the market on March 2, 2018, and they halted clinical studies. The move was in response to the European Medicines Agency call for an “urgent review” of the drug after twelve cases of serious brain inflammation were reported. The inflammatory brain disorders experienced included encephalitis and/or meningoencephalitis.

The European Medicines Agency stated that, “Zinbryta may also be linked to severe immune reactions affecting several other organs.”
Complications in addition to encephalitis and meingoencephalitis include:

• Liver failure and other serious liver injuries
• Serious skin reactions including Stevens Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

Zinbryta was available in the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and the United States. Over 8,000 patients around the world have received Zinbryta according to the European Medicines Agency.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that it was aware of the 12 reports of brain inflammation and is conducting its own review. The FDA acknowledged the “complex safety profile” of Zimbryta since its approval.

Legal Action

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with encephalitis, liver failure, Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) or another severe reaction/disorder after taking Zinbryta, please contact us immediately. You may have a legal claim.  We will talk to you about an individual claim, not a class action lawsuit.  Your individual claim will focus on what happened to you and will work to compensate you or your loved ones.  Beware of attorneys that want you to be a part of a class action and do not give you individual attention.  Call us at 800-517-1614 for a free consultation.

We were recently involved in a case where an older man died after his doctor failed to diagnose a pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.  The doctor who committed the error had an insurance policy for $1 million, but the negligence happened at a hospital so they were sued too.

After some wrangling, the defense attorney offered to settle the case for $1 million.  The top Chicago malpractice lawyer we referred this client to said no.  The defense then offered to kick in an extra $100,000.00 from the hospital to end the case.  The attorney, with approval from his client of course, again said no.

Fast forward and right before the trial the case settled for $2,500,000.00.  There wasn’t much of a defense and while no amount of money can compensate the widow for her loss, this money will make her life much easier.

The point of all of this is that most firms would have taken the policy limit offers and wouldn’t have the guts to say no.  It would be the easy move for them because it would put money in their pocket without having to take the time and expense of getting the case ready for trial.  But the best move for the client was to say no and get ready for trial.

The simple fact is that medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois are expensive, time intensive and difficult to win.  So the reality is that while many lawyers want these cases, there are really only 7-10 that deliver consistently great results and have a true track record of success.

A one man law firm will have challenges in handling all the work. A newer firm can have trouble funding these cases which can cost $100,000 or more to get to trial.  A firm without a track record doesn’t get the attention of insurance companies which makes them dig in more.

Getting one of these firms doesn’t guarantee a result, but it certainly gives you the best chance for a good result.  If you would like our help in finding the best malpractice attorney in Illinois for you, call us any time at 312-346-5320.  You can speak for our lawyers for free and we will answer any questions you have and guide you in the right direction.

Despite what that image says, most attorneys I know and come across are normal, decent human beings. They, like you and me, have their flaws, but most don’t think that they are better than anyone else just because they are an attorney.

But there are some that think they are royalty or otherwise above their clients.  One Chicago attorney in particular I’ve heard makes his clients call him Mr. instead of by his first name.  And this isn’t an old guy and includes clients and staff that are both younger and older than him.

It’s such pretentious, insecure phony b.s. and it makes me want to scream.  Do I know more about the law than you do?  I sure hope so.  Am I better than you because of that?  Of course not.

So many Illinois attorneys don’t know how to talk to people and have somehow created this belief that they need to act all uppity in order to get respect.

Do you really want a lawyer who talks down to you? Who uses fancy words to try and act like a big shot instead of talking in plain English? Who has no patience and yells at you? Who doesn’t respond to calls or e-mails because he’s just too busy?

Nobody would want an attorney like this, but they are out there.  Some are just unhappy jerks and some just don’t know better.

My advice to you if you come across an attorney like this is to either: A. Immediately ask their first name and call them by it.  If they can’t handle it then they aren’t for you.  B. Just run and find someone else.  Hiring a lawyer in general isn’t a fun experience.  You don’t need to be with an attorney who stresses you out.

The great news in Illinois is that there are literally tens of thousands of attorneys and you usually don’t have to look far to find someone who will act like a normal human being and care about your case.

We are lawyers in Chicago who help you find the right attorney for your case for all areas of Illinois law, including Illinois divorce law.  Here are 40 things we think everyone should know about divorce.

1. You can’t use the same lawyer as your spouse.
2. Annulments are rare and typically a religious term.
3. File for divorce locally in the county you or your spouse lives in.
4. You have to live in Illinois for at least 90 days to file here.
5. The case will last as long as it takes you to agree on all issues.
6. It is possible to ask your spouse to be responsible to pay your attorney’s fees if there is a disparity in income.
7. While you can dispute the contents or grounds of a divorce and delay it., typically you cannot stop a divorce from happening.
8. For the most part, it doesn’t matter who did what to cause the divorce.
9. Children don’t get a say in custody, but as they get older they have more influence.
10. Most cases settle and don’t go to trial.
11. There is a difference between legal separation and divorce.
12. If you change your mind during the process, you can have your divorce case dismissed.
13. Divorce attorneys charge per hour unless it’s a truly uncontested divorce in which case some do flat fees.
14. “Fathers’ rights” is just a marketing term.
15. If you or your spouse started a successful business during the marriage, you will need a divorce attorney who understands forensic accounting.
16. Inherited money is not considered a marital asset.
17. Either party may ask for maintenance which some people call alimony. Typically the higher earning spouse will be ordered to pay a reasonable amount per month until the other spouse can become self-sufficient.
18. You may move the children out of state only if you have been granted legal permission from the court.
19. Child support amounts due are ordered by the court.
20. There is no law stating you can’t date new people during the divorce proceedings.
21. There is a difference between joint and sole custody and shared custody when children are involved in a case.
22. Temporary orders may be put in place to allow visitation and support to start as soon as the case is filed.
23. Child support is not taxable to either party. Maintenance is deductible to the person paying and taxable income to the person receiving.
24. You must have the other party personally served to start a case if there are children, property or alimony involved.
25. If your spouse simply doesn’t respond to the divorce petition, you may be awarded everything requested in the petition by default.
26. You may be ordered to go to mediation if you are unable to agree to certain terms of the divorce.
27. The cost of your divorce is based on the complexity of your case and how long it lasts.
28. The wife may have her name legally restored to her maiden name if she chooses.
29. Illinois child support law changed dramatically in July of 2017.
30. There is no waiting period prior to filing, the only contingency on filing in Illinois is one of you must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days prior to filing.
31. Typically, even if there is a signed divorce settlement, at least one of you must go before a judge for the final court date.
32. There is no such thing as common law marriage in Illinois. So if you never received a marriage license you are not legally married, therefore you wouldn’t need a divorce.
33. All child related issues will be ruled on by a judge before the divorce is finalized.
34. All parents must attend a parenting education class before their child custody issues in a divorce are finalized.
35. The marital home or family home may be kept by one party depending on the needs of the children, how the other property will be divided and who has the ability to pay for the home. Typically it will be ordered within a certain time frame the mortgage be refinanced into the awarded parties name alone.
36. Any debt incurred during the marriage will be divided during the divorce. Any new debt since the date of filing will not be part of the divorce.
37. A legal civil union requires a legal divorce proceeding.
38. Non-marital property or debt cannot be attributed to the other party. IE: You cannot force your spouse to pay your student loan or tax debt obtained prior to the marriage. Your spouse also cannot lay claim to property you acquired prior to the marriage.
39. Your spouse may be entitled to a portion of your 401K, IRA or pension benefits and you may be entitled to theirs.
40. Health insurance may become an issue during and after a divorce if you both are on one employers plan. The non employee party may remain on the plan for up to 36 months under COBRA, for additional fees, or they may have to obtain separate health insurance once the divorce is final.

If you have any questions or need help finding an attorney please contact us at any time for a free consultation with one of our lawyers.

Last July Illinois changed the child support law.  Now payments are based on how many overnights each parent has with their child as well as the joint incomes of both parents.  There is a table that shows what payments should be based on these factors as well as the number of kids that you have.

Nobody was sure how this was all going to work out and it’s still not 100% settled as some aspects of the law are being challenged at the Appellate Court.  But I asked a Chicago family law attorney his thoughts on the law and here are some of the highlights he gave us:

  1. Many parents in custody cases are trying to get to 146 nights with their kids to try and lower their potential child support payments.
  2. In cases where one spouse is getting permanent maintenance on 20+ year marriages and the maintenance is being reviewed, child support payments are going down because the maintenance is being considered as income.
  3. Many cases are getting rejected when the changes in income are relatively minor.  Essentially Judges are rejecting the cases and applying the old law even though if the case was brand new the payments would be much less.  That is a big area of appeals right now so time will tell how this shakes out.
  4. In cases where modifications to child support are being made, it’s very rare to see one where payments are going up.  So in most cases if you are paying support you’d want to consider a modification, but if you are receiving it you’d want to sit tight.
  5. Some parents aren’t doing a great job of documeting their actual overnight time.
  6. The same issues of people being paid under the table still exists and is being used to try and hide income and lower payments.

It’s been only nine months since the new law was put in to place so you can expect that a year from now we’ll have a much clearer picture on how things are working. If you have any questions or would like a referral to a Chicago area child support attorney, please call us at (312) 346-5320.  All calls are free and confidential.  While we don’t promise a result, we do promise that every attorney we recommend has tremendous experience and a great track record.

I’ve been helping people find the right lawyer for their case since 2001.  I’ve helped almost 400,000 people and I almost never see a situation where I don’t know a lawyer for the person who needs help.

But I’ve come across a person who is so difficult that he keeps losing lawyers.  He claims to have a lot of money and it’s a really high profile case.  Attorneys love clients with money and they love high profile cases, but nobody wants to go near this case.  This guy not only claims to be hugely rich, but also says that everyone says so.  Yet top criminal attorneys like Dan Webb want nothing to do with him.

Part of the problem is that this potential client thinks he’s smarter than every lawyer out there.  He doesn’t need their advice because he knows more about law than all of them.  Everyone says so he claims.  When the lawyers tell him to stop tweeting about his case because it makes defending him more difficult and increases the chances he will be charged and convicted of a crime he shows them who’s boss and just tweets more.

It’s not too hard of a job really.  The number one thing a lawyer would have to do is prevent him from testifying under oath because if he does he will surely get charged with perjury and not the “it depends what the definition of “it” is type of perjury.  In fact, given how often he’s been sued in his life, it’s kind of a miracle that he hasn’t gone down for perjury already.

What qualifications does a lawyer need to represent this amazing client who can’t find a lawyer that wants his case?  Getting on Fox News would be a good start. Not being an uggo like Ted Cruz’s wife or a fatso like Rosey would certainly help, unless you are a man then you can look however you want.  The biggest qualifications would be the ability to silently listen as your client regales you with stories of the different women who want to f him, the people he knows who are total losers and on some days, stories of classified national secrets.  Knowledge of international finance laws and the Logan Act are probably helpful too.

Bonus available if you have no problem with your advice being ignored and getting yelled at for delivering bad news.  The client allegedly is worth billions, but would prefer to have you bill him and pay later as he says he always pays his contractors except for the losers and haters who he will gladly pay once he gets sued.

Interested parties can apply in person at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave or just @ him and see how that goes.  Act fast as many top law firms and lawyers want to represent him despite none of them actually doing so.

Most of the attorneys I know are great, but truth be told, some are just awful.  The worst ones usually are the attorneys who put their own bottom line above a potential client and try to take on a case in an area of law they either just dabble in or know nothing about.  They usually do it because they think they are smart, wrongly believe the case will be easy and most of all want to make money.  We see this the most with attorneys who pretend they are Chicago personal injury lawyers.

Usually what happens is an attorney handles basic stuff like traffic tickets.  They help out a client who then says, “My cousin was hurt in a car accident as a passenger.  Can you help him?”  What the lawyer should do is say, “I don’t handle those cases” or “I don’t handle those cases, but know someone who does and can refer you.”  Instead in their mind they think, “I’m not making a ton of money and since they were the passenger, how hard can it be?”

The truth is that it’s a lot harder than they think.  First off, it takes skill and experience to identify all the proper insurance available, especially when a commercial vehicle is involved.  Second, there’s the matter of making sure the client is treating with a proper doctor and getting the care they need.  Third is having the experience needed to investigate an accident scene and/or document an accident properly.  Most of all though, the first thing an insurance company does when they get a new case is look up the lawyer.  If they realize the attorney is inexperienced, they will play hard ball and if they make an offer it will usually be a low ball one.

On the other hand, if your attorney has a track record of success and experience in dealing with that insurance company as well as a history of taking cases to trial when needed, the insurance company is more likely to be fair.

The other issue we see is that some lawyers who take these cases really need money.  You might think that most attorneys are rich, but the truth is that many are struggling.  A recent caller to my office needed a surgery from a car accident and her lawyer was trying to get her to settle the case for a low dollar amount. He wanted money now and didn’t care that the case would be worth more to him and the client by waiting.  He didn’t care that it was best for the client to do nothing now.  Fortunately she sought a second opinion.

So when you get an attorney who dabbles in personal injury, the client gets screwed.  These lawyers are frauds.  Do not hire the first lawyer you can hire.  Get the best one you can hire. You wouldn’t have a doctor who delivers babies operate on your back.  You don’t want a general practice lawyer for a serious injury case.  Any attorney who takes this case without a track record of success is looking out for themselves, not you.

If you need help finding the right personal injury attorney or just have questions, call us any time at 312-346-5320 to speak with one of our lawyers for free.  We cover all of Illinois and tell it like it is.  We don’t promise a result, but do guarantee we will look out for what is best for you and you alone.

Note, we are Chicago lawyers who since 2001 have been providing free legal advice and attorney referrals for people with legal matters anywhere in Illinois.  We have a state wide network of great, experienced attorneys who have a track record of success.  If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys for free, contact us at (312) 346-5320.  For more information about lawyer fees in car accident cases, read on.

There is an awful injury law firm in Chicago that has the worst commercials ever.  That’s not what makes them awful though.  They suck because I get about five calls a week from their unhappy clients and they usually all have similar stories.  Their complaints are either A. They promised me things that aren’t true. B. I have a new lawyer on my case every month. C. They don’t return my phone calls. D.  They don’t answer my questions.  E. All of the above.

Essentially this firm markets themselves like crazy, but doesn’t care about their clients.  They lose a lot of staff because people don’t want to work for unethical attorneys.

A recent caller to my office had hired this shady firm for a car accident case.  What’s crazy is that this firm is really a work injury firm, but apparently is trying to get injury cases too.  The caller had the similar concerns as their other unhappy clients do, but also questioned their attorney fee.  This firm was asking for 37.5% fee just to take the case, 40% if a lawsuit is filed, more if it goes to trial and 50% if there is an appeal!

That fee request is nuts.  Basically they are robbing their clients who accept it.  There’s no law for attorney fees, but except for very difficult cases you should be able to get an outstanding attorney whose fee fill be 1/3 of what they recover.  Many lawyers charge 40% on every case because they can get away with it, but if I was you I wouldn’t ever pay more than 1/3 and in some major injury cases you can get that down tow 25-30%.

To make matters worse in this case, the firm, after the surgeon discharged the client from medical care, forced him to go to a doctor buddy of theirs for physical therapy.  Of course that was done to try and inflate the bills to make the case worth more, but what’s really going to happen is it will make the case worth less because the insurance company won’t pay for it.  Ultimately, since this is a big injury case, the doctor will get paid, but it will come out of money that should have gone to the client.

It’s a pretty shady operation all around.

Bottom line is that you should not pay more than 1/3 to any injury attorney and you should never give them money up front.  If they are asking for that it’s a bad sign for them.  If you want help finding the best lawyer for your case, contact us for an unbiased opinion.

It’s Valentine’s Day and while you hopefully are in a happy marriage, days like today cause many to take an honest evaluation of their relationship and for some they realize that they’d be happier if they were divorced.  With that in mind, here are 12 things everyone should know about getting divorced in Illinois.

  1. There is no set time limit for how long a case takes.  If you and your spouse agree on everything you can be divorced within 30 days.  If not, the case could take months or even years. In general, when kids are involved or you are fighting over property or a business it will cause the case to drag on.
  2. The cost of a divorce if you hire a lawyer depends on how much the lawyer charges and how long the case takes. In general you will be billed for everything an attorney does whether it’s appear in court, talk to you on the phone, draft a motion, talk to the other lawyer, etc.
  3. The best thing you can do for your case is to set a list of goals, both short term (what are you concerned about for the next six months) and long term (where do you want to live in five years) and work with your lawyer to make sure you are thinking about everything that you should think about.  Prioritize your goals.  The more you can achieve the more that settling makes sense.  The less you can achieve indicates you should go to trial.
  4. Beware of lawyers who over charge.  Ask for itemized bills every month.  There is one divorce law firm in Chicago that is famous for billing for “research” on basic issues.  There is no research being done, they are just stealing from their clients.  I’ve seen other cases where the attorney for one spouse charged five times as much as the lawyer for the other spouse.  It shouldn’t cost $100,000.00 to get divorced unless you have a difficult case.  In most cases it should be less than $10,000 and in many in can be under  $5,000.
  5. Joint custody refers to parenting decisions.  That is different than the amount of time you spend with the kids.  If spending a lot of time with the kids is important to you, document all of the things you do from driving to practices, helping with homework, playing with them, changing diapers, etc.
  6. As of July of 2017 there is a new formula for calculating child support in Illinois that is based on how many over nights each parent has with the child as well as joint income.  It can get tricky when one spouse doesn’t work or another either doesn’t report or hides income.
  7. Beware of law firms that market themselves in ways that makes you think they are special by saying things like “father’s rights.”  It’s a gimmick.  A good lawyer fights for their client, communicates, doesn’t over bill and does whatever they can to get the best result possible.
  8. Nobody is excited about getting a divorce.  It’s not fun.  What we’ve seen is that the process, since it’s rarely amicable, can wear on attorneys.  Many formerly great Illinois family lawyers become jaded or burned out.  You don’t want one of them in your corner because they won’t be in your corner.  If you see red flags like failure to return phone calls, yelling at you or having no idea what is happening on your case, switch firms before they ruin your life.
  9. You typically want a lawyer who has these qualities: 1. Just about 100% of what their practice is involves family law. 2. They’ve been practicing for at least ten years. 3.They do a lot of work in the county where you are getting divorced and know the Judges.  That usually means they are local.
  10. Don’t worry about the grounds of divorce.  Also don’t freak out if your soon to be ex sends a divorce petition that asks for the moon and contains nothing that the two of you talked about.  That’s often a lawyer’s “strategy” that gives themselves room to negotiate even though their actions make the case drag on, creates bad feelings and costs everyone more money.
  11. If you don’t have a lawyer, don’t ever skip a court date.  Even if the attorney for your spouse says they will do something, don’t take their word for it.
  12. One lawyer can’t legally represent two people in the same divorce.

Bonus tip.  I have a lot of good friends who have gotten divorced. They all have been miserable at first, plowed forward and come out on the other side happier and in better relationships.  Getting divorced isn’t ideal, but it can be the first step toward making you happy.

If you have questions or would like help with a case, call us at (312) 346-5320 for a free consultation.