Co-parenting is the ability for parents to make decisions together. Co-parenting is a necessity, but when you get divorced, you need to determine if that’s even a possibility. Joining us to speak about co-parenting are Beermann Divorce and Family Law Partners, Kathryn Homburger Mickelson and Karen V. Paige. Kathryn has been practicing exclusively in family law for the fourteen years that she’s been licensed. Karen represents both litigants and handles cases on behalf of the children, primarily as a guardian ad litem appointed by the court as well as serve as a parenting coordinator. Katy and Karen give the lowdown on co-parenting and lay down the importance of making important decisions on behalf of your child and how that plays out in divorce.

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How Co-Parenting Plays Out In Divorce

Our CMO, Sandra Napoli-D’Arco, asks questions that get the attorneys talking about everything they know and have experienced throughout their years of being divorce lawyers.

I’m here with Katy Mickelson and Karen Paige, divorce and family law partners at Beermann. On this episode, we’re speaking about co-parenting. Before we get into the subject, I’d like to turn it over to Katy and Karen so they can tell us a little bit about themselves, Katy?

Katy: My name is Katy Mickelson. I’m a partner here at Beermann. I’ve been with the firm for many years. I started here as a law clerk and now I’m a partner. I have been practicing exclusively in family law for the fourteen years that I’ve been licensed. I grew up in Chicago in the northern suburbs in Glencoe. I went to New Trier, I went to the University of Michigan and got my degree at Chicago-Kent. I live downtown. I live with my husband and two kids in Roscoe Village and I am an avid Michigan fan, but I enjoy being in Chicago.

Karen: I’m Karen Paige. I’ve been with Beermann for a few years. I practiced in Los Angeles County from 1996 until 2006 when I moved back here with my ex-husband and two children. I am divorced now. I’ve been divorced for many years. I practice primarily in Bannockburn office. I do cases, both representing litigants and handling cases on behalf of the children, primarily as guardian ad litem appointed by the court primarily in Waukegan. I also serve as a parenting coordinator in Waukegan. A little bit more about me personally, I wanted to come back to the Midwest. I grew up in the Midwest. I also went to the University of Michigan. I also am a Michigan fan and my two children are also avid Michigan fans. I have two teenage children and live in Highland Park. I live in Lake County and work primarily in Lake County and I’m a partner in the Bannockburn office.

Let’s get down to co-parenting. What exactly is co-parenting, Katy?

Katy: Co-parenting is the ability for parents to make decisions together. Co-parenting is a necessity. When you get divorced in Illinois, you need to determine if that’s even a possibility. Parents don’t have to be married. It can be unmarried parents. Part of having a court decide how decision-making is handled is whether the two parents can actually make decisions together or whether they need to have one of them designated to make decisions. The idea of co-parenting is somewhat of an umbrella concept which deals with can co-parenting happen and what is it for? It’s for making decisions for their children.

DM 5 | Co-Parenting
Co-Parenting: Just because people might not like each other or want to stay married to each other doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t make decisions for their children together.

 

Is the parent who has custody of the children the person who is making the decisions on behalf of the children?

Karen: The answer is no. At this point in Illinois, the statute has changed and we no longer use the term custody. Parenting judgments now contain both two concepts, parenting responsibilities, which are four major decision-making areas which medical, which encompasses dental, vision care, things of that nature. School and school-related enrollment, tutoring, things like IEP and anything that goes along with education. Extracurricular activities, so things such as soccer or gymnastics, horseback riding, after-school activities or team sports, things of that nature. The last of the four major areas is religion. The other concept of parenting that would be in a parenting judgment for laypeople is the parenting schedule. When we’re talking about decision-making, it’s in those four areas.

What might be on the minds of many people is, “how can I make important decisions on behalf of my child with a person that I’m divorcing and with whom I can’t see eye to eye on anything?” 

Katy: The unfortunate part is when you get divorced in Illinois or when you have the court opining on who makes decisions for the children, it is something that the court must decide. You don’t have a choice. There’s going to be a decision by somebody unless you can come to an agreement about how you’re going to have decisions made for your children. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is our act that governs divorce in Illinois. There’s a portion of our statute which deals directly with child-related issues and that would be parenting time, decision-making and the like. What generally we as practitioners and then judges do is they will look at that statute as that backdrop. They’ll be looking at factors that the statute wants us as either practitioners or judges to consider about how you divvy up those responsibilities.

We have to take a step back when we’re determining how decisions are made because you bring up a good point where what if you don’t want to make decisions with another parent? Somebody has to make decisions and it’s a mechanism of how do you do that, whether it’s an individual, whether it’s together. The statute guides that process. It’s contemplated that people don’t get along and it’s contemplated that there’s going to be difficulties in assigning different decision-making responsibilities to each parent. The courts will look at some of those factors and do a weighing game. The weighing game looks at the parties as parents. What we often find is because people don’t get along, but they often can co-parent, which during the divorce process, just because they might not like each other or want to stay married to each other doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t make decisions for their children together.

Karen: Just to follow up on that piece, some of the most conflicted people I have worked with is both parenting coordinator and GAL. One of the things I typically start with when I talk to the parents is to remind them, first of all, that they have fantastic kids. Second of all, many times they’re much more aligned than they think. For example, I was a parenting coordinator for a family and their kids were wonderful kids. They’re really rounded despite the area in which they lived. They’re very good students and very respectful. When they met with me, they had wonderful manners. What I’ve tried to instill upon the parents over time is even though they were extremely conflicted and they did have disagreements about some of the decision-making issues, in reality, their kids were already halfway through the minority and they were already very aligned in terms of what kind of parents they wanted to be. They lived a very similar type of life. They observed the same types of traditions.

Sometimes it takes reminding people that in fact they're much more aligned than they realize. Click To Tweet

A lot of times parents, because they’re so caught up in conflict at that moment, the litigation is just a moment in time in reality. Once you make them step back to your point, then they can step back and realize all these other years we did very well together, and education is important to us. The kids being involved in some sort of afterschool activities is important to us. If they have a special needs child, they both go to the IEP meetings. Sometimes it takes reminding people that in fact they’re much more aligned than they realize.

Karen, to take a step back, you mentioned a parent coordinator and guardian ad litem. Can you explain what that means and how that plays into the divorce process? If people meet a parenting coordinator while going through the divorce, how does that play into the process?

Karen: Guardian ad litem or a child representative are the two primary types of appointments. There’s a third type that’s rarely used and that is where if either the court determines in the case or both lawyers of each pair have determined early on that the parents are in pretty significant disagreement over either parenting time or parenting responsibilities for both. Either one of the parties or the judge on the judge’s own motion will appoint either a child representative, which is more common in Cook County, or guardian ad litem, which is more common in Lake County. For laypeople’s purposes, they do serve the same function for the most part. There are some important legal distinctions, but for laypeople’s purposes, they serve the same purpose, which is being an investigator essentially for the courts and helping achieve a result in the kid’s best interest, be that through litigation and advising the court or be that through settlement negotiations with the parents and their attorneys.

A parenting coordinator is something that only the parents can only agree to appoint a parenting coordinator. It is done pursuant to a court order, but it is not something that a court can impose on people. A court can certainly impose and will impose essentially a GAL or a child representative. The parenting coordinator is different in that the parenting coordinator can only be appointed by agreement in the court order and their function is specifically delineated in terms of what they can and cannot do in the case. Unlike a guardian ad litem or child representative where they’ve typically a pretty broad scope in terms of what they’re asked to do, a parenting coordinator could have a very limited scope. For example, a parenting coordinator could be appointed to simply address differences between the parents on extracurricular activities. Those are the major differences. The parenting coordinator, another important point is, typically their decisions are immediate once made, but a parent can challenge them in court. They’re never going to be the final decision maker. The court will always be the final decision maker of both if there’s a dispute.

Will the court force me to co-parent?

Katy: It’s a loaded question because I think we alluded to this before, is where there’s often conflict in a divorce situation. A parent can identify that both parents are good parents and can make strong decisions on behalf of their child. What the court might do is give them the tools that allow them to co-parent. Much of what Karen was talking about for tools such as an intermediary like a parenting coordinator or a mediator and provide a third-party neutral who would not require somebody to make a decision or a parenting coordinator, which is much more of an individual with teeth that makes those decisions but a parent can later challenge. Generally absent is a parent is having something significantly affecting their ability to make decisions for a child or are acting in a manner that endangers a child.

DM 5 | Co-Parenting
Co-Parenting: The small things actually impact younger kids far more than something like whether where they might go to high school many years down the line.

 

A court is going to err on the side that each parent should have a role in a child’s life. A litigant might have a different perspective of what their spouse or partner is like, but a court is looking at it always from the best interest of a child. It’s generally considered absent proof otherwise the best interest of the child that both parents have some say in decisions that are made for a child. I alluded to before though, that’s not always how it is. There’s a conflict between parents and sometimes parents need that third party that helps them come to that solution. To hit on what Karen said before is that in addition to the fact that there’s a lot of common ground between people, which doesn’t make that conflict so pronounced, a lot of those decisions, especially with older children, have already been made.

People tend to forget in those four major areas that Karen referred to. If I have a thirteen-year-old and a fifteen-year-old, I already know where they’re going to school. The decision to make regarding school is pretty much done. Those same children might be involved in extracurricular activities and have been so for years. They’ve been historically participating. It’s the same thing with a pediatrician. They’ve been seeing the same pediatrician. Generally, for purposes of what decision-making is looked at out of the statute of being this major decision, those are generally already made. The conflict I see and I’m sure that you can weigh in on this, is more of the day-to-day smaller decisions. Those smaller decisions are actually at times more contentious than the major decisions that the court has to assign from one parent to the other.

Can you give me an example?

Karen: I can think of a couple. For example, most kids in public or private schools these days are using iPads or Chromebooks, things of that nature and technology. I’ve seen multiple cases where there’s a conflict between the parents about who forgot to charge the Chromebook or who are not making sure the homework got completed and is submitted online. This is what I talked to parents a lot about living in close proximity to each other. A kid may be very forgetful, a kid may have ADHD and leave their Chromebook at school or the other parent’s house. Parents need to be able to put aside their differences and be able to make sure the technology that’s mandatory for the child who attends school daily goes back and forth and is ready for use. Even things that sound completely granular and hard to believe this is what people may be conflicted about, but are they going to go to have a hot lunch at school this week?

I talked to parents a lot about this when they come to see me as a new GAL case. Those small things actually impact younger kids far more than something like whether where they might go to high school many years down the line. The small things about hot lunch and knowing that mom and dad can agree on that, and if they don’t have to have a conflict on that is huge. Especially when you’re talking about the ages of middle school and younger, those small decisions, those day-to-day issues are huge. It could be something a kid loves a particular outfit that they want to wear a certain week. Parents need to be able to make sure that they can talk about it. Is the outfit okay?

Let’s the following scenario as an example. The wife took care of coordinating all the sports activities, games and making sure that the husband knew of everything so he’d be able to come to a game and so forth, when they were married. Now they’re divorced. The wife says, “You’re on your own. I’m not going to be your secretary anyomore.” As a result, the husband doesn’t attend games and develops maybe a less than positive relationship with the child. The child doesn’t want to listen to the father and goes back to the mother and says, “I don’t want to do what dad’s asking me to do when I’m with him.” How is this handled in a co-parenting situation?

Co-parenting requires both parents being involved. Click To Tweet

Katy: I think you’ve asked a lot of questions. They’re pretty multi-layered situation. That kind of situation, when parties get divorced, specifically in the divorce situation, depending on whoever we represent. I’ve represented the mom, I’ve represented the dad, it doesn’t matter. There’s going to be a shift in responsibilities. Whereas there might have been a situation, let’s use an example, mom has made all the appointments for the doctor and that the parties are going to get divorced. If I’m representing the father, I’m going to counsel my client to be more involved in that process and not rely on mom to take on that role. I gave some accountability to my client and said, “This is going to be important because you’re going from one household to two.” That’s not only information that you’re entitled to. It’s information that you should go after and it’s information you should be involved in.

Take ownership of that and take responsibility for that and don’t cast blame on the other parent if you’re not going to take that responsibility. That’s tough. Part of that I think is making sure that you’re providing your clients with those tools to make sure that a situation that you said doesn’t happen. They are involved by making sure they sign up for notices to come home and schools. They make sure they’re on the contact list for doctors and they’re being involved in that process. It’s difficult for me to tell my clients that I can stop whatever’s being said on the other side. All I can do is say, “You need to take a more active role so you can avoid problems such as that what you’re talking about because decision-making and co-parenting requires two.”

It requires both parents being involved, whether you’re traveling or whether you’re not. You’re right. I think that marriages are a certain way. When you get divorced, it becomes a different way. There’s an adjustment period. We’ve talked about tools in the event of a conflict. There are a lot of tools that can be used to actually coordinate that and make that better. One popular app that we have our clients use when appropriate is OurFamilyWizard.com. It’s a way for you to do a shared calendar to share information in terms of contact information to keep each other informed, but it takes both people. Even if the parties don’t like each other or have a lot of distrust in one another based upon their personal dealings, there are tools that can cause them to be better parents but separate.

Karen: One thing I tell parents either if I’m representing one person or if I’m representing the kids, is I explain to them to over-communicate for a while. Meaning, don’t send ten text messages a day. For example, if you’re the party that tends to take the child to the orthodontist every month and you’re the one picking up the child from school more often and there’s stuff happening at school, send the other parent an email. That subject line might be, “FYI, this is what happened. At the orthodontist, they indicated there’s going to be three more months of treatment instead of coming to an end. This is what’s going on at school. I think the two of us should meet with the teacher.”

If you over-communicate during this initial period, especially of adjustment, where maybe dad didn’t do much of the heavy lifting to be stereotypical and now he’s going to do it, both parties have to work together and there are things like doctor’s offices, schools and orthodontist offices. They are well-equipped now electronically to handle two parents in different homes. All it takes is people filling out the paperwork, especially schools. They have the PTO as well as school enrollment. They’ll send an electronic communication to everybody. I do tell parents to make sure you sign up online. Don’t rely on that other person. Even if when the marriage was intact, if one parent who was the stay-at-home parent handled everything, make sure you’re signed up. Call the school, make sure you’re on board with all of that. The schools are handling this all the time with these divorce situations.

You touched on this a little about co-parenting and the court making decisions unless it’s a danger to the children. I think there are a lot of parents out there that may feel that some things are a danger that maybe the court would not. Let’s say my spouse has now started dating and the people he dates engage in drugs or a lot of alcohol, things that I don’t want my children to be around, but we have to co-parent. That influences his co-parenting abilities. How is this handled?

DM 5 | Co-Parenting
Co-Parenting: As practitioners, we have to assess if the lifestyle that’s very different than the way the parties lived during the marriage is harming the kids.

 

Karen: If it is a dangerous situation, even if it’s after there’s a parenting judgment entered. If it’s dangerous, if it’s impacting the child’s health, emotional or physical health, well-being, you should see your attorney on the appropriate course of action might be to do essentially an emergency petition. Obviously get a GAL or a child representative appointed or would have to be reappointed if there was one at all in the case previously. In 2019, for example, if alcohol overuse is an issue during a person’s parenting time, there is a device called Soberlink that can do alcohol testing. That does require a court order in coordination with the alcohol testing company. If it’s really a danger, that’s one thing. What we also see, as Katy can probably attest to you too, is some people perhaps even exaggerate what’s going on or being overly concerned because of the divorce, because they don’t know what’s going on in the other person’s house.

We really do, as practitioners, have to assess is it something that the lifestyle is very different than the way the parties lived during the marriage but it’s not harming the kids? For example, if people have a three-year-old child and the child’s been put to bed and one party is having three or four glasses of wine. If they’re perfectly able to function, that’s one issue. If it’s dangerous to the child, it’s a very different issue. It is oftentimes hard to determine without a lot of deep conversations with the client exactly what’s going on. Obviously, if we’re not in the house and none of us are, it’s impossible to know that for sure.

Katy: It’s hard. We’re all parents, so we know that we’re very sensitive about what we think our children are exposed to and what’s very personal is very different from what a court looks at. You have to understand that when you go to court, a judge has hundreds of cases before it. While it always will err on the side of caution, especially when it deals with children, it has factors that it has to look at. One of the big factors is whether this behavior is happening in front of the children. If somebody in Karen’s example is drinking while caring for the children, there can be an argument that would be made if that person is so inebriated that the child wakes up sick, how would that person drive the child to the hospital? That could be a situation that would be worrisome. The same judge might also say, “I think that’s overreacting. Nothing’s happened before and I don’t have a precedent to say anything. The idea that something could happen is not enough for me to change something.”

I’ve had situations where I’ve represented spouses where the other spouse does have an issue with alcohol. The judges have said to me, “What they do on their own time when they don’t have the children is their business.” You can’t be a halftime alcoholic if you’ve got an issue with alcohol, but there is somewhat of a limited ability for the courts to address some of those situations that don’t directly happen in front of the children. That’s not always the best news for parents because that’s a very frightening concept. As we all know, if you have an addiction, that doesn’t happen only in times you don’t have your children. That being said, we work with our clients to then come up with something that could make them feel more comfortable. What Karen referred to is Soberlink. There’s also installing a BAIID in somebody’s vehicle. What is a BAIID? It’s a basically a Breathalyzer that’s installed in the vehicle that you blow into. If there is a trace of alcohol at a certain level in your breath, the car won’t start. There are ways that you can address that like random urine screening tests.

There are things that can be addressed that can also be done in a very private way that doesn’t have to be known to the public. Those are things that ultimately you have to come by agreement or have a judge order it. Every case is specific. Every case has different scenarios that we have to sit and analyze and say, “We have to make a couple of step analysis. Are those behaviors something that a court is going to find dangerous? If the court might not find that dangerous, is there a way that we can then negotiate with the other side, avoid a judge altogether, but still come up with something with everybody feels safe and most importantly, the children are safe?” We’ve veered out of topic a little bit, but in that situation, there are a lot of remedies, but again, we have to assess it on a case-by-case basis.

Karen: What I was getting at too is seeing this bigger picture, with really conflicted families, ultimately sometimes the best solution is some real serious therapy or a therapeutic team to be put in place to help parents learn how to communicate better. Even if one person, for example, was allocated sole decision-making, let’s say they got their wish. I had this conversation a couple of times in the last couple of years with parents, the other person’s still going to have parenting time. They’re still going to be involved with the child. Those granular issues that affect the child day-to-day, their school uniform perhaps or special clothing, sports equipment, play dates, going to birthday parties. Communication is so key and some litigants need to be reminded of that time after time. For the most conflicted parents, there are some therapists that specialize and have special communication protocols that they work with parents on. I have referred to some parents to those practitioners to work on that because some parents literally get to a point where they just can’t communicate. That needs to be front and center as their kid’s progress or that they’re a minority.

The ability to co-parent with another parent is essential because you're going to be parents of these children for as long as you live. Click To Tweet

Some people may be wondering, is that an additional cost that I need to cover? There are all these professionals that could help, at the same time, I’m sure it all costs money.

Katy: Divorce is an expensive process. It can be an expensive process. When you’re considering what’s at stake, you have to weigh the expense and then the safety of one of your children and then to the ability to co-parent with another parent is essential because you’re going to be parents of these children for as long as you live. It’s not a good idea to learn skills and how to co-parent with the other parent as long as they’re going to be in that child’s life. A typical divorce where there are no children, you can divorce and you never have to see that person again. In this situation, as what Karen said, even if you had sole decision-making and made those major decisions, the other parent is still going to be present. There’s going to be a presence of that parent. Children are sponges and children see if their parents are not getting along and can’t co-parent. They pick up on it. They can use it to their advantage. They can also be profoundly affected by it and then they take that as their own experience. Going forward, that’s how then they also see if their parents are not getting along. That’s maybe how they will address things on a going forward basis.

Karen: Certainly, there is a cost to everything. A parenting coordinator charges an hourly rate, a GAL or child representative does as well. Obviously, therapists do. That’s why, yes, it’s something that has to be considered, but to Katy’s point, you’re not just parents through the time at which they graduated from high school. You’re parents forever. I tell people all the time, “You’re going to hopefully college graduations or other family events, weddings, christenings, grandchildren.” The more that people can work together on behalf of their kids and lay the groundwork for their children.

Katy: A parenting coordinator can be a good resource after the judgment is entered because the costs can be decreased by not litigating issues. If you have a parenting coordinator who can resolve issues for you without going to court, you’ve drastically decreased the cost that you’d ultimately be spending. I only use a parenting coordinator during cases that have not yet been settled where it’s extremely contentious. We as attorneys can go into court at any time and file motions, argue with each other and say, “Judge, this has to be ordered and this has to be ordered.” That’s not in the financial best interest of our clients because ultimately it’s not efficient. No one leaves satisfied. Rather than having us attorneys battle it out in court, it might make sense to have a parenting coordinator make that final decision to keep those matters out of court. In reality, it could actually save money.

Karen: Just to echo that too, I think parenting coordinators for those contentious cases post-decree, post the time that judgment is entered, I can’t stress that enough. What I like about the parenting coordinator for those high-conflict cases is that when you file a motion, absent a real true emergency, the other side’s going to get time to respond and the court may choose to set up for status. They might not set it for hearing for 60 days or more. In the meantime, if you have a parenting coordinator and it’s an issue that needs to be resolved quickly, that’s the way to resolve it quickly. That oftentimes is going to be much better for the children involved, as well as the parents because then that issue is not hanging over everybody looming in the future. It’s going to be resolved. I explain to parents that parenting coordinators are like a referee. They’re going to make those quick calls and you’ve got everybody moving on as opposed to judges are absolutely doing their best. To Katy’s point, they have hundreds of cases and they’re not going to make immediate decisions because they need to listen to all these different sides. The parenting coordinator can do that in a phone call and they can do it via email. They have met with the children usually at least a couple of times. It’s a much quick, reflexive, holistic and efficient process for the right type of the case.

Can the co-parenting agreement be changed at a later time if it’s not working out?

DM 5 | Co-Parenting
Co-Parenting: During the divorce process, before an order is entered that dissolves your marriage, you can have a parenting agreement entered.

 

Katy: If that was allowed as blanket-permissive permission, then I think people would be running into court every time they don’t agree with how a decision is being made. Our statutes basically state that within two years, if there are actions that are seriously endangering a child, that’s again very fact-based. What is serious endangerment? We as attorneys have everything, it depends on the type of answer. Serious endangerment would allow for decision-making, co-parenting, joint decision-making, sole decision-making to be changed. Otherwise, we tell our clients to be very careful what they agreed to because absent serious endangerment, you won’t be able to change the decision-making process until two years. At that point, it becomes a best interest standard. The standard changes. What’s in the best interest of your children?

It’s a little bit of a lesser burden after two years after the decision-making component is addressed. An important thing to know is during the divorce process, I’m focusing on divorce right now before our final judgment is entered, before an order is entered that dissolves your marriage, you can have a parenting agreement entered. The two years is from the day that you enter the parenting agreement, it’s not from the day that you get a divorce. If a parenting agreement is entered and you don’t get divorced, meaning your marriage isn’t dissolved for a year afterwards, you’ve already gone through a year with your parenting agreement in effect. It almost operates as its own agreement. Judges want to get the parenting issues out of the way before they want to deal with the financial issues. That’s much more important to them. You can change it. It’s difficult to do so within two years, but after the two years, the standard is very less, at three months.

Karen: The other thing to keep in mind is every parenting session has to have a mediation provision. If you are past the two-year period and you want to change, for example, decision-making on extra-curriculars for example, you’ll still have to go through it and mediation provision unless it’s really unusual circumstances. Every effort in the statute is made to get people to agree. From the judge’s perspective and from the perspective of the GAL, we always want to see the two people who chose to have these children and be the ones that ultimately made these decisions. That’s how the kids are best served most of the time.

Thank you. This has been a wealth of information. Are there any final things you’d like to share about co-parenting that you think is important to know when making an appointment with you?

Karen: Whether I’m meeting with parents for the first time or a client for the first time, I do try to get them to focus on the big picture, which is ultimately the children. The children are going to be best served with two parents that are going to work together. Getting through the case is going to be difficult and there are going to be disagreements. There are going to be disagreements after the judgments enter but most people can do it. When they can achieve that, the children are definitely best served.

Katy: Just to echo on one of Karen’s points, there’s more commonality than parents think. They think they’re ultimately at odds with the other parent and there’s a lot more common ground than they think. It surprises a lot of people that a lot of those decisions have already been made. It’s a little bit easier to maneuver through the decision-making process than looking at it as a blank slate. Unless you have a brand new child, which I would say most of our clients have children but are not newborns. They’ve worked together so far to at least make some decisions. The idea that that’s a blank landscape and what we have to do is create from the beginning, it’s not as onerous as people think to approach parenting. Even if they can’t get along with the other party, they might actually be successful co-parents. I try to make more of a silver lining than a doomsday scenario. I think my clients appreciate that, especially given how contentious things can be.

Thank you. If you’d like to get in touch with Katy Mickelson or Karen Paige, feel free to go onto Beermann’s website, www.BeermannLaw.com. Thank you for reading. You’ll hear Karen and you’ll hear from Katy again on a different divorce topic. If you like, what you read, feel free to share this on your social media pages. Please follow us on Facebook and like us on LinkedIn. Thank you.

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About Kathryn Homburger Mickelson

DM 5 | Co-Parenting

Katy Mickelson, J.D., is a partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group at Beermann. Having started her family law career at Beermann in 2005, Ms. Mickelson tailors each case to her client’s individual needs, whether it is dissolution of marriage proceedings (pre- and post-decree), paternity matters, prenuptial agreements or actions involving domestic violence. Ms. Mickelson believes that each family is different and she treats every case as another opportunity to help individuals transition to a new chapter in their lives that promotes financial and emotional dignity. Her ability to listen and “hear” her clients is one of her biggest strengths.

Ms. Mickelson’s trial and courtroom experience is extensive, however when costly litigation can be avoided, she will draw on her experience as a certified mediator to settle cases efficiently and expeditiously. Ms. Mickelson is known for her practical approach to problem solving, understanding that the family and its individual members continue to exist and thrive long after family law matters are resolved. It is this understanding that has enabled Ms. Mickelson to help her clients maneuver through the family law system and feel like their lives are still intact.

Ms. Mickelson received her Juris Doctorate from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2005, where she was named to the Dean’s List. While at Chicago-Kent, Ms. Mickelson became a certified mediator through the Center for Conflict Resolution and participated in Chicago-Kent’s Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution program. Ms. Mickelson’s love for international travel led her to participate in Tulane University/Siena Institute of European Legal Studies’ European Union, Comparative & International Law program in Siena, Italy and to live abroad in Beijing, China where she worked in the intellectual property department of a Chinese law firm. Ms. Mickelson was admitted to the Illinois State Bar in 2005 and to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2006.

Ms. Mickelson graduated from the University of Michigan in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with Honors. Before practicing law, Ms. Mickelson was a public relations executive for seven years, managing the complex communications needs of many nationally recognized consumer products and services companies.

Ms. Mickelson is an active member of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and serves as co-chair of the organization’s widely praised Domestic Relations Roundtable, an annual gathering of family law practitioners and more than 20 family law jurists from Cook, Lake and DuPage Counties. Ms. Mickelson was former President of the Associate Board of CARPLS Legal Aid, a Chicago-based legal assistance foundation, and she currently dedicates a significant amount of her time to Make-A-Wish Illinois as the Philanthropy Chair of the organization’s Women’s Network. Ms. Mickelson has participated as a panel speaker for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education and has authored articles for various legal and non-legal entities, including the American Bar Association.

In 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, Ms. Mickelson was named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine, a designation reserved for the top 2.5% of all Illinois attorneys under 40. In 2012, she was recognized as one of the Law Bulletin Publishing Company’s 40 Under 40 Illinois Attorneys to Watch, a peer-nominated award. In addition, Ms. Mickelson has been named as a Leading Lawyer in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, Best Lawyer in 2019 and one of Crain’s Media’s Most Notable Women Attorneys in 2018.

About Karen V. Paige

DM 5 | Co-Parenting

Karen V. Paige practices exclusively family law matters, with experience in complex litigation, as well as mediation.

Ms. Paige’s practice is founded upon her ability to devise creative solutions and amicably settle even the most contentious of cases. Ms. Paige understands that no two divorces are the same, and focuses at the onset of every case to help tailor a process for each client that accommodates their individual needs and goals.

Karen is experienced in all aspects of family law cases and counsels clients on the various aspects of dissolution of marriage and paternity proceedings, including allocation of parental responsibilities, support, visitation, property division, financial issues related to divorce, post-dissolution matters, prenuptial agreements and civil litigation related to orders of protection.

Ms. Paige concentrates her practice in Lake and Cook Counties.  Ms. Paige is also appointed a Court Appointed Guardian Ad Litem and Child Representative in Lake County, Illinois.

Ms. Paige is formerly a member of the Executive Committee of the Family Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, 1998 – 2003, including handling CLE programs for newly-admitted attorneys through the Los Angeles County Superior Court, and service on legislative sub-committee commenting on new legislation.  Karen represented clients in multiple fields, including the entertainment industry, medical practices, automobile dealers, and private equity.

Ms. Paige is currently on the Board of Directors for the Youth Services of Glenview/Northbrook.

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