Attorneys in Transition: Discussion and dialogue on the best interests of the child

Nick Augustine is the principal of Pro Serve PR Marketing, a firm that provides marketing and public relations advising and services for law firms. Nick’s practice includes advising attorneys on career development and leveraging knowledge, skills and abilities. Nick earned a communications and rhetorical studies degree from Marquette University and a law degree from The John Marshall Law School, where he is an active Alumni Board member.

It was Friday, March 16, the day before St. Patrick’s Day, and one group celebrated the blessings of children. Not all kids grow up easily these days. Family law is spoken in many homes and offices. Bringing lawyers, judges and family law professionals together, Nancy Mynard of LEDDED (Legal Education Dialogue and Discussion) Ltd., knocked another one out the park with the “Best Interests of The Child” and “Protecting the Best Interest of the Special Needs Child.” The attendees earned 6.25 MCLE credits if they attended both morning and afternoon sessions. Dedicated to the memory of our colleague, friend and committed advocate for children, Redina Friedman.

Attorneys in Transition: If you haven’t met Nancy Mynard yet, you should. Nancy is the principal of AMS Data Inc., acclaimed as pervasive; AMS Data is the drug testing company used by Cook County family law attorneys and judges who need tough drug testing. Nancy and her carefully chosen team of top-tier panelists enrich our local legal community by hosting and presenting acclaimed Continuing Legal Education, dialogue and discussion events. LEDDED Ltd. covers legal issues and updates upon which our lawyers, judges and professionals rely.

In the morning session, our moderator, William Wigoda, launched with Judge Pamela Loza’s series of exercises to explore and discuss opinions about stereotypes, prejudices and the value of identifying stereotypes and prejudicial opinion in working through all the challenges of the best interest of the child factors. This is important because too often we get caught up in how we think people will react to hot button issues, when we should be more focused on the best interests of the children.

Focusing on the Domestic Violence Act and identifying behavior and violence that doesn’t always cause visible injury, we debated best practices in addressing abuse. Many agreed there are challenges in domestic violence and spotting clues attorneys, judges and professionals need to address when safeguarding children. Also, Judge Cheryl Cesario walked us through differences between domestic relations and probate court – two very different settings with unique rules and customs.

William Wigoda led us through a hypothetical (with a smoking gun) and entertained the group as multiple lawyers, judges and professionals asked questions about the case to develop a set of recommendations considering a myriad of IMDMA (Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act),  Sec. 602 Best Interest Standards. The exchange of dialogue and discussion was active.

The afternoon session also packed a punch; we learned many pitfalls and issues in the intersection of the IMDMA, 750 ILCS 5/et seq. and provisions of the Probate Act of 1975, 755 ILCS 5/et seq. Additionally, we focused heavily on Special Needs Trusts and learned about the variety of issues and professionals involved, including care management. Special needs issues are complex and there are specially trained professionals best prepared to address the best interests of children and families managing disability.


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