There are a lot of misconceptions that prenuptial agreements are only for the wealthy. Prenuptial agreements can suit all types of clients depending upon their needs. As people get married later on life, they’ve established themselves in careers or have assets to protect. They might want to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement because it preserves that wealth that they’ve taken so much time to build. It could also be for someone who has a significant amount of family wealth. On this episode, we are talking about prenuptial agreements with Beermann Divorce and Family Law Partners, Thomas T. Field and Kathryn Homburger Mickelson, who both have a wealth of experience working on all types of divorce talks, in this particular case, prenuptial agreements.
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Agreeing On A Prenuptial Agreement
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.
On this episode, we are talking about prenuptial agreements with Beermann Divorce and Family Law Attorneys, Tom Field and Katy Mickelson, who both have a wealth of experience working on all types of divorce talks. Tom/Katy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Tom: I’ve been practicing law since 2001. I am a product of the local area having grown up in Highland Park and stayed local for college down in Champaign as well as grad school back up here in Chicago. What makes me a little bit different in our area of law is not only do I have a law degree but I have an MBA in Finance as well. I live in the city despite having grown up on the North Shore. I have a wife and two boys that I’m raising in the city. I’m the head of our Matrimonial Practice here at Beermann.
Thank you. Katy?
Katy: I’m a Family Law Attorney here. I’ve only done Family Law at Beermann. I’ve been here since I was licensed in 2005. I started out as a law clerk at Beermann and now I’m a partner. I went to the University of Michigan and graduated in 1995. After being at school, I went and did public relations for about seven years. My background is a little bit different. I did a career switch right before I turned 30. I went to law school straight at Chicago-Kent and did that for three years. I graduated in 2005. I’ve been here now for several years. I also grew up in the North Shore, a city over from Tom in Glencoe. I do live in the city now. I live in Roscoe Village. I’m married with also two kids. I’m also raising my kids in the city. I’m happy to be here.
This is always a sensitive topic. As I’ve heard from both of you before, it doesn’t have to be a sensitive topic. Tom, let’s start this off and talk about what is a prenuptial agreement?A prenuptial agreement is a contract at the beginning and at the end of the day. Click To Tweet
Tom: A prenuptial agreement is a contract at the beginning and the end of the day. Its goals are different for every client that comes to us. There is no form that we use that works for everybody. There are two pieces or parts to a prenuptial agreement as far as the directions they go. The one that most people are familiar with, which is helping them plan for upon a divorce. The other part of it is helping to plan for upon death if the parties are still married.
Do they want to protect assets that they acquired or have rights that existed prior to the marriage or that they may acquire rights to after the date of the marriage? Is there a family business, etc.? People come to us with a variety of different reasons why they may want a prenuptial agreement. At the end of the day, it is a tool to plan. Some people consider it an estate planning tool. I always tell my clients if they come to see me, “This is how you enhance an estate plan. This is like an estate plan on steroids.” A prenuptial agreement can do a lot of things that an estate plan can’t do in the state of Illinois, whereby you can alter how the law impacts a case beyond what it would otherwise provide for.
Katy, in your opinion, based on what you’ve seen over the years, who needs a prenuptial agreement? Is it the person walking off the street, someone who owns a business? How would I know going into a marriage whether or not I should consider having my fiancé sign a prenuptial agreement?
Katy: There are a lot of misconceptions that prenuptial agreements are only for the wealthy. Prenuptial agreements can suit all types of clients depending upon what their needs are. As people get married later on life, they’ve established themselves in careers. People who get married later on in life and have assets to protect, have a career that they’ve built, have the income to protect, might want to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement. It preserves that wealth that they’ve taken so much time to build. That’s one person that might come to me for a prenuptial agreement. It might be another person who has a significant amount of family wealth. Ultimately, as Tom has stated, what you’re doing is you’re protecting assets and income, but it’s also at time protecting family assets and income.
If a family member has assets that ultimately an individual, who might want to enter into a prenup would ultimately receive via an inheritance or might be receiving during the marriage. It’s a great way to protect that and to not even accidentally commingle those types of assets with what could be considered marital income or assets. It runs the gamut. It’s not for the millionaires. That’s a big misconception that people have. As Tom said, every case is unique. There’s no similar situation for any of our clients that come in the door. Those who want prenuptial agreements, usually we have a variety of them wanting them. We encourage them especially knowing that people have their money and their assets that they want to protect.
Katy, you mentioned commingling. I’d like for us to define what commingling is and what does that mean for me?
Tom: Commingling from our perspective, from the legal perspective, is when you’ve got essentially two different pots. You’ve got the marital pot and the nonmarital pot. Once there’s a marriage, the presumption becomes based on the law in Illinois, any income that is received after the date of the marriage is presumed to be marital. Any property that is acquired after the date of the marriage is presumed to be marital. There are certain exceptions that are built into the law for what nonmarital property is. When we craft prenuptial agreements for our clients, we want to take the question out and not have to worry about proving that we fit into one of the specific exceptions that’s set forth in the law. When doing so, we take into consideration not only the assets that existed prior to the date of the marriage, not only the income streams that existed prior to the date of the marriage but how do we address the what ifs going forward?
For example, somebody owns a piece of property prior to the marriage that has a mortgage on it. They get married, they pay that mortgage or they continue to pay that mortgage after the marriage. What money are they using to pay the mortgage? If they’re using the joint checking account or even the income that they’re earning from their employment, you’ve got the marriage and the marital estate contributing to somebody non-marital estate. One party is benefiting. Even if they’re all living in the same house and the other spouse is benefiting from living there, you’ve still got one spouse that’s benefiting by getting enhancement because the principal value of that house is going up as the mortgage payments go down.
The prenuptial agreements in a circumstance like that would say the marital estate is not entitled to a reimbursement. That’s one scenario, even though it is enhanced the value of the non-marital estate. It would also likely say that the marital estate is not only not entitled to a reimbursement, but it’s not entitled to any property value. Any rights or interests in that property would not innerve to the benefit of the marital estate. That’s an example and it’s one where commingling could be an issue. Another simple one is where a party comes to the marriage with assets or is the beneficiary of a trust or inherits or is gifted money during the marriage, any of those scenarios and that income flows to them from those assets. How does that income get treated then?
The question is two-fold. One, is the marital estate paying taxes on that income that somebody’s non-marital stream of income? The marital estate then would be hurting and the spouse that has that non-marital stream is again benefiting. You’ve also got the circumstance where that non-marital stream comes in and somebody potentially gets told later on in a divorce scenario that non-marital stream of income is available for purposes of calculating a support obligation in the future. I’m getting away a little bit from the commingling issue that you asked about, but we in a prenuptial agreement can exclude nonmarital income or passive income as we call it from being considered by the courts when otherwise it would be presumptively considered as income to that party.There's a difference between what's fair and what's unforeseeable. Click To Tweet
What is the difference between an estate plan and a prenuptial agreement? They’re both planning for the future. If I have an estate plan, can I forego that prenuptial agreement or vice versa?
Katy: What Thomas stated before, it’s an enhancement. It’s a way to make sure that your estate plan is carried out. A prenuptial agreement will address issues not only as it relates to divorce but also death provisions. It’s a common misnomer that estate planning only deals with death. Estate planning is planning your estate. How are you going to invest your assets? How are you going to deal with income that you’re receiving during the marriage? An estate plan does certain things that are different from a prenup. A prenup does certain things an estate plan cannot.
A prenuptial agreement has more teeth than an estate plan. When we enter into a prenuptial agreement and it was alluded to before, we’re altering the laws in the event of a divorce and altering the laws in the event of death. Should you choose to have a prenuptial agreement be enforced by Illinois law and most of our clients do, given that they’re in Illinois. A question that I’m assuming will be, “Does Illinois have to be the state?” Which it does not, it’s a choice of law provision as in any contract. The majority of our clients do use Illinois law.
Can you step back? Are you saying if someone moves to another state, but they had their original prenuptial agreement drafted in Illinois, Illinois law will prevail?
Katy: The prenuptial agreement should specifically have a provision that states what law will prevail in the event of it needing to be enforced. Any prenuptial agreement should state which law would apply. Given the fact that our society is so mobile, it’s not realistic to think that people enter into a prenuptial agreement and will remain in that state. The good news is that your prenuptial agreement though will have that provision. You’ll be able to expect which law is going to rule in the event a prenup needs to be enforced or ultimately invalidated.
Tom: Another reason why that’s hugely important is that if there isn’t a choice of law provision in the agreement, then one party, one spouse to the marriage could go from selecting. What that means is they could leave the State of Illinois and seek out to domicile themselves in another state where they think the laws may be more favorable to them upon divorce. This takes that away from them. It takes the ability for somebody to go form shopping away and says, “You can live wherever you want to live.” As Katy said, “We’re a more mobile society than we used to be.” People do move. It’s impossible to anticipate 10, 20, 30 years down the road where you’re going to be residing necessarily if you have a prenuptial agreement. This takes all of that guesswork out and says, “We’re applying Illinois law, whether we live in Alaska, Florida or New York. It doesn’t matter.”
Katy: Dovetailing off of that and going back to your original question about what a prenuptial agreement can do. To build on what Tom is stating about having that predictability of knowing what state you’d be in, a prenup gives you predictability about what’s going to happen in the event of a divorce. When we are handling divorces for our clients, our Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act sets forth the parameters in which we will get a divorce, granted in the state of Illinois and there are issues that need to be decided. One is property settlement property, which includes property allocation classification and so forth. Another is maintenance and spousal support. A prenuptial agreement, which is not what an estate plan can do. A prenuptial agreement can address specifically classification and allocation of assets.
As was alluded to, assets acquired during the marriage, income earned during the marriage are presumed to be marital. Our Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act creates a burden on the person showing that something should be considered non-marital. When you have a prenuptial agreement, which is not what an estate plan does, it defines that and it basically states I’m going to take the guesswork out of determining what is marital versus a non-marital asset. Also, you have issues with regards to spousal support, so maintenance formerly known as alimony. A prenuptial agreement can address whether there’s a waiver, whether there’s a buyout, whether it’s reserved. In Illinois, maintenance is not automatic maintenance. It still needs to be deemed as whether it’s appropriate in every case. There’s still that two-step analysis, whether it’s appropriate. If it is appropriate, how much? That guesswork is taken out of it by a prenuptial agreement. An estate plan doesn’t address that. It doesn’t address any of the issues as it relates to spousal support. What a prenuptial agreement cannot do is it cannot address anything child related. If you get divorced in Illinois, you still could have some issues that need to be decided by a court if you don’t agree with it. That would be anything related to children, child support, child-related expenses, decision making, visitation and the like.
Tom: One thing that made me think of is because a prenuptial agreement has so many potential benefits when it can predetermine outcomes as to so many different aspects of a dissolution of marriage. The thing that people take for granted, I think most, and I’ve heard this so many times from potential clients and past clients are when they say, “How much is this going to cost me?” We give them a ballpark idea of it, which is never a significant amount of money.
Give us an idea of what a prenup costs.Unfortunately, what is considered fair is very different in everyone's eyes. Click To Tweet
Tom: I would tell you that a prenuptial agreement probably costs somewhere between $3,000 and $10,000 on average. It always depends. I tell this to clients whether it’s a divorce or a prenup, on how the spouse or soon to be spouse on the other side behaves and who their lawyer is. Those are two variables that we can never control. That amount of money in the cases that we’re accustomed to dealing with is a paltry sum when you contemplate how much a divorce could potentially cost. How much is spent arguing in attorney’s fees over issues like the characterization of assets as marital versus non-marital and valuing assets. Whether there’s been comingling or not and what income is available for purposes of support. Any one of those issues could cost tens of thousands of dollars or more to hash out or argue over. I would argue that a prenuptial agreement is a valuable document contract that a party can get and possess for not a lot of money that gives you so much peace of mind if done right. It’s absolutely a worthwhile endeavor.
Are prenups 100% enforceable?
Katy: The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which has been adopted by most of the states is what we’re looking at. Generally, as a contract, a prenuptial agreement can only be invalidated by determining whether there’s been fraud, coercion or duress. You can invalidate a contract by that, a written contract. We have an extra set of security through the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which Illinois has adopted. Most states have adopted the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.
In terms of invalidating a prenuptial agreement, it’s hard. You have to demonstrate certain things. You have to demonstrate that, as I mentioned, you entered into that agreement under duress or coercion. You entered into it potentially on the eve of your marriage and you didn’t have time to review. You didn’t have an attorney to assist you in the review. These are all things that we suggest to our clients are ways to think about so you’re not entering into a prenuptial agreement the night that you get married. You’re handed a prenuptial agreement and told to sign it. That you make sure you have independent counsel hired by your own accord. That’s another issue. Making sure that it’s somebody that you’ve individually sought out and there’s not an influenced by the other side.
There are factors that a court will look at, but it’s not easy to invalidate a prenuptial agreement. Simply also with the adoption of the statutory language that requires you to prove many things. There is one portion of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act that will consider even if a prenuptial agreement is valid, that the maintenance spousal support provisions are not. That section specifically says if you can demonstrate that there was something not contemplated at the time you entered into the premarital agreement, which would make say a waiver of maintenance unfair and it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the person that could be receiving maintenance. That could be a basis not to invalidate the prenuptial agreement but to at least award spousal support to a spouse who’s seeking that spousal support. Contracts are very difficult to invalidate. It’s an expensive proposition as well.
Tom: That issue has to be an unforeseeable event. If somebody comes to the marriage, has no income, no assets and freely and voluntarily, not under duress, enters into the agreement waiving their right to seek maintenance in the future, it’s foreseeable at that time that they didn’t have any income. They didn’t have any assets that they wouldn’t be able to support themselves. If you knowingly enter into an agreement knowing that you probably couldn’t support herself, that’s not going to be an unforeseeable circumstance. If you’ve got a little bit of income or a few assets, at some point during the marriage, there’s a catastrophic accident and somebody is wheelchair bound or loses some form of mental capacity. Now, you’ve got an unforeseeable event that’s occurred that’s created a scenario where the person may need support as our statute requires. I wanted to clarify. There is a way to invalidate that portion but it is rare and it’s hard.
Has the firm and its attorneys fought prenups?
Katy: We have but it’s hard. I always tell my clients, I never tried to set the expectation that there’s a definite win ever. There are a lot of factors that a court considers whenever it hears arguments about whether something in that contract shouldn’t be held valid. To touch on something that Tom said, there’s a difference between what’s fair and what’s unforeseeable. If I think it’s not fair that my spouse has been earning a living and I’ve been a stay-at-home parent and I think I should be entitled to maintenance, that’s not an unforeseeable event. We deal with questions of fairness all the time. Unfortunately, what is considered fair is very different in everyone’s eyes.
Bringing it back to a prenuptial agreement, the concept of fairness goes away a bit. There’s again more of an idea if I have some predictability. I don’t have to have someone else telling me what’s fair. What might be fair in my mind is going to be very different in what’s fair in the eyes of the judge or the other side. One of the other comments that Tom had made in terms of costs, another thing that we can’t predict is what the judge is going to do and that also creates costs. In addition to what Tom has said about, a lot of it depends upon the other side and the attorney that they hire and you can eliminate that uncertainty. You also can eliminate court and you can eliminate the uncertainty of litigation provided nobody’s arguing with a prenuptial agreement is not valid. That puts a little bit more certainty into the eyes of our client.
Do both parties need to hire a lawyer? If I’m presented with a prenup, do I also need to hire a lawyer or can that same lawyer represent both parties?In any kind of a partnership, you have to have an exit plan. Click To Tweet
Tom: “Is it an absolute requirement?” “No.” “Do I require it of my clients?” “100%.” I will not allow somebody to enter into a prenuptial agreement unless I know both people are represented. It’s a good practice. It’s conservative lawyering. You always want to make sure that the party on the other side of the case has had an opportunity to consult a lawyer and has had the opportunity for a lawyer to review the document with them. Has had an opportunity to potentially ask for modifications that are not on the eve of the wedding and that to me, that’s beyond best practices. It’s the only way to do it. Some clients will say, “Can I pay for the other party’s fees because they can’t afford it?” or “I’m the one that wants it. That’s fair.” That’s not a problem. In fact, I oftentimes will give clients a list of several other lawyers at different firms who would be glad to do the work and not so aggressive that they’re going to try to blow up any basic agreements, but that’s okay too.
If I’ve signed a prenup and a month down the road or maybe even a year down the road, I change my mind. Is it possible to change it once it has been drafted and we’ve been married?
Katy: The prenuptial agreement should have a provision in there that reflects how modifications can be made. Modifications should be in writing. They should be witnessed in a similar way that a prenuptial agreement is signed originally. There should be witnesses there. You should make sure that everyone understands the terms of the modification. It should be appended to the prenuptial agreement, which sounds like an obvious thing. You certainly don’t want to have an amendment that all of a sudden is not in existence and nobody has a copy of it. Amendments can happen. I caution against oral amendments. Everything should be in writing. Prenuptial agreements will continue to exist as long as you both acknowledge that it exists. Even if it’s later tossed in a top drawer and nobody pays attention to it during the course of the marriage, it’s a contract that prevails.
I suggest to my clients to always keep a copy in multiple places. They have their eye on it. Making sure all amendments are attached to it, signed by both parties and read by both parties. It’s never a bad decision to have an attorney review and amendment with you to make sure that you’re not altering rights that might be contrary to other terms in the prenuptial agreement. What you’ll find is oftentimes people will imagine prenuptial agreements but won’t pay attention to the other terms in it. The amendments can run contrary to other terms in the prenuptial agreement.
One of the bases that could be for invalidating a prenuptial agreement is it doesn’t make sense. If it’s not even you can’t perform on the contract, it would be very difficult to have an enforceable, at least you would need some instruction by the court and how you’re supposed to have it enforced. Best practices have an attorney review it with you. I think of prenuptial agreements and amendments almost like a marital settlement agreement. You’re prewriting your marital settlement agreement. You wouldn’t answer into a marital settlement agreement without understanding all the terms. A marital settlement agreement, which is the financial agreement, the terms that are ultimately merged into the order that dissolves your marriage. You wouldn’t in a slap, shot way enter into a marital settlement without disclosure of information, review of terms, you don’t do that quickly. You shouldn’t do that quickly as we would counsel our clients to do. I would treat it as if it’s a pre-financial settlement because you’re not getting a divorce yet but treat it that way and I think you’d be in good shape.
Is there anything, whether I am a CEO of a company or part-time worker, that I should bring to my attorney’s attention when obtaining a prenup?
Tom: Who you are and what your asset picture looks like, what your income stream looks like, what your expectations of the future look like is the information you bring to your lawyer for them to analyze for you. It’s not about whether you’re a CEO or have a closely held business. It’s about what you’re trying to accomplish based on what you have or your streams of income. Clearly, the needs of people vary dramatically. I would argue the CEO of a company may be in a position where he wants to make sure where he gets divorced, that any stock he has in the company is in his control or her control, in order to prevent any negativity flowing to the business.
By way of example on a written an article on this not that long ago, if it’s a publicly traded company and it’s a public divorce and a spouse is potentially going to get a significant amount of stock in the business because that’s a lot of the party’s assets that could be concerning if you’re a shareholder. Is the spouse all of a sudden going to come in and have a seat on the board and be able to direct or interfere with major business decisions? Is there going to be a huge tranche of stock that’s all of a sudden going to get sold and flood the market with that stocks such that it devalues the stock in the short-term? Those are concerns.
A lot of times, whether we have clients that are closely-held business owners or in partnerships, they will have and sometimes will prepare or advise to prepare with their corporate lawyer’s spousal waivers. Such that the spouses waive their right to physically possess the stock in the event of a divorce, which doesn’t waive their right to an interest in that as a marital asset. It says they can’t hold it. They can’t ever vote the stock. That’s a way to protect businesses. You asked about the differences between people coming to marriage, there are different reasons why people want this clearly. Treatment is all a function of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Katy, what’s your recommendation regarding how to how to ask your fiancé for a prenuptial agreement?
Katy: It’s very fact-specific like everything that we’ve said here. I tell my clients that marriage is not all about romance. It’s also a business partnership because you’re going to be sharing in common assets. You’re going to be building in an estate together. As any owner of a business or owner of any assets, you need to look at it as a business decision, a partnership. In any kind of a partnership, you have to have an exit plan, which doesn’t sound very romantic. In what we do, romance is not generally at the forefront of what we’re doing. Our clients look at us not to be overly sensitive and romantic. We’re looking and saying, “What does the law going to provide to you? How are you going to be protected under the law?” I will tell my clients it’s a tough conversation to have.
I’m not immune to how tough it is. It’s sensitive. Having an open and honest conversation with your fiancé before an attorney reaches out to that fiancé. That’s an important point. Having an open conversation and not getting the lawyers involved right away builds trust. I suggest to my clients that they approach their soon-to-be spouse with that information and suggest that there are other reasons why people want a prenuptial agreement. There’s to protect family wealth. There are a lot of different reasons. Sometimes you can shoulder the burden on to other individuals who were insisting that the prenup happened. From a business perspective, I’ve had clients where there’s a wealthy family and they are requiring all their children to have prenuptial agreements.
That’s a condition that their parents have decided is important to them in order to preserve the family wealth. One of my clients had to go through and do that and she knows all of her siblings after she is going to have to get a prenuptial agreement. It’s already set the bar. It’s more business for me, repeating business. As I think we’ve said repeatedly, it’s a very fact-specific reason for why a prenup needs to be had. My ultimate recommendation is open, be honest and try to do it among yourselves. We don’t like to create strife. We don’t want to create animosity off the bat. Understanding it’s an uncomfortable conversation to have, but there are ways that you can do it without blowing up marriage before marriage even starts.
Has either of you ever had a situation where your client has presented a prenup and the marriage did not happen as a result of the prenup request?
Tom: I’ve had two in several years, but I can tell you with the benefit of being a Monday morning quarterback on both scenarios, it was a good thing that neither of them didn’t go forward. They were doomed to fail. There is no question. First of all, one of them ended up in litigation afterward because they bought a condominium together and one wouldn’t move out. The other one wanted to sell it. It was a mess. Clearly, they shouldn’t have gotten together in the first place. They went a little too far further than they should have. The other one was an absolute mess. I heard later from the former client that she was grateful that it didn’t happen.
Katy, I know you’re a mom of two. Would you require your children or highly recommend your children to get a prenup?
Katy: I would talk to my kids about what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s important to figure out if it’s important to them. My kids are young. They’re six and nine so I don’t have to worry about that for a while. The benefit is that they have a mom who knows what happens in the event of a divorce. As a mom, it’s difficult to convey as a business person the same thing to your kids and as we all know, our kids don’t listen to us. I would have an honest conversation about it, much like I do with all of my clients. I would caution them about the results of not. It would be an individual decision but I’m a mom. I probably would be saying, “You’ve got to listen to me. I’m your mom.” I can’t force my kids to do it. Knowing what I know and having done it for as long as I have, I’ve seen what happens when you don’t have a prenuptial agreement. It can benefit people again to have that certainty. I would try to impart that practicality on my kids to the extent that I can and to the extent that they would listen to their mother.
Any last words, Tom?
Tom: I would say to tack onto that because you have a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean you have to tackle every issue either. They’re so customizable that sometimes clients want to only address property division upon divorce. Sometimes clients only want to address spousal support upon divorce. There’s that middle ground where Katy was saying, you don’t have the conversation with your kids. I would probably encourage them if they were comfortable with it to take at least some issues off the table to simplify. A prenuptial agreement is no different than going out and buying an insurance policy. You hope you never need it. There is an intended cost to it, but the reality is if you ever do need it like in a life insurance policy, the return is going to be exponentially greater than the cost.
Thank you so much. Thank you for reading. Please visit BeermannLaw.com for more information regarding this podcast. Please also subscribe to our show and stay tuned for new episodes that will be released on topics related to divorce. You haven’t seen the last of Katy or Tom because they will be back talking about different topics. If you like what you read and think a friend can benefit from the information, please do share it. You are also welcome to reach out directly to Katy or Tom or any attorney featured on our podcasts or schedule a consultation with them as well. Until next time.
About Thomas T. Field
Thomas T. Field practices in the areas of matrimonial and family law, primarily in Cook and Lake Counties in Illinois, and where his expertise is of particular value throughout the State of Illinois. He is currently the Head of the firm’s Family Law Practice Group.
Mr. Field’s experience includes having been lead counsel in numerous trials, litigation of custody disputes, relocation actions (including interstate and international matters involving the Hague convention), and resolution of post-dissolution conflicts. He offers specialized knowledge in the analysis of complex financial matters including executive compensation, closely held businesses, and real estate holdings. He further offers significant experience in negotiating and drafting pre-and post-nuptial agreements and litigation of dissolution matters involving pre- and post-nuptial agreements as well as all family law related matters for same-sex couples. Additionally, Mr. Field offers expertise in navigating the unique complexities involved when medical needs, disability, domestic violence, substance abuse, dependent adult children, or other complicating factors are present in a client’s family.
Mr. Field has extensive experience representing “C” suite executives of Fortune 500 companies as well as local and nationally recognized celebrities. His practice is known particularly for its high level of discretion and his ability to protect the public image of his high profile clientele without compromising their rights.
Mr. Field routinely lectures to both lay and legal groups on various family law topics. He was selected in 2010 by Law Bulletin Publishing Company among the Top 40 Attorneys Under Forty in Illinois. He was named a Rising Star in the area of Family Law by Super Lawyers Magazine each year since 2009, which is a designation reserved for the top 2.5% of attorneys in the State of Illinois under the age of 40. Mr. Field consistently earns a 10 star (out of 10 possible) rating from former clients and fellow family law attorneys on the online AVVO attorney rating site, and has been named a Leading Lawyer every year since 2011. He is also AV Peer-Rated by Martindale-Hubble, the highest peer rating standard. This rating signifies that the lawyer’s reviewed peers rank him at the highest level of professional excellence for his legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.
About Kathryn Homburger Mickelson
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.
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