Brendan Hammer Shares Insights on Mediation and Impact of New Legislation in Chicago Lawyer Magazine

August 19, 2019

Partner Brendan Hammer discussed how the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will affect the business of family law in a recent article in Chicago Lawyer Magazine.

In “Split decisions: Federal, state changes to maintenance shake up family law” in the August 2019 issue, Mr. Hammer explained that maintenance is essentially tax-neutral. “Maintenance going forward in new judgments is no longer tax-deductible. That has had an enormous impact on a lawyer’s ability to craft a creative settlement.”

The updates mean new challenges for family law lawyers and clients. “These legislative changes have led to significantly reduced child support awards, which primarily flow to women, coupled with a simultaneous downward drag on maintenance awards, which also flow primarily to women.”

Though the new legislative changes are helping to standardize maintenance guidelines across the state, one way to help divorcing couples amicably navigate all these changes is with alternative dispute resolution.

Mr. Hammer discussed how ADR is on the rise at Berger Schatz. However, he warned that while mediations can be critical to crafting post-divorce settlements, they can create more problems for lawyers if the case is not settled amicably. With this in mind, he advised on the importance of actively listing to their clients, anticipating the opposing attorneys’ negotiation tactics, and above all, focusing on their clients’ needs. “Understand the client’s true goals and interests. Not just position, but what really matters to them and why? Understanding what is actually motivating them is essential.”

As a partner at the firm, Mr. Hammer focuses his practice on the litigation of sophisticated family law matters, including the valuation and division of assets, fraud and dissipation claims, complex compensation structures, spousal challenges to trust and estate plans and high net worth maintenance and child support.

Read the full article here.