Author Archives: Michelle A. Lawless

Michelle A. Lawless

About Michelle A. Lawless

Recognizing that a divorce may be one of the most significant financial transactions a person enters into during his or her life, Ms. Lawless helps clients reach settlements that protect and preserve their assets for the future. She works with each client to find individualized solutions to fit his or her needs, whether that is through collaborative settlement or traditional litigation. Ms. Lawless has spent her entire career navigating high net worth individuals through complicated family law matters, including valuations of closely held businesses, tax and estate planning matters, custodial and support arrangements for minor children, as well as multi-state jurisdictional disputes.

Imputing Retained Earnings of a Sub-S Corporation for Purposes of Support

The issue of whether a certain type of business profit should be considered personal income for support purposes has always been a difficult one.  A recent Illinois Appellate Court decision may have clarified the issue. By way of background, a sub-S corporation is a pass-through entity often utilized in small businesses for federal tax purposes. […]

The Income Conundrum: What is and is not Income for Child Support Purposes?

Over the last several months, the Illinois Appellate Court has had numerous opportunities to opine on what constitutes income for purposes of calculating child support under the Illinois guidelines. Under certain circumstances, retirement benefits, social security benefits, stock options sales proceeds, and loan proceeds have all been declared to be includable in the calculation for […]

Modifying Custody Post-Judgment: A Two-Step Analysis

Before any parent signs on the dotted line to their custody agreement, they should understand each and every provision of the document. Hastily signing an agreement thinking that one can “just go into court” and seek to have it changed at a later time is a mistake. In Illinois, unless the children are seriously endangered, […]

Workers’ Compensation Settlement is Income for Child Support

Most couples will have to alter their child support arrangement at least once at some point after their divorce due to any number of reasons. The most common reasons are as follows: The emancipation of a child, which in Illinois is typically when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school; A change in […]

How to Plan for College Expenses Post-Divorce

Paying for a child’s college education is a significant financial issue in any family, but with divorcing or divorced families, it can be especially tricky.  Often times, if parents divorce when their children are young, the marital settlement agreement does not specify each parent’s obligation because that event is many years down the road.  Therefore, […]

Flash Point: Mandatory Interest on Unpaid Child Support Payments Effective May 1, 1987

The Illinois Supreme Court recently held that mandatory interest on child support payments became effective as of May 1, 1987.  The support obligor father had been largely delinquent in payments from 1992 through 2005.  He conceded that mandatory interest accrued beginning in 2000 (the year the IMDMA was amended to provide for mandatory interest on […]

Flash Point: Court Should have Reevaluated Retirement Account when Entering QDRO

In a second appeal, the husband challenged the trial court’s finding after remand that would cause him to bear the majority of a retirement account’s loss when entering a QDRO.  In its original judgment for dissolution of marriage in 2007, the trial court evenly divided the parties’ retirement assets with one of the Husband’s plans […]

Flash Point: Child’s Receipt of Dependent Social Security Benefits did not Entitle Father to a Setoff Against Medical Support Arrearage

A father who became permanently and completely disabled after a car accident challenged the trial court’s ruling that the child’s receipt of a lump sum payment of approximately $13,000 as retroactive social security dependant payment should offset $3,967 that he owed towards the child’s medical expenses.  The Father also appealed the trial court’s ruling that […]

Unique Jurisdictional Issues in Multi-State Child Support Modification Cases

In a case of first impression, the Illinois Appellate Court has now decided where a child support modification case must proceed when the parents live in different states. The increasing mobility of our society often creates jurisdictional contests when one or both parents relocate after a divorce and one of them initiates litigation over child […]

Recent Appellate Court Ruling Clarifies Residency Requirements for International Custody Disputes

It is not uncommon for one or both parents to move from the state or country where their divorce judgment was originally entered. But what happens when parents maintain homes in both the United States and a foreign country?  What country has jurisdiction to hear future custody disputes? Most people assume that the state that […]