Simple. We are great at what we do and all we do are divorce, custody and family law cases. Our team of five attorneys and eight paralegals on staff in our two Central Illinois office locations only handle divorce, custody and family law cases. Attorney G. Edward Murphy has been rated one of the top family law attorneys in Illinois, a distinction given to only the top 6% of attorneys in Illinois.
This ratio of paralegal to attorney working solely in the family law arena is unheard of in Central Illinois. That allows Partners G. Edward Murphy, Jeffrey M. Dunn, Candice M. Thomason, and the other two Associate Attorneys to have a paralegal on each case to work side by side with you on your case. This frees up the attorneys’ time to handle the important daily trial work, settlement negotiations, and quality one on one time needed to meet with each client, and allows the paralegals substantial and frequent contact with the client to complete all of the necessary paperwork required to be filed and necessary to win your case. This also saves you, as the client, substantial amounts in fees because the paralegal time and Associate Attorney time is billed at substantially less than that of the Partners’ time on your case. It is both time efficient and cost efficient for you and our office. Together with the rest of the attorneys and staff, you will find no better law firm in Central Illinois to handle your divorce, custody or family law case.
At Murphy & Dunn, P.C., you would initially meet with an attorney to review all of the facts and circumstances of your case. The basics of divorce law, custody or other family law issues and the divorce process would be reviewed with you, and a decision would be made as to the retainer for attorney fees and costs to be charged to you on the case. There is no charge for this initial 30-minute consultation at our firm. Once a decision is made to accept your case, a retainer fee would be quoted to you for both attorney fees and costs. The initial retainer fee and costs would generally be due and owing when you hire the office. Everything in our office is completed in writing. Both you and our office would review a legal services contract setting forth exactly what you are hiring us for, the amount of the fees and the costs, and the hourly charges for all staff. All of your questions would be answered in full prior to your hiring the office and paying the fees and costs. Once the contract is signed and the fees and costs paid, we would be in a representative capacity for you and begin the necessary paperwork to begin your case. Each month, you would receive an itemized bill as to the work performed and the amount of time spent on your case, itemized down to 1/10th of an hour. If you are eligible to utilize the services of the Nicholas J. Murphy Pro Bono Clinic, legal services would be provided either free of charge or at a reduced rate.
Once you have hired our office, if a case has not yet been filed, we would begin the process of drafting the necessary paperwork, called pleadings, to file with the Court. The initial pleading is called a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” and is filed with the Court to begin the divorce process. Once filed, a summons is issued by the Court informing your spouse of the proceedings and setting forth time limits for him or her to respond. These documents are then served by hand by a private process server on your spouse at a time and place you designate to us. If you have children, certain requirements are made on parents to attend a “Children’s First” class. This class helps parents through the divorce process and helps keep the children out of the divorce. Additionally, each party would be required to file a Financial Affidavit setting forth all of your income, assets, and debts for the Court. All of this paperwork would be provided to you by our office and prepared with both you and our office staff involved in the process.
There is no time limit to obtaining the divorce and resolving the issues in your case. If you have children, it is required in many counties that you attend a “Children’s First” class before the court will grant the dissolution. However, the time it takes to get divorced depends totally on the issues involved, and the willingness of the parties to cooperate with each other and their attorneys in resolving the case. Obviously, if there are children involved and the parties are litigating over where the children are going to live, it will take longer than if custody is not an issue. If the parties choose to fight over every single issue, it will take longer and cost more than if the parties attempt a reasonable and rational settlement approach. The bottom line is there are no real “winners” in a divorce case. Our job as your attorney is to help you get through the divorce process, obtain a favorable result for you, and keep your children out of the process as much as possible. It is our belief that two rational parents, with the help of quality attorneys representing them, will always make a better decision on how to resolve custody of their children and on all other issues, than one judge will. The basis for that statement is simple: You know your children and your life better than one judge could ever know it. Therefore, if you are acting rationally, you will make a better decision as to what is best for you and your children than will a judge who only hears a small portion of your life through testimony controlled by the attorneys who present the case. With the right attorneys, you can get through this process in one piece.
Maintenance is what used to be termed alimony. It is support paid by one spouse to the other for their support to allow the lesser earning spouse to live a similar standard of living as that held during the marriage. There are numerous factors the Court looks at in determining whether maintenance is appropriate, including the length of the parties’ marriage, the present and future earnings and income of each party, the financial needs of each party, the standard of living established during the marriage, the age and physical condition of each party, and several other factors. There is now a maintenance formula that applies to cases where the parties’ combined gross incomes are $250,000 per year or less ($500,000 per year as of January 1, 2018). The formula is basically that the higher wage earner will pay 30% of his or her gross income, less 20% of the gross income of the lesser earning spouse. There is a cap on the amount that equals 40% of the combined gross income of the parties. That means that the amount of maintenance and the gross income of the lesser earning spouse cannot exceed 40% of the total combined gross incomes of the parties. Despite the formula, this is still one area where a qualified attorney is mandatory to properly review the facts and circumstances of your case.
Mediation is the process of attempting to resolve your dissolution of marriage issues outside of court through a qualified mediator. However, mediation is not undertaken by your divorce attorney, but through a qualified third party mediator. At Murphy & Dunn, P.C., besides being divorce attorneys, Attorney G. Edward Murphy is also a certified Family Law Mediator able to undertake joint or individual mediation cases. Obviously, if we take the case for mediation, that would mean that neither G. Edward Murphy nor any other attorney with Murphy & Dunn, P.C. could act as the attorney for either spouse. Mediation would be completed by the spouses initially over a three hour time period, with both parties and the mediators working together to resolve all or a portion of the divorce case. The initial cost for mediation is $600.00 ($200.00 per hour for 3 hours of time). Each party would be responsible for paying ½ of the retainer at the first appointment. Historically, mediation has proven successful in reducing the overall costs of the divorce process, eliminating or reducing the issues in dispute, and allowed the parties a quicker resolution of the issues involved. However, both parties must be motivated to want to resolve the case in order for it to be completely effective. Further, under new Supreme Court Rules, mediation is now required for all disputed custody and visitation cases.