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How an Illinois Attorney & Mediator Uses TalkingParents as a Proactive Tool

Erin Birt is a practicing Family Law Attorney and Mediator located in Illinois. Birt has been practicing for 20 years now, and she opened The Law Firm of Erin N. Birt, P.C. in 2010. Her practice of law and mediation is focused on separation, divorce, and parenting matters. Many times, Birt also gets appointed as guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the children involved in a case.

Usage & Stipulations

As an attorney and mediator, Birt says she mostly focuses on custody, visitation, and mediation with her clients.

95% of my case load involves children in some capacity and parents having to learn to co-parent or improve their co-parenting,” says Birt. “Or maybe they’re already doing a decent job at co-parenting, but they need some tools to continue that progress. So, that’s why I use TalkingParents with a lot of my clients.”

Birt first heard about TalkingParents during a high-conflict court case.

“Early on in my career, a judge ordered it as solution for parents who were not communicating well in front of her,” she explains. “Then, I just kept hearing it repeated in court, so I took it upon myself to look into it further, and I started incorporating it into my mediation cases that are outside of the court.”

Birt says special rules regarding how two parties are to use TalkingParents are sometimes put in place.

“Courts try to enact some stipulations, such as the amount of communication or the level of responsiveness allowed between parents,” she says. “There may also be a broad generalization of what they need to start using it for, such as only discussing parenting matters, the visitation schedule, or expenses related to the children. Usually, courts just start off by saying they don’t want parents discussing ‘husband-wife’ issues, or adult issues. They want communication focused on the children.”

As time progresses, Birt has also seen additional stipulations ordered if there is a continuation of communication problems or an allegation that one party is harassing the other.

“The courts value TalkingParents as a tool,” says Birt. “They try not to put too many restrictions because they hope parents will see it as a tool and use it as such. Then, if problems keep arising, I do see them put added guidelines in place to encourage more positive communication for the kids’ sake.”

Solutions Provided

Birt has seen cases resolve outside of court because her clients were using TalkingParents.

“Perhaps pleadings are being filed, and maybe it’s related to a modification of visitation or the holiday schedule,” she says. “I’ve seen parties communicate better using TalkingParents, and they’re able to propose their holiday schedules or position for any changes, and the other party is able to respond and work it out. I’ve also seen cases settle because their communication improved, so they didn’t have to wait for it to go through the court system.”

Birt says some cases take less time because TalkingParents was in use.

“When parents recognize that it’s better for them to communicate more effectively, it can expedite their litigation experience,” she explains. “But I’ve also seen cases shortened because the judge or other legal professionals involved were able to review the communications, and they could more easily determine what the true issue was and provide a solution for that. So, TalkingParents either gives the parents more control, or makes it really effective for the court to read what’s going on, either of which shortens the case.”

Birt says it’s also a valuable source to overcome any concerns about what was written or said.

“Legal professionals understand that the benefit of TalkingParents is that it’s not modifiable, so you can’t go in and rewrite your transcript or rewrite your communications,” she explains. “I’ve seen parents try to make the argument of ‘that’s not what I did, or that’s not what I said.’ But the service doesn’t allow any changes, so legal professionals look at what’s in TalkingParents and rely on that to clear things up.”

Overall Benefits

Birt says TalkingParents makes her job as an attorney easier.

“It really helps focus and narrow down the case because I’m able to see what has happened in the last couple of weeks or months,” she says. “I can look at their case history and help my client prioritize issues from there.”

It’s also a big plus for Birt’s mediation clients.

“Parents can take all the hard work they’ve done in mediation and put it into practice in TalkingParents,” she explains. “I see that they are more successful and able to stay out of the court system because they’re using a communication service.”

Birt uses TalkingParents as a proactive tool.

“In both my legal practice and mediation practice, I try to get parents involved with it earlier rather than later,” she says. “I’d rather they get comfortable with it on their own terms and realize that it’s a valuable tool to help everyone involved avoid a lot of headache.”

TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.

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