COVID - 19 UPDATE 5:
Wow... what a few weeks.
It has now been 4 full days since Governor Pritzker issued the stay-at-home order. We all know that there is still significant uncertainty and pressure with staying at home, but we are right here with you, your domestic relations case should not be the thing causing any additional stress, so if you have questions, please contact us.
Since the end of last week, four new orders have been issued by the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division.
We wanted to give you a run down of the important parts of each of these as they are continuing to expand the ways in which we can continue to work remotely and still move things through the system. While I have only summarized orders, we have attached all four new ones below if you would like to read them in their totality.
1) General Order No. 10 which we discussed in a prior letter let’s us do prove-ups. Prove-ups are the day in court that normally finalizes your divorce. If we are close to settlement, or had a date set where the parties are all in agreement, all we do is file one additional motion, and we can arrange to finalize divorces by agreement.
2) General Order No. 11 allows us to have Qualified Domestic Relations Orders entered by agreement. These are the orders that allow us to divide pension and retirement benefits. If during your divorce, you held off on doing the same. Now is a simple time to move forward and try to get things hammered out.
3) General Order No. 13 means that we can continue business as usual. Do you need child support? We can file a motion for that and start the responsive pleading process! Issue with how property is divided? We can do that too. Any motion or pleading that we would normally do, that is a non-emergency, we can now file and set response times to keep things moving. We draft it, send it to all parties, and file the same. The other side has 21 days to respond and we have 14 days to reply. We then email the coordinator’s for the court and set a date with the Judge to appear once the shut down is over to either set up a pre-trial to handle the issues or set a hearing date.
GENERAL ORDER NO. 13 PUTS EVERYTHING BACK IN BUSINESS.
Turn around times so far with the Judges have been pretty rapid, and we hope that everyone remains healthy and they continue to do so.
For the time being, our physical location remains closed accept by specific appoint. If paperwork needs to be exchanged or there is something we are unable to do remotely, we are making appointments. Please give us a call and we will let you know the procedure and if we think coming in is the right thing for you.
Appointments are only for essential matters so that we continue to follow the Governor’s Executive Order.
As always, this is a friendly reminder that we are still here working on all our your cases. If you have any questions, we are still answering our phones from 9-5 Monday thru Friday. If it is an off time, and you still have a questions, email at or call us at 708-233-4400 and leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
COVID - 19 UPDATE 4:
To Our Valued Clients and Colleagues:
While we have kept our physical office open to continue to service cases like we always have, we are going to be suspending our business hours at our 8200 W. 95th Street Location as of Monday, March 23, 2020.
We will reopen as soon as we are allowed to do consistent with the health of our staff. This comes after the announcement by Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot regarding the closing of nonessential businesses and sheltering in place.
Although we have yet to work out all the details; we believe that we will be up and running completely virtually by Monday, March 23, 2020. You can still call our main phone number of 708-233-4400 and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. At times you may have to leave messages and we will call you back.
Being available virtually means the following:
1. Be available for phone, Skype, Facetime and videoconferencing during our current work schedule.
2. Process uncontested divorces, agreed orders and emergencies through remote hearings.
3. Conduct business as usual – although on a reduced basis.
4. Meet with new clients or past clients by phone, Skype, etc. If there is a another platform you prefer, we will make it work.
Once we know the parameters of the rules in place, we may be able to open our offices for limited in person but socially spaced meetings. However, it is very important to protect your health and ours. So we will always err on the side of caution. We already try to make ourselves available, and it will be even easier now.
ON A VERY POSITIVE NOTE!
We are impressed by the flexibility and adaptability of Judge Kubalanza in Bridgeview in particular and the Circuit Court of Cook County in general. Judge Kubalanza has contacted attorneys and offered to be available for pretrials and other matters – remotely. She has in the past and I presume she will continue to work extended hours (for her sake, I hope within reason.).
In the Circuit Court of Cook County, the move to electronic filing has been rocky but mainly successful. Thank god we started to do so years ago. The Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court – especially our Chief Judge, Grace Dickler, are working on various ways to reduce personal contact and still provide essential services in a relatively timely manner. As always, the court personnel are also trying very hard.
This is not going to be a seamless process. It is going to look amateurish in the beginning before it runs smoothly. We will try different approaches and keep some and discard others. However, even though this crisis may be over in months, hopefully, the changes made will allow speedier and more economical legal services.
If we hunker down together now, we can prevent this from becoming our new normal. You may want to buy a multi-function scanner and printer to facilitate the back and forth transfer of documents you need to sign. Now is really the time to go paperless. If you already have something you can use, we also like Adobe PDF Fill and Sign and TurboScan apps to help with the same. See the P.S. if you are looking for a multipurpose. We want you to know, as our current, past and future clients, we are here to stay.
Please expect an email early next week with all the particulars.
Marly, Michael and Ceil Tristano
P.S. Now is really the time to consider going paperless.
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COVID - 19 UPDATE 3:
March 18, 2020:
To Our Valued Clients:
We have another update from the Court . They are doing an incredible job of trying to do as much as they can digitally during this period. As we adjust to our new normal, we want to keep everyone in the loop. This consists of 4 additional orders. All are attached below.
The key things to note:
1. New cases can still be filed. The County had already migrated to a completely electronic filing system prior to any of this happening. I have personally filed a document today and received it back already. This is one of the items we were unsure of happening and I now have confirmation. If you are considering us as your attorney, still give us a call. We can take appointments over the phone, have your questions answered, and even video conference if you want to meet face to face. We take credit cards over the phone for payment, and we can still have papers served.
2. I have had a lot of questions coming into our office regarding parenting time. The regular parenting schedules are to stay in place. Please see General Order No. 8. This isn’t a school holiday or special vacation time in terms of parenting. Use common sense. Create a routine for your children, if you can work with the other parent work with them. We also offer mediation services in our office. Want to try to work out an agreement with the other parent, give us a call and say you are interested in our mediation services.
3. If you have other questions, email us at email@example.com. If you are reading this you aren’t the only one with questions, and we will try to answer everything we can as it relates to your family law case.
To Our Valued Clients:
Late evening, Friday, March 13, 2020 we were given notice that all courts in the Circuit Court of Cook County will be closed starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020 through April 15, 2020, with cases resuming April 16, 2020 or on further order of the Chief Judge Timothy Evans. We do not have any substantially greater detail regarding what the procedure will be when the Court reopens, or what will happen during the mean time. We do know that true emergencies, meaning life and safety, can still be heard by one of two emergency judges at the Daley Center, at least for now. Remember the Court will be imposing a very strict definition of emergency.
If you have a court date between March 17 and April 15, it will not go forward.
We are keeping track of every single date and issue so when the Courts do resume normal operations we can get back into the swing of things quickly.
What this means for you. In terms of negotiations and moving your cases forward, we will be doing everything in our power to make sure we look at every single case and have all the pieces ready for when the Courts reopen. Michael and I both have the ability to do everything regarding your cases remotely.
We have been preparing for video conferencing and have it set up. Call and we can send you instructions. We can set up telephone conferences and video conferences if you are unable to come into our office. We will continue to follow State and Local Guidelines regarding what behaviors should be followed over the next couple of weeks.
In terms of our office. We will be attempting to keep our normal business hours but extended hours (5 PM to 8PM) will be by appointment only. So call first. We will remain flexible and I will make every effort if you are not available during normal business hours to answer emails and set up special appointment times. We do ask, however, during this time, that you make an appointment prior to coming in. We normally love to see each and every one of you stop by so we can quickly answer questions. However, I want to keep my staff available so that we can keep working on your cases being able to control the flow of our office is one of the best ways we can do this. New cases can still be started, discovery will continue. You need questions answered, we will try our best!
All meetings in our office will take place in our conference room. This is not because we do not like you, but rather so we can socially distance and make sure you are getting your questions answered if you prefer in person. Our conference room allows us to keep at least 6 feet from each other. It also allows us to have a designated area that we can continue to clean in-between each client. If we do not shake your hand, take it that it means we like you even more and want to make sure everyone stays safe.
The good news, lots of times with cases, attorneys are busy going to and from Court that we cannot always get answers from the other side in a timely manner. I see this as an opportunity to be able to move along items that may be stalled for that reason and to really have people look at the issues remaining and using our years of practice and experience help you reach results.
Most of you who have worked with me directly know that I try to return your phone calls and answer your emails as quickly and thoroughly as I can. Tristano & Tristano, Ltd. is my family’s business. When you enter our doors through difficult times, we try our best to be as transparent as possible about the process. This letter to all of you is to once again show that commitment. We hope that our mission to provide experienced legal services to everyone with a commitment to educating the client is continued through this announcement.
All we ask in the meantime is patience. This is not the first storm we have weathered, and it will not be the last. Life keeps going despite closures and we will be here to continue to help your family for as long as we are able to do so. One of the benefits of being in business since 1982, is that we have gotten through - the recession of 1987; the terror of 9/11; the crash of 2007-8; the flooding of downtown and many less serious - in hindsight - obstacles.
From our family to yours during this time, we will get through this together and make it to the other side.
COVID - 19 UPDATE 2:
To Our Valued Clients:
I want to give you the information we are getting as soon as we are getting it. Today, Judge Dickler, the Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division clarified how things are going to work for the next 30 days. (Subject to Change). This is good news, we have a plan!
This consists of 4 separate orders. I have attached the originals to this email if you would like to read them in their totality.
The key things to note:
1. If you have a case scheduled between March 17, 2020 and April 15, 2020, a new date has already been given for us to appear. Please take a look at General Order 2 for the new date of your case. As always, we will call you the day prior to court with a reminder.
2. If there is an emergency, we have a system to bring you into Court. I have to underscore what EMERGENCY entails. Emergencies are matters, that if not otherwise handled prior to the Court reopening would irreparably cause harm. Part of the reason you hired our firm as your attorney is that we have developed a reputation in the system for being aggressive, but fair and truthful. We will not abuse this ability. Please see General Order 3 if you would like more details regarding the same. Our experience will have to be the guide for what is and is not an emergency.
3. We can still work out agreed orders. If there are items we agree on between all parties, we can submit them to approval for the Court. This is great because if we have small issues that do need to be handled to keep cases moving, we have the ability to keep them moving. Please see General Order 4 for more information.
4. Finally, other services are suspended. There will be no emergency intervention or custody evaluations through the county. Please see General Order 5 for more information.
As we said before we are keeping track of every single date and issue so when the Courts do resume normal operations we can get back into the swing of things quickly.
What this means for you. In terms of negotiations and moving your cases forward, we will be doing everything in our power to make sure we look at every single case and have all the pieces ready for when the Courts reopen. Michael and I both have the ability to do everything regarding your cases remotely. This is now even more possible with what the Courts are offering us as options.
Thank you once again for your time. As we learn things we will communicate them to you.