Redefining Families in the New Year
By Mitch Hurst
By Mitch Hurst
It’s no secret that filing for divorce can create tension and trying times for couples seeking to separate. Because many couples don’t want to start the divorce process during the holiday season, historically there has been a considerable uptick in divorce filings in January.
Family law attorney Morgan Stogsdill, the Head of Family Law at Beermann LLP, says it’s normal when people are unhappy in a relationship to first look inward at the causes for their unhappiness. Sometimes people think something is wrong with them or their life, when really it’s their relationship.
Other times, people can’t imagine another holiday season together. When the holidays are over, that’s the time many people take a step back and evaluate their marriage and relationships and what they want for the new year. If they do start thinking about next steps of a divorce, Stogsdill says there are a number of things they should keep in mind.
“It’s important for people in a divorce situation to know that they are not alone, and that the process doesn’t have to destroy their family, it can redefine the family, if done well,” Stogsdill says. “It starts with a good lawyer who’s going to tone everything down and strategize your case. I never start in litigation mode, unless I have to, and that’s very rare.”
She adds that if a case starts off on a good foot with open communication and both the client and opposing counsel are agreeable to working together for the best interest of the family, that creates a positive atmosphere for the case to successfully move forward.
“It’s inevitable that in every matter there are going be issues presented that both parties may not agree on, but it’s my job to be creative and figure out a way to bridge those gaps while still maintaining amicability,” she says.
Stogsdill started her professional career as a trial lawyer and has litigated more than 70 jury trials. That experience serves her well when divorce cases land in court but that’s not her preferred path for clients.
“I don’t think court is the answer for a lot of people anymore. Yes, celebrity divorce cases make for good reading in the media, but I strive for my cases never to end up with a Judge making a decision. I do whatever I can to keep them out of court,” she says. ”But I use my litigation skills every day in my family law practice and I’m not afraid to go to court, when necessary. Not many attorneys practicing family law have the same trial experience.”
Stogsdill migrated to family law from litigation primarily because of the interpersonal relationships she’s able to develop with her clients and their families.
“I want to know what matters to the client and also what’s important to their family,” she says. “We are required to understand all the details and I love that part of the work. I also found that if I know my client well enough and I know how the family operates, generally I can figure out a way to get their case settled amicably.”
Stogsdill’s expertise in family law is fully on display with the podcast she hosts with divorcee, television personality, and former comedian, Andrea Rappaport. The podcast, “How Not to Suck at Divorce,” is equal parts entertaining and informational, and breaks down the divorce process, often in the nitty gritty details. She’s been quoted in The New York Times and Crain’s Chicago Business, which named her one of Chicago’s most influential women attorneys.
What’s most important when an individual is considering filing for divorce, Stogsdill says, is to make sure they are approaching the decision—and the process—from a rational point of view with a clear plan from a capable attorney.
“Nobody should make a rash decision when it comes to their marriage and their children,” she says. “I would never want someone to have regrets or feel like they didn’t do everything they could to make it work.”
Morgan Stogsdill is located at the Beermann office at 161 N. Clark Street, Suite 3000, in Chicago. For more information, call 312-621- 9700, or visit beermannlaw.com.