Rockford, IL

Illinois Family Law Attorney

Today, families often face challenges that cannot be resolved privately within the home. Whether it’s dissolving a marriage, deciding how to allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time, confronting issues of domestic violence, arranging a guardianship for a minor or disabled adult, or probating an estate, having the advice and guidance of a knowledgeable and caring family law attorney is essential.

For over thirty-five years, Michael J. Smith, Attorney at Law, has been helping families in Northern Illinois resolve their most personal and difficult issues. He is keenly aware that no two families are alike and commits himself to creating solutions that are tailored to each client’s unique needs. Attorney Smith is up-to-date on the recent changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), well versed in the rules and customs of the local family and probate courts and helps clients navigate the legal system. Regardless of the issue you are facing, Michael J. Smith is devoted to helping you achieve your goals and build a brighter future.

Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)

Let’s face it: a marital breakup is never easy, but with so much at stake, the decisions you make today could have a lasting impact on your tomorrows. In order to protect yourself, preserve your relationships with your children, and secure your financial future, it is crucial to have a trustworthy Illinois divorce attorney by your side.

Attorney Michael J. Smith will work closely with you throughout the process to protect your interests. He will advise you of your rights and responsibilities regarding the key issues involved in dissolving a marriage, such as the division of property (including business interests and retirement plans), spousal maintenance, and considerations about your children’s needs and upbringing.

Michael J. Smith is dedicated to helping his clients achieve the best possible outcome. With this guiding principle, he routinely works with clients on alternatives to the traditional divorce process such as mediation or negotiation. If an amicable settlement cannot be reached, however, he is fully prepared to litigate the matter in court.

Child Custody

In an effort to mitigate child custody battles that are typically associated with divorce, sweeping changes were made to Illinois’ child custody laws in 2016. These changes eliminated some common terms such as joint custody, sole custody, legal custody, and visitation, and replaced them with “parental responsibility” and “parenting time,” respectively.

Despite these changes, fundamental questions about how the children will be raised must be resolved in a Parenting Plan, including:
Allocating parental responsibility for making major decisions about the children’s health, education, religion, and extracurricular activities

  • Designating the children’s primary residence
  • Determining the amount of time the children will spend with each parent
  • Deciding how parenting time will be shared on holidays and special occasions.

Despite the state’s efforts to reduce conflicts, child custody issues continue to be sensitive for divorcing parents which makes having proper legal representation invaluable. Attorney Michael J. Smith will work closely with you to reach custody arrangements that are in the bests interests your children.

Child Support

In July 2017, changes were made to the child support payment model in the State of Illinois so that calculations are based on an income-shares model. Under this new approach, both spouses have an obligation to support their children. Moreover, the children should receive the same amount of support that they would have if both parties lived in the same household.

The income-shares model considers the costs associated with raising a child for a family at a similar income level to those of the parents involved in the divorce, with a particular emphasis on the net income of each parent. While this seems straightforward, child support determinations are complicated. Attorney Michael J. Smith helps clients navigate these guidelines and also assists with enforcement and modifications of child support orders.

Domestic Violence

When incidents of domestic violence occur, whether in the form of harassment, assault, sexual abuse or neglect, an experienced family law attorney can obtain an Order of Protection, or a restraining order, to protect your safety. Domestic violence can also be the basis for initiating a divorce or modifying a child custody order. At the same time, false charges of domestic violence are not uncommon, particularly in contentious divorce proceedings. Regardless of the circumstances, it is crucial to ensure that your rights are protected.

Probate and Estate Administration

When a person dies with a will in place, his or her estate may need to go through probate, a court supervised proceeding that is initiated by the person named as executor. Without a will, a close relative or friend will need to ask the court to be appointed as the estate administrator. In either case, executors and administrators have an obligation to faithfully carry out their duties. Attorney Michael J. Smith is comfortable in the probate courts and routinely guides clients through the probate and estate administration process.


At times, families may need to establish guardianships for minors and disabled adults. In the case of a minor, a guardianship is a legal arrangement that gives the guardian certain rights and obligations regarding the child without severing the existing relationship between the biological parents and the child.
In the case of a disabled adult, a guardianship is a legal arrangement that places the individual, referred to as a ward, under the supervision of a guardian, typically a family member, friend or a fiduciary appointed by the court.

Generally, there are two types of guardianship. In a guardianship of the person, the guardian is responsible for attending to the disabled adult or child’s care and welfare. A guardianship of the estate or property is necessary when a minor has funds or a cause of action, or a disabled adult cannot manage his or her own financial affairs.

Family Law Attorney Serving Northern Illinois

Michael J. Smith, Attorney at Law has been helping families resolve their most pressing challenges for over 35 years. He provides a powerful combination of legal skill, and caring, effective service to help his clients achieve their goals and move on with their lives. If you are facing a conflict in your family, you may be afraid or confused and not know where to turn. Attorney Michael J. Smith will provide you with a superior level of personal service and guide you in the right direction. Call our office today or complete the contact form on our website to set up a consultation.

Michael J. Smith, Attorney at Law serves clients in Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson and Ogle Counties and throughout the greater Northern Illinois area.


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