The Law Offices of Annette M. Fernholz, P.C  in Chicago provides experienced legal advice in these areas of family law practice:


At times a divorce, paternity, custody or divorce case goes to trial but the judge’s ruling does not terminate the matter.  Either party can appeal the trial court’s decision.  Our firm can represent you in the appellate court throughout the course of the appeal. Sometimes cases are settled in the appellate court with a settlement conference conducted by an appellate justice. Other cases are resolved by a reviewing court’s determination.  Our firm often represents clients of other attorneys who do not have an appellate practice.

Child Custody

We help our clients establish parental custody and visitation judgments. Parents who can communicate and cooperate with each may decide to have joint custody of the child with one parent being named the primary residential parent and the together aren’t having visitation or parenting time. If you have legal and personal questions about paternity, parental rights or father’s rights, we will provide answers.  We will work diligently to guide your decisions regarding visitation and joint custody.  We handle child relocation matters, including appeals.  Our firm will carefully explain your rights and responsibilities regarding custody, including key decisions made by parents on behalf of children involving education, religion and health care.  Whenever possible, we work with parents to establish custody, visitation and support agreements through mediation and collaborative law.

Child Relocation or Removal

Americans are more transient than ever, moving form city to city, state to state and every country to country. If  a parent has to relocate for a new job opportunity or a new marriage, a court may allow you to remove your children from the State of  Illinois. Our firm has participated in several “removal” trials to permit children to leave the jurisdiction of Illinois with a custodial parent.

Child Support

Parents of minor children who are unmarried, separated or divorced may pay or receive child support. Along with child support, issues such as child care, private schools, the cost of extracurricular activities and contribution to college costs may be or become an issue.

Our law firm counsels and assists clients who wish to obtain child support, enforce a child support orders or modify a child support orders.  Several factors can prompt child support modifications.  As children grow up, their needs, interests, and expenses change.  Modifications to increase child support can help parents satisfy the needs of their families.  An increase in the child’s needs and an increase in the non-custodial parent’s income may be grounds for child support modification.  Nonpayment of child support is grounds for child support enforcement which may result in holding the non-paying parent in contempt of court until payments are made.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a way to negotiate a divorce settlement in a non-adversarial environment.  This method places you in control of your divorce and not a judge who is unfamiliar with you and your family.  In collaborative law, the husband and wife each have an attorney and utilize the same expert (appraiser, forensic accountant or actuary) if necessary. The parties, attorneys and experts work together to resolve property division, support and child custody and visitation. After an agreement is made it is presented to the court for final approval. Our firm has trained and experienced collaborative lawyers.


Our firm provides people facing the dissolution of marriage with a realistic assessment of their case.  We listen to the needs of our clients.  We handle cases involving legal separation and divorce.  We assist in establishing an equitable division of marital assets, including dividing investment and retirement accounts and valuing businesses.  If you have non-marital property, including inheritances, gifts and property-owned prior to the marriage this is non-marital property.  We help our clients deal with the division of marital debt, the consequences of bankruptcy including tax and mortgage liability, and we assist in establishing and maintaining child support payments.  Our firm is adept at resolving cases through mediation and collaborative law if the case can be resolved through settlement.  We also handle litigation of complicated and protracted cases if settlement is not an option.

Domestic Violence Orders of Protection

A petition for order of protection seeks to prevent repeated physical abuse, stalking and harassment among family and household members.  Often these are emergency situations that need immediate attention. Our firm will help draft the petition and affidavit and represent you in court to obtain an order of protection.  Conversely, a party can be wrongly charged with abuse and require representation to defend them.  Our firm is experienced in litigating domestic violence matters in conjunction with a divorce or parentage case or through an independent civil proceeding,

International Custody Issues

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted from one parent by another between two countries that are member nations. Proceedings on the Convention take place in an expedited manner and can be held in state or federal court.   The Convention only applies to children under the age of 16 who have been removed or retained from their country of habitual residence. Our firm is experienced handling Hague cases in state and federal court.


Couples who seek a less antagonistic manner to resolve the breakdown of their marriage should consider mediating their differences with an experienced attorney.  Mediation can be less expensive and less acrimonious than litigating issues.  Annette M. Fernholz has completed 40 hours of training with The School of Continuing Legal Studies at Northwestern University.  Our firm is experienced in attaining a resolution between two conflicted parties.


A DNA test will establish the parentage in cases where paternity rights are in question.  Our firm assists mothers who wish to establish paternity for child support reasons, and we defend fathers against these actions. Our firm also helps fathers establish custody and visitation rights to their children.

Post-Decree Matters

Even after a divorce or custody case is settled, issues can arise which may require further court intervention.  They may involve custody, visitation, relocation of children or child support modification.  Our firm is strategic regarding the most expedient manner to address these post-decree issues with the court.

Pre and Post-nuptial Agreements

Prior to a marriage or even after a marriage, the parties may wish to designate each party’s respective property rights and spousal support through a contract.  Our firm has drafted numerous pre-marital agreements and even some post-nuptial contracts between spouses.


Establishing when and how non-custodial parents may have parenting time with their children frequently requires negotiation.  Sometimes it is sports, music or other scheduled activities for children that prompt a change in a visitation schedule and require modification of parenting time.
Our firm works to establish in a reasonable visitation schedule involving holidays, winter and spring break from school and summer vacation, either by negotiation or determined by a judge.