There Are Many Different Aspects to a Divorce Case
Interviewer : What made you choose to work in the area of divorce? It seems like a potentially fractious and emotional area.
Mark Kezy : Originally, when I was in law school, I really wanted to be a lax litigator. I took every tax class I could and every accounting class I could. I worked for a number of law firms as a clerk after when I was in law school. When I finished law school, what I came to realize is that there really wasn’t a lot of tax litigation.
What happened was there were tax attorneys who dealt with a lot of the filing and the mundane stuff, but they didn’t do a lot of litigation. When it really came down to litigation time, they hired litigators and used the tax attorneys just to educate the litigators that actually did the cases. It really wasn’t tax litigation per se.
When I was in law school, I worked for a woman who did a lot of divorce work. It just seemed to be something I kind of fell into. I enjoyed doing it because divorce work involves a lot of different areas.
I represent a lot of professionals and business owners. If somebody comes in, and they have a business, you’re not only dealing with the things that you would normally associate with divorce. You’re dealing with tax issues. You’re dealing with corporate issues. For example, how the businesses are structured, what interests the parties have, and what kinds of assets do they have in those businesses?
Are they closely held businesses? Are they retained earnings? You’re dealing with estate issues. You’re dealing oftentimes in this day and age, particularly with businesses, with bankruptcy issues.
I’m in Chicago, so you have the BERC. You have the Board of Trade. You have the Board of Options. There’s a lot of trading companies. There are many traders, so you’re dealing with a lot of issues regarding stocks and securities and those types of businesses. I enjoy it a lot.
After 27 years, you’re dealing with a number of the same issues as far as divorce goes, but every case is somewhat different. Divorce really involves a lot of areas, so it keeps the practice very interesting. It is important for the divorce attorney to keep abreast of a number of different areas of law.
Is There One “Typical” Client Looking for a Divorce?
Interviewer : Do you have a typical type of client that comes to you or are they from all walks of life?
A Number of Married Couples Divorce after Their Children Have Grown
Mark Kezy : My clients have been from all different walks of life. But I would say that the majority of my clients are people who are professionals and business owners. The way you approach their cases are very different. Many of my clients nowadays are people who are 50 to 55 years old. They were so busy raising their kids that sadly enough they stopped being couples. The last one is off to college and they come to me and they say “Look, I don’t hate her. She doesn’t hate me. We just stopped being a couple. We’ve grown apart. Here is a list of our assets. Please figure out how to do it.”
Longer Term Marriages Usually Include the Division of Substantial Assets and Are More Complicated
This does present a lot of challenges because in this day and age, a lot of these people have larger estates and their estates are a little bit more complicated.
I had a couple that came to me and not only did he have a couple of businesses, but they also had a considerable amount of real estate. Much of this real estate was commercial real estate. At their stage in life, it didn’t make any sense to sell the property. This is because they were going to sell the property either at a loss or they were not really going to make that much of a substantial profit off the property. This was due to the dip in the real estate market after 2008.
But they were drawing a considerable amount of income. It didn’t make any sense to turn around and sell all the commercial real estate because they were not going to get that much for it. They would have lost their monthly income.
It Helps to Be an Original Thinker: The Divorce Attorney Must Utilize Creative Yet Practical Approaches to Asset Distribution with Larger Estates
What we did is we took the properties and put them into LLCs and created an operating agreement. Some of the operating agreements, they were involved in, and in other they had people who were handling the day to day operations of the businesses.
That way, it allowed them to separate their interest in the business, but still hold onto the property and still draw the income from it. In that situation, it also allowed them to create estates. They would then be able to pass on their interests in the businesses to their children or whoever they wanted. It allowed them to create a division without losing the value out of those assets.