Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new CNSM Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law. This week we are pleased to introduce you to a gentle powerhouse with roots all over Illinois. Anna P. Krolikowska is a mom to one precious toddler, a collaborative divorce attorney with her own practice based out of Northbrook, the 5th woman in a 146 year history to be elected and serve as president of the Illinois State Bar Association (2021-2022) and a ballroom dancer with her hubby.
In this informative interview, Anna discusses the different types of divorce processes available, how she guides her clients through these difficult decisions what you can expect when you hire her, should you ever need to. Welcome, Anna!
Hi Anna! Please introduce yourself.
My name is Anna Krolikowska, and I am a divorce attorney and mediator. I grew up in Chicago and have worked and lived in Chicago suburbs for the last 16+ years. My main office is located in Northbrook, however, I do have additional suburban locations in Park Ridge, Hoffman Estates, and Oakbrook Terrace for in-person appointments. I also offer virtual appointments. My family and I currently live in the Northwest suburbs. The location was the result of a grand compromise to accommodate my primary office located in Northbrook and my husband’s work in Downers Grove. Of course, Covid-19 changed a lot of things, including normalizing remote work and making it more mainstream.
You’re a mama! Tell us about your precious daughter.
I am a proud mama of a toddler, and two puppies. Our little girl is smart, curious, kind, active, opinionated and strong. It is amazing watching her explore the world and grown. I cannot wait to see her grow and develop her interests and talents. For now, she loves music, and of course Baby Shark.
What are one or two fun facts to know about you?
I am a ballroom dancer. My husband and I have taken dance lessons for 5 years and can’t wait to come back to dancing once the dust settles a bit more on being parents of a very active toddler.
I love traveling and exploring new cultures. One of my undergraduate degrees is in international relations and I had the opportunity to study abroad at the Loyola University’s Rome Center.
What gets you through a tough day?
Taking a deep breath, remembering all the wonderful people and blessings in my life and being grateful for them, snuggles and kisses from my daughter, puppies, and my husband, especially when he makes me laugh.
Please introduce Anna K Law. When did you found this firm. What is your focus?
I formed Anna K Law at the beginning of the pandemic. At the time I was a managing partner of a larger suburban divorce law firm, and had held that role for 12 years. For me, one of the blessings from the pandemic was a forced pause which gave me the time, and the space, to assess what was important to me, and decide how I wanted to live and practice going forward. Out of that reflection Anna K Law was born. My goal is to help my clients divorce in a better way. Yes, divorce is difficult, even if it is an amicable process. I work with my clients to offer them the support and resources so that they can make the best informed decisions for them and their families.
I also help clients looking to create prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements. My approach is not only to help you create a document, but to have conversations that will strengthen your relationship, whether that means talking about communication, kids, your respective professions, your assets and debts and relationships with money.
Why did you turn to this focus/specialty of law?
I enjoy helping people and I am good at it. I have the social and interpersonal skills to navigate the divorce space. I am compassionate, but combine that compassion with depth, breadth of knowledge and experience regarding divorce and options available to my clients.
What is the difference between collaborative divorce and traditional divorce. Maybe you can go into the different divorce types here.
There are 3 common approaches to divorce:
Traditional Litigation: where each spouse hires an attorney and works through the divorce with their “side. This is the most traditional type of divorce and relies most heavily on the court system. Some people choose to represent themselves, but in those cases they are held to the same standards and expected to provide the same information that a lawyer would. As part of the divorce process the couple will go through discovery, a formal process of demanding and producing financial and other relevant documents, as well as depositions, under oath questioning of the spouses, conducted in preparation for trial. The discovery process involves a significant amount of effort, time and money. In addition, the court system is dealing with significant delays and litigated cases take significantly longer to finalize, in most instances longer than 2 years.
Mediation: Some couples arrive at the decision to divorce but want some flexibility in the process. Mediation can be a good option for these couples. Mediated divorces are unique in that a trained mediator guides the decision-making and communication between the spouses. The mediator remains neutral and works with the couple to help them through their divorce process. A common misconception is that the couple only needs to hire the mediator to finalize their divorce. However, a mediator cannot mediate the case and prepare the legal documents for the finalized divorce. The couple will either need to prepare their legal documents themselves, or hire attorneys to help them finalize the case. If the couple hire just one attorney, that attorney can represent only one of them, because the court systems believes the spouses have conflicting legal interests.
Collaborative: A growing area of divorce is Collaborative Divorce. This “kinder, gentler” approach to divorce offers great flexibility and confidentiality to the divorcing couple. In many cases the process begins with a spouse retaining a collaboratively trained attorney to represent him or her in the collaborative process. A collaborative divorce process offers the couple privacy, flexibility and an opportunity to tailor the outcome and minimize the emotional and financial damage to the family unit. A collaborative process involves thoughtful negotiation and focuses on problem solving, not fighting or winning and losing. The focus is to give the couple the support they need and empower them to make informed choices and shape their future in a way that works for them and their family. Since we only need one court appearance to finalize the divorce, we are able to navigate the court system faster with collaborative divorces. Most collaborative divorces are finalized within a year or less.
What is the process of collaborative divorce like?
During the initial phone call we will discuss the different divorce processes that I mentioned above and I help you figure out which would work best for you.
When you’ve decided to hire me, I will help you prepare for the conversation with your spouse where you can introduce the idea of collaborative divorce (or mediation) and can give you additional information and resources to share with your spouse.
If your spouse agrees to collaborative divorce he or she will hire a collaborative attorney. This is an important step. Sometimes the spouse will say that they want to be amicable and have an amicable or co-operative divorce, but if they don’t hire an attorney trained in and practicing collaborative divorce then you will not be able to have a collaborative divorce. You can still do your best to have an amicable divorce, but without each spouse being represented by a collaborative attorney we will not be able to use a collaborative method for the divorce.
Each spouse works with his/ her attorney and a coach to prepare for the team meetings.
In a series of team meetings, in which the spouses, attorneys and any helpful professionals participate, the couple discuss and agree to the settlement terms of the divorce. This process allows the couple greater control not only over the settlement terms, but also over the pacing of the case or scheduling of the meetings than a traditional litigated court case. The spouses also have the support and input of their attorneys in settlement meetings, which they do not usually have in mediation, as most mediators do not include attorneys in settlement meetings. In addition, currently couples using collaborative divorce process or mediation can finalize their divorces faster than couples going through the litigated divorces.
Once the couple has agreed to the terms of the divorce the attorney, the collaborative attorneys prepare the documents needed to finalize the case.
Once the couple signs the divorce documents prepared by their attorneys, the documents are submitted to the court. Depending where the case is filed the divorce might be finalized either through a one and only court appearance called a prove-up, or through submission of the signed divorce agreements and supporting documents.
If any retirement accounts or pensions are being divided, QDROs (Qualified Domestic Relations Orders) will be entered, certified and sent to the plan administrators for processing. This is an important step. Don’t forget to update your estate plans and update your beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies and retirement accounts to comply with your divorce decree.
What can clients expect when they call you for the first time?
Clients can expect that we will discuss in detail their family, their situation, their goals for the divorce and post-divorce, and various divorce methods. We will talk through their questions and figure out their initial next steps. If, or when they are ready to proceed we can move onto the next stage of their divorce.
Describe something you’re most proud of as it relates to your career.
I am very proud of having served as the President of the Illinois State Bar Association (2021-2022), a 30,000 voluntary state bar association. I am only the 5th woman elected President of ISBA in its 146 year history. I am proud of this accomplishment not only because I can serve as a role model to my daughter and other young women, but also because of the good work I was able to do to promote diversity equity and inclusion initiatives, life and work wellness, including parenting during pandemic, and both a leadership institute and a business institute for Illinois lawyers, all while navigating the unique challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most recently I have been elected the American Bar Association Illinois State Delegate and to the Executive Council of the National Council of Bar Presidents and look forward to continuing to serve my colleagues in the legal profession. I also serve on the Board of Directors of the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company and will chair that Board in 2024.
I have also been selected to Best Lawyers in America 2023, SuperLawyers for 5 years running (2019-2023), Leading Lawyers (2021-2023) as well as Top 50 Women Lawyers (2021) and 40 Under 40 (2019) by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
I welcome an opportunity to speak with you to see if we are a good fit and how I can help you in your life transition.
How do our readers learn more about Anna K Law?
Please visit my website www.annaklaw.com, and follow me on our social media channels: www.Facebook.com/AttyKrolikowska, on Instagram: @annaklawchicago, on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/annaklaw or on Twitter @AnnaK_Law or call us at (847) 715-9328.
About Our Meet a Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].