Hon. Karen G. Shields (Ret.)

T: 312-655-0555
F:312-655-0644
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Hon. Karen G. Shields (Ret.) has extensive experience in all aspects of family law matters. She has focused her practice on family law matters since 1991, first as an attorney in private practice and later as a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Domestic Relations Division where she was a member of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Child Custody Issues and the Illinois Judicial Conference Study Committee on Juvenile Justice. She has developed a reputation for fairness, integrity, and excellent legal ability and is considered exceptionally bright and hard working according to the Chicago Council of Lawyers evaluation.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

Judge Shields has substantial litigation, judicial, and settlement experience in all aspects of family law including:
  • Custody and parenting time
  • Property
    • Marital vs. non-marital
    • Valuations including real estate, businesses, art
    • Distribution of assets and debts
    • Contributions and reimbursements between marital and non-marital estates
    • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
    • Family support and maintenance
    • College contribution

Representative Matters

  • Custody and visitation in every sort of situation including where one or both parents have alcohol and drug problems; custody where mother moved child within the state but far enough that it impinged on father’s visitation
  • Removal of child from state
  • Custody and care of children with special needs
  • Date of separation issue
  • Grounds where one party objected to divorce for religious reasons
  • Allocation of college expenses
  • Attorney’s fees dispute with own client
  • Child support where custodial parent does not believe non-custodial parent’s work records and testimony
  • Contribution by marital estate to non-marital estate and vise versa
  • Disagreement as to whether the money from a parent during the marriage was a gift or a loan and whether it was to one party or both
  • Distribution of assets and debt from small estates overwhelmed with debt to very large estates with millions in assets 
  • Division of estate where federal criminal charges pending against one party
  • Maintenance where one party was primary income for 40 years and the other party had no means of personal support and there were no retirement funds
  • Neutral evaluation for divorcing parties
  • Negotiation of pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements
  • Quieting title on property between husband and wife and husband’s three brothers
  • Stock option division
  • Tax issues in divorce
  • Use of expert relative to ability to work and job market
  • Validity of prenuptial agreement
  • Valuations of: medical practice and split of marital assets; Subchapter S manufacturing business and disagreement as to its designation as marital or non-marital property; artwork which did not sell at auction for the values that both parties believed were accurate

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Member, ADR Exploratory Committee for the Cook County Domestic Relations Division
  • Recognized as one of the Lawdragon 500 leading judges in America
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2014
  • Member, Executive Committee of Resolution Systems Institute
  • Member, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Chicago Bar Association, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, Illinois State Bar Association
  • Member, Illinois Judges Association and Association of Family & Conciliation Courts (AFCC)
  • Member, California and Illinois Bar
  • Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy, DePaul University College of Law, 2000-2003
  • Volunteer teacher of Trial Advocacy, University of Chicago Law School, 1993-2002
  • Taught trial technique at training program for new assistant public defenders, 1987-1992
  • Member, Judicial Education Writing Faculty, which developed and updates the Illinois Bench Book on Family Law & Procedure, 2007-2012 
  • Publications
    • Author, "Resolving Family Matters in an Economic Crisis," The Matrimonial Strategist, Law Journal Newsletter, Vol. 22, Number 11, November 2009
    • Author, “Top Tips-Domestic Relations Division,” CBA Record, Vol. 22, No. 1, January 2008
    • Author, "Supplement to Child Custody Litigation Chapter,” Child Custody Litigation, IICLE, 2006
    • Contributor, “Child Custody Litigation Chapter,” Child Custody Litigation, IICLE, 200 
  • Panelist, “Everything You Wanted to Know About the Hague Convention, UCCJEA & PKPA,” Domestic Relations Division Child Rep Seminar
  • Panelist, “Low-Income Access Challenges: The Implementation of the 2006 Mediation Mandate in Illinois,” Association of Family & Conciliation Courts Conference
  • Frequent faculty lecturer at New Judge School, Illinois Judicial Conference seminars, CBA, and IICLE seminars

Background and Education

  • DePaul University, Family & Divorce Mediation Certification, 2009
  • Judge, Domestic Relations Division, Cook County Circuit Court, Chicago, Illinois, 1997-2008, 1995-1996
    • Member and Co-Chair, Special Supreme Court Committee on Child Custody Issues
    • Member, Illinois Judicial Conference Study Committee on Juvenile Justice
  • The John Paul Jones Group for the Cook County Circuit Court Comprehensive Mediation Certification, 2007
  • Partner, Nadler, Pritikin, Mirabelli & Shields, 1997
  • Private Practice, focusing on domestic relations and criminal defense, 1991-1995
  • Assistant Public Defender, Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, 1982-1991
  • Master of Liberal Arts, University of Chicago, 2007
  • J.D., DePaul University College of Law, 1980
  • B.A., with honors and distinction, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1977