The firm's practice includes the following areas of law:

Dissolution of Marriage - Forged and Altered Checks - Trade Secrets, Covenants Not to Compete - Collection
Personal Injury - Real Estate Closings - Oppressed Minority Shareholders - Wills and Probate

DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE (commonly known as Divorce) - The breakdown and dissolution of a marriage is perhaps the most stressful event that an individual will experience during a lifetime. Unfortunately, the experience can be exacerbated by a spiteful spouse who refuses to negotiate in good faith, attempts to hide assets or that uses the couple’s children as pawns in the litigation. If you are involved in a dissolution of marriage proceeding, you will need an attorney that is sensitive to your situation and able to deal with the myriad of issues, ranging from children to finances that arise in the proceeding.

Please read our information for divorce clients. This information does not substitute for the one-on-one advice that you need from an attorney. You are encouraged to seek advice from Eckhoff & Massarelli, P.C. or another attorney that practices in the area of dissolution of marriage. The rules and procedures often change and you need an attorney to apply the rules and procedures to your particular set of facts.

FORGED AND ALTERED CHECKS - An employer trusts his/her employees to act in the best interests of the company. Often an employer places one "trusted employee" in a position that gives that employee access to the company checks and financial information. Too often that "trusted employee" betrays the trust and steals the company’s money for his/her own personal gain. By the time the company learns of the theft, thousands of dollars have been lost and the "trusted employee" does not have the money to return to the company. Often the employer looks to its bank to recover all or a portion of the loss. However, the rules surrounding the bank’s liability favor the bank and require the employer to act quickly in order to have any chance to recover anything from the bank. Quick action is needed even if the employer had safeguards in place to reduce the chance of this type of employee theft.

In order to reduce the risk of employee theft you should review the company’s policies. You need to remove the "trusted employee" from a position to steal from the company. You also need to place the company in a better position to recover from the bank if the theft still occurs.

TRADE SECRETS, COVENANTS NOT TO COMPETE- If you are building a business you often obtain unique knowledge and information that you may want to protect, so that it does not get turned over to a competitor. You may decide that the information is actually a "trade secret" and needs to be protected so that you retain a competitive advantage in the marketplace by being the sole owner of the information. You may decide that in order to protect your business you need to restrict current employees from working for a competitor or contacting certain customers. Likewise, if you are building a career you may obtain knowledge and information or establish contacts with certain customers that you want to utilize with another job. Your employer may request that you execute a covenant not to compete so that you cannot work for a competitor for a period of time.

A court’s determination that certain information is a trade secret or proprietary information may protect your business or hamper your search for a new employer. The manner in which a business actually treats its "trade secrets and proprietary information" may determine whether a court will protect the secret or information.

Employers often resort to the use of covenants not to compete in order to protect their trade secrets and proprietary information. Employees view the covenants not to compete as a threat to their ability to change employers and earn a livelihood. The manner in which a covenant not to compete is drafted may determine whether the covenant not to compete will be enforced in whole or in part. Both employers and employees need to be aware of these issues when a covenant not to compete is proposed to regulate these issues between the employer and the employee. A failure to understand these issues may cause your business to not be protected or may cause you to unnecessarily hamper your career opportunities.

COLLECTION - Getting a Judgment is only half the battle. Just because a contract or even a judge or jury says that you are entitled to receive monetary compensation does not mean that you are going to obtain the money. If you do not obtain the money to satisfy the debtor’s monetary obligation to you then you need to know how to take the proper action to obtain payment. You need someone that can garnish wages, bank accounts and third parties as well as recording a lien on property. We can take this action on your behalf to give you the best opportunity to collect the money, that you are entitled to, from the judgment debtor.

Sometimes the judgment debtor files bankruptcy to avoid paying you. Although many debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy, some are not and you need to make sure that you take the appropriate action, in the required time frame, to protect your claim.

PERSONAL INJURY - Unfortunately accidents and intentional acts that cause injuries do occur. When they do, you may incur more than just pain and suffering. Property damage, lost wages, psychological and physical scarring often are inflicted on a victim. You need an attorney that can act on your behalf and obtain a fair and proper settlement, either through negotiation or through trial. DuPage County is one of the most conservative counties in the State, so it is good to have an attorney working out of that county to protect your interests.

REAL ESTATE CLOSINGS - Perhaps the most exciting and frightening step an individual or couple can take is the purchase of a home. In most cases this purchase represents the largest single transaction that has been made by the Buyers. Similar anxieties exist for the Sellers of a home although the Seller is usually concerned that the sale takes place so that they can purchase another home. In order to relieve these anxieties you need to work with a law firm that will personally work with you, your lender and your Realtor to assure that the closing takes place. You need to be free to focus on the move. However, real estate closings can often be complicated with many issues that should be reviewed with an experienced attorney that will answer your questions and help put your mind at ease. After successfully completing hundreds of real estate closings we would be happy to work with you on either the sale or purchase of your home.

OPPRESSED MINORITY SHAREHOLDERS - Often individuals that invest money into a corporation, with only a few other shareholders, expect to play a significant role in the decision making process of the corporation. These individuals also expect that their investment will insure them employment with the corporation even if they are a minority shareholder. However, all too often these expectations are not fulfilled. The minority shareholder begins to feel that he/she is being forced out of the business or that he/she no longer has input into the decision making process of the corporation. In short, these individuals feel oppressed. Even if the stock purchase agreement does not set forth the rights of the shareholder an oppressed minority shareholder may have certain rights, even if the only right is to have his/her shares purchased by the corporation or other shareholders. Instead of continuing to be oppressed the minority shareholder often needs to take action to resolve the situation so that they can either retain a viable position with the corporation or receive a fair market price for their minority shareholder shares. We can work with you to determine the extent of your rights and to take appropriate action to allow you to exercise those rights.

WILLS AND PROBATE - Look at your children and spouse and you will know why
you need to focus on making sure they are provided for, if something happens to you.
You want to make sure you have named the proper executor for your estate and guardian for your children, if an unfortunate unseen event occurs to your family. While it is not always easy to contemplate these events, you need to take action to protect your family before such an event occurs. When you do, not only will your family be better protected, but you will feel better knowing that you have taken the proper steps to care for them. Our offices can also submit a will to probate and work with you to quickly and efficiently marshal the assets of the estate, pay the bills and have the net proceeds distributed to the proper individuals.