Attorney Marie C. Fahnert


I have practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2006 when I began my legal career representing indigent clients in their family law matters. It was at this job that I realized that the private sector needed the same smart, honest, and dedicated divorce lawyers who worked in the public-interest sector. Thus, I founded Fahnert LLC with the client-focused philosophy of doing good, putting clients first, and resolving issues as efficiently as possible.

In 2014, I authored the book Child-Custody Jurisdiction: The UCCJEA and PKPA, which focuses on the complex interaction of laws when a family is involved in an inter-state custody dispute and on the constitutional issues arising out of these interstate laws. This is the leading book on the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.

In my practice we attempt to resolve cases through mediation and negotiation but will go to trial if we are unable to reach a reasonable agreement with the other side. Our cases often include the following issues: child-custody (now called allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time), business valuations, division of property, child-support, maintenance (alimony), finding hidden and misused marital funds, and mental health issues.

Northwestern School of Law, 2006

While at Northwestern School of Law, I worked for the Center for International Human Rights, the Center for Wrongful Convictions, and the Small Business Opportunity Clinic (now called the Entrepreneurship Law Center). Through the Center of International Human Rights I participated in the drafting of the appellate brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, 548 US 331 (2006), and was invited by the school to observe oral argument in Washington, DC.

Before law school

Before law school, I worked as an English teacher in China (2 years), a computer programmer (Java), and a berry picker (!).


Rising Star, Super Lawyers, 2016

Rising Star, Super Lawyers, 2015

Marie Fahnert was selected to the above Super Lawyer list. The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thomson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found at

Representative Cases

Illinois Supreme Court, 2009 – Mom filed for child-custody in Illinois. Dad (our client) filed for child-custody in North Carolina.  We represented Dad in the child-custody matter in Illinois. The North Carolina judge and the Illinois judge were to have an conference to resolve the issue of which state would retain jurisdiction over the case. However, the Illinois judge was refusing to follow the statute. We appealed for a Supervisory Order from the Illinois Supreme Court. In about 3 weeks the Supreme Court ruled in our favor and ordered the judge to abide by the law.

Trial, 2016 – Father filed for dissolution of marriage from stay-at-home Mom. Mom initially had temporary custody of the parties’ 14 year old child. At trial we were able to show through a custody evaluation, psychological evaluation, testimony, and other evidence that our client, Dad, was a better caretaker for the child even though he held a full-time job. Dad was awarded custody.

Negotiation, 2016 – Mother wanted to move out of state with the child. Dad wanted the child to stay close to him. We negotiated with Mom and her attorney and obtained a mutually beneficial arrangement where daughter traveled to Illinois on a regular basis so that Dad could spend as much time as possible with her.


Cover of book: Child-Custody Jurisdiction - The UCCJEA & PKPA
Book: Child-custody Jurisdiction: The UCCJEA & PKPA, American Bar Association, 2014.

Article: Substitution of Judge as of Right, Illinois State Bar Journal, 2010.



Collaborative Divorce

In the News

Wall Street Journal, Bedridden Man Uses Skype to Testify Against Wife, 2013.

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Witness Testifies via Skype at Daley Center Proceeding, 2013.

Yahoo, Carnations? Again? Why Post-Valentine’s Day is a Popular Time for Divorce, 2013

Fox Business, How States Differ on Divorce Laws, 2012.

Millionaire Corner, Breaking Up is Harder to Do in a Bad Economy, 2011

Chicago Tribune, Finding Your Missing Piece, 2010.


Collaborative Law Institute, Fellow, 2011-2013

American Bar Association, YLD General Pracice, Solo, & Small Firm Vice-Chair, 2010-2011.

American Bar Association YLD Family Law Vice- Chair, 2010-2011

American Bar Association, Young Lawyer Delegate 2010-2011.


Chicago State Bar Association

Illinois State Bar Association

American Bar Association

Important Continuing Education Courses

Deposing the Expert Witness, National Institute for Trial Advocacy Training

Building Trial Skills, National Institute for Trial Advocacy Training

Training the Lawyer to Represent the Whole Family, National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

Family Law Trial Advocacy, American Bar Association