At SplitReady, we like you to know our pros as well as we do. We spent some time talking with Kathryn McMahon Vivanco, one of our SplitReady Divorce Pros to learn and share more about her and her practice.
What made you decide to specialize in family law?
When I was in college, I worked for a family law attorney in the Madison, Wisconsin area (where I grew up and attended college). She was a great attorney and advocate for her clients, and I really enjoyed working with her and in the area of family law. I respected that she attempted to resolve each case amicably and efficiently in order to minimize the financial and emotional strain on the family, and I have incorporated that into my practice as well. I also found it interesting and challenging that a broad range of legal issues often arise in family law cases such as real estate, tax, income, business valuation, and child related issues. In addition, I enjoyed working with clients one-on-one to assist them with successfully moving through the process. Based on this, I subsequently clerked at a family law firm in Chicago while in law school and confirmed that I truly enjoy the practice area and that I wanted to continue helping clients through the often difficult and challenging process of divorce. I am so grateful that these experiences sparked my interest in divorce and family law leading me to where I am today.
What makes you unique in helping clients through a divorce?
In law school, I obtained a Certificate in Tax Law so I took numerous courses on tax and estate planning issues. This provides me with unique insight when working on cases with complex financial issues including those with self-employed individuals and business interests. I am not afraid of digging into tax returns to obtain information and seek out additional critical information.
What is one thing clients don’t realize about you?
In college, I lived and studied abroad in France where I obtained a Certificate in Political Science from a well-known French University, with all of the courses being in French. Before law school, I also lived and taught English in Bangkok, Thailand. Both of these opportunities provided me with invaluable experiences allowing me to become a successful attorney.
What is the best advice you have ever gotten – or given? Either would be interesting.
Growing up in the Midwest, the mantra of ‘treating others as you want to be treated’ has always been part of my upbringing. In fact, before my step-father dropped us off at school every day, he used to say to us kids, ‘it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice’ (which all of us still repeat to this day). As a new young lawyer, I often heard judges similarly advise us that everyone should always treat every single person in the courthouse with respect, not only the Judges. Civility is truly so important in the practice of law, and I have always incorporated this into my practice. I believe that this has allowed me to build strong professional relationships and be well respected by Judges and my opposing counsels.
What do you wish clients knew before they took any action in their divorce?
I think it is wise for clients to meet with and interview a few attorneys before they hire someone to find an attorney who is a good fit with them and that they feel comfortable with. Finding an attorney who is not only intelligent and well versed in the law, but who is also empathetic and will make the client feel heard and understood is extremely important. Similarly, clients can ask the attorneys that they interview what their options are including litigation, mediation, and collaborative law; different attorneys may have different perspectives and capabilities regarding these options.