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Of Counsel to Hammer Serna & Quinn, LLC

Brendan J. Hammer

A Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and an experienced and creative courtroom litigator for over 15 years, Brendan Hammer works with and represents a wide variety of individuals, from executives, entrepreneurs, and medical, legal and creative professionals to political figures, professional athletes and their spouses or intimate partners. Seeing up-close the toxicity, emotional toll and financial cost of litigation, Brendan concentrates his practice on finding intelligent, pragmatic resolutions to sophisticated family law matters including high-conflict custody disputes, complicated domestic and international child-relocation matters, the valuation and division of assets, fraud, tort and dissipation claims, complex compensation structures, spousal challenges to trust and estate plans and high net worth maintenance and child support. Brendan is also an AAML Certified Arbitrator (one of less than a dozen in Illinois), a Court-approved Mediator in the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and a Court-approved guardian ad litem/child representative in DuPage County.

In addition to working on behalf of individual clients and attorneys in litigation and alternative dispute resolution processes, Brendan provides nationwide strategic consulting and litigation support to private clients as well as family law and related professionals. Often teaming with a wide array of custody and financial consultants and experts, Brendan assists private clients and attorneys in the creation, development and deployment of litigation strategies for complex family law matters; and he helps facilitate the maximization and optimization of client and attorney performance – with a specific focus on the psycho-social and performative aspects of litigation.

Selected to Crain’s Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Chicago (2017), the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s 40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch (2012) and other honors, Brendan speaks, teaches, lectures, and publishes on various family law matters—including ADR (mediation, arbitration and hybrid processes), cross examination, discovery, evidence, the intersection of forensic psychology with family law, performance aspects of litigation, trial techniques and oral argument. Certified in divorce mediation through Northwestern University over a decade ago, he also completed the family law trial advocacy program and the Advanced Cross Examination Program of the National Family Law Trial Institute with Roger Dodd. Brendan also previously served on the Faculty of the National Family Law Trial Institute.

Brendan brings a unique background, perspective and set of abilities to his practice, drawing equally upon his wealth of experience in complicated family law matters, his own divorce, relocation and coparenting experience, his three decades of practice in both Tibetan and Zen (Rinzai and Soto) meditation, and his background in the performing arts. While recognized by his peers and the judiciary as a zealous, effective, and articulate advocate, Brendan also is proud of his reputation in non-litigated settings as a practical, emotionally intelligent, and collegial professional. Brendan is frequently cited in mainstream media on divorce and family law matters, including in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.

About Me

Brendan brings a unique perspective and set of abilities to his practice, drawing equally upon his wealth of experience in complicated family law matters, his own divorce and co-parenting experience, and his background in the performing arts.

Representative Cases in ADR and Litigation Venues

  • Successfully litigated defense of fraud claims brought by former spouse regarding valuation and sale of business owner’s company
  • Successful mediation of complex compensation structure issues for private equity professional and spouse
  • Successful mediation of complicated tort claims ancillary to high-conflict divorce
  • Successful mediation of child relocation issues involving California and Illinois
  • Multiple successful mediations of high-conflict custody disputes involving complex substance abuse and mental health issues
  • Multiple successful mediation of complex financial cases involving business valuation, personal goodwill, spousal maintenance, reasonable compensation, and property characterization
  • Successful defense against spousal challenges to multi-generational family estate plan
  • Successfully obtained relocation of mother and child to North Carolina despite father exercising close to equal parenting time (Judgment affirmed on appeal)
  • Successfully obtained relocation of mother and children to Colorado despite father exercising 50/50 parenting time for two years prior to trial (Judgment affirmed on appeal)
  • Successfully reduced by 80% and then eventually terminated long-term maintenance award of spouse of business executive
  • Successfully litigated substantial downward deviation in child support for professional athlete
  • Successfully maintained child custody jurisdiction in Illinois despite the presence and residency of a minor child and her mother in a foreign nation for over five years
  • Successful litigation of numerous motions for summary judgment regarding the characterization of business interests, trusts, and executive compensation
  • Successfully litigated physical and legal custody in high-conflict litigation matter despite pervasive alienation and substance abuse issues in case
  • Successfully litigated the dismissal of significant tort claims brought amidst high-conflict divorce matter

Bar Admissions

Brendan is admitted to practice law in Illinois and Texas

Prior Pro Hac Vice Admission – Commonwealth of Virginia

Prior Pro Hac Vice Admission – District of Columbia

Profiles and Publications

  • Ready to Rumble: What Parents Need to Know When Litigating Legal Decision-Making – Spring, 2024 edition of the American Bar Association journal “Family Advocate” (forthcoming)
  • The Tao of Cross-Examination: Reconceptualizing Approaches for Effective Inquiry– Spring 2022 edition of the American Bar Association journal “Family Advocate”
  • Why Do Family Law Attorneys Care About Law Day? – May 2022 blog article for Illinois Chapter of the AMML
  • Know When to Fold ‘Em: Pulling the Plug in Marriage and Divorce Matters– article in Hinsdale Living Magazine, May 2022
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Finding the Right Lawyer When Things Go Wrong– article in Hinsdale Living Magazine, April 2022
  • Best Supporting Spouse in a Long-Term Marriage– article in Hinsdale Living Magazine, March 2022
  • The Heart of the Matter: Decoding Divorce for Modern Families– profile in Sheridan Road Magazine, December 2021
  • Up Close and Personal: The Challenges and Opportunities of Remote Litigation – Fall 2021 edition of the American Bar Association journal “Family Advocate”
  • Deconstructing The Dynamics Of Divorce, profile in Hinsdale Living Magazine, May 2021
  • Heads Carolina, Tails California: Relocation With Children Amid Shifting Circumstances, Chicago, Daily Law Bulletin, 2021
  • Prenuptial Agreement law in Illinois chapter in “Drafting Prenuptial Agreements,” 2012 and 2021 (Co-Author with Barry A. Schatz of Berger Schatz LLP)
  • “Discovery in Family Law Cases,” ISBA Family Law Handbook, 2011 (Co-Author with Barry A. Schatz of Berger Schatz LLP)
  • “A Divorce Practitioner’s Introduction to Determining Schedule C and Subchapter S Income,” Family Law Update, 2010 (Co-Author with Barry A. Schatz of Berger Schatz LLP)
  • “Tainted Love: What the Seventh Circuit Got Wrong in Muth v. Frank,” DePaul Law Review, 2007

Speaking and Presentations

  • “Maintenance Modification and Review: Preventing Future Problems” – IICLE Child Support + Maintenance 2024 (March, 2024)
  • “Creative Uses of Hybrid ADR Processes as Practical Adjuncts and Alternatives to Complex Mediation and Litigation” – IL-AAML Seminar for Experienced Matrimonial Lawyers (October, 2023) – Co-Presentation with Hon. Regina Scannicchio, Acting Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County
  • “Put that Coffee Down… – Developing, Delivering and Defending Against Compelling Opening Statements and Oral Closing Arguments” ABA Trial Practices & Techniques Committee (May, 2023)
  • Featured Presentation at South Carolina Bar Convention – Family Law Section — “Putting it Together – Hearings and Trials in Family Law Cases” (January, 2023)
  • “Putting it Together: Conducting Evidentiary Hearings and Trials in Family Law Cases” – Chicago Bar Association, 2022
  • “Litigation Live: An Unscripted Demonstration of Effective Psychological Expert Examinations in Relocation Trials” – IL-AAML and IICLE, President’s Day Seminar (February, 2022)
  • “First Impressions: Temporary Support Hearings and Establishing Lasting Narratives for Domestic Relations Cases” – IL-AAML and IICLE, 2021
  • “Clearing the Path: The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness for Attorneys” – DuPage County Bar Association, 2021
  • ”Financial Domestic Violence” at Annual Symposium of the DePaul University College of Law Family Law Center, 2021
  • ”Reading Demeanor in Masked Proceedings” – Our Family Wizard Panel Symposium, 2021
  • “Lessons Learned Through COVID-19: Utilizing Technology to Move Your Family Law Practice Forward” – IICLE, 2020
  • “The State of Family Law During the COVID-19 Pandemic” – Chicago Bar Association, 2020
  • “Family 2.0 – Coparenting After Divorce” – Family Law Symposium on the New American Family, DePaul University College of Law, 2019
  • “The Evolution of Dissolution – Navigating the Shifting Landscape of Divorce” – DePaul University College of Law, 2019
  • “Meditate Before You Litigate: Mindfulness for Lawyers” – Illinois State Bar Association Solo and Small Firm Conference, 2019
  • “Putting on a Financial Case in Domestic Relations” – Chicago Bar Association, 2018
  • “Everything You Need to Know and Do if There is an Entity or Trust in Your Case” – co-author of presentation with Sherri A. Evans and Taylor Toombs Imel (Koons Fuller, P.C.), 39th Annual Marriage Dissolution Institute, State Bar of Texas, 2016
  • “Insights and Tactics for Remote Litigation in Family Law,” CBA Fall 2020 (Co-Presentation)
  • “Tips and Warnings in Remote Evidentiary Hearings,” DuPage County Bar Association, Fall 2020 (Co-Presentation)
  • “How to Cross Examine a Witness,” Chicago Bar Association, Winter 2015 (Co-Presentation)
  • “Williams v. Illinois and Forensic Evidence,” 77th Annual Conference of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Summer 2014 (Co-Presentation with Barry A. Schatz of Berger Schatz LLP)

Recognitions and Awards

  • Crain’s, Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Chicago, 2017
  • The Best Lawyers in America® for the practice of Family Law, Family Law Mediation, and Family Law Arbitration, 2019 – Present
  • H-Texas Magazine, Top Family Lawyers in Houston, 2016
  • Super Lawyers 2020 to Present
  • Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2012-2015
  • Emerging Lawyers, 2015 – 2018
  • Law Bulletin Publishing Company, 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch, 2012

Organizations and Memberships

Prior Chair, Advisory Board of DePaul University College of Law Family Law Center

Member, Advisory Council – David Lynch Foundation (Chicago)

Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Founding Member, American Academy for Certified Financial Litigators

American Bar Association – Family Law and Dispute Resolution Sections

Illinois State Bar Association – Family Law and Dispute Resolution Sections

State Bar of Texas – Family Law and Dispute Resolution Sections

Other Team Members

Get In Touch

Call or email Hammer Serna & Quinn, LLC today to schedule a consultation.