Archive for the ‘Chicago family law’ Category

Determining a Court’s Jurisdictional Authority in Child Custody Cases

January 28th, 2015 at 1:05 pm

court jurisdiction in child custody,  Illinois family law attorneysCourts may only decide child custody cases if they have proper jurisdiction. “Jurisdiction” is the authority to issue legal decisions and judgments. Issues regarding jurisdiction in child custody cases can be complicated, especially when such cases cross state lines.

In general, courts in Illinois only have jurisdiction to make initial determinations regarding child custody if:

  • The child lives in Illinois with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six months prior to the proceeding (also known as home state jurisdiction)  or if Illinois was the home state within six months before commencement of proceedings and a parent lives in Illinois;
  • The child’s home state chooses not to exercise jurisdiction because the child and a parent have specific ties with Illinois and there is evidence in Illinois regarding the child’s care and wellbeing;
  • All courts having jurisdiction have chosen not to exercise it because Illinois is the more appropriate forum; or
  • No other court has jurisdiction.

Exercising Jurisdiction across State Lines in Emergency Situations

However, per the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Illinois courts may have temporary jurisdiction over non-resident children in emergency situations. For example, when an out-of-state child is mistreated or abused in Illinois, then a court in Illinois may take action.

Specific rules apply in these situations:

  • The temporary child custody order issued by an Illinois court will remain effective until a court having jurisdiction issues a separate order;
  • If a court that has jurisdiction does not begin a child custody proceeding, then the Illinois order becomes final; and
  • The Illinois court must immediately communicate with the court that has jurisdiction once informed that the other court has initiated a custody proceeding or has issued a child custody order.

The same is true if another court exercises temporary jurisdiction in a child custody case that ordinarily would be decided in Illinois. In that case, the order issued in the other state must be followed unless Illinois takes action.

Once the child’s home state makes a custody determination, that decision takes precedence over the Illinois court’s emergency actions. For example, if Illinois makes a custody determination based on emergency jurisdiction and subsequent to that decision the home state’s court that conflicts with that order, the home state custody determination will take precedence over the Illinois court’s order.

Our Chicago family law attorneys understand the intricacies of emergency and cross-state child custody and will work aggressively on your family’s behalf. Contact Anderson & Associates, P.C. today for a consultation at 312-345-9999. We can assist you from our offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago.

Making a Coparenting Plan Works for Post-Divorce Families

January 21st, 2015 at 11:26 am

coparenting plans in Illinois, Chicago family law attorneyOnce the legal process of a divorce is complete, it can be a challenge for many families to figure out how to move forward. Shared custody arrangements may seem simple enough in theory, but making them work for you, your child, and yes, even your ex, can seem overwhelming at times. You obviously want what is best for your children and, most likely, your ex-spouse does too. A well-considered coparenting plan can be a very useful tool for both of you to ensure your child’s needs are met for years to come.

In its simplest form, a coparenting plan is an agreement between you and your child’s other parent that covers parental expectations, rules, schedules, and other details necessary for raising a child together after a divorce or breakup. Through communication and cooperation, not only are the child’s needs more easily addressed, but both parents are able to have a better understanding of their role in the child’s life.

A typical coparenting plan may include:

1. Schedules

It is important for a child to know who to expect to be picking her up after school or how he will see both of his parents on Christmas Day. Having a regular schedule for shared parenting also helps the child adjust to living in two homes. If Monday through Wednesday are “mom days” and Thursday through Saturday are “dad days” with alternating Sundays, and that is an arrangement which works for your family, make it a permanent part of the plan.

2. Daily Responsibilities and Rules

Your child needs to know that expectations regarding homework, hygiene, and bedtimes, for example, will remain consistent. Having similar rules, such as completing homework before video games or no snacks after 8 p.m. helps not only prevent confusion for your child, but it can also help avoid arguments over what the other parent may or may not allow.

3. Child Care and Medical Care

If both parents work, agreeing upon child care arrangements for your child is absolutely vital. You need to be able to trust that your child is in a safe, caring environment while you are at work, whether it is a child care center or the home of a family member. It is also helpful to plan for an inevitable sick day. You and your ex should have an understanding of who may need to stay home with an ill child, and which of you will take responsibility for doctor visits.

4. Relationships

As you move on with your life after divorce, you will likely encounter someone you would like to introduce to your child. In all likelihood, your ex-spouse will too. Establishing boundaries regarding new relationships is extremely important to ensure your child will be ready and able to accept the new relationship at his or her own pace.

Keeping Your Coparenting Plan Up-to-Date

It can be very easy to get caught up in the specific details of your coparenting plan, but as long as you and your ex-spouse strive to keep the child as your highest priority, the plan will likely help. What works for one family’s situation may not work for another, so keep in mind that the right plan is the one that works for the needs of you and your family. Updating the plan as your child grows and family dynamics change will also help it remain a viable tool for your family’s well-being for many years.

If you have shared custody of your child or you would like to pursue shared custody, an experienced Chicago divorce and family law attorney can help. Call Anderson & Associates P.C. at (312) 345-9999 today for a free initial consultation. We offer five convenient office locations throughout the greater Chicago area to provide you with convenient, qualified representation.

Property Division Rules in Illinois Divorces

September 30th, 2013 at 11:21 am

Illinois has very specific property division laws.  The judges will follow these laws when dividing assets in a divorce, even if it results might seem unfair to one of the parties.  The goal of the court is to enter an order that “equitably” (or fairly) divides the marital property.  However, before doing this, the court must first determine which property is “marital” and which property is “nonmarital”.

RIgsIn Illinois, the courts will normally only divide the marital property between the parties.  Section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines what constitutes marital property.  The general rule is that property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage is marital, and property acquired by a spouse prior to the marriage is that spouse’s nonmarital property – but there are plenty of exceptions to this general rule!  For instance, property that a spouse receives during the marriage might still be considered “nonmarital” if it was acquired as a gift or as an inheritance to that spouse.  It is important to note that property can be “marital” and subject to division by the court even if it is titled in only one spouse’s name.

The statutes and the mountain of case-law that lawyers and judges use for determining what is nonmarital, what is marital, and what factors to look at when deciding how to equitably divide the marital property are very complex.  Some of those factors include the length of the marriage, each party’s contribution to the marital estate, the economic circumstances of the parties, and whether one of the parties was responsible for any “dissipation” (spending or wasting marital property for a non-marital purpose).

Property division in a divorce case can be a hotly contested issue, in which case, a party should have an experienced Illinois family law attorney on their side to provide counsel and to represent his or her interests in court.

Choosing Cohabitation Over Remarriage

September 25th, 2013 at 10:43 am

Choosing Cohabitation Over Remarriage IMAGEFewer Americans are opting to remarry after a divorce, according to a recent analysis by Bowling Green State University and reported upon in the Huffington Post. “The findings,” reports the Huffington Post, “showed that a mere 29 of every 1,000 divorced or widowed Americans remarried in 2011. Back in 1990, 50 of every 1,000 divorced or widowed Americans had married again.” Concurrent with this is the fact that the percentage of recent marriages in which one or both people is remarrying has been steadily declining in recent years. According to a 2006 Census Bureau publication, in 1996, 43.4 percent of all marriages within the past year involved a person who was remarrying. In 2001, that percentage had dropped to 37.8; in 2004, it had dropped to 35.9 percent.

One reason for this decline could simply be a skewing of demographics: with a substantial increase in the population of the elderly due to the ageing of the Baby Boomer generation, there are likely to be more widows who are old enough that they don’t remarry. Because women live longer, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they are more likely to be widowed than men—three times as likely, in fact. According to Census Bureau statistics, 48 percent of elderly women are widowed, as opposed to 14 percent of elderly men. There are not statistics available as to how many elderly widows are remarrying.

And yet sociologist Susan Brown told the Huffington Post that “the rising number of couples opting for cohabitation could be the reason” as well. According to 2012 Census data and reported by the Huffington Post, “the number of unmarried couples living together has more than doubled since the 1990s, from 2.9 million in 1996 to 7.8 million in 2012.” This is due in part to a shift in cultural attitude toward unmarried couples living together—what used to be considered “living in sin” is now more often thought of as a viable and financially-sound alternative to marriage. According to the USA Today and data from the Census Bureau, 7.8 million unmarried couples were living together in 2012. “Between 1990 and 2012,” reports USA Today, “the percentage of unmarried couples living together more than doubled, from 5.1 percent to 11.3 percent.”

Unmarried people looking to cohabit can still establish legally binding ground rules for living together and can spell out their respective financial obligations for covering rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and other day-to-day living expenses by entering into a written cohabitation agreement prepared by an attorney experienced in family law matters.

If you or someone you know is considering cohabitation, divorce, or remarriage, it could be worth sitting down with a qualified professional. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area family law attorney today.

Meeting Your Spouse Online

August 30th, 2013 at 10:11 am

Meeting your spouse online could have a positive impact on your relationship over the long run, according to a recent research study. With an increased interest in online dating, it’s estimated that more than 30% of U.S. marriages begin with an email. Popular online dating site eHarmony conducted the recent study of U.S. couples, using a sample of 20,000 individuals who were married between the year 2003 and 2012.

LauraThe study tracked what happened to those couples post-marriage, finding that 8% of those couples who met in traditional ways ended up separated or divorced, while only 6% of online couples terminated their marriage.

The study revealed some other noteworthy factors about who is using online dating and succeeding with it. More than 40% of individuals making more than $100,000 were using online sites in an attempt to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right. Higher levels of income have long been related to happier marriages and fewer divorces over the long run.  Marriages that started with an online dating site also tended to be happier than other unions.

Of course, online dating is still relatively new, so long-term research about the success of marriages that begin with online communication is lacking. Some experts are critical, arguing that there’s simply not enough data in the field to make bold statements about online dating sites. Part of the story may be told by the fact that people might be willing to open up more online, or that online daters are more critical when choosing who to communicate with. In this way, it’s possible that online love-seekers are weeding out less ideal partners early on in the process, focusing their search on those partners who are marriage material.

Divorce can and does still happen, even in marriages springing from online relationships. If you’re considering divorce, talking your options over with an experienced divorce lawyer could help you understand the next steps and determine if you’re ready to move forward. Contact an attorney today.