Archive for the ‘Chicago’ tag

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.

Over the Line: Custody and Removal

July 26th, 2013 at 9:46 am

Divorce can be hard, and its difficulties can increase exponentially when children are involved. It is hard enough to deal with the physical and emotional separation of you and your spouse, without having to factor in the emotional and developmental trauma the divorce may cause to your child. If you enter into a custody battle, the court will make a decision based on its interpretation of what is best for the child. One factor that will weigh heavily in a custody battle is each parent’s willingness to encourage and support a relationship between the child and the other parent. After custody is awarded, this consideration may complicate some of your future life choices.

Charles, Dropbox photo   child custodyAfter being awarded custody, there are some things you must consider; for instance, relocation becomes a legal issue. Oftentimes, people may wish to move great distances after finalizing a divorce. There are many reasons one may have to move to another county, state, or even country: relocating for employment opportunities, being closer to family, or just seeking a fresh start.

Before making the decision to move, you should have an attorney carefully go over your divorce judgment and child custody judgment to see if the issue of relocation or removal of the child from the State is specifically addressed.  Under Illinois law, moves within the State are treated differently from moves out of state.  There is no statute in Illinois that prevents a custodial parent from moving within the borders of the State of Illinois; however sometimes parties agree to a mileage restriction which may be enforceable if it was incorporated into an agreed custody judgment.

If a custodial parent is moving out of state with the intention of permanently removing a child from the State of Illinois, he or she must ask the court for permission to do so by filing a Petition for Removal.  Such petitions are governed by Section 609 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (See Illinois Statute § 750 ILCS 5/609).
Relocation laws vary by state.  You will want to know of any particular statutes in your state that could affect your decision. To best understand the implications of a custodial parent’s decision to move, you should seek the counsel of a qualified Illinois family law attorney.

Grandparents’ Rights In Divorce?

July 5th, 2013 at 9:16 am

Grandparents take great pride in their grandchildren. Many hours and dollars are spent on doting and loving this next generation. They are also crucial and influential people in their grandchildren’s lives. So, when a divorce occurs between the parents, grandparents just want the best for their grandchildren and to continue their relationship with them. However, divorces can be ugly and can make grandparents feel left out – so what rights do grandparents actually have?

ChristineCustody

In Illinois, grandparents can seek custody of their grandchildren in certain situations.  Normally, when a court has to make a custody decision, the judge must decide what is in the best interest of the child.  However, when grandparents are seeking custody, they must first establish that they have  standing under Illinois law.  This means they have to initially prove certain facts about their relationship with the grandchild to show that they have the right to petition the court for custody of that grandchild.  Illinois case law interpreting what a grandparent needs to show to establish standing is complex and continually evolving, so it’s important for a grandparent considering custody litigation to consult with an attorney that concentrates in the area of grandparent rights.
 
Visitation
Grandparents also have rights to visitation with their grandchildren in certain circumstances.  In all such cases, however, the court must find that the parent is unreasonably denying visitation to the grandparent.  What constitutes unreasonable denial of visitation? This is a difficult question that the judge must ultimately decide based upon the facts of the case.  Every case is unique in this regard.  For grandparents who are considering filing a petition for visitation with their grandchildren, it is important that they have the input of an experienced attorney in Chicago who has successfully handled grandparent visitation cases, so that they can understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case.

 

Image courtesy of photostock/freedigitalphotos

Child Support in Cases of Split Custody

May 27th, 2013 at 8:18 pm

In Illinois divorces, there is a difference between physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody deals with the ability of each parent to make important decisions for the children, such as which school to attend and decisions about major medical procedures. Physical custody deals with living arrangements, i.e. which home will be the children’s primary home.

Rigers 5.13.2013Sometimes, parents agree to joint legal custody, but with only one parent having sole physical custody and the other only having visitation rights. In other cases, parents agree to have both joint legal and physical custody, in which case the child(ren) would spend nearly equal amount of time with each parent. In order to reach this type of arrangement, an attorney would file a Joint Parent Agreement detailing the custody schedule.

In addition to both parents being equally a part of the child(ren)’s life, another important benefit is that joint custody allows for deviations from the Illinois statutory child support guidelines. Currently in Illinois, a court will usually order the non-custodial parent, the parent who only has visitation rights, to pay child support to the custodial parent. 750 ILCS 5/505 (2013). The Illinois child support statute contains specific guidelines for child support payments. The support obligation is tied to the number of children born or adopted during the marriage. For example, for a family with one child, the parent who owes child support must pay 20% of the net income. For a family with two children, the support obligation goes up to 28%, incrementally increasing up to 50% of the net income in cases when there are 5 children. 70 ILCS 5/505(a)(1)

The Illinois child support statute, however, allows for deviations from the guidelines. 70 IL CS 5/505(a).In cases of joint physical custody, an experienced attorney may be able to convince a judge to allow lower payments because both parents are equally responsible for the day to daily expenses.

Both custody and child support determinations are fact-intensive and an experienced family law attorney should handle them. For additional information and answers, please contact Anderson & Associates, with offices in Orland Park, Chicago, Wheaton, Schaumburg and Northbrook.

The Purpose of Prenuptial Agreements

May 19th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Many people think that prenuptial agreements are reserved for those who are extremely wealthy. However, this is not necessarily true. A prenuptial agreement sets forth in writing the rights that each spouse has to non-marital assets in the event of a separation, divorce, or demise of a spouse.

Prenuptial agreement Theresa  5-1If you have things that you have owned since before the marriage such as family heirlooms, you can ensure that those items are passed to other family members or your children by protecting them in the prenuptial agreement. If you are married later in life, after you have built financial wealth, you may want to define who will be left with those monies if you were to pass away.

A premarital agreement may also be a consideration if you own a business. If you have built and owned this business before your marriage, it can be covered in the premarital agreement. This will guarantee that in the case of a divorce, your former spouse will not receive any control over or access to the business. A premarital agreement can also protect your spouse from your debt that was accrued before the marriage.

While a prenuptial agreement cannot limit the amount of money that can be ordered in matters such as child support, it can put some limitations on spousal support. Many states are now allowing prenuptial agreements to determine the amount of alimony that will be paid, although these clauses were considered unenforceable in the past.

If you have questions regarding what can be covered in a prenuptial agreement, or if you should have one at all, a qualified Illinois family law attorney can assist you with those questions and advise you on the terms that you should set forth for your future spouse.

Study Asks Whether ‘Cold Feet’ Indicates Future Divorce

May 7th, 2013 at 11:13 am

A study conducted at UCLA and published in the Journal of Medicine asked the question if cold feet before the wedding were an indicator of marital problems in the future. The researchers asked 232 recently married couples in their first marriages whether they had “ever been uncertain or hesitant about getting married” after they got engaged. They followed up with the couples every six months over the next four years to see if the couples’ doubts had validity. Their conclusion: having doubts before marriage is a good predictor of trouble ahead.

KerryIn about two-thirds of the couples who participated, one or both of the partners had doubts. According to the study, men had more doubts than women, with 47 percent of husbands having doubts, and 38 percent of the wives. The researchers found that having doubts before the wedding was a predictor of where the marriage would be four years later. Wives’ doubts were especially indicative of future divorce: 19 percent of couples in which wives had doubts were divorced four years later, but only 8 percent of couples in which wives did not have doubts ended up divorced. Husbands’ doubts did not significantly predict divorce, although divorce rates were somewhat higher among husbands with doubts (14 percent) than husbands without doubts (9 percent). For those couples with doubts who did not divorce, they reported have less satisfying marriages.

The team of psychologists who conducted this research recommends that couples pay attention to strong doubts. Don’t ignore them. While not necessarily a sign that the wedding should be called off, they suggest using those doubts to open the door to dialogue and communication with your partner, facing and resolving issues early on.

If you do find yourself in an unhappy marriage and are considering divorce, talk with an experienced Illinois family law attorney to find out what steps you should take before filing for divorce. Being prepared and well-represented will help ensure a favorable legal outcome.

Divorce May Be Preferable to Marriage Counseling

May 2nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Divorce May Be Preferable to marriage counseling IMAGEMany couples turn to couples counseling in an effort to stave off divorce, according to the Chicago Tribune, but according to therapist Pat Love, couples counseling can be like “assembling an airplane in flight.” It’s not always easy, can be highly stressful, and has the potential to be explosive. Therapy isn’t always the answer to solving the problems in a strained marriage—sometimes counselors can “even do more harm than good,” according to the Tribune. When you consider the cost of therapy and the emotional rollercoaster that it can put a couple through, especially a couple already under the duress of an unhappy relationship, seeking the guidance of a qualified divorce attorney may be the better option.

This isn’t to say, of course, that couples therapy doesn’t work, and that there aren’t counseling professionals who do it well. It’s just that, according to the Tribune, many times the people who end up doing couples therapy are “social workers and psychologists” who haven’t necessarily “had much experience with it,” or haven’t necessarily “gone through the specialized course work required of licensed marriage and family therapists.” Love, an Austin-Texas based author of relationship books, said that marriage counselors are often trained to “treat the system, not the symptom.” This can lead to a further split in the relationship because one member of the couple may feel “betrayed, left out, reactive, and not want to come back to therapy.”

According to AllAboutCounseling.com, “marriage counseling fees and rates usually fall somewhere between $75 on the low side of the spectrum and $200 on the high side—and these fees are per hour.” This is a costly expense, especially if one reason for dissent in the marriage to begin with is money, as it often is. Unless you’re absolutely sure that there’s something to salvage in the relationship, therapy could be a waste of time and money, and divorce could be the better road to take.

If you or someone you know is considering marriage counseling or divorce, be sure to speak with a qualified divorce lawyer at the beginning of your deliberation. Don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago-area family law attorney today.

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bill O’Reilly has Tough Custody Battle with Ex

April 22nd, 2013 at 9:25 pm

The ongoing custody dispute between Bill O’Reilly and his ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy becomes more acrimonious by the day. Some media outlets are reporting that O’Reilly has even tried to have his former wife ex-communicated from the Catholic Church, the religion they both practice.

Bill OReilly 3.20.2013.Kerry. KH DivAccording to reports in TV Guide and Hollywood Gossip, the couple, who have two teenage children together, separated in April 2010 and divorced in September 2011. They had originally agreed to shared custody of their children, but a month after the divorce, McPhilmy filed motions for sole custody after learning that O’Reilly had hired the children’s therapist, a woman they had agreed would be a neutral arbitrator in any ongoing disputes, to be the children’s nanny. The motion, which was filed under Anonymous 2011-1 v Anonymous 2011-2, was originally rejected by the lower court and went all the way to the appellate court. The appellate court agreed that there should be a hearing to determine if the original custody agreement had been violated by O’Reilly. That hearing was heard in October, but no decision has been made yet.

McPhilmy has since remarried, to a Nassau County Police detective. In 2011, O’Reilly allegedly used his connections with the Nassau County Police Department to try to launch an internal affairs investigation into McPhilmy’s then new boyfriend. Currently, the New York Civil Liberties Union is involved in a lawsuit against the NCPD for access to public records, including O’Reilly’s correspondence with former commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, about the episode. The case is on appeal to the Second Department of New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division.

Now O’Reilly is being accused of using his influence in the church (O’Reilly donated over $65,000 to New York Catholic parishes and schools in 2011.) to have his McPhilmy excommunicated. She has been formally reprimanded in writing by her church for continuing to take communion at her Long Island parish despite having been divorced and remarried (not allowed in the eyes of the church). The reprimand also instructed her to stop telling her children that her “second marriage is valid in the eyes of God” and warned her that if she didn’t comply, harsher measures may be in order.

Ironically, O’Reilly is in the process of trying to have his fifteen year marriage annulled in the church.

This case is a perfect example of how custody battles don’t always end when the ink on the divorce papers are dry. If you are having custody issues, contact a qualified Chicago attorney to represent you.