Recently, the news and social media outlets have been inundated with domestic violence headlines
including allegations against Johnny Depp, the arrest of Sacramento Kings basketball player, Darren Collison, and the conviction of television actor, Michael Jace. From athletes and entertainers to the “average Joe,” domestic violence (including physical, emotional or sexual abuse) impacts thousands of families each year, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. While the protection for victims has not changed, the following information bears repeating as a reminder that help is available:
In Illinois, domestic violence is a crime. Any person who hits, chokes, kicks, threatens, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of another family or household member, has broken Illinois’ domestic violence law. Under Illinois law, “family” or “household members” are defined as: family members related by blood, people who are married or used to be married, people who share or used to share a residence (i.e. home, apartment or other common dwelling), people who have a child in common, people who are dating and people with disabilities including their personal assistants. See, 750 ILCS 60/101 et. al.
Summer is here! While soaking in the warm sun and enjoying outdoor activities are top priorities,
now is the time for co-parents to work together to formalize summer plans so that everyone can focus on maximizing summer fun with the kids. Here are five tips to a stress free summer:
If you are going through a divorce and currently using a Dependent Care Flexible Spending
Accounts (FSAs), you need to know the specific rules associated with your Dependent Care FSA in order to be sure that you will continue to be reimbursed for your dependent’s medical care once divorced. Otherwise, it may come as a shock when you as the “former” spouse no longer have access to the FSA monies your spouse is accumulating at his/her employment, and your work does not provide or offer contributions to a Dependent Care FSA.
Dependent Care FSAs are a great way for employers to help their employees offset childcare costs. Many employers subsidize such benefits under a cafeteria plan, to encourage employees to participate. A Dependent Care FSA is funded through pretax payroll deductions to help pay for qualified expenses related to care for the participant’s child, disabled spouse, elderly parent, or other dependent who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care. Expenses for care of a qualified dependent are only eligible if the care enables you (or you and your spouse) to work, look for work, or go to school full-time. If your spouse is a stay-at-home mom or dad, you cannot participate in Dependent Care FSAs.
In the event of divorce, issues often arise with regard to the marital residence. In many cases, one
spouse wants to keep the marital residence and must buy out the other, which can be accomplished by refinancing the existing mortgage and placing the new mortgage in the sole name of the spouse who is keeping the home. In other cases, the parties must sell the property either because neither spouse wants to stay in the home or because the cost of maintaining two homes is impracticable.
In both of these instances, issues will likely arise. For example, what happens if the house won’t sell? Absent an agreement between the parties, the court may ultimately force and oversee the sale of the property, regardless of the parties’ wishes, or a court could order that the house be put up for auction. In either scenario, the homeowners may take a big hit on the sale price. In instances when a party tries to refinance the home in order to buy the other party out, it may be difficult to get the bank to allow the mortgage refinance, particularly when one party is not working or there is not sufficient equity in the house to justify the refinance.
As an adoptive parent, I could not have been more pleased to read the outcome of the case of V.L. v. E.L., announced by the United States Supreme Court on March 7, 2016. In this case, the Court upheld a woman’s adoption of three children born to her same sex partner. The opinion, which addresses jurisdiction and full faith and credit issues, provides comfort to adoptive parents that their parental rights should not be diminished.
Two women, E.L. and V.L., were involved in a 16 year relationship from 1995-2011. They lived in Alabama. Using assisted reproductive technology, E.L. gave birth to a child in 2002 and twins in 2004. The two women raised the children together from birth. During the relationship, they rented a house in Georgia and used the more favorable Georgia adoption laws to have V.L. legally adopt the children while E.L. (the biological mom) retained her rights as well. This is often referred to as “second parent adoption.” The adoption was completed in Georgia.
Spouses contemplating divorce often factor into their decision as to whether or not they should end
their marriage the potential harm a divorce may cause to their children. Some parents feel that by staying married they are honoring a commitment or setting a good example for children. Other parents, however, do not necessarily focus on the impact of divorce on their children but instead view divorce through the lens of their own concerns which may include infidelity, loss of interest, growing apart, finances or a better quality of life.
The question of whether it is in the children’s best interest to stay together is complex and there is no simple answer. In most cases, the decision is more personal than legal.
Americans love their pets. Recent studies estimate that roughly 78 million dogs and 86 million cats
are owned in the United States. In other words, pets reside in nearly 65% of all households.
It is not surprising, therefore, that when parties decide to dissolve their marriage, an increasingly contentious issue is what – if any – post-divorce rights they have to spend time with the pets which have become part of their family?
In the first case of its kind in Illinois to address this issue, our Appellate Court has ruled that courts have no authority to enter an order requiring that a soon-to-be ex-spouse have “visitation” rights with Fido or Fluffy.
There are two questions that every family law attorney is asked by most clients.
The first question: “How long will this divorce take? A ballpark estimate is fine, I know you can’t give me an exact answer”.
The second question: “How much will this cost? A ballpark estimate is fine, I know you can’t give me an exact answer.”
To both of these questions, the honest answer almost always is, “I don’t know” and the answer should not be any different whether you have the most seasoned, efficient, fast-talking, get-down-to-brass-tacks lawyer in all of Illinois. The answer also should not change much if you are the most reasonable, realistic, fair-minded, ready-for-closure client in all of Illinois. Regardless, this does not mean that these are not good questions that should go unasked, especially since potential clients deserve to understand why estimating how long it will take and how much it will cost is hard to do in a divorce case (or even a post-divorce case on a limited issue). When possible, potential clients also deserve to know what a potential range is for a case like theirs (even if that range is broad, and often it is).
Governor Rauner has signed P.A. 99-90, rewriting the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), 750 ILCS 5/101 effective January 1, 2016. There are several revisions that will affect those divorcing this year and in years to come. For parties with children, an important rewritten provision to consider is section 513, which addresses contribution to children’s college expenses. Currently, under section 513 of the IMDMA, there are no requirements for requesting financial aid, there is no mandated payment of college entrance exams and prep courses, there are no limitations or caps on the cost of where a child can attend college, there is no statutorily mandated definition of college expenses and a child was not required to maintain a certain grade point average. Under the rewritten provision, however, the following changes will now be in effect:
As I sit in a mediation seminar and consider the wide variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution
options, I wonder where has all the litigation gone. Don’t get me wrong, Alternative Dispute Resolution is great for many cases. Not only does it save significant legal fees and costs, it typically is a shorter, less destructive process that allows for creative solutions that both parties can feel they had input into. However, sometimes compromising or splitting the difference is not the right solution.