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Aurora Adoption Attorney Helps Family Adopt Bolivian Child

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It was a dream come true for a little girl in Bolivia: a family who wanted to adopt her. But more than three years later, the family from west suburban Aurora is still trying to bring 5-year-old Cecilia home. Attorney Brad Giglio of Mevorah Law Offices LLC says the feds have told him and his clients to be patient. Read more from CBS Chicago. Support Bringing Cecilia Home on Facebook.

Written by Staff Writer

March 22nd, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Custody Arrangements: The Right of First Refusal

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child custody rights, child visitation, divorce decrees, DuPage County family law attorney, joint custody arrangements, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, right of first refusalA recent bill signed into law in Illinois will have a tremendous impact on custody and visitation rights. The law amends the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act by determining that when one of the parties who has custody or visitation rights with the child(ren) must leave the child for a significant period of time with a third party (for example, nanny, family member, or current spouse), then he or she must offer a right of first refusal to the other custodial parent to take care of the child.

Purpose of the “Right of First Refusal” law

The presumption put forward by the court is that it is advantageous and in the best interests of the child to let the child have significant time with both parents. Most divorce decrees keep this presumption in mind and the courts tend to lean on the favor of joint custody arrangements so that the child may spend significant time with both parents.

This “right of first refusal” requires that parents who leave their child with a third party, for a significant period of time, must offer the opportunity first to the other custodial parent before a third party may come in to care for the minor child. However, “right of first refusal” is terminated upon termination of custody or visitation rights.

Issues to Consider for “Right of First Refusal”

The “right of first refusal” is an excellent way to permit increased quality time with a minor child between the parents, but it also leads to complex legal issues with regards to the enforcement of the “right of first refusal.” The vagueness of the law requires that the court, before enforcing the “right of first refusal,” must take into consideration the following:

  • What constitutes a significant period of time? Hours? Days?

  • What type of notification must be used? Phone, email, etc.?

  • How long does the other parent have to respond before a third party may step in to care for the child?

  • What constitutes an emergency where “right of first refusal” is not required?

  • What are the transportation requirements?

  • How close do the parents have to live to each other for “right of first refusal” to be invoked?

How to Make “Right of First Refusal” Work for You

These types of issues have yet to be contemplated and will lead to substantial confusion between parental parties. However, to limit the amount of confusion, if parents are interested in a “right of first refusal,” it may be necessary to amend current custodial or visitation rights to incorporate answers to the above mentioned considerations.

For example, a divorced couple may want to amend and include into their custody agreement that a “right of first refusal” should be invoked when the parent has to go on a work trip that lasts longer than 24 hours. If the couple lives close by and has flexible hours, the “right of first refusal” may be invoked more often as it would be easy to drop the children off with the other parent. It becomes more difficult when parents have rigid schedules and live far away; “right of first refusal” would be hard to enforce if parents live two hours away and a child only needs to be watched for four hours.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys

If you and your divorced spouse are interested in invoking the “right of first refusal,” it is important that both parties seek counsel from their attorneys regarding the ramifications and consequences of “right of first refusal.” Seeking guidance from experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC will help to identify possible issues that may result from “right of first refusal” and may also help divorced couples navigate these complex issues. Contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC today to schedule a confidential consultation.

Illinois Establishes New Guidelines for Spousal Maintenance

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Chicago family law attorney, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, new guidelines for spousal maintenance, alimony, spousal maintenance, divorcing couple, Illinois spousal maintenanceSpousal maintenance is often one of the most contentious issues during divorce. Often referred to as “alimony,” this payment of support from one spouse to another has come under criticism in recent years. As a result, some legislatures across the country have revised the legal aspects of maintenance in an effort to provide more structure to when and how it is awarded.

Traditionally, in most jurisdictions around the country, it has been left to the judge’s discretion about whether spousal maintenance should be applied in any given case. After various factors are considered, the judge may decide upon a maintenance award that he or she believes would best support the designated spouse.

Some argue, however, that this process of leaving significant discretion to the judge leads to confusion and uncertainty, with parties unable to predict with much confidence how much maintenance (if any) will be awarded. Critics of the older model suggest that leaving spousal maintenance to the discretion and judgment of one person is a risky affair in need of refinement.

The Amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act

Coming into effect on January 1, 2015, Illinois will follow the trend of a handful of states by finally applying a new formula and stricter guidelines to spousal maintenance. The law, which was one of the many amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, will help family law attorneys better predict how much spousal maintenance will be applied if the judge decides that spousal maintenance is necessary due to the circumstances of the marriage. The law still provides that it will be up to the judge’s discretion whether, based on a balancing of a series of factors, spousal maintenance applies. However, the amount will be more or less predictable.

The New Formula and How it Applies

According to the law, the new formula provides that the maintenance award will be equal to 30 percent of the payor’s gross income, subtracting out 20 percent of the payee’s gross income, and shall not surpass 40 percent of the payor’s and payee’s combined gross income once added to the payee’s gross. If the judge chooses not to apply the formula or deviates from the formula, he or she is required to provide reasoning behind the ruling.

For example, consider a divorcing couple where the wife’s annual gross income is $100,000 and the husband’s is $30,000. If the judge decides that the husband is entitled to spousal maintenance, the process of determining an amount would proceed as follows:

  1. Calculate 20 percent of the husband’s gross income – $6,000.

  2. Calculate 30 percent of the wife’s gross income – $30,000.

  3. Subtract the second figure from the first – $24,000.  This would generally be the annual maintenance award to the husband.

  4. However, that figure can be lowered if, when added to the husband’s annual gross income, the total exceeds 40 percent of the couples combined gross. In this case, 40 percent of the couples combined gross income ($130,000) is $52,000. Adding a projected $24,000 maintenance award to the husband’s annual income results in a total of $54,000. That means that the award would likely be lowered by $2,000 (to $22,000) so that the husband’s gross income plus maintenance does not exceed the 40 percent as outlined in the law.

As the above example demonstrates, the specifics of the new law are somewhat complex. A divorce attorney can explain more clearly how the rules might apply in your case.

The Formula for the Duration of Spousal Maintenance

The spousal maintenance duration will be factored by a percentage of the number of years of the marriage. For example:

  • For marriages lasting zero to five years, the duration of spousal maintenance will last for only 20 percent of the time together. If the couple was together for five years, then spousal maintenance will apply for one year;

  • For marriages lasting five to 10 years, alimony will last for 40 percent of that time;

  • For marriages lasting 10 to 15 years, alimony will last for 60 percent of that time;

  • For marriages lasting 15 to 20 years, alimony will last for 80 percent of that time; and

  • For marriages lasting 20 years and more, the judge may decide that permanent maintenance or maintenance should last as long as the marriage had.

Divorce Attorneys to Help Assert Your Spousal Maintenance Rights

After many years of marriage, there are rights that spouses acquire. Spousal maintenance is a right that should be owed to those who sacrificed their earning potential to put their spouses and family first. If you are considering a divorce, it is important to know what your future could look like after the marriage has been dissolved. Contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney at Mevorah Law Offices LLC who can guide you through the new spousal maintenance guidelines and provide a big picture of life post-divorce.

Snooping on Your Spouse Could be Costly to Your Divorce

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being a snoop, DuPage County family law attorney, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, snooping on your spouse, reasons for divorce, divorce trends, expectation of privacy, marriage and privacyA survey published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) shows a significant increase in the use of evidence taken from smartphones and social networking websites in matrimonial litigation. Men and women have become more attached to their social media websites and smartphones, and matrimonial litigation has reflected this attachment with the increased use of this information being put under the microscope.

Not only has this information been exploited more often, but new spying gadgets and technology have made it easier for spouses to collect evidence prior to obtaining a divorce. The use of this type of spying and surveillance is generally invoked when there is a fear of infidelity or a concern of marital assets slowly disappearing into hidden accounts.

However, before you hire a private investigator, hide a recording device, or snoop through a smartphone or email, it is important to know that this type of spying may be illegal depending on your surveillance methods and the state in which you live.

Courts’ Take on Surveillance of a Spouse

Recently, the courts have started to analyze and evaluate current wiretapping and surveillance laws. Intrafamily surveillance has become the center of the debate as circuit courts have found themselves split on the issue. The first factor that courts analyze is what exactly a spouse’s expectation of privacy is in a marriage.

Expectation of Privacy: Government vs. Non-Government Spying

The lines are easily delineated when understanding the expectation of privacy that one has from government intrusion and from the outside world. The reasonable expectation of privacy found in 4th Amendment case law involving the government is a balancing test of both objective and subjective tests: first, whether a reasonable person in society would have an objective expectation of privacy in the situation; and second, whether a person at the center of the violation believed he or she had an expectation of privacy in the situation.

Illinois Passes “Intrusion upon Seclusion” Tort Claim

For non-government snoopers, Illinois provides a tort for intrusion upon seclusion if:

  • There has been prying or snooping without permission;

  • The intrusion is the type that a reasonable person would find objectionable or offensive;

  • The intrusion was on a matter that was private; and

  • The intrusion caused some sort of suffering or damage.

Difficulties of Expectation of Privacy between Spouses

With regards to a married couple, marriage is one type of relationship where the expectation of privacy between a couple is low as the couple shares many intimate spaces, especially in the home. However, courts have begun to apply that wiretapping, any type of video or recording device that is hidden without the spouse’s knowledge or permission, and/or the installation of any type of software on a spouse’s computer or telephone is illegal. A person who has done the above mentioned actions could be civilly and/or criminally liable.

An Experienced Family Law Attorneys Can Help

Evidence collection, especially when trying to divorce based on one of the identified grounds, is essential to divorce litigation. However, it is important that evidence collection be done legally and without breaking any wiretapping or surveillance laws. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney at Mevorah Law Offices LLC today to schedule a confidential consultation about the needs of your case.

Secular Law & Religious Law: Divorce in the Jewish Communities

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Lombard family law attorney, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, religious law, secular law, Jewish marriages, religion and divorceIn the United States, there is a firm commitment to keeping religion out of its legislative affairs. All religious issues are generally tempered by standards that the Supreme Court has set to help balance religious ideas against secular interests. However, in situations of the family, where religion is closely tied to the concept of the family, the lines become more blurry. Divorce and religion, for example, are generally two concepts that are mutually exclusive, especially in the Judeo-Christian ideology. But where does religion and the law meet? How can the law be utilized in family issues arising in a religious home?

Jewish Divorce: The Getting of the Get

Recently, family law practitioners have been attempting to intervene in Jewish divorces. Though not necessarily encouraged in Judaism, the religion anticipates the possibility that divorce may be a necessity. Jewish marriages are commenced by a marriage contract, known as a ketubah, which defines the responsibilities of the husband to the wife. In the Jewish religion, a wife cannot independently divorce her husband; her husband must provide her with a get, which voids the marriage contract and releases the wife from the marriage. Though this has a similar foundation as the divorce procedures currently in place in the secular world, the difference is that there is no process in the Jewish world by which a wife may force her husband into providing her with a get, thus leaving her at the mercy of a potentially spiteful husband. Married women who are trapped within the marriage are known as agunot.

American Women Trapped in Marriage with Little Recourse

U.S. courts have chosen to generally stay out of resolving the issues posed to Jewish women trapped in a marriage; the First Amendment prohibits the courts from involving themselves in purely religious affairs and secular court rulings have little bearing in the religious communities. Some less religious Jewish communities may have the discretion to follow civil decisions provided by the court, but more religious Jewish communities still require some type of religious court decision. This leaves a vacuum for women who cannot utilize civil courts and have no access to religious courts as they would in other societies that do not believe in the separation of church and state.

U.S. Court Involvement Limited but Successful

There has been some success in freeing these women from this type of marriage in New York. In 2001, the New York Supreme Court judge administered civil damages against the husband, citing the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Though this was a success, the intentional infliction of emotional distress ground may only be used in limited circumstances, and has only had traction in New York.

Secular Legal Solutions to Mend the Rift between Secular Law and Religious Law

There are secular solutions, however, to empower Jewish women caught between religious laws and secular ones. Though more possible than not, these methods are by no means fool-proof.

  • In conservative Jewish communities, an annulment from a Rabbi may be permitted. The Rabbi, through the annulment, withdraws his consent of the marriage if the husband refuses to provide a get. This, however, is not adopted by the orthodox community.

  • In reformed and reconstructionist communities, a civil divorce may be permitted.

  • As for orthodox communities, prenuptial agreements have become a common practice whereby the secular or a designated religious authority may step in on behalf of the wife.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Illinois

Marital issues may arise in both religious and secular families, and may be difficult to resolve. If you and your spouse are considering whether a divorce may be in the best interest of your family, it is important to speak with an experienced Lombard family law attorney at the Mevorah Law Offices LLC who can provide you with the necessary legal counsel to help you decide. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

Social Media & Divorce Rates: The Divorce Contagion on Facebook

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divorce rates, DuPage County family law attorney, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, social media and divorce, social media and marriage, Facebook and divorceSocial media has entered our lives and has revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with each other. Though we tend to glorify the extent that social media has changed our lives, we sometimes forget to recognize the pitfalls of social media and its negative effect on the choices we make.

As consistent users of Facebook and other social media websites, we review our news feed and evaluate our lives in comparison to what others are doing. This effect has been analyzed and published in a recent study that discusses the effect of social media on marriage and divorce rates.

The study explores whether and how divorce may be spread through social media; the study ultimately finds that there is a correlation (not to be mistaken with causation) between social media and the divorce rates. The current rates of divorce show that 43 percent of marriages will be dissolved and the dissolution will occur within the first 15 years of the marriage.

The Reasoning Behind the Correlation between Social Media and Divorce

There are many reasons why social media may have the impact of “spreading” divorce to others. One factor discussed in the study is the publication of one’s divorce to others on social media, which provides onlookers the opportunity to view the ramifications. If the person is successful post-divorce and is financially and socially stronger than they were when originally wedded, it promises to those observing the divorce via social media that life after marriage may not be as terrible as they might have imagined. It breaks down the “scary monster in the closet” and provides them an insight into what the reality of a divorce may look like. Promotion of divorce may be one effect of social media.

However, social media may have the opposite effect by hindering the desire to divorce if posts are being published that show the negative side of divorce, such as the tension, the stress, and the emotional and financial carnage that may arise. Witnessing the personal agony of divorce on social media may have the effect of convincing observers that their unhappiness in the marriage is not as bad as the potentially more caustic lifestyle of a divorcee.

Association with Divorcees May Promote Divorce

The study results show that promotion of divorce may be stronger than its inhibiting effects. Participants of the study were 75 percent more likely to be divorced if a person that they are connected to via social media is also divorced. The association only goes to two degrees of separation: their immediate direct friends and the friends’ of their friends. This points to why social media leads to a “clustering” of divorce where divorce spreads through the social media friend groups.

The result: though more divorce spreads through groups of friends, those who are divorcing actually become less popular on the social media websites due largely to the loss of friends they knew through their spouses. It is also thought that newly separated divorcees are less popular because of the threat that they pose to married couples. This is known as “marital poaching.”

Gender and Children Do Not Affect the Divorce Rate

Finally, it is important to note that both gender and children had little to no effect on the divorce rate of the couple. Having children (and the number of children) did not greatly affect the numbers of divorced couples. Furthermore, social media had an equivalent effect on both men and women; both were prone to divorce after witnessing their divorced online friends.

Experienced Divorce Attorneys

If you feel that you have been bitten by the Facebook contagion, and are considering divorce, it is important that you realize that social media does not accurately depict what divorced life will be like for you. Consulting with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney at the Mevorah Law Offices LLC will you give you a more accurate picture of whether divorce is the right choice for your and your spouse. Please contact us today for a free consultation.

Victory for Survivors of Domestic Violence: A Stay of Deportation

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domestic violence, DuPage County family law attorneys, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, stay of deportation, intimate partner violence, domestic violence survivors, grounds for asylum, illegal immigrant, risk of abuseThe recent news coverage and controversy regarding Ray Rice has thrust domestic violence and intimate partner violence into the spotlight. The dialogue about domestic abuse and violence has been incited, and the media has watched as a riveting debate has been put into play about the way our society deals with domestic violence. In fact, the initial sentencing of Ray Rice is seen by many as a reflection of society’s attitude toward domestic violence: if you do not see it, it is not there or it is not as bad as you think.

Who is Affected by Domestic Violence? 

The increased dialogue, however, has motivated lawmakers to begin to crack down on abusers and provide support to survivors of intimate partner violence. First and foremost, it is important to understand the picture of survivors of domestic violence. In a study done by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 85 percent of survivors were women; this is approximately 1.3 million women nationwide annually. This number, however, is a conservative estimate as many survivors of domestic violence do not come forward and report their spouse.

In an article published in Time, the studies pointed to a showing that African-American women were more likely to be survivors of domestic violence than their white counterparts. Black women, as reported, were three times more likely to be killed during a domestic violent incident than white women, and domestic violence was found to be the leading cause of death in black women between the ages of 15 and 35. The reasoning behind these disparate statistics is due in large part to racism, which affects African Americans’ access to jobs and financially stability.

Board of Immigration Appeals Permits “Domestic Violence” as Grounds for Asylum

In the last week, as reported by the The New York Times, immigrant survivors of domestic violence helped change the conversation with an important new ruling: the Board of Immigration Appeals, the highest immigration court in the United States, made “domestic violence” an eligible ground for asylum in the U.S. This ruling permits a woman who is an illegal immigrant living in the U.S. to remain if she can show that there is a serious risk of abuse, serious injury, or death by her domestic partner if she is forced to return to her country of origin. Finally the dialogue of domestic violence is being discussed, especially by the courts, in terms of a type of persecution rather than a personal issue that must be hidden behind the walls of the home.

Types of Protection in Illinois

In Illinois, there are different ways in which a spouse may protect herself from her abuser.

For short term relief:

  • Emergency Order: A protective order that can be approved by a judge based solely on your testimony. It can be granted without giving notice to your abuser, and will last between 14 and 21 days until a full hearing is ordered; and

  • Interim Order: Lasts up to 30 days and does not require a court hearing; however, the abuser is required to have made an appearance in court and receive notification of the court hearing for the interim order.

For long-term relief:

  • Plenary Order of Protection: May last for up to two years (and can be renewed continually and limitlessly) but the order is only issued after there has been a full court hearing and all evidence brought by you and your abuser has been reviewed.

Advocates on Behalf of Survivors of Domestic Violence

Survivors of domestic violence have a voice and an advocate with Mevorah Law Offices LLC. If you or a loved one is living in a domestic abusive relationship and are looking for help to leave the violent partnership, please contact one of our DuPage County family law attorneys who will provide you with the support and guidance in peacefully terminating a violent relationship.

Rise in Military Marital Strife: Divorce in the Military

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Lombard family law attorney, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, military divorce, marital strife, marital property, military retirement pay, military pensionsMarital strife, separation, and divorce can affect all types of families, and a study shows divorces within military families have been on the rise in the last few years. In fact, the study reflects high divorce rates among families that in the past have been found to be more stable. Length of deployment was considered a major factor in most of these military divorces. Post-traumatic stress disorder and other health issues were also cited factors.

The reasoning behind the increased divorce rate is linked to the continual withdrawal of troops from the conflict areas of Iraq and Afghanistan. Families who have been apart for many years are now being brought back together and is therefore creating an adjustment period and causing marital strife rather than marital unity.

The Divorce Rate Throughout the Military

The divorce rate on average, throughout all branches of the military, was 3.7 percent in 2011. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated a divorce rate of 3.5 percent, showing an increase within the last few years. Specific divisions of the military reflect different percentages and are as follows:

  • Army divorce rate: 3.7 percent;

  • Navy divorce rate: 3.6 percent;

  • Air Force divorce rate: 3.9 percent; and

  • Marine Corps divorce rate: 3.8 percent.

Military Marriages vs. Civilian Marriages

Though war is an easy scapegoat for the reasoning behind military divorces, military divorces in comparison to civilian divorces are much lower and less likely to occur. In a study published by the Journal of Family Issues, and comparing military marriages and civilian marriages, the data reflected that military personnel were more likely than civilians to get married, and they were less likely to be divorced.

The study shows that although military life can be more difficult and less predictable than civilian life, the United States military has made attempts to be more family-friendly in an attempt to continue enlisting service members and retaining them. The economic benefits of health insurance, child-care, and housing provide incentive to service members to wed.

However, service members involved in the the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are a part of a significantly different military than when the all-volunteer military initially was created. The service members in Iraq and Afghanistan are seeing significantly longer deployments and more significant exposure to combat than their counterparts from 20 years ago.

Issues and Considerations when Deciding to Divorce Your Spouse

If you are considering a divorce and you are a spouse in a military marriage, there are some considerations to keep in mind in regards to asset division and benefits provided. For example:

  • Military retirement pay and military pensions are considered marital property and may be divided by state courts;

  • Military retirement pay may only be divided by state courts if state courts have jurisdiction over the service member because the state was his/her residence, domicile, or he/she gave consent to the state court to have jurisdiction; and

  • Military retirement pay and pensions are only considered marital property, however, when the couple has been married for 10 years and the military spouse’s service period is during the time the couple was married.

Divorce Advocates Available for Consultation 

These are just some of the important considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to file for divorce, regardless of coming from a military marriage or civilian marriage. The experienced Lombard family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are well versed in the separation and divorce procedures and will be able to guide you through this difficult time. Please contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC for further information and a consultation.

The Leading Causes behind Divorce

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divorce grounds, DuPage County family law attorney, Illinois grounds for divorce, irrational behavior, irreconcilable differences, leading causes behind divorce, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, no fault divorce, unreasonable behaviorIn a past study, findings showed that married women who had a stronger educational background than their husbands would be more likely to experience divorce. The statistics were based largely on the gendered stereotypes, which in the past led to marital unrest where traditional gender roles were being tossed aside. However, a new study published in July 2014 suggests that the previous research may be the exception and not the rule.

The study suggests that due to the increase in the egalitarian nature of male and female relationships, educational disparities are no longer associated with a higher possibility of dissolution. The study also finds that couples who have similar educational backgrounds are now more likely to succeed then they were in the past. The numbers found in current demographics suggest that women serving as breadwinners and with the same educational background (or higher) than their spouses has become the new normal. A Pew Research Center study estimates that four out of 10 households has women as the chief moneymakers. Therefore, the question now asked is, what are the factors that lead to divorce these days?

Irrational Behavior Leads to More Divorces than Adultery

One factor analyzed in a study republished by The Guardian found that irrational or bad behavior had a greater impact on the stability of a marriage than did adultery. In the past, infidelity was considered to be most likely the reason for the dissolution of a marriage. Unreasonable or irrational behavior, these days, is the reason given to most divorce attorneys for the split.

Examples of unreasonable or irrational behavior may include:

  • One anti-social partner makes the more social partner feel guilty for wanting to participate in social events;

  • Cross-dressing or sex changes of one of the spouses; and/or

  • Irrational spending of the family’s finances.

 Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, spouses who are interested in getting a divorce may choose to file for a fault or a no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce permits the couple to file for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences and is more likely to make the divorce more amicable, since fault is not being placed on either party. Fault divorce may include such grounds as:

  • Impotency at the time of or during the marriage;

  • Bigamy;

  • Adultery during the marriage;

  • Abandonment of one spouse by another for the duration of one year;

  • The addiction and overuse of alcohol or drugs for two years;

  • Attempted murder by one spouse to another;

  • Extreme mental or physical cruelty;

  • The transmission of one to the other of a sexually transmitted disease; and

  • Incarceration for a felony.

Proving Elements of Fault 

If you are interested in applying for a fault divorce based on one of the many grounds available, then it will be helpful to collect the following requisite proof to state your claim:

  • Proof of any event of mental or physical cruelty through the use of medical records or medical history;

  • Proof of addiction or abuse of alcohol or drugs, through medical records, jail time associated with drugs or alcohol, or affidavits from others who could attest to the drug or alcohol abuse; or

  • Photographs or other incriminating evidence of your spouse’s affair and/or an affidavit attesting to the affair by the spouse or the “other” person.

Family Law Advocates during Divorce Proceedings

If you are considering a divorce and are not sure what the procedure is and whether you would like to file for a no-fault or fault divorce, it is important to speak with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. The experienced attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC will provide you with legal guidance and counsel through this difficult time and help you assess whether a divorce is right for you and your spouse.

New Law Strengthens Child Protective Services

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child mental illness, child protective services, DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois child protective services, mental health treatment, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, parental rights, terminate parental rightsThis August, Governor Pat Quinn signed and put into effect Senate Bill 2909 and House Bill 5598, with the purpose of strengthening Illinois child protective services and providing more help to parents who have children suffering from serious mental health issues. The new bills amend the Children and Family Services Act, and permit parents to seek the services of the State when dealing with children who have serious mental illnesses or emotional disturbances, without having to terminate their parental rights in the absence of any type of abuse or neglect. The new law allows parents, who may no longer be able to care for their child because of a mental illness or emotional disturbance, to relinquish their child to the Department of Children and Family Services so that the child may receive the utmost care that his or her parent is unable to provide.

Purpose of the Amendment 

The purpose of the Bill is two-fold: one, it is a constitutional right of the parent to maintain legal custody of his or her children, and the State has a substantial burden to prove that the parent’s parental rights should be terminated. Secondly, the State wants to limit the number of children who become wards of the State due to the incredible costs associated with the care of the children within the welfare system. If a child requires treatment for his or her developmental disabilities or mental health illness it should have no bearing on the ability of the parent to adequately care for his or her child. It is not within the child’s best interest to be relinquished by his or her parents just because the parents cannot afford proper mental health treatment.

The Bill, itself, provides a financial remedy for parents whose private insurance does not cover the costs of mental health treatment and for parents who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Provisions of the Amendment

The Bill outlines the terms of the new amendments to the Act, and permits the parent or legal guardian to transfer temporary physical custody of the child to the Department so that he or she can undergo necessary treatment. Also, the Department, pursuant to the new amendment, would not be able to request or require that legal custody of the child be transferred permanently to the Department. In addition, the Department would not be permitted to terminate parental rights if there was no evidence to conclude that abuse or neglect was present.

For the child to remain out of the home and in the care of the Department for more than 180 days, the Bill requires a juvenile court to make a finding that treatment, lasting beyond 180 days, is in the best interests of the child and should thus remain within the care of the Department.

Protection of Children with Mental Health Illnesses in Illinois 

The need for this type of Bill is obvious when reviewing the number of children (and adults) who suffer from mental health issues and require treatment in Illinois. In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, there has been an increase in the number of children and adults who are requiring mental health services and treatment. In Lake County, for example, more than 4,700 adults and children in 2013 received treatment and care for mental health illness and emotional disturbances. Between 2010 and 2011, approximately 1,210 children used the Lake County Health Department’s crisis services. More than 1,500 children used the services in 2012.

Protection of Your Parental Rights

Parental rights are constitutionally protected and may not be terminated with great cause. If you are involved in a legal situation where your parental rights may be compromised, please contact the experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC for guidance and information on how to protect your family and access to your children.

To Procreate or to Not Procreate: Whose Right is Most Valid?

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co-parent agreement, DuPage County family law attorneys, frozen embryos, legal controversy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, procreate, right to procreate, sperm donor, assisted reproductive technologyIn recent years, assisted reproductive technology has progressed rapidly and has provided women and men the opportunity to become parents. In 1985, through this new reproductive technology, 260 babies were born to parents who otherwise would not have been able to conceive. As of 2010, more than 61,000 children were born as a result of the newest technology. However, with the amazing results that have occurred from the utilization of this reproductive technology, also comes legal controversies in regards to the rights of the donors. Is the right to not procreate outweighed by the right to procreate?

Illinois’s Stand on the Right to Not Procreate

This legal controversy has been pushed in the direction of the right to procreate with a recent ruling by the Cook County court in Illinois. The Court awarded custody of the frozen embryos that were prepared prior to the woman’s chemotherapy treatment for her lymphoma. The chemotherapy had the effect of destroying the woman’s chance to conceive otherwise. Her now-ex boyfriend had originally agreed to provide his sperm for the embryos and later objected to the use of the embryos after the couple had split. The ex-boyfriend cited privacy issues, stating that the use of his genetic material could have a negative impact in regards to his future with other women.

The case, though the Illinois Supreme Court decided not to review the appeal, provides a direction in reproduction law that the Court would like Illinois to follow. In the face of any objection to procreate, the Court has determined through this ruling that the right to procreate outweighs the objection. Other states have had mixed rulings surrounding the rights of donors and the custody of frozen embryos once a couple has split.

The determinative factor in this case was based largely on the fact that the woman was unable to reproduce as a result of her cancer treatment and that the couple had orally agreed to the conception, even though they had not signed a co-parent agreement determining control of the embryos.

Creation of a Donor/Co-Parent Agreement

Though Illinois courts have shown themselves to be pro-reproduction rights, it is important if you are considering having a child with a non-marital partner or an acquaintance as a donor through assisted reproductive technology that an agreement be written. The agreement should state and define the terms of the custody and control of the embryos and the relationship that the donor or non-marital partner will have once the child is born.

When writing your agreement consider the following:

  1. To what extent may the donor or non-marital partner decide when and where the embryos will be implanted?

  2. Will the donor be known to the child once the child has been born?

  3. Will the donor have any type of visitation rights with the child?

  4. Will the donor be required to help the child in the case of a medical emergency and/or the donor’s medical history might be needed?

  5. If the donor remains in the child’s life as a paternal figure, will the child be able to receive financial support from the donor?

Legal issues surrounding assisted reproductive technology are extremely complex, and it is important to consult an experienced family law attorney who will be able to provide guidance and advice with regards to your decision to conceive a child with a non-marital partner or an acquaintance as a donor. Ironing out the details and terms of the relationship is crucial to ensuring that you bring a child into this world without any legal battles or controversy surrounding his or her birth. Please contact the experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC for more information.

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