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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

Cohabitation + Spousal Support? Not in Illinois

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cohabitation, spousal support, alimony, Illinois divorce attorney, marriage, divorceWith nearly 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, the concept of spousal support is commonplace in today’s society. This is equitable relief for those spouses who may not have contributed much financially, but certainly contributed by supporting the working spouse, whether that means raising children or keeping up with regular household duties.

While spousal support was created so that one spouse can maintain their same quality of life, allow for rehabilitation and educational expenses, or simply allow one spouse to get back on their feet after divorce, the reasons for spousal support are just and fair. Generally, these individuals find new relationships and move on, eventually getting re-married to new people, at which time spousal support, unless otherwise agreed to by the giving party, ceases under Illinois law.

 Issues with Spousal Support

Issues arise however, when the ex-spouse who is receiving alimony cohabitates with their new partner. Under §750 ILCS 5/520(c), the “obligation to pay future maintenance is terminated…if the party receiving maintenance cohabits with another person on a resident,…conjugal basis,” absent an agreement stating otherwise. These issues creep up due to the fact that oftentimes the ex-spouse does not want the spousal support payments to stop, and instead lies about their living situation in hopes to keep that money coming in.

 What is Cohabitation?

Illinois courts have struggled with the idea of cohabitation and spousal support, having a hard time determining when one is actually cohabitating under the statute. Generally, courts look to several different factors to determine whether or not one is cohabitating with another. Such factors include: whether or not the couple shares meals, bank accounts, household chores, and credit accounts; if they exchange holiday and birthday gifts, and spend holidays and birthdays together; and, if they vacation together and maintain a sexual relationship.

In looking at such factors, it is obvious that there is no clear black letter rule that definitely states when one person is “legally” cohabitating with another. Each case brought to the court must look to each of the factors mentioned and determine from the facts and evidence whether or not the ex-spouse is still entitled to the support payments they have received since divorce.

Clearly, the idea of one ex-spouse paying another while the other is living with a new partner defies the very nature of spousal support. The reason being that, if the ex is cohabitating with another, the new partner should be capable of supporting themselves and the ex without the help of the support itself. As mentioned previously, spousal support was not created as a permanent means of income for the ex, but as a way to help them divide themselves from the partnership and become an individual again, a notion very important in those situations where one partner has spent the majority of the relationship as a stay-at-home mom or dad.

 Technology May Play a Role

As technology develops, however, determining whether or not two people actually cohabitate together will be come easier. Last year, The Huffington Post published an article suggesting that cell phone data could be used as evidence to prove cohabitation, and therefore terminate spousal support for the paying spouse.

 Contact a DuPage County Attorney

Regardless of the situation, the idea of supporting someone to whom you were never married does not support the traditional canons of equity and justice for the partner who is paying. If you think that your ex-spouse is cohabitating with a new partner and you are paying spousal support, the divorce attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are well equipped to get you the answers you are looking for.

Obtaining an Order of Protection in Illinois

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 abusive relationships, domestic abuse, Illinois Domestic Violence Act, order of protection, Illinois domestic violence attorneys, Illinois family law attorneys, DuPage County, Centralized Domestic Violence Court, family law, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, Chicago divorce lawyer, Order of Protection in IllinoisDomestic Violence

As we become more aware of the issues and challenges surrounding domestic violence in society, both individual states and the federal government have adopted new laws and protections for victims of abusive relationships.

Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” Domestic violence is a term that is used to describe threats or actions that are physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or psychological that someone employs in an attempt to control another person.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA)

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) is a statute that is in place in Illinois that establishes domestic violence as a serious crime. It sets forth who qualifies as a victim of domestic violence, what remedies he or she can seek for protection against this crime, and how he or she can go about seeking these remedies. It also lays out the steps that law enforcement officers must take in assisting victims of this crime. One of the remedies that IDVA established is an Order of Protection.

Order of Protection

An order of protection, or restraining order, is a written legal document signed by a judge. It requires an abusive family member to stop abuse immediately, and may also limit the abuser’s physical access to the home of the abuse victim. The purpose of this document is to put in place a legal protection to keep an abusive spouse away from the abused, with the goal of preventing additional violence in the home. Every case is different and an order of protection can be written up to address each individual circumstance to better fit the needs of the victim.

Just like any violation of the law, if the abusive spouse violates the order of protection, he or she can be arrested and put in jail.

Who Can Get an Order of Protection?

Any household or family member who is abused by another household or family member can get an order of protection. This means the protection is not limited to just spouse-to-spouse violence. Anyone living under the same roof, including the children of an abused spouse or their relatives, can be protected.

Judges have discretion over the granting of requests for orders of protection. It is the responsibility of the victim to prove to the judge that he or she has been or could be abused.

Where Do You Go to Get an Order of Protection?

There are different courts a domestic violence victim can go to in order to obtain an order of protection in the Illinois. It will depend on the circumstance of the person contemplating obtaining an order of protection. For example, if criminal charges have been filed or criminal acts reported to the police, then one can file at the Centralized Domestic Violence Court. If the victim is married and has filed, or is contemplating filing for a divorce but does not want to file criminal charges against the abuser, he or she can file in the Circuit Court Domestic Relations Division. If there are no criminal charges or activity and the parties are not married, a victim can also file in the Centralized Domestic Violence Court.

Legal Resources in Illinois

If you or someone you know is seeking family law support services, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Illinois family law attorneys today. We serve clients in DuPage County, and we can help you with any of your family law issues. Contact us today.

Illinois Adoption and the Criminal Background Check

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adoption process, background checks, criminal background check, Illinois adoption lawyer, Mevorah Law Offices LLC, process of adoption in Illinois, Illinois Adoption ActThe Adoption Process

The process of adopting children in the United States is a very lengthy and stringent one. Potential adoptive parents must go through a litany of paperwork, character assessments, and huge financial hurdles to be considered as an acceptable match.

Under the Illinois Adoption Act, the Illinois adoption investigation process looks at many factors regarding the suitability of the potential adopting parents. It investigates, among other things, “the character, reputation, health, and general standing in the community of the petitioners.”

One important requirement is that a criminal background check be conducted. The investigation required under the Illinois Adoption Act includes a fingerprint-based criminal background check with a review of fingerprints by the Illinois State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The process requires each petitioner to submit his or her fingerprints to the Department of State Police. These fingerprints will be checked against criminal history records databases to see if they have anything on file.

There is a fee associated with this background check. The background check includes “a listing of when, where, and by whom the criminal background check was prepared.” The criminal background check has to be less than two years old. The criminal background check review does not have to be filed at the same time as the initial adoption petition.

Exceptions to the Rule

Under Illinois Adoption Act, there is no requirement to do a background check for family member adoptions. In a highly publicized case in McLean County, a previous sex offender was allowed to adopt his new spouse’s daughter and grandchildren, despite his previous conviction as a sex offender. In 1989, Jason Mason was convicted of sexual assault of a 6-year old girl. His conviction was overturned and Mason took a plea deal in 1992. With the plea deal, he successfully avoided a new trial and the threat of returning to prison.

Mason’s criminal history did not arise in the private adoption approved in McLean County, as background checks for adoptions of family members are not a requirement under Illinois adoption laws. Mason’s 10-year requirement to register as a sex offender had ended before the adoption process began.

It is not quite clear why family members are currently excluded from the criminal background check process in McLean County. According to Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokeswoman Karen Hawkin, family members are the first place to turn if a parent is not able to care for their child.

While keeping the child within the extended family does have many benefits, this should not mean a family member does not have to meet the basic requirements through which any other potential adopting parent has to go. Certainly, a previous status of being a sexual offender, no matter how long ago the conviction, must be a factor to be weighed in the investigation process to assess the overall suitability of the person as an adoptive parent. The purpose of the criminal background check under the Illinois Adoption Act is to uncover any issues that may speak negatively to one’s character and overall fitness to adopt.

There is no doubt the courts will revisit this issue to address the gap in the law that excludes family members from the criminal background investigation process.

Resources

The adoption process can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. If you are considering adoption and want to know more about the process, do not hesitate to contact our DuPage County divorce lawyers at (630) 932-9100 for a free consultation today.

Online Infidelity and Divorce

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online infidelity, grounds for divorce, DuPage divorce lawyers, cheating spouse, social media, online dating, adultery, having an affair, online affair, The Changing Face of Infidelity

The Internet and the advent of social media have brought about change in how we interact with people. We often spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or surfing the Web than socializing face-to-face. And with this change, online dating websites have become a popular way for people to meet. However, these sites have also become a way for people to cheat and engage in online infidelity, leading to grounds for divorce.

Online Dating While Married

While the Internet has improved our lives by making things faster, easier, and more accessible, it has also made it exponentially easier to have an affair. The Internet provides ample opportunities and discretion for a cheating spouse. This convenience has resulted in an alarming trend of people who use dating websites to engage in online infidelity.

Many of these online dating websites, such as Match.com or eHarmony, are geared towards single people. But, all too often, they are abused by unfaithful spouses who create fake profiles and pretend to be single. Other websites are set up specifically and blatantly for people who are looking to cheat. One of the best known sites Ashley Madison, proudly states, “Life is short. Have an affair.”

If a spouse cheats and the affair is discovered, it can have devastating consequences on the marriage. While some couples are able to work through the infidelity with counseling or other methods, others decide that divorce is the best option. Whatever decision is made, infidelity creates a difficult future for the couple.

 Grounds for Divorce in Illinois

When a couple decides to divorce in the state of Illinois, under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are several grounds for the divorce. Illinois is a state that provides both “no-fault” and “fault” grounds. Under current Illinois law, either spouse may file for divorce, regardless of whether one was at fault.

 Adultery

Adultery is one of the most common fault grounds for divorce. Proof of adultery is essential in making this claim. Proof can come in many forms, such as eyewitness testimony, photographic evidence, or through evidence gathered from the Internet or social media. Emails, chat logs, and other online messages are being subpoenaed regularly as evidence of adultery in divorce proceedings, thus making it easier to prove infidelity by the created paper trail.

Know Your Rights

Deciding to separate or file for divorce can be a very scary and painful process. The attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are compassionate about your circumstances and understand what it will take to help you get back on your feet after a devastating marital dissolution. Do not hesitate to contact our DuPage County, Illinois, divorce lawyers at (630) 932-9100 for a free consultation today.

Kansas Introduces Legislation to Make Divorce Harder to Obtain

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no-fault divorce, divorce decree, family law attorneys, DuPage Divorce Lawyers, Illinois lawyers, legislation, divorce legislationIn a move that may signal a trend amongst politically conservative states in America, a bill has been introduced in the Kansas House of Representatives that would eliminate “no-fault” divorce. The legislation, introduced by Republican Rep. Keith Esau on behalf of another representative, would strike that part of Kansas’ Divorce and Maintenance statute that lists “incompatibility” as a legally viable ground for a divorce decree. “No-fault divorce gives people an easy out instead of working at it. It would be my hope that they could work out their incompatibilities and learn to work together on things,” said Rep. Esau about the bill.

Detractors, however, see the goals as noble, but the means as flawed. Family law expert and attorney Morgan O’Hara Gering does not believe that this will reduce the number of divorces; rather, it will just make them more contentious. “It could create a lot more litigation and a lot more headaches just to fight about who’s to blame.”

Kansas is historically conservative, having voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every presidential election since 1968. However, 10 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women in Kansas are divorced, as of 2008. This could be seen as evidence of the seeming paradox between states with high political and religious conservatism having the highest rates of divorce. Whatever the cause, divorce seems to be a problem with some politicians, and Kansas is not alone. Oklahoma, Kansas’ neighbor to the south, recently introduced a bill that, while not eliminating no-fault divorce, lengthened the waiting period for divorce. Typically, however, “at-fault” divorces are available to anyone.

The Law of Divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, we enjoy a relatively low level of divorce. In fact, Illinoisans have the fourth lowest divorce rate of all 50 states. Here, the old “at-fault” grounds for divorce still exist. They include adultery, habitual drunkenness, drug use, impotence, and even something so sensical as attempted murder of the spouse. These would all require a hearing, and then, if proven by a preponderance of the evidence, a divorce decree would be entered. However, “no-fault” divorce is also available, meaning that, after a two-year separation (six months if both spouses agree), a decree would be entered.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney

No matter where you live, divorce can be messy. Emotions run high, finances run low, and the process stretches far into the future. But you do not have to do it alone. An experienced family law attorney can help to ease you through the process, so you come out on the other side ready to live your life. If you are considering divorce, contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC today.

One Woman’s Story Highlights the Pitfalls of Marrying Young

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young marriage, divorce, life after divorce, Illinois, family law, divorce lawyerIn medieval England, and at other points in world history, marriage was less an institution to promote family values than it was a tool used by the aristocracy to consolidate power. Accordingly, it was not uncommon for women to be wed soon after they were capable of bearing children, often in their early teens. In modern society, this has changed drastically. The goals of marriage have been updated to such things as starting a family and building a life with a treasured partner. The average age of first marriage has also changed significantly.

 According to the US Census, the median age of women marrying for the first time was 26.1 years old as of 2010. This is in stark contrast to the perceived conservative era of the 1950s, when the median age was 20.3. With women increasingly being educated and working high paying jobs, there is opportunity for women to survive without relying upon a husband to earn a paycheck.

 There are significant portions of the population, however, that get married early. Sometimes these marriages work, but there is a correlation between marrying young and divorce. The divorce rate decreases as the age at first marriage increases. There could be many reasons why this is true: women become more educated in those years, women better understand what they want when they are more mature and experienced, and so on. For one woman, finding herself divorced at age 22 was not a revelation, but instead an important learning experience.

 Ashlee Henry recently posted her story to Huffington Post Divorce’s “This Is Divorce at…” series, examining individual divorce experiences at various ages. Her post, “What It’s Like to Be Divorced at 22 – And Remarried by 27,” tells her story of young love, marriage to a military man, and her shattered misconceptions. “If anyone had ever told me, ‘Ashlee, you will be married twice well before you are 30’ when I was younger, I probably just would have laughed it off.” Lest you feel sorry for Ashlee, though, she affirms that the experience had a positive impact. “Although at times it might seem terrifying, it is in reality anything but,” she writes. “In fact, it’s empowering.”

 Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney

 Those who read Ashlee’s post in its entirety will likely be struck by her maturity and her ability to persevere through adversity. They, too, should take away the message that divorce, though painful and messy, is not the end. It can, in fact, be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in life. If you are contemplating divorce, a knowledgeable and sympathetic divorce attorney in Illinois can help ease your way into your new life. Contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC today for a consultation.

 

Same-Sex Marriages Do Not Yet Mean Equality, Especially When Traveling

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same-sex marriage, Illinois, Illinois law, divorce, marriage, marriage equalityMuch has been written about the landmark law passed in Illinois last year legalizing same-sex marriages. Many have weighed in on the subject, be they opposed (like the Catholic Church), in favor (like the American Civil Liberties Union), or blasé (like the US Supreme Court, if the satirical newspaper The Onion is to be believed).

However one feels about it, the law goes into effect statewide on June 1st. On that date, same-sex couples can apply for marriage licenses so that their marriages can receive the same benefits, rights, and responsibilities as traditional, opposite-sex marriages. In fact, for some Illinois residents, including those in Cook and Champaign counties, clerk’s offices have already begun giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This is a result of a federal judge’s recent decision striking down the old state law as violating the U.S. Constitution.

This equality, however, will not necessarily exist outside of Illinois.

 Illinois was the 16th state to legalize gay marriage in America. Same-sex marriages are recognized as legal and binding in the now 18 states (and the District of Columbia) that allow them, whether the marriage was conducted in Illinois, Massachusetts, California, or wherever else. However, outside of those states, this may not be the case. In Colorado, a legally recognized gay marriage conducted in another state is treated as a civil union. Everywhere else, the marriage simply does not exist, and the rights commensurate with marriage are withheld.

 This makes travel potentially dangerous and more than a little taxing, according to a report by the Chicago Sun-Times. The piece reports on the travel difficulties suffered by same-sex couples who have adopted, as well as those who travel together. When traveling with children, not everyone will presume that two people of the same gender are the parents of the child in their possession. As a result, gay couples often find themselves needing to prove their status as parents of the children, or risk having the police take the child away. Traveling with a birth certificate for the child, in order to prove identity, is very real for some parents.

 Other considerations include proving that one is related to someone in case of hospitalization. This can be done with adoption papers in the case of hospitalized children. But there have been heartbreaking cases in which people were denied access to their loved ones’ deathbed, merely because the state they were in did not recognize same sex marriage.

 Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney

While the landmark law in Illinois is a broad step toward marriage equality in America, there are still many legal pitfalls same-sex couples can fall into. Much of the law of same-sex marriage is unsettled, and though it is not fair, same-sex couples need to protect themselves in ways that opposite-sex couples do not. If you are contemplating marriage, contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC today.

A Brief Look at the (Surprisingly) Brief History of Divorce

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history of divorce, Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois divorce attorneyDepending on whom you ask, divorce is both a modern contrivance and an ancient right. In Muslim and Jewish religious law, a divorce is fairly easy to acquire for the husband. If a wife wants a divorce, it is more difficult. However, in Western Civilization, dominated by Christianity in general and (at least in Europe) Roman Catholicism specifically, divorce was (and remains) forbidden. Since most of our law derives from England, why is divorce as prevalent in the US as it is? Why do nearly half of first marriages end in divorce in America?

According to an article written by Amanda Foreman and published in the latest issue of Smithsonian Magazine, women’s liberation gave rise to the notion of equitable divorce that is more freely available. But to state blankly that the perceived crisis in marriage is the fault of women is to misunderstand the history of divorce.

The blame for divorce being so prevalent has occasionally been laid at the feet of Anne Boleyn, the character who enticed Henry VIII, desperate for a male heir and willing to cast aside Catherine of Aragon to get one, into declaring the Church of England the official state church and making himself head. However, Henry VIII did not divorce Catherine, he merely had his marriage annulled. Indeed, he eventually had his marriage to Anne annulled, after she was convicted of numerous crimes, and before she was beheaded.

The church that Henry founded apparently vehemently opposed divorce as much as the Catholic Church did. It even weakened traditional grounds for annulment, relaxing the consanguinity prohibition so that distant cousins could remain married.

 Ending a marriage in England was difficult for men, but near impossible for women. Until a divorce law was passed in 1857, a spouse who wanted a divorce had to get a decree from Parliament. Husbands could receive a divorce after proving their wives had been adulterous. Wives, however, had to prove an adulterous husband in addition to some other factor that made married life unbearable. “Over the years, women learned that brutality, rape, desertion and financial chicanery did not count,” according to Ms. Foreman.

Today, in the US, both men and women are free to marry and divorce as they please. But, Ms. Foreman points out that the situation is often not equal. A single mother will likely suffer more financially from divorce than would a father without custody. Spousal maintenance and child support are available to help ease the burden of divorce, and an experienced family law attorney can make sure you get what you need. If you are getting a divorce, contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC today.

Kardashian/Odom Divorce: High Stakes and High Visibility

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asset evaluation IMAGEThe Huffington Post is reporting that the divorce of reality star Khloe Kardashian and NBA analyst and former basketball player Lamar Odom will be a significant story arc in the upcoming season of E! Entertainment Television’s hit reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The couple married in September 2009, but controversy has wracked the relationship from the beginning. Amid accusations of infidelity on Odom ‘s part, as well as alleged cocaine and Oxycontin abuse, the couple filed for divorce last December. Kris Jenner, Kardashian’s mother, told the Huffington Post that the couple’s’ troubles, Khloe’s trial in dealing with the relationship’s end, and the couple putting their $5 million mansion up for sale will all be covered in Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ upcoming ninth season.

Divorce is never easy, even when it seems that it is the right thing to do. But when large amounts of money are involved, emotions tend to cloud the judgment. It is easy to lose oneself in the mentality of “winning” versus “losing.” One may become reluctant to agree to anything out of sheer spite. A good way to avoid this kind of counterproductive thinking is to enter into a prenuptial agreement before getting married. If the time for that has come and gone, it is important to properly evaluate the worth of your assets before entering into divorce proceedings.

Pre-nuptial Agreements

Pre-nuptial agreements are contracts between parties about to wed declaring how assets are to be divided in the event of divorce. They are excellent tools to avoid animosity and cost if divorce is imminent. If the method of distribution of the marital assets is determined, there is one less bone of contention that parties (and attorneys billing at an hourly rate) must argue.

High-Value Asset Evaluation

Both Kardashian and Odom have prominent careers and have undoubtedly amassed a fortune for themselves. However, much of what they have earned is likely marital property, and thus must be equitably distributed between them. If they did not obtain a pre-nuptial agreement, accurate determination of the value of their property (which may include production companies, product lines, and television production contracts) is absolutely vital. An experienced family attorney has the resources to effectively determine the worth of shared property in an effort to equitably divide the assets.

Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer

Whether rich or poor, pre-nuptial agreement or not, divorce is a difficult experience. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can help make the process as painless as possible. If you are contemplating divorce, contact Mevorah Law Offices LLC at 630-932-9100.

 

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