Much 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.
Depending 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.
The 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 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.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a staggering 94 percent of married couples claim to be “happy” or “very happy” in their marriages, according to a poll commissioned by Thomson Reuters. The poll questioned over 1700 married or cohabiting American adults. While on the surface this poll belies the 45 percent divorce rate in America, experts are quick to advise that these results be taken with a grain of salt.
“Direct observation and analysis of the interactions is the way to really learn what’s going on in a relationship,” said certified couples’ therapist Donald Cole of the Gottman Institute. Cole did say of the poll that the statistics gleaned are “a good starting point.”
The poll shows that arguments between married couples are frequent, but that a majority of those polled report having “heated arguments” less than monthly or never. This reflects a growing understanding amongst couples’ therapists that attempts to solve problems are often counterproductive. Carrie Cole, a certified therapist, said that “[r]esearch shows only 31 percent of our problems are solvable; 69 percent are perpetual.” This means that acceptance of differences may be better for the health of the relationship than trying to solve every problem. “Problem-solving is highly overrated,” said Donald Cole who, incidentally, is married to Carrie Cole.
Simply because many problems are best left unsolved does not mean that communication is somehow less important. In fact, 95 percent of men and 97 percent of women considered good communication important to the relationship. Further evidence of the importance of good communication is presented by a study conducted by Terri Orbuch, professor of sociology at Oakland University in Michigan. Entitled “The Early Years of Marriage Project,” Professor Orbuch has studied nearly 400 couples for 27 years. Amongst what she has found is that small acknowledgements of each other, such as small affirmations of love and respect, contributed to the overall health and longevity of marriage.
DuPage County Family Law Attorneys
Many marriages begin pristine, and the marrieds report that they are exceedingly happy. Many marriages also endure beyond this so-called “honeymoon period.” However, happiness early in a marriage, or at any stage of a marriage, is not necessarily predictive of whether the marriage will avoid divorce. Many marriages end. In the event of divorce, you need someone who is compassionate and experienced. If you are contemplating divorce, contact the Mevorah Law Offices, LLC at 630-932-9100.
The Social Affairs Minister of France is considering a plan whereby couples would not need to appear before a judge to obtain a divorce, the Associated Press reports. Dominique Bertinotti delivered a report to France’s Justice Minister that contained over 200 plans, including the expedited divorce plan. Bertinotti, in support of the plan, cited statistics that say 54 percent of French divorces are uncontested, and that the average hearing time for uncontested cases is eight minutes. Under the new plan, couples seeking an uncontested divorce could appear in front of a clerk of the court, rather than a judge. Said Bertinotti, “one couple in two will divorce. Do we have to make it more difficult?”
Some argue that this measure will weaken the institution of marriage. But while the “one couple in two” statistic may be true in France, it is arguably not in the US. In fact, divorce has been steadily declining since at least 2000.
Just how easy is it to get divorced now, and should it be made easier? A brief history lesson may help illuminate the state of divorce in Illinois.
Fault vs. No Fault
Most of our law is derived from the English common law, and divorce historically did not exist. England was a Catholic nation, and the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce. Henry VIII changed this by establishing the Church of England (which is present in the US as the Episcopal Church), which allowed for his divorce.
The law in the US tends to leave family law in the hands of the individual states. Therefore, divorce law can be drastically different depending on where you live. However, the majority of the states only allowed for divorce if one of the spouses were at fault for doing something damaging to the marriage or to the other spouse. In Illinois, the grounds were the following:
- Desertion for a year;
- Habitual drunkenness for two years;
- Drug addiction for two years;
- Attempted murder of the spouse;
- Extreme physical or mental cruelty;
- Felony conviction; or
- Infection of the spouse with an STD.
These remain grounds for divorce in Illinois, but in 1984, no-fault divorce was added to the statute. In order to get a divorce, the petitioning spouse only has to cite irreconcilable differences, and live separate from the spouse for two years. If the spouses each agree to the divorce, the “living separately” requirement is only six months.
Contact an Illinois Divorce Lawyer
Divorce may be easy to obtain in Illinois, but the process is difficult, time-consuming, and emotionally tiring. An experienced DuPage County family law attorney can help ease you into the process and can settle it as quickly as possible. If you are contemplating divorce in Illinois, contact the Mevorah Law Offices LLC today at 630-932-9100.
The Quincy Herald-Whig reports that Islamic religious authorities have conducted a mass marriage ceremony involving over 1000 couples in Kano, Nigeria. Amongst the reasons given for conducting the mass ceremony were: financial protection for widows and divorcees; children being born out of wedlock; a rise in illicit behavior like drinking and prostitution; and as relief for less affluent bachelors who wish to marry. Under Nigerian custom, a dowry must be paid to the bride in order to marry, in addition to costly ceremonies leading up to the wedding. Bachelors, too poor to afford the price of marriage, are reportedly resorting to the less-expensive option of prostitutes.
And many prostitutes themselves are being swept up in mass weddings like these (which are becoming more and more frequent; according to Deputy Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, nearly 4500 couples have been married in mass ceremonies in the last 18 months). Most couples welcome the opportunity to marry so inexpensively. However, convicted prostitutes are given the choice to either go to jail or get married. Many choose to get married.
This story raises interesting questions about foreign marriage. Many who marry outside of the US intend for a “destination wedding,” and expect their marriage to be recognized once they reach stateside. Others have their marriages arranged for them, and then come to the US. Others still are, based on the above reported story, coerced into marrying against their will in foreign nations where local custom recognizes such marriages. The question, then, is this: what makes a foreign marriage valid in the US?
Family law is an area of the law traditionally left to the states. This is illustrated by the fact that age of consent to marry, the acceptable level of consanguinity, and, recently, recognition of same-sex marriage, can vary widely depending on the state. Whether a state will recognize a foreign marriage, or any other legal judgment rendered by a foreign government, depends on the doctrine of comity.
Comity is the policy of recognizing foreign judgments in local courts, and the courts have the authority to so recognize, but not the obligation. In Illinois, foreign marriages can be proven by cohabitation and other evidence. However, “[r]ecognition of a foreign judgment may be withheld where (1) it is contrary to the public policy of the state where the recognition is sought, (2) the country in which the decree was rendered does not recognize American decrees, or (3) the judgment was obtained in bad faith, by fraud or by taking advantage of the foreign law.” If someone was married against their will, then it is possible that an Illinois court would not recognize it.
Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney
Foreign marriage is a difficult proposition for anyone hoping to make a home in the US. An experienced Chicago family law attorney can help navigate the difficult waters of foreign marriage or divorce. Contact Mevorah Law Offices, LLC today for a consultation.
If you are a parent facing divorce, you may be overwhelmed with the idea of breaking the news to your children. Divorce is scary in itself, but throwing kids into the mix can make it even more difficult. However, it is possible to reduce the stress sitting down and having “the divorce talk” with your kids if you prepare correctly and follow a few simple steps.
When preparing for your conversation, you and your spouse should sit down together and write out exactly what you will say. It is important for the two of you to agree on what you will and will not tell the kids, especially if you are unable to give the speech together. Planning things out will help you to avoid sending your children mixed messages and adding even more chaos to the situation.
When you are planning things out, be sure to also plan when and where the talk will happen. For example, you do not want to break the news to your children the evening before someone’s big soccer game or at a time when you have relatives visiting.
When scripting your talk, there are a few things you should be sure to include. First of all, your children deserve to know the truth about the situation. However, this does not mean you need to get into every sticky detail. Try something simple and straightforward, such as “We just can’t get along anymore.”
The reasons you give can vary depending on the age of your children. Let your kids know that no matter what happens with mom and dad, you will never stop loving them. Assure them that you will both still be there for them and that you will still be a family-just a different one. Be sure to be honest and address any changes that will occur in their lives so they can prepare themselves, let your kids know that you will all work through the changes together, step by step.
Divorce is hard, and divorce involving children can be even harder. If you are a parent facing divorce, do not go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois divorce attorney to assist you in preparing for your talk and helping you with the process itself.
Divorce is painful, emotional, and complex. It touches every part of your life, and if you have children, you will likely have to deal with the fallout for years. Once the marriage is dissolved, new problems can easily crop up. One such problem that lawmakers, family law attorneys, and divorced people have tackled with varying levels of success is child custody and visitation.
In Illinois, the involvement of both parents in the raising of the child is a matter of public policy written expressly into the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. To this end, both parents have the right (if not the duty) to participate as much as they can in the upbringing of their children. If either parent interferes with the visitation or custody order from the court, absent a good reason, they open themselves up to liability from the courts. The parent with whose rights have been interfered has options on how to correct the interference.
Criminal Court and the Crime of Unlawful Visitation or Parenting Time Interference
In Illinois, interfering with visitation rights is a crime. If one “detains or conceals a child with the intent to deprive another person of his or her rights to visitation, parenting time, or custody time,” she is subject to a petty offense with a fine. (The feminine pronoun is used here because, as of 2007, mothers made up 82.6 percent of the custodial parents in divorced couples. Men are subject to the crime as well, be they custodial parents or not.) If the parent is convicted more than two times for the crime, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor, with possible jail time. While this statute is a valuable tool to enforce visitation agreements, it severely limits the options for the parent pursuing the agreement’s enforcement. A better option may be the civil courts.
Civil Court and Enforcement of Visitation Agreements
If a parent wishes to enforce their visitation agreement after interference, he can file a petition with the family court. The judge will hold a hearing regarding the visitation agreement and its violation. The judge can then modify the agreement, order additional visitation time to make up for the time lost, or the nebulous “[o]ther appropriate relief deemed equitable.” If the judge feels that visitation is being unreasonably impeded, he can use the contempt power of the court to levy a fine against the interfering parent, suspend the parent’s driving privileges, or even imprison the parent for up to six months.
Contact a Family Law Attorney Today
A child is better off with two involved parents, and visitation is essential to ensuring parental involvement after divorce. If your visitation rights have been impeded, an experienced family law attorney can begin the proceedings to help you enforce your rights. Contact an Illinois family law attorney today.
Divorce is a headache. Like in all legal matters, you can choose to represent yourself. This will save on lawyer’s fees and you will have more control over your case’s strategy. Most people going into divorce are doing it for the first time though, and hopefully will never do it again. This lack of experience can lead to serious pitfalls, which an experienced Illinois family law attorney knows to avoid.
Assuming you hire an attorney to represent you in your divorce, you may still be in for a headache. The process could take months or years, and you will likely disagree with your ex about a number of things. The uncertainty and confusion can be daunting. What can be even more confusing is issues of jurisdiction. To put it another way, do you know if it is even possible for you to get a divorce in Illinois? And, if so, will it be valid everywhere?
Divorce and the Constitution
If you are married, and you decide to go on vacation out of state, you are still married when you reach your destination. This is so well accepted that you probably do not even think about it. But rarely anyone knows why this is the case. If you are married in Illinois, why are you still married in every other state?
The answer is the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution. Essentially, the Constitution says that every state must give full faith and credit to the law of every other state. Of course, this is subject to exceptions, and entire areas of the law have been built up around the laws of one state and how they interact with other states and with Federal law. You can rest assured, however, that if you are married in Illinois, your marriage will be recognized by every state and territory of the US, as well as the District of Columbia.
But what of divorce? If you were married in Illinois, and received a divorce in Illinois, then you are divorced everywhere. However, if you have moved and are seeking a divorce in another state, you will have to satisfy the residency requirements of the state in which you are filing. In Illinois, that requirement is 90 days. Every state has its own requirements. Further, if you move and your ex still lives in the state in which you were married, it may be unfair to file for divorce in your new state, and thus the court may lack jurisdiction.
Divorce and You
What does this mean for you? If you are new to Illinois, you may or may not be able to file for divorce here for a marriage obtained elsewhere. If you fail to get divorced and try to get married to another individual, then you may be guilty of bigamy, and your new marriage may not be valid. An experienced DuPage County divorce attorney can help guide you through this complex and stressful process. If you are seeking a divorce in Illinois,contact the Mevorah Law Offices LLC today.
With Governor Pat Quinn’s signature on November 20th, Illinois is now the 16th state in the US to recognize same-sex marriage. This means that on both a state and Federal level, same-sex marriage has the same rights, responsibilities, and guarantees as a marriage between a man and a woman. It also means that same-sex couples can dissolve their marriages with the same amount of stress and uncertainty as different-sex couples. But while the fight for equal rights to marriage is the most visible, the fight for equal rights to divorce is part of that struggle. And for couples in any of the states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, the fight goes on.
Associated Press is reporting that Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham was denied a divorce from her spouse of 4 years because the state in which she filed, Mississippi, does not recognize same-sex marriage. Lauren and her spouse, Dana Ann Melancon, traveled to California to get married in 2008. While they are married in the eyes of California, the many states that recognize gay marriage, and the Federal government, they were never married according to Mississippi.
There are many implications for same-sex married couples unable to get a divorce. The most immediate is division of property. Under Illinois law, most property obtained by the couple during the life of the marriage is deemed “marital property,” which is either divided up equally between the spouses, or sold and the proceeds split. If the couple was never legally married, then the ownership of the property would be in dispute.
Another issue is alimony, or spousal support. In Illinois, spousal support is money provided from one spouse to the other to help ease the transition from married life into single life. However, if there was no marriage, then there is no “spouse” to offer support.
Czekala-Chatham and Melancon settled their dispute over property with the help of their attorneys. However, it would have been far easier for the couple if they had access to the resources traditionally made available to married couples. In addition to that, the two women may still actually be married.
Not Married in MS; Still Married in CA?
Mississippi refused the two women a divorce, because the state believes they were never married to begin with. But does that mean they are still married in California?
Under Illinois law, any marriage recognized by any other state is valid in Illinois. After July 1st, when same-sex marriage will be recognized in Illinois, this will be true of out-of-state gay marriages as well. Subsequently, if these two women never had their marriage dissolved, they would still be legally married.
This does not mean that they would have to act married, but it would have repercussions if they ever wished to marry again. Bigamy is a crime in many jurisdictions. Bigamy also renders void any marriage that comes later. In order to proceed with a new marriage, the old marriage must be dissolved, which may mean establishing residency in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, which in Illinois is 90 days. For someone living in Mississippi, this could be an insurmountable hardship.
Marriage and Divorce in Illinois
Whether you are considering marriage or divorce in Illinois, the path is fraught with potential legal pitfalls. A prenuptial agreement can protect you before marriage; an experienced attorney can fight for you during divorce. If you are contemplating marriage or divorce, contact an experienced Illinois family lawyer today.