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Rockford IL Family Law Blog

IL Supreme Court case highlights lack of financial protections for unmarried couples

Protecting oneself financially is important whenever a long-standing relationship fails. This is as important for unmarried couples as it is for married couples. In some ways, it is more important for unmarried couples given that state law does not provide any special entitlements.

A case decided last week by the Illinois Supreme Court highlights this point well. The court ruled in the case that unmarried domestic partners do not have any rights in each other’s property when their domestic partnership ends. 

How do judges figure amount and duration of spousal maintenance?

We previously began looking at the issue of spousal maintenance or support, specifically how Illinois courts determine whether a spouse is entitled to maintenance.  Picking up where we left off last time, if a judge determines it is just to award maintenance to a spouse, the amount and duration of the award needs to be determined.

Illinois state law provides specific guidelines regarding the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. The calculations are based on the gross income of the parties separately and together, and the length of the marriage. 

When is a spouse entitled to maintenance in Illinois?

In divorce, it is critical to work with an experienced attorney who can help ensure a fair settlement is reached with respect to assets and debts. Property division in Illinois, is governed by the principle of equitable distribution, and state law requires courts to come to ensure that property and debts are divided in a manner that is “just and equitable.”

Just and equitable division of assets and debts is not the only financial area where a spouse may need advocacy, though. In some cases, a spouse may need advocacy with respect to spousal maintenance. In fact, spousal maintenance is very much related to property division since spousal support may be paid not only from the income of the other spouse, but also from the other spouse’s property. 

Handling back-to-school time as a divorced parent

Autumn is almost here, and with that comes cooler weather, changing leaves, and a new school year. As you and your child get ready, you likely have a long list of school supplies to purchase, new clothes to buy, textbooks to get and adjustments to make in your home to accommodate school start/end times and extracurricular activities.

If you are divorced, you may have additional worries, including determining whether your child's school schedule will impact your current custody and parenting time arrangement, as well as what - if any - information you need to share with the school regarding your unique family situation.

What recourse is available when a parent abuses/violates parenting time order? P.2

In our last post, we began looking at what types remedies a court can order when a parent is found to have violated a parenting time order. As we noted, there are a variety of possible remedies, including holding the offending parent in contempt of court. This, again, can result in additional sanctions.

State law mentions several possibilities available to the court when a party is held in contempt for violating a parenting time order. One is that a parent may have his or her driving privileges suspended until he or she comes into compliance. If this occurs, limited driving privileges may be ordered for a time. 

What recourse is available when a parent abuses/violates parenting time order?

When a couple with children breaks up and has to sort out custody issues, it isn’t uncommon for there to issues that arise even after a court establishes a parenting plan. Whether the plan was mutually agreed upon by both parents before the court’s approval, or directly ordered by the court, issues can arise when couples fail to cooperate with the terms of the plan.

Enforcement action can be initiated by filing a petition listing, among other things, the terms of the parenting plan or allocation judgment and the nature of the violation of the plan or judgment. Parties who initiate an enforcement action are expected to provide specific dates and relevant information regarding the violation. They must also have made a reasonable attempt to resolve the dispute. 

What is parental alienation and what can be done about it?, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the topic of parental alienation and how parents can address it. Parental alienation can, of course, be very harmful to children, and it is therefore a concern of the court when a parent displays behaviors which suggest he or she is attempting to turn a child against the other parent or negatively impact the child’s relationship with the other parent.

When a parent is engaging in parental alienation, an important remedy that can be taken is to seek modification of the custody or visitation order. Courts are allowed under state law to restrict parental responsibilities when it is proven more likely than not that a parent is engaging in behaviors which “seriously endangers a child’s mental, moral, or physical health or hat significantly impair[s] the child’s emotional development. 

Paper offers guidance to fertility clinics on contracts involving frozen embryo rights

Creating a human life is a profound act, and one that can create a lot of legal complications when done in the lab. The use of artificial reproductive technologies, while allowing couples to exercise increased control over their ability to procreate, can result in difficult legal issues when disagreements later arise.

A recently published paper which looked at the issue highlighted how case law dealing with ownership rights over frozen embryos leave a lot to be desired in terms of clarity. That paper also recommended a variety of measures that can be taken both by couples and clinics to reduce legal problems when fertilized embryos are frozen. 

What is parental alienation and what can be done about it?

In our last post, we began looking at the importance of cooperation between parents in making a proposed child custody arrangement work. As we noted, the ability to cooperate is an important factor in determining whether a proposed custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child, and it can also seriously impact how involved a court may become in custody matters after an initial custody decision is made.

One unfortunate way lack of cooperation can sometimes play out between couples is in parental alienation. In particularly contentious separations, one or both parents may engage in behavior and speech which serves to turn the affections of a child away from the other parent. When this happens, it isn’t only the other parent who suffers, but also the child. 

What is parental alienation and what can be done about it?

One of the biggest concerns couples with children bring to divorce is how to address custody and parenting time issues so that the children’s needs are addressed and the divorce has as little negative impact as possible. Cooperation between both parents is essential for this, regardless of what parenting time arrangement is ultimately approved.

Cooperation is, of course, not something every divorcing couple has in spades, and custody cases may be handled differently when parents are unable to cooperate. Under Illinois law, one of the factors judges take into consideration when determining whether to approve a parenting time arrangement is the ability of the parents to cooperate in making shared decisions regarding their children. 

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