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Peoria Family Law Blog

Orders for protection: 'No contact' means no contact whatsoever

There are a couple of givens in family law. First, divorce, even an amicable divorce, is stressful. In fact, according to the commonly used Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale, divorce is second only to the death of a spouse when it comes to stressful life events.

Second, people going through a divorce or dealing with a custody or support issue are not always at their best. Whether stress or anger or frustration or sadness, our emotions can get the better of us, and we can lash out. Lashing out physically is never acceptable. Lashing out verbally can get us into trouble, too.

Don't let gray divorce put you in the red

Over the past few years, study after study has shown that more couples in their 50s and 60s are divorcing. And not just a few more: According to a recent report from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, the number of divorces in the 55- to 64-year-old age group doubled from 1990 to 2012; for 65-years-old and up, the number tripled during the same time period.

These are numbers, though. They do not tell the whole story. They do not tell us why, and, perhaps more importantly, they do not tell us what happens after the divorce.

A simple question that raises complicated constitutional issues p3

The case we have been discussing, V.L. v E.L., has been on the U.S. Supreme Court's agenda since the end of December. The court is not ready to hear arguments, though. The parties -- and the rest of us -- are waiting to find out if the court will hear the case at all. We had hoped to have an update by now, but we will have to continue to be patient.

The case is not strictly about whether same-sex couples can adopt. One of the women gave birth to the three children at the center of the visitation dispute, while the other acted as (and was accepted as) the children's parent.

A simple question that raises complicated constitutional issues p2

We are talking about a case that may be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. It comes out of Alabama, and it addresses an issue that was not settled when same-sex marriage became legal in every state last summer. The issue at hand is adoption by same-sex couples.

The parties are V.L. and E.L., a same-sex couple that broke up after a long relationship. When they were together, E.L. gave birth to three children. She is the children's biological mother; the children were conceived through assisted reproductive technology. After the children were born, the couple agreed that V.L. should adopt them. Her legal status with regard to the children, however, was problematic.

A simple question that raises complicated constitutional issues

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v Hodges. From that day forward, every state would be required to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.

While a victory for same-sex marriage advocates, the decision left many questions unanswered. Either state legislatures would sort things out, or the court would address each issue, one-by-one, in the coming years. If the court agrees to hear arguments in V.L. v E.L. during the current session, one question may be settled -- and others may be raised.

Property division and the ABCs of QDROs

Imagine a young couple decides to end their five-year marriage. Bob and Judy have no children and no pets. They do not own a house, and they have kept their finances separate. An inheritance from Judy's aunt, for example, was not deposited in a joint account, where it would raise issues of commingling marital and non-marital property -- in fact, they have no joint account. They both have good jobs, so neither is expecting spousal maintenance.

A quick review of Illinois divorce law leads Bob to the conclusion that there really is no marital property to worry about. Judy, however, has found an important marital asset that Bob has overlooked: His pension.

Are Christmas presents marital property?

In Illinois, Christmas presents are generally not marital property and, so, not subject to property division in a divorce. There are exceptions, of course.

First, if the gift is made to both spouses, the court may consider it marital property. Second, when a gift is commingled with marital assets, it may convert from non-marital to marital property.

The holidays again: A timely reminder about child safety

In our last post, we talked about the challenges the holidays often bring after a divorce. We recognize, too, that the holidays can be stressful for anyone. The crowds can be frustrating, the traffic can be twice as bad as it usually is, and, really, how many times do we have to hear "Baby It's Cold Outside" before we explode?

What we do not want to do is to sacrifice safety for the sake of getting somewhere quickly. And we want to make sure our loved ones, especially our children, arrive wherever they are going safe and sound. So, while we usually talk about family law here, we want to devote this post to car seats.

Is there such a thing as co-friending?

The holidays can be tough on divorced or separated parents and their children. There are so many choices to make, and there is so much explaining to do. For many, the best part of the holidays is when they are over.

The parents may face another dilemma, though, a dilemma that divorced couples without children know well. How do you get through the holidays when you and your ex are part of the same social circle? The court does not sign off on a friending plan, and adapting the best interest factors to adult friendships seems impractical at best, a Seinfeld episode at worst.

The irony of reform: Child support laws may not support families p3

More than 150 years ago, Charles Dickens wrote about debtors' prison, letting his readers understand just how absurd a construct it is. When we read Dickens now, the thought of putting people in jail because they cannot pay their debts seems silly. And yet, the idea has resurfaced, though perhaps informally.

Just ask someone who has fallen behind on child support payments. A child support agreement includes a court order for the noncustodial parent to pay. The court order is used as a stick rather than a carrot: If you don't pay, you will be held in contempt, and you will go to jail. It may work with parents who can afford to pay but, for one reason or another, choose not to. For low income parents, parents who are already struggling to hold onto a job, to make ends meet, that jail time is just another blow to their hopes of financial self-sufficiency.

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