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Peoria Family Law Blog

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

Over the past couple of decades, family advocates have had their ups and downs. The good news is that, for the most part, the myth of the Welfare Mom has passed into history. Even the most heated presidential debates no longer rail at these single mothers who are addicted to public benefits, who would rather have more children to collect more welfare checks than have a steady job with a decent wage and a modest benefit package.

As that image faded, though, another took its place: the Deadbeat Dad. Deadbeat Dads are the reasons single mothers have to go on welfare. These men have broken promises, violated child support agreements and ignored court orders, foisting the responsibility they took on when they became fathers onto the rest of society. Jail time was almost too good for them.

When do laws against marrying your father go too far?

Before the Obergefell decision, before Illinois passed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, LBGT couples had to find creative ways to ensure they had the same rights that a married couple would have. They relied on durable powers of attorney that granted them the right to visit their partners in the hospital or to make major medical decisions for one another. They relied on trusts and complicated estate planning tools to make sure their partners did not lose out on death benefits that automatically flow to legal spouses.

One couple in Pennsylvania has made headlines recently because they took advantage of another option. To ensure that their estates would pass to one another without a hitch, one partner adopted the other. While they have been together for 40 years, they have spent the last three as father and son. According to CNN, adoption was not uncommon for LGBT couples.

Fairness may not be the point in pre-nup battle, p. 2

About 18 months ago, Illinois hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin filed for divorce from his wife Anne Dias Griffin. According to reports at the time, the move came as a surprise to Dias Griffin, but the couple had been living apart for a while. In fact, the Daily Mail reported that Griffin had moved out in 2012 when Dias Griffin was pregnant with their youngest child.

The Griffins were known for their charitable work and their connections to the art world. Not only did they amass a large private collection of masterpieces, but they also funded a wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dias Griffin, who also runs a hedge fund, sits on the boards of several museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Fairness may not be the point in pre-nup battle

The news in early October that Ken Griffin and his wife Anne Dias Griffin had settled their divorce was not much of a surprise for family law professionals. The dispute focused on the couple's prenuptial agreement, and courts seldom set prenups aside.

Griffin has managed Chicago's Citadel hedge fund since he founded it 25 years ago. Now worth an estimated $7 billion, he is recognized as the richest man in Illinois. The couple married in 2003, when, according to the Chicago Tribune, Griffin was worth $1 billion compared to Dias Griffin's $1 million. The couple have three children.

Leaving town with the kids? New law means fewer parents in court p3

We are wrapping up our discussion of upcoming changes to child custody laws, specifically the laws regarding the relocation of a custodial parent. The changes are not minor tweaks. Rather, the Illinois General Assembly has completely rewritten the laws that relate to divorce, custody, visitation and support.

The new law, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016, presents a new paradigm for everyone involved in family law matters. For couples considering separation or divorce, the new law should reflect a more modern understanding of family structure and a process that requires less involvement of the court.

Leaving town with the kids? New law means fewer parents in court p2

We are talking about one change in Illinois family law that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The General Assembly has completely reworked the state's approach to the dissolution of marriage, especially laws that address the parent/child relationship.

The new statutes are designed to reduce the negative effects of a divorce or separation on the children involved. A true commitment to the best interest of the child means that parents and judges should focus on reducing uncertainty, conflict and rancor that can make a tough situation even tougher. The law also recognizes that a child's relationship with both parents (absent violence) should be preserved or enhanced after the marriage ends.

Leaving town with the kids? New law means fewer parents in court

In our Feb. 23, 2015, post, The challenges associated with child custody relocation cases, we wrote about what divorced parents in Illinois must do if one parent wants to relocate. On January 1, 2016, the law will change significantly.

The current law only applies if the child of divorced or separated parents will be moving out of Illinois. The parent cannot move without the court's approval, and the court's approval hinges on whether the move is in the best interest of the child.

Is Illinois a 'community property' state?

Property division in a divorce can be more complicated than either spouse thinks. In general, all assets and debts will fall into one of three categories: Spouse A's property, Spouse B's property and the couple's marital property. While the spouses retain their own property, states differ on how marital property is divided. Wisconsin, for example, is a community property state. Illinois, however, is an equitable distribution state.

In community property states, marital property is divided 50/50 between the spouses. Wisconsin is one of just 10 states (and Puerto Rico) that follow community property law.

It may be a big lie, but it isn't quite fraud p2

We are turning back to our Aug. 28 post and the case about a woman who petitioned the court to invalidate (annul) her marriage on the grounds of fraud. When we left off, the Cook County Circuit Court had granted her petition, but the court of appeals overturned that decision. The respondent may have withheld certain information from the petitioner, but that information did not go to the "essentials of marriage," the statutory standard for fraud. No fraud, no grounds for annulment.

What this man had not told his wife-to-be was that he was already married. How was concealing the existence of a wife still living not an essential of marriage?

If you choose surrogacy, it's important to know your rights

Here in Illinois, our state legislature tries to keep up with the times, making changes to laws to better reflect current trends and situations. Take for example changes to the area of family law, which have given Illinoisians options to marry a spouse of the same sex and access to parental rights even if a child is not biologically related to one or both parents.

As you can imagine or may know personally, many changes to our laws go unnoticed by a majority of residents, meaning a large number of Illinoisians are unaware of their rights when it comes to family law matters. One area of family law where this can create the most problems is with surrogacy.

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