Divorcing a Missing Spouse

Sometimes people have been separated for many years and have never gotten divorced.  They may figure that they have no children, they own no real property,  they have no marital property, or they never plan to remarry, so what’s the big deal? If you have been separated for many years, in the eyes of the court you might as well still be living together because your rights and responsibilities are still the same.  Anything that you have purchased is marital property, even if purchased in your own name.  Your spouse is still entitled to a portion of your pension benefits, and if you die without a will, your spouse will still be able to get a spouse’s share of the intestate estate. The only way to separate your finances from a spouse is through a legal separation, which is a court proceeding, or a divorce. Continue reading “Divorcing a Missing Spouse”

Can’t Find Spouse But Want a Divorce?

Sometimes people have been separated for many years and have never gotten divorced.  They may figure that they have no children, they own no real property,  they have no marital property, or they never plan to remarry, so what’s the big deal?

If you have been separated for many years, in the eyes of the court you might as well still be living together because your rights and responsibilities are still the same.  Anything that you have purchased is marital property, even if purchased in your own name.  Your spouse is still entitled to a portion of your pension benefits, and if you die without a will, your spouse will still be able to get a spouse’s share of the intestate estate.

The only way to separate your finances from a spouse is through a legal separation, which is a court proceeding, or a divorce. Continue reading “Can’t Find Spouse But Want a Divorce?”

If I Have Joint Custody Why Am I Paying Support?

Many people are confused about what joint custody means in Illinois.

In Illinois joint custody means:

  • that the parents must consult with each other regarding:
    • education
    • religion
    • medical decisions

Joint custody does not mean:

  • custody is split 50/50
  • neither parent pays child support

So why am I paying support?

Even if you have joint custody and are splitting time 50/50, it is still possible that you will have to pay support.  Illinois has a statutory formula that is based strictly on a percentage of net income.  However, judges have the  discretion to deviate either up or down depending on the circumstances – but you must ask the court for a deviation.  It is not automatic.

If you are spending an equal amount of time with your children and paying statutory support, and your ex-spouse has a similar income (or more) you may be able to get a downward deviation which would reduce your monthly support obligation.

If you would like to see if a downward deviation might apply to your situation, please contact me.

Settling Summer (and Extended) Visitation Disputes

It’s that time of year that many divorced people dread — the time when arrangements must be made for summer visitation.  Your Judgment of Dissolution, Marital Settlement Agreement or Joint Parenting Agreement (or an ancillary order) will contain the terms of summer visitation.  Often times it includes a notice provision that the non-residential parent must provide dates and itinerary by a date certain.  Follow the directives of your paperwork.  This will become important if for some reason you have to move forward with litigation. Continue reading “Settling Summer (and Extended) Visitation Disputes”

Other Parent Won’t Return Child. What Should I Do?

The most serious custody emergency occurs when one parent removes the child or children from the state without leave of court.  A common scenario involves an unmarried couple that breaks up.  One party takes the children and leaves the state to start a new life.  The other party may beg for their return to no avail.  What cam be done?

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and

Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

A parent whose child is taken out  of state has recourse via the UCCJEA.  Under the UCCJEA, a child has a home state for determination of child custody.

What is a Home State Under The UCCJEA?

Under the Illinois UCCJEA, “Home state” means the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child-custody proceeding. In the case of a child less than six months of age, the term means the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period.

Important to Act Right Away

If your child has been removed from the state how long should you wait to file something in court?  You should not wait.  You should file your case right away.  Why?  Because the longer you wait, the more likely it is that a different court could assume jurisdiction.  Even if Illinois is the home state, Illinois can essentially agree to give jurisdiction to another state for various reasons, the main one being that the children have been in the new state for such a long time that the new state should decide all issues of custody, visitation and support.

Experience Matters

Not many attorneys have experience with the UCCJEA.  In fact, just recently I became involved in two cases where the first attorney botched a number of steps, resulting in unnecessary legal fees for my clients and no results.  In one instant, the first attorney filed an improper emergency petition, which  was denied.  The client retained me, I filed the proper petition, and now he has an order for the return of his child.  In the second case, my client filed a case in California as soon as his ex left with his child.  Six months after moving the child, his ex filed a case in Illinois without telling the California court that a case had already been filed.  He retained an attorney who gave him bad advice, which significantly delayed his case.  Now his case is on the right track, and his jurisdictional issues have been advanced for a hearing.  If you have a UCCJEA case don’t waste your money on an attorney who doesn’t have a proven track record.

If you are currently involved in an interstate custody battle, or believe you might  be headed for one, you should contact me right away.   You can call me now at 708-466-6912 or contact me online. I often meet clients in the evening and on weekends, and all clients get my personal mobile phone number.  Legal problems don’t take weekends off and neither do I.

I represent clients in Chicago, and elsewhere in Illinois including the counties of Cook, Lake, DuPage, Will, Kane, Kendall, and McHenry. I represent clients in uncontested and contested divorces, and other family law matters including paternity, visitation and child support.

Parent Violating Court Orders? You Have Remedies

One of the most common types of cases that I handle involve one parent failing to follow a court order.  Whether it’s failure to pay child support or failure to allow visitation, failure to follow a court order has consequences.  People come to me angry and frustrated because they have tried to enforce the court order on their own, but the judge won’t give them any relief.  They are angry with the system, but the system is not the problem.  Pro se litigants do not know the proper procedure to enforce a court order, which often leaves the court with no choice but to deny the relief sought. Continue reading “Parent Violating Court Orders? You Have Remedies”