Dealing with an Abusive Spouse During a Divorce

Nov 15

If you are in the process of going through a divorce, it’s safe to assume that emotions are already in a heightened state. When you are dealing with an abusive spouse during the process it is very likely that the domestic abuse may escalate, which is why you should take legal action. Domestic abuse can be emotional, physical, or psychological and can affect not just you, but also your children. If you are afraid that the abuse may turn life-threatening then you need to state this openly with a judge and seek a protective order. If you are unsure exactly where to start when dealing with an abusive spouse during your divorce, you can take note from the following tips.

Are you dealing with an abusive spouse in your divorce case? Reach out to the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. to request a consultation today. We are here to protect your rights.

Important Things to Do When Filing for Divorce

Oct 15

Have you and your spouse recently decided to file for divorce? Even when the divorce is uncontested (both parties have agreed to the divorce), the process can still be overwhelming and stressful. Divorce is a decision that will impact your family financially and emotionally, so it is important to plan ahead before filing. To ensure that your case is successful, here are several steps you can take before filing, and during, the divorce process.

  1. Where do you stand financially? The first factor you will need to consider before filing for divorce is where you stand financially. During the divorce proceedings, you and your spouse will need to divide up your assets, so it is important for you to have a clear picture of your income, as well as any assets you own (house, vehicle, etc.) and any debts that you personally have, or debts you and your spouse both share.
  2. Do you have a budget post-divorce? Moving from a dual-income household to a single one can be a rough transition. If you are filing for divorce from your spouse, it is important to create a budget for yourself for when the divorce is finalized. By accounting for monthly expenses, like rent or mortgage payments, food, utilities, and insurance now, you can save yourself time and worry later.
  3. Have you hired a divorce attorney? To ensure the best possible outcome in your divorce, you should hire a divorce attorney that has experience with cases like yours. An attorney can help you file all the necessary paperwork, accurately and in a timely manner. Take the time to meet with a few attorneys and find one that you are comfortable working with in your divorce case.

Would you like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney in the Chicago area? Reach out to the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. to schedule your appointment today.

How to Help a Friend Who is Going Through a Divorce

Jan 24

A divorce is perhaps one of the most difficult ordeals that a person can go through during their lifetime. People who are goinghelping a friend through a divorce through a divorce need the support of their close friends. A trusted divorce lawyer in Chicago Ill can help them understand their options and offer support. There are several ways that you personally can help someone who is going through a divorce:

Respect Their Privacy

People handle their feelings differently. Some people like to open up to people while others shut down and do not talk to people. Regardless of whether your friend feels like expressing themselves, you should respect their wishes. If they choose to open up to you, then it is important to listen without judging them. Even if they were in a bad marriage, you should still avoid making condescending remarks.

Include Them In Social Events
Many divorced people feel left out of things. They also lose friends. That is why it is important for you to include your friends in social events. In many cases, people feel better by getting out of the house.

Offer to Help
People who are divorced often struggle to complete their daily activities. That is why you should offer to help them as much as possible. For example, if they have children, then you should consider offering to babysit so that your friend can have time to themselves. You can also offer to help them with chores and errands.

Avoid Giving Advice
Your divorced friend may confide in you. However, you should avoid giving them advice unless they ask for it. This can come across as being judgmental.

Contact The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd.
Chicago divorce law can be quite complicated. Asset division and parenting time are some of the things that can make divorce more complicated. That is why it is important to hire a divorce lawyer in Chicago Ill. An experienced divorce attorney can navigate you through the process of getting a divorce. They can also answer questions that you may have about the process. Contact our office today to schedule your confidential case consultation.

How Can the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman Make the Divorce Process Easier?

Jan 24

When you’re getting divorced, you might wonder what a Chicago Ill divorce lawyer can do for you. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make the process easier as well as help you get a better outcome. Here’s what the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. can do to help you during a divorce: divorce

They help you understand your legal options

A divorce lawyer in Chicago Ill knows the law, and they know the courts. They know about precedent and procedural rules that you may not be aware of. They can help you learn about the law. If there’s more than one way to approach a problem, they can help you understand your options and what the pros and cons are for each course of action. When you work with Michael and his team, you’re informed during your divorce proceeding so that you can have confidence that you’re taking the best possible course of action.

They bring your case to court

When you get divorced, you may have a formal trial or you might reach a settlement. Even if you settle your case, you’re going to have some court dates. Your Chicago Ill divorce lawyer can help you present your case.

The courts use formal rules and procedure to conduct business. You have to present your case using these rules. You also have to know how to ask the right questions. The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. has a legal team that can bring your case to court on your behalf. At each stage, our experienced legal team can pursue your case for the best possible result while educating you on the law and handling communications. Contact our office today, so we can go to work for you.

Who Pays the Attorney’s Fees?

Jul 26

Who pays the attorney’s fees?

Often times a person will wait for months, and sometimes years before filing for divorce for one simple reason… he or she cannot afford the attorney’s fees to be incurred during divorce proceedings. The Illinois legislature has taken steps to ease this financial dilemma when they enacted Public Act 89-712, commonly referred to as “The Leveling of the Playing Field Act.” The purpose of enacting into Illinois law “The Leveling of the Playing Field Act” was to make it easier for spouses not in control of the family wealth to hire competent counsel and seek immediate relief from the court for payment of prospective attorney’s fees.

couple arguingFor example, assume Jed Clampett from the town of Hillbilly Village strikes oil in his backyard during his marriage to Mary Jo. Jed becomes wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, but never allows his wife access to the family bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, brokerage accounts or Jane, the investment advisor. Mary Jo only receives enough money each week to buy groceries. Mary Jo knows that Jed has been having an affair with Jane, the investment advisor, for years; however, she has always thought she could not retain competent counsel to file for divorce without having a $10,000.00 retainer fee.

The Leveling of the Playing Field Act added a new statute to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/501(c-1)) which allows for the immediate payment of interim attorney’s fees to the attorney of your choice, to be paid by the spouse in control of the family wealth.

Upon the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, a spouse can request that his or her attorney immediately file a Petition for Payment of Interim Attorney’s Fees. It is incumbent upon the courts in this State to adjudicate these petitions promptly, even before substantial work has been completed in the case.

This statute has been in effect since June 1, 1997, and it is becoming an increasingly popular tool to allow spouses that do not control the family wealth to litigate their divorce proceedings on an even financial ground with his or her spouse.

This statute may even curtail the litigation process, because once individuals like Jed Clampett realize that the wealth he controlled throughout the marriage is now being depleted to pay both spouses’ attorneys fees, there is a likelihood that Jed Clampett and people in his financial situation will become more conciliatory and attempt to resolve many divorce related issues amicably, rather than pay an “oil field full of money” to both attorneys that otherwise could be shared by the parties at the conclusion of the divorce proceedings.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Who Pays for College When Mom Remarries?

Jul 26

Who pays for college when mom remarries?

Many divorces are settled with the understanding that each parent’s contribution to the payment of the minor children’s college education expenses will be determined at the time each child is ready to attend college. More often than not, trial courts have expressed the opinion that college education expenses should be based upon the annual cost for tuition, room, board, books, transportation to and from school, registration fees, medical expenses and living expenses, using the average annual costs for a state school, such as the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, or Northern Illinois University. So who pays for college?

paying for collegeThe financial contribution to a minor child’s education expenses by the non-custodial parent has become more complicated when either mother or father has remarried.

One of the factors a court is required to consider in determining the financial contribution to college education expenses is the financial resources available to both parents. When mom or dad remarries, and files a joint tax return with his or her new spouse, the new spouse resents being dragged into the dispute, and often times objects to supplying joint tax returns based upon privacy issues. For years, the case law in Illinois has favored the proposition that income from the new spouse is irrelevant for purposes of determining contribution to college education expenses, and therefore joint tax returns often times did not have to be produced.

The current case law shows that Illinois courts have begun to change their interpretation of Illinois law. In a recent case called, In Re the Marriage of Linda Street and Daniel Street, the Illinois Appellate Court wrote that, “the traditional rule had been that the financial assets of the current spouse are not relevant in making a support determination…; however, there is clearly a current trend in the case law moving away from the traditional rule of law on this issue.” The current trend which Illinois courts have been following more often is that the financial resources of mom and dad for purposes of determining each parent’s contribution to the college education expenses of their minor child or children also requires the court to take into account the income of that parent’s current spouse. Accordingly, if dad is the noncustodial parent earning $150,000.00 per year and marries his new spouse who is also earning $150,000.00, both incomes are to be considered by the court when it makes its determination as to how much money dad should contribute to the college education expenses for his minor child or children. This new trend in the case law is based upon the fact that both parties realistically pool their resources with those of their second spouses, resulting in their assets and liabilities being substantially intertwined. It is for this reason that the income of the new spouse is discoverable and reviewable by the court when determining each parent’s contribution to college education expenses. A final point which may offer solace to the new spouse is that the new spouse is not obligated to pay for his step-child’s education, but to the extent that the new spouse contributes to the expenses which would otherwise be paid by the parent, the new spouse’s income and assets are relevant.

In summary, be advised that once a parent with college age children remarries and seeks contribution to college education expenses, then the income and assets of her new spouse and her former husband’s new spouse are relevant in helping the court determine each parent’s contribution to the children’s college education expenses.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

Who Outsmarts Who?

Jul 26

Who outsmarts who?

Leave it to parties going through a divorce to come up with an underhanded scheme to attempt to gain leverage in a divorce battle. In a recent Illinois case between two spouses getting divorced, the husband, David, decided upon a scheme which he thought would give him an advantage over his wife when the judge was ready to divide up all of the marital assets. During the marriage David had been having an affair with his girlfriend, Cheri. After David’s wife, Helen, discovered the affair, she filed for divorce. David, who held title to a second home during the marriage, decided he would deed the second home to his girlfriend, Cheri, with the intention of moving in with Cheri near the end of his divorce from Helen. David, of course, thought that he and Cheri were “tight,” and after the divorce, Cheri would deed the property back to David or, at the very least, share in the proceeds of the sale of the property at a future date.

chessUnfortunately for David, after he transferred title of his second property to Cheri, Cheri broke off the relationship with David, changed the locks to the property deeded to her, and refused to allow David to move in with her. David subsequently filed a third-party complaint against Cheri seeking to reclaim the property previously deeded to Cheri so that he and his estranged spouse, Helen, could now share in the equity of the property, rather than allow Cheri to keep the property. A hearing took place during the divorce process in which David claimed that Cheri was merely holding the property for David’s benefit in a “Resulting Trust.” (A Resulting Trust typically arises where one person purchases property with his own funds and simultaneously transfers title of this property to a third-party. In this case, David had not transferred the property to Cheri simultaneously with his purchase of the property).

Unfortunately for David (and his estranged wife, Helen), the trial court determined that when David deeded the second home to his paramour, Cheri, he made a gift to her. The three elements Cheri needed to prove that a gift had been made by David were: Donative intent, acceptance and delivery. The trial court found that these three elements existed, and the second home now belonged to Cheri.

David appealed the trial court decision in the middle of the divorce proceeding awarding the house to Cheri, but the appeal was dismissed because David’s divorce proceeding had not yet been finalized. Once David’s divorce from Helen is finalized, David may well file an appeal again asking the Appellate Court to return the second home back to him and Helen.

The moral of this story is that it is not always best to try to “outsmart” your spouse during a divorce.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

The Dangers of Rolling the Dice

Jul 26

The dangers of rolling the dice

rolling the diceIt has long been my belief that going to trial in a divorce case is the equivalent to rolling the dice in Las Vegas. You never know what you are going to get. In a case decided by the Illinois Appellate Court on November 9, 2005, a young couple who had been married for a total of two years decided to get divorced and “roll the dice” at trial. The basic facts were as follows: Stephanie was employed full time, earning approximately $900.00 every two weeks. Jason was not employed, but attending Palmer College of Chiropractic, studying to be a Chiropractor. Jason was receiving approximately $5,000.00 for living expense per trimester at school, which had to be repaid as part of his student loans. Stephanie and Jason had been married for seven of Jason’s trimesters at school, during which time Jason accumulated $140,000.00 in student loans. Stephanie and Jason were being supported by Stephanie’s paychecks and supplemented by Jason’s student loans. Stephanie helped contribute to approximately $8,000.00 of Jason’s chiropractic expenses. When the parties planned to get divorced, Stephanie withdrew $4,200.00 from the parties’ joint checking account, and withdrew $7,200.00 from the parties’ Morgan Stanley brokerage account. Jason was driving the 2001 Chevy Malibu valued at $8,000.00, and Stephanie was driving the 2002 Yukon automobile valued at $23,000.00. Both cars were given to the parties by Stephanie’s parents. Finally, in addition to Jason’s $140,000.00 in student loans, Jason had additional credit card debt of $14,000.00.

The parties had no children, no real estate and no retirement savings. Both parties decided to go to trial, rather than resolve this dispute between themselves. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court divided the assets and debts as follows: Stephanie received the Morgan Stanley brokerage account proceeds, the Yukon automobile and other items of personal property. Jason received the parties’ Chevy Malibu automobile, and was required to pay his $14,000.00 in credit card debt, plus his $140,000.00 in student loans. In addition, even though Stephanie never requested maintenance from Jason, the court also required Jason to pay Stephanie an additional $18,000.00 in maintenance over the next two years at the rate of $750.00 per month. What? You’ve got to be kidding, right?

What was the court’s reasoning? Both the trial court and the Illinois Appellate Court considered various factors in dividing the marital estate and requiring the payment of maintenance. These factors included the contribution each party made to accumulation of the marital assets and debts, the ability of each party to accumulate assets in the future, and the relative economic circumstances of each party at the time of the divorce. Since Jason was about to become a Chiropractor, his prospects for future earnings were superior to Stephanie’s prospects for future earnings. Also Stephanie helped support Jason through seven trimesters of Chiropractic school, which gave the court reasons to make this property distribution and maintenance award.

In summary, you never ever know how a trial court will decide the merits of your divorce and property dispute. The best advice your attorney can offer you during this difficult time is to make every reasonable effort to settle, settle, settle!

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

So You Think You Can Be a Judge?

Jul 26

So you think you can be a judge?

Being a Family Law judge in the Circuit Court of the State of Illinois not only requires vast amounts of patience, compassion and intellect, but also requires many judgment calls in divorce cases which come before the court. When parties near the end of their divorce process, their matters are typically wrapped up into a marital settlement agreement, which becomes the contract that both divorced spouses must live by once the divorce is completed. Since many different attorneys dabble in the practice of Divorce law, the quality of written marital settlement agreements varies greatly depending upon the preparer of the agreement.

judgeOn August 16, 2005, the First District Illinois Appellate Court upheld a trial court decision made by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mark Lopez involving a determination as to whether maintenance payments (formerly referred to as “alimony payments”) from an ex-husband to an ex-wife should continue to be made. There is a provision in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which states that, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the obligation to pay future maintenance (alimony) to an ex-spouse terminates upon the death of either party, remarriage of the party receiving maintenance, or if the party receiving maintenance moves in with his or her “significant other.”

What do you think Judge Lopez did when he was faced with the following agreement between divorced spouses?

“Husband shall pay to wife $3,750.00 per month in maintenance for ninety-six (96) consecutive months. The maintenance payments provided for by this agreement shall terminate completely, only after the payment of all monies due to wife are paid in full, regardless of any other changed circumstances of the parties.”

“The provisions of this agreement may be modified or rescinded by the written consent of both parties; however, the parties agree that they will not petition the court for modification unless there is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties.”

Husband made twenty-seven (27) monthly payments, then stopped because his former wife moved in with her “significant other.” The issue was whether or not the above-stated provisions in the parties’ written marital settlement agreement allowed the husband to petition for termination of maintenance because his former spouse moved in with her “significant other?”

If you were the judge, what would you have done? Should the former husband have been permitted to rely on the provision in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which allows individuals to cease maintenance payments when their ex-spouses move in with “significant others?” Well, Judge Lopez correctly determined that the 96 monthly maintenance payments of $3,750.00 each were non-modifiable, and must be paid to the husband’s former wife, because of the language in the agreement which stated that maintenance payments shall terminate completely, “only after payment of all monies due to wife are paid in full.” Sounds easy now that you know the answer, right?

In summary, when completing your Dissolution of Marriage proceedings, and getting ready to enter into a marital settlement agreement, make certain that you have had plenty of time to review the financial terms of the agreement well in advance of the divorce completion date, and also make certain that your attorney is comfortable that the agreement correctly outlines your monthly maintenance rights or obligations.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Religious Freedom After Divorce

Jul 26

Religious freedom after divorce

cross and american flagIn Illinois there is a law found in Section 608 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which provides that, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the custodial parent shall determine the child’s upbringing on all matters including religious training. That is why I recently read with interest what I refer to as the “Religious Freedom case,” handed down by the Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court in December, 2003. In a recent trial, Wendy and David were divorced earlier in the year and had one child named Nicole who was 7 years old at the time of the divorce. Both Wendy and David were Christian; however, they attended different churches, and Wendy did not approve of the church David attended with their daughter, Nicole. Wendy subsequently filed a motion in court asking that, during David’s visits on alternating weekends, that David be ordered to refrain from taking Nicole to the church of David’s choice. David’s response was that Nicole (his daughter) was not in any way injured by attending church with him, nothing in the divorce judgment prohibited him from taking Nicole to church, and most importantly, the court should not interfere with his rights to visit with his daughter and participate in activities he chose during his parenting time. Wendy, however, argued that as custodial parent to Nicole, she should be permitted to decide the appropriate religious training and upbringing for Nicole.

Wendy also had an ‘ace in the hole.’ There was a 1987 case called Tisckos vs. Tisckos in which the Illinois Appellate Court upheld a trial court decision ordering the father to either return his daughter to her mother on Sunday mornings to attend Roman Catholic Church, or take his daughter to a Roman Catholic Church himself. The father in the Tisckos case used to attend a Southern Baptist Church. The father in Tisckos argued that by requiring him to take his daughter to a Roman Catholic Church, this violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits State and Federal action favoring one religion over another. In 1987, the Illinois Appellate Court disagreed with the father, citing the Illinois law that says a custodial parent is permitted to determine the child’s upbringing, which included religious training.

Now here we are, sixteen years later, and the same Illinois Appellate Court was confronted with similar facts. This time, the Appellate Court decided otherwise. In the December, 2003 case, David was allowed to take his daughter, Nicole, to the church of his choice. The Illinois Appellate Court held that no evidence was presented showing that the father’s religious practices would be harmful to the minor child, the father had a right to free and unrestricted parenting time with his daughter, and it was in the best interests and general welfare of the minor child to not interrupt the father’s visits on his alternating weekends with his daughter.

What was the difference in these two cases? Not much. Since many of us in Northern Illinois are married to individuals of a different faith, this issue is sure to arise more often in the future. In summary, be sure to ask your attorney to address the issue of “religious freedom” prior to completing your divorce.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Premarital Agreements in Illinois; Do They Work?

Jul 26

Premarital agreements in Illinois; do they work?

I recently read with interest that a premarital agreement drafted on behalf of Major League Baseball superstar, Barry Bonds, was ruled invalid by an Appellate Court in the State of California. This was interesting because I recall Barry Bonds signing a contract about ten years ago which paid him approximately $42,000,000.00 over a six year period. My first thoughts were, “Oh my! If Barry Bonds had as much money as necessary to hire the best legal counsel in the land, how did he end up with a premarital agreement that was ruled invalid by the California Appellate Court?”

prenuptial agreement signingIn Mr. Bonds’ case, there were three glaring problems surrounding the execution of his agreement:

  1. The agreement was signed the day before his wedding;
  2. His fiancé did not have her own attorney; and
  3. Mr. Bonds’ attorney told his fiancé that if the agreement was not signed today, there would be no wedding the following day.

The signing of a premarital agreement is usually requested by a party who is in a superior economic position to that of his or her future spouse. If your fiance has asked you to sign a premarital agreement, you can rest assured that he or she is doing so because in the unfortunate event of a divorce, your future spouse is hoping to leave you with less than you otherwise would be entitled to without a premarital agreement. One popular scenario in which premarital agreements were often times drafted involved an individual going into a second marriage with children from his first marriage, who acquired substantial wealth which he did not wish to share with his fiancé in the event of a future divorce. The older gentleman might insist that the premarital agreement contain language stating that his current assets, as well as the increase in value to his current assets, and any other assets acquired with his money during the marriage would all remain his non-marital property. The agreement might have offered an agreed dollar amount at the time of any future divorce.

Today premarital agreements fall into many different categories including the following:

  1. Two young individuals with an equal amount of assets;
  2. Two young individuals, one with substantial wealth and the other without wealth;
  3. An older individual with substantial wealth, and a young individual without wealth;
  4. Two older individuals, one with substantial wealth and one without wealth; and
  5. Two older individuals with equal amounts of wealth.

The answer to the question posed by the title of this article is yes, premarital agreements in Illinois are enforceable, but they must be prepared under appropriate circumstances. The starting point is the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (750 ILCS 10/1- et seq.) The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act allows parties to limit the amount of assets or maintenance (formerly referred to as “Alimony”) that the wealthy spouse pays upon divorce. If you are interested in negotiating a premarital agreement which would be upheld in an Illinois court, you would be wise to follow a few important tips:

  1. Be prepared to fully disclose 100% of your net worth including a list of all assets and their approximate values;
  2. Have your attorney draft the premarital agreement as far in advance of the wedding date as possible, and then have the agreement signed well in advance of the wedding date;
  3. Insist upon your fiancé hiring his or her own attorney to negotiate the terms of the agreement with your attorney.

Following these three steps goes a long way towards solidifying the enforceability of your agreement, should it ever be challenged in court at the time of an eventual divorce proceeding.

If you happen to be the individual being asked to sign a premarital agreement, do not hesitate to instruct your attorney to vigorously represent your interests, which may include making demands that provide for your financial security in the unfortunate event of a divorce.

Knowing these simple rules, one wonders what the attorneys for Barry Bonds could have been thinking when his premarital agreement was drafted and signed more than ten years ago?

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Let’s Make a Deal

Jul 26

Let’s make a deal

Do you remember the popular game show, “Let’s Make a Deal?” I thought of that show when I recently read an Illinois Appellate Court case decided March 25, 2004 in which parents who were divorced twenty-one years earlier in 1983 disagreed on whether or not a deal had been made between them when mother told father that he no longer needed to pay child support if he continued to provide other miscellaneous items for the parties’ minor children. The facts of this recent Illinois case are as follows: The father, who I shall call Gullible Gary, was divorced from his former wife, who I shall call Intelligent Iris in 1983. Pursuant to the divorce decree, Iris had been granted custody of the parties’ three minor children, and Gary was to pay child support each month. Gary and Iris maintained a cordial relationship for several years after the divorce with Gary visiting the children often; Gary also purchased many additional items for his daughters, such as clothing, bicycles, telephones, pagers and other miscellaneous items. According to Gary, fourteen years after his divorce in 1997, he had a conversation with Intelligent Iris who told Gullible Gary that he no longer needed to pay child support so long as he continued purchasing miscellaneous items for the children when they were needed. This “arrangement” between Gullible Gary and Intelligent Iris lasted until 2001, when Gary informed Iris that he was in the process of attempting to have his former marriage to Iris annulled so that he and his new wife could be married in a Catholic ceremony. Apparently Iris became incensed by Gary’s request and decided she no longer wanted to abide by her “arrangement” with Gullible Gary.

deal handshakeWhen Iris contacted her divorce attorney, she was delighted to learn that agreements or “arrangements” made between divorced couples involving children’s issues were not enforceable without the approval of the court. Iris learned that divorced parents are prohibited from making agreements to modify the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation without court approval. Iris learned (and unfortunately Gary did too) that the courts in Illinois will always do what is believed to be in the best interests of the minor children. Illinois courts have held on numerous occasions that parents may not bargain away their children’s interests. Parents may not agree to modify or change in any manner a child support obligation without one parent petitioning the court to request a modification. Such a modification will only be granted when a court is satisfied that the agreement reached between the parents is in accord with the best interests of the minor children.

Intelligent Iris subsequently filed her petition for past due child support in 2001 alleging that Gullible Gary had not paid over $60,000.00 in court ordered child support during the last eighteen years (from 1983 until 2001). Gary thought he had two valid defenses. After all, Gary and Iris had made an “arrangement” whereby as long as Gary purchased incidental items for the minor children (clothing, bicycles, telephones, pagers and other miscellaneous items) that he would no longer have to pay child support to Iris. Gary’s defense was twofold: (1) because he and Iris had reached this “arrangement,” Iris was now “equitably estopped” from asserting a claim for past due child support; and (2) because Iris waited eighteen years before making her claim for past due child support, this was an unreasonable delay (known in legal terms as “Laches”) and therefore, since Iris had “slept on her rights” to collect past due child support, she was now prohibited from doing so. The Illinois trial court and Appellate Court rejected both of Gary’s defenses for the reasons recited above. Both courts held that they doubted Gary and Iris entered into an agreement, but even if such an agreement had been entered into, the agreement was unenforceable because it had not been presented to a Divorce court for review and approval. Gary’s defense that Iris waited an unreasonable amount of time before bringing her claim to court fell on deaf ears, because child support orders are considered money judgments, and money judgments have a twenty year statute of limitations, which means parties can enforce money judgments up to twenty years after they have accrued.

In summary, never, ever play Let’s Make a Deal with your former spouse when it comes to the payment of child support. If a cordial relationship exists between divorced parents, and they agree to change the manner and method in which child support is paid, then be certain to file a petition in court and request approval of your agreement from the court.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Is Allocation of Parental Responsibilities All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Jul 26

Is allocation of parental responsibilities all it’s cracked up to be?

Approximately 20 years ago, on January 1, 1986, the Illinois Legislature enacted a new law allowing divorcing parents to share allocation of parental responsibilities of their children after a divorce. The purpose of this law was to allow both parents to attempt to maintain a close relationship with their children, despite the fact that one parent was moving out of the house. The allocation of parental responsibilities law was intended to work for parents engaged in an amicable divorce. (Is there such a thing?).

broken heart next to childThe allocation of parental responsibilities law stated that parents could sign a joint parenting agreement specifying each parent’s powers, rights and responsibilities for the personal care of their children. This joint parenting agreement would state that both parents are to participate in decision making regarding their minor children’s educational upbringing, choice of doctors and dentists, religious training, and of course, enrollment in extracurricular social activities and school activities.

The allocation of parental responsibilities law ordered parents to “be flexible in arriving at resolutions” for the benefit of the minor children. Allocation of parental responsibilities was only supposed to be ordered by the court in cases in which the parents exhibited “an ability to cooperate with one another” concerning decisions regarding the minor children.

In many respects, the allocation of parental responsibilities law has created as many problems as it sought to cure. Parents who figured to lose a custody battle in court have, on so many occasions, held the parent who in all likelihood, should become the primary custodial parent hostage by refusing to sign off on a divorce agreement unless the primary custodial parent agreed to “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Since taking a divorce case all the way to trial is a financial hardship (and in some cases, a financial impossibility), parents who should become primary custodial parents of their children have often times capitulated to their spouses unyielding demand of allocation of parental responsibilities.

Once allocation of parental responsibilities has been established, the primary custodial parent (often times the mother) is then ordered under the terms of the joint parenting agreement to consult with her ex-spouse for most every important decision in her minor child’s life. For example, if the children come home from school one day and tell mom they want to play soccer, or baseball, or basketball, or ballet, or join the band, or participate in a play, or join a social club, a typical joint parenting agreement would require the mother to discuss this decision with her ex-spouse before the okay can be given. The problem is that there are sometimes hundreds of decisions to be made each year for each one of your minor children, and if your ex-spouse seeks “revenge” for the divorce, or simply wishes to make his ex-spouse’s life miserable, he can demand mediation and court appearances each time another decision for the minor child or children needs to be made. This is just one example of how the allocation of parental responsibilities law from January 1, 1986 can be used as “a sword” rather than as a way of allowing the non-custodial parent to participate in the daily upbringing of his minor children.

One final point of clarification is that each parent’s parenting time with the minor children is unrelated to the allocation of parental responsibilities law. For example, a father demanding allocation of parental responsibilities of his minor children with his soon to be ex-spouse may only arrange for parenting time on two weekends per month; however, a father willing to relinquish allocation of parental responsibilities of his minor children to the mother can still negotiate and achieve a parenting time schedule allowing him to see the minor children during the weekdays, and on all weekends. The issues of parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities are unrelated.

In summary, the use of this allocation of parental responsibilities law continues, so before you agree to allocation of parental responsibilities with your divorcing spouse, be certain to have a detailed discussion with your attorney on the pros and cons of entering into a joint parenting arrangement.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

How Much is Enough?

Jul 26

How much is enough ?

Once upon a time there was a very good basketball player whose girlfriend gave birth to a baby boy on February 29, 2000. This basketball player (who plays in the N.B.A.) moved in with his girlfriend, Jamie, in March, 1999 and stayed with her until about six months after his son was born, September, 2000. This professional basketball player, who was 23 years old at the time Jamie gave birth to his child, was earning a salary of approximately $1,400,000.00 annually. After taxes and other miscellaneous deductions, he was taking home approximately $58,000.00 in net income each month. Jamie, who was working part-time at Methodist Hospital earning $9.93 per hour while she was attending a graphic design program at Ivy Tech State College, was bringing home a grand total of $700.00 per month. Jamie was supporting a first child from a previous relationship. She reported that child support expenses for her second child were approximately $1,000.00 per month, $12,000.00 annually.

child on swingThe name of this professional basketball player was Keon Clark. Keon, whose salary at the time of the child support hearing was $1,400,000.00, was about to receive a small raise, and was soon to be earning $4,500,000.00 annually. Accordingly, Keon’s net monthly income after taxes was going to at least triple to $180,000.00 per month, and probably be closer to $250,000.00 per month. Nonetheless, while deciding the case, the trial court based Keon’s monthly child support obligation to his ex-girlfriend on the amount he was presently bringing home, $58,000.00 per month. The trial court awarded Jamie, the ex-girlfriend, $8,500.00 per month in child support, $102,000.00 annually. Jamie testified at the hearing in October, 2002 that she was only spending $1,000.00 per month on the minor child’s support. Since the parties were never married, and Jamie was not entitled to share in any of Keon’s wealth, why was she entitled to receive child support in the amount of $8,500.00 per month?

In Illinois, there is rebuttable presumption that a non-custodial parent, regardless of whether he ever married the custodial parent, is required to pay child support in an amount equal to 20% of his net monthly take-home pay for one child, and 28% of his net monthly take-home pay for two children. This presumption is easier to overcome as the net monthly income of a non-custodial parent increases. The court takes into account several factors, such as the needs of the minor child, the parties’ respective incomes, and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the mother and father remained together in the same household. In this particular case, a 20% child support order would have required Keon to pay approximately $12,000.00 per month in child support; however, the trial court reduced this obligation to $8,500.00 per month in order to avoid a “windfall” to Keon’s ex-girlfriend.

Naturally, there are valid arguments from both sides. Some people would take the position that the basketball player is wealthy, and his former girlfriend should receive every bit of the 20% statutory amount generally allowed to custodial parents seeking child support from their estranged boyfriends or ex-husbands. The argument is that a court may order child support to be paid in an amount necessary to allow the minor child to enjoy the standard of living he or she would have enjoyed had the parties remained together.

On the other hand, an argument can be made that the needs of a young child are minimal, the ex-boyfriend (or ex-husband) should not be required to pay support which allows his ex-girlfriend (or ex-wife) to use the support for her and her other child or children; the ex-girlfriend is not entitled to share in her ex-boyfriend’s wealth, and that no reasonable three-year old child would ever need $100,000.00 annually for child support.

The facts in this case are true, and the outcome summarized above was affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court on December 10, 2003. In summary, arguments can be made in support of the ex-girlfriend and arguments can be made in support of the ex-boyfriend. If you do not want to pay a large child support award to an ex-girlfriend or ex-wife, then try not to make too much money.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

How Does a Divorce Court Define “Fair”?

Jul 26

How does a divorce court define “fair?”

On January 29, 2003, the Illinois Appellate issued a decision in a divorce case upholding a trial court decision to award 84% of the assets to the wife, and 16% of the assets to the husband. How, under any circumstances, could this possibly be a “fair and equitable” division of marital assets? To illustrate this recent Illinois Appellate Court decision, assume that Jane was married to a nasty old man named Kenny for 38 years. Throughout the marriage, Jane had been a housewife and raised the parties’ three children. Kenny (whom we shall call “Mr. Nasty”) worked in a blue collar job throughout the marriage and provided all of the family financial support. After 38 years of marriage, Mr. Nasty and Jane called it quits. They owned a house valued at $83,000.00, Merrill Lynch accounts and a John Hancock Annuity valued at $226,000.00, and had miscellaneous items of personal property valued at approximately $100,000.00, for a total marital estate of $409,000.00 ($83,000.00 + $226,000.00 + $100.000.00). There were no substantial credit card bills.

scale with money and goldIn addition, Jane was receiving social security income in the amount of $6,000.00 annually, Mr. Nasty was receiving social security income in the amount of $12,000.00 annually, plus Mr. Nasty was receiving an additional $19,000.00 annually from his pension plan from his former employer. At the divorce trial, Mr. Nasty testified he might work part time as a real estate agent, and Jane would continue to remain unemployed.

In dividing up the marital estate, the trial court awarded Jane the marital residence worth $83,000.00 (with no mortgage balance), the Merrill Lynch and John Hancock accounts worth $226,000.00, plus $33,000.00 of the parties’ miscellaneous personal property, for a total of $342,000.00. Mr. Nasty was awarded $67,000.00 of miscellaneous personal property. Finally, Mr. Nasty was not required to pay any maintenance (formerly referred to as “alimony”) to his wife of 38 years. (Was this a “fair and equitable” division of marital property?) Well the Illinois Appellate Court, which typically has three justices who vote whether or not to uphold the trial court decision, voted 2 to 1 in favor of upholding the trial court decision. In accordance with Illinois law, the trial court was required to look at a series of factors in determining how best to divide marital property without assigning fault or blame to either party. In this case, the factors considered by the trial court included each party’s contribution to acquiring the marital assets, the value of property assigned to each party, the length of the marriage, the economic circumstances of each party, the age of each party, the future sources of income and vocational skills of each party, the reasonable opportunity for each spouse to acquire assets in the future, as well as the issue of whether maintenance (alimony) should be paid from husband to wife. The court’s rationale was as follows:

After the divorce, the husband’s social security and pension income each year would be $31,000.00, and the wife’s social security income each year would be $6,000.00. The trial court did not choose to award maintenance to the wife, because if her ex-husband died anytime soon, Jane would be without sufficient resources at the end of her life. By awarding Jane a debt free marital home, and awarding Jane $226,000.00 in stock and bonds, Jane would be able to support herself without any assistance from her ex-husband. Mr. Nasty on the other hand, would continue to receive $31,000.00 annually in social security and pension income for the remainder of his life, which would still be substantially more income than Jane would receive each year. The court also took note that Mr. Nasty maintained the possibility of working part time as a real estate sales agent. For these reasons, the distribution of marital assets was held “fair and equitable.”

In summarizing, Illinois trial courts have wide discretion in defining the words, “fair and equitable.” The Appellate Court concluded by stating that in deciding whether or not to reverse a trial court decision, “an abuse of discretion occurs only when no reasonable man could take the view adopted by the trial court.” The lone dissenting Appellate Court Justice held that the trial court did commit an abuse of discretion because the wife received nearly 500% more of the marital property than the husband. The moral of the story is, if you want to roll the dice, do it in Las Vegas rather than in divorce court.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

How Can Dad Change Custody?

Jul 26

How can dad change custody?

When Fred and Wilma first got married in the town of Bedrock, they thought they would live happily ever after. They bought a house, a car, and then along came their daughter, Pebbles. Five years later, after Wilma decided she could no longer take Fred or his goofy friend, Barney, Wilma, asked Fred for a divorce. The divorce was amicable, they agreed upon allocation of parental responsibilities, and the primary residence of Pebbles would remain with Wilma. Wilma moved with Pebbles to the neighboring town, Wilmette Park. One year later, Wilma’s boyfriend moved in with Wilma and Pebbles.

Fred did not like Wilma’s new boyfriend, and he thought that Pebbles probably did not like him either. After the parties had been divorced for three years, and Pebbles was eight years old, Fred decided to seek a transfer odad custody f custody of his daughter, Pebbles.

In Illinois, the burden of shifting custody from one parent to the other is on the parent petitioning for the change. The non-custodial parent must show by clear and convincing evidence, that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the parties, and it is now in the minor child’s best interests that custody be modified.

When seeking to modify custody, before a court will consider the best interests of the minor child, it first must be presented with evidence that there has been a change in the circumstances of the parties. If the court is satisfied that there has been a change in circumstances, the non-custodial parent then must present evidence that it is now in the best interests of the minor child that custody be changed. Following is a list of some, but not all of the questions and factors a court will consider in determining whether custody should be changed:

  1. What is the interaction and interrelationship of the child with each of his parents?
  2. Which parent’s home, school and community would be better suited for raising the minor child?
  3. Has either parent ever physically abused the minor child?
  4. Would a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, support the minor child moving from one parent to the other?
  5. Which parent has a stronger ability to foster a close relationship with the other parent?
  6. Which parent has more available quality time to spend with the minor child, taking into account his or her respective work schedule and lifestyle?

As simple and straightforward as custody modification may appear, before any parent seeks to modify the custodial living arrangements of his or her child or children, he or she should think long and hard before putting his child, himself and his former spouse through an emotionally and economically draining battle.

Contact The Law Office of Michael P. Doman your Chicago Child Custody Lawyer today!

Exclusive Possession: I want my husband out!

Jul 26

Exclusive possession: I want my husband out

There is a rarely used section in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which gives a trial court authority to remove a spouse from the marital residence during the pendency of a divorce proceeding. Most people have heard of “orders of protection” which allow judges to remove spouses from a marital residence if there are acts of violence or abuse in the household; however, the filing of a petition for exclusive possession is less common. Can a spouse be removed, or a better question is, should a spouse be removed from a marital residence if the wife claims that her “mental well-being” is jeopardized by continued occupancy of the home by her husband? Courts have been reluctant over the years to order one spouse out of the marital residence during the pendency of a dissolution of marriage proceeding based upon disagreexclusive possessionements with one another, arguments with one another, or yelling at one another.

Often times, once a divorce has been filed, one of the spouses may think it is now okay to begin a dating relationship with another individual. Exposing that dating relationship to the other spouse or children can often lead to antagonistic arguments, yelling in front of the minor children, crying, and bouts of depression, but is this enough to grant “exclusive possession” of a marital residence to the depressed spouse?

One case in which an award of exclusive possession by a trial court was overturned by the Illinois Appellate Court involved the following facts: Husband recently had unwanted sexual intercourse with his wife, his wife was a diabetic, and she testified that the husband’s presence in the household caused her undue stress, which led to diabetic reactions. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s decision to allow exclusive possession to the wife, and allowed the husband to return to the marital residence during the pendency of the divorce proceeding.

In another case, a hearing on the issue of exclusive possession took place in which the wife testified that during an argument over breakfast, husband beat her with his handgun, his fist, and an iron. Not only did the wife testify to this beating, but the husband admitted as much. In this case, exclusive possession was awarded to the wife, and husband was removed from his house. Clearly this example of exclusive possession also would have given rise to the issuance of an order of protection, had the wife filed for an order of protection in this case.

If you were the judge, what would you do in the following circumstances: The parties have two young children, the husband works long hours, often times stays out late at night and occasionally does not return home at night. Husband has a girlfriend and drinks alcohol outside of the presence of the minor children. The wife is “steaming mad” about the girlfriend, objects to the husband’s long work hours and believes it interferes with the children’s bedtimes, leaving the children curious as to whether their father will return home in time to put them to bed. How would you rule in this case if the wife filed a petition seeking exclusive possession of the parties’ marital residence based upon these facts?

A case with this set of facts has not been ruled upon by any Illinois Appellate Court. This is a drastic remedy, and should only be used in cases where the physical or mental well-being of a spouse is jeopardized, imperiled, or endangered by occupancy of the marital residence by both spouses during the pendency of any dissolution of marriage proceedings.

Contact The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today, your Chicago Divorce Attorneys can answer any of your questions.

Does Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Mean Equal Parenting Time?

Jul 26

Does allocation of parental responsibilities mean equal parenting time?

parenting timeOften times parents going through a divorce are unable to distinguish between allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Provisions in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which govern the issues of allocation of parental responsibilities are separate and distinct from provisions in the Act which govern parenting time.

Assume with me for a minute that Fred and Wilma, of the town of Bedrock, have come across “rocky times,” and no longer wish to remain married. Fred and Wilma have one child together, whose name just so happens to be Pebbles. Wilma has been a homemaker throughout the marriage, and has also been Pebbles’ primary caretaker; however, Fred has been a devoted father deeply involved in all aspects of Pebbles’ life from changing her diapers, to going to “rock concerts,” to attending Pebbles’ school functions.

Fred says upon entry of the divorce decree, he would like to have allocation of parental responsibilities of Pebbles, so that he may have “equal parenting time.” Wilma, on the other hand, says she cannot communicate effectively with Fred anymore, and often times disagrees with him on many issues, such as the choice of Pebbles’ doctors, the Church or Synagogue he wishes to attend with Pebbles, the schools Pebbles will be attending, and her social activities.

Fred’s attorney would be wise to explain to Fred that Section 602.1(d) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifically states that, “allocation of parental responsibilities does not necessarily mean equal parenting time.” In this case, allocation of parental responsibilities would not be a viable option, because an award of allocation of parental responsibilities requires the parties to enter into a joint parenting agreement. A joint parenting agreement requires both parties to discuss all major issues concerning the minor child, such as her educational upbringing, the medical doctors the child will see, the Church or Synagogue the child will attend, as well as the child’s after school social activities. allocation of parental responsibilities also requires parents to meet with a mediator if they disagree on any of these decisions. Since Wilma has been the primary caretaker for Pebbles, and because Fred and Wilma do not agree on many issues involving Pebbles, it is likely that Wilma will end up with allocation of parental responsibilities; however, Fred should not be discouraged, because based upon the involvement he has exhibited throughout Pebbles’ life, Fred will be entitled to a liberal parenting time schedule, regardless of the fact that Wilma may end up with allocation of parental responsibilities. Based upon Fred’s prior involvement in Pebbles’ life, it is reasonable to expect that he will have parenting time with Pebbles every week, including no less often than alternating weekends, dinners with Pebbles in the evening once or twice each week, permission to attend all of Pebbles’ after school social activities, alternating all major holidays for parenting time, receiving one week of Christmas vacation, and up to one-half of the entire Summer as Fred’s parenting time schedule.

In summary, in the unfortunate event of a divorce between two loving parents who are devoted to their child or children, both parents should be certain to distinguish between the contentious issue of allocation of parental responsibilities, and the separate and distinct issue of parenting time.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

Dissipation in Divorce Proceedings

Jul 25

Dissipation in divorce proceedings

The issue of whether or not dissipation has occurred in a divorce case continues to remain at the forefront of many property disputes. As recently as December, 2000, the very well respected Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court wrestled with the issue of Dissipation in the Carter case.

woman and man cartoon fighting over houseThe definition of dissipation is, “The expenditure of marital funds on purposes unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown.” Marital funds means any and all assets or earnings acquired during the marriage. There are two difficult factors in determining whether dissipation exists:

  1. Whether the marriage had been undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown at the time marital funds were spent by one of the parties; and
  2. Whether or not the expenditure of funds was for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.

Dissipation can be a very effective tool in a divorce case, because once a spouse claims that the other has committed Dissipation, it is incumbent on the other spouse to present clear and specific evidence that no Dissipation has taken place.

For example, assume Susan is a wealthy doctor who is married and has two children with her husband, Alfred. While married to Alfred, Susan begins dating a nurse named Tommy. Susan eventually stops coming home at night, and ends up having children with Tommy while still married to Alfred. Furthermore, Tommy, who has been working at Beverly Hillbilly Hospital for $35,000.00 annually quits his job and goes to work as Susan’s private nurse at a salary of $95,000.00. Three years later, Susan’s husband, Alfred, files for divorce and claims dissipation of marital funds by Susan, because Susan has been paying exorbitant marital funds to her boyfriend, Tommy the nurse. Does Dissipation exist?

Alfred’s argument is that Susan had been depleting marital assets by overpaying Tommy $60,000.00 as a nurse at the time that his marriage to Susan was undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown. Alfred is going to ask for reimbursement of funds to the marital estate. Susan is going to claim that Tommy is a “top-notch nurse” and was entitled to a $60,000.00 raise when he came to work for her. Do you think Dissipation will be proved in this case?

Other examples in Illinois which Dissipation has been found are as follows:

  1. Husband traveled to Las Vegas and lost money while the marriage was in the middle of an irreconcilable breakdown;
  2. Husband moved out of the marital residence, purchased a second home during his divorce proceedings, and purchased furniture for his new home;
  3. Husband had been dating another woman and purchased a Mink coat for her, as well as gave her $30,000.00 to open a beauty salon while he was still married to his wife;
  4. Husband took a vacation with his girlfriend, paid for her plane ticket and the hotel room while his marriage was going through an irreconcilable breakdown;
  5. Husband bought his girlfriend a car while his marriage was going through an irreconcilable breakdown.

Illinois courts have held that the issue of Dissipation depends upon the facts in each case. If you are involved in a divorce proceeding and you suspect that your spouse has a “significant other,” be sure to have your attorney investigate the issue of Dissipation.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Child’s representative statute declared unconstitutional

Jul 25

Child’s representative statute declared unconstitutional

On October 28, 2004 the Illinois Supreme Court issued an important decision which affects the procedure in which Illinois trial courts must handle allocation of parental responsibilities disputes. There is an often used section in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which allows judges presiding over allocation of parental responsibilities disputes to appoint a child’s representative. A child’s representative is chosen by a trial judge from a list of attorneys with whom the judge is familiar that has had experience in child advocacy matters. The duty of the child’s representative is to make an independent determination as to which parent should receive custody of a minor child at the conclusion of a allocation of parental responsibilities case. Trial judges have typically given substantial weight to the opinions and recommendations of the child’s representative, because this individual has no duty to advocate for the mother and no duty to advocate for the father, but simply a duty to make recommendations as to what the child’s representative believes is in the best interests of the minor child.

child holding justice weightsIn the Illinois Supreme Court divorce case between Norma Perez De Bates and Edward Bates, the parties were divorced on July 14, 2000, and were awarded allocation of parental responsibilities of their only minor child. The primary custodial residence of the minor child was given to mother, subject to father’s parenting time rights. Eight months later, the parties were back in court fighting over parenting time and custody. During the custody dispute, the trial judge appointed a child’s representative who was asked to represent the best interests of the minor child, and make custody and parenting time recommendations to the trial judge as to what the child’s representative believed was in the best interests of the minor child.

After a lengthy and bitter allocation of parental responsibilities dispute, the matter proceeded to trial on February 26, 2002, less than two years after the parties were initially divorced. The trial lasted for two months. During the trial, the child’s representative gave a report to the court indicating that custody of the minor child should be taken from mother and transferred to father. Ultimately after hearing all of the evidence in the two month trial, the trial judge agreed with the recommendations of the child’s representative, and took custody away from mother and granted allocation of parental responsibilities to father.

The case made it all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court which affirmed the trial court decision; however, a very important ruling was made by the Illinois Supreme Court on October 28, 2004. The statute which allows trial judges to appoint child’s representatives to represent minor children during allocation of parental responsibilities disputes is now unconstitutional. The reason is that the statute prohibited the attorney for either parent from calling the child’s representative as a witness to be cross-examined during the trial. The Illinois Supreme Court has found this prohibition in the statute to be an unconstitutional deprivation of a parent’s fundamental right to cross-examination of an adverse witness. Indeed, the Illinois Supreme Court stated, among many other things, that the child’s representative, like any other witness “is not immune from error in observation and from inadvertent bias.” Accordingly, until the Illinois Legislature fixes this statute, trial judges will have to rely on other independent methods in helping make its determination of what is in the best interests of a minor child during custody disputes.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Children out of Wedlock

Jul 25

Children out of wedlock

It has become increasingly common in today’s society for parents to give birth to children out of wedlock. Prior to July 10, 2003, the law in Illinois treated married parents differently than parents who had children without the benefit of having been married. Although it might have been easier to break off financial ties between individuals who never married, it is no longer easier for an individual who has never been married to remove her child or children from the State of Illinois.

mother with two young kidsThe Illinois Parentage Act now requires a custodial parent who wishes to remove a child or children from the State of Illinois to first petition the Court to request permission to do so. The factors an Illinois court is required to consider in deciding whether to allow the custodial parent to move to another state are the same factors that a court must consider for a couple going through a divorce, or for couples that have already been divorced. These factors are:

  1. Whether the move outside Illinois will likely improve the quality of life of the children?
  2. What are the motives of the moving parent?
  3. What are the motives of the parent resisting the move out of state?
  4. What has been the past parenting time pattern for the non-custodial parent?
  5. Can a realistic and reasonable parenting time schedule be implemented after the move?

In addition, the Illinois Parentage Act has also added a section which allows the father to apply to the court for an injunction prohibiting the mother from removing the minor child or children from the State of Illinois during any paternity proceeding.

This relatively new law was discussed in detail in a case decided by the Illinois Appellate Court on February 16, 2005. In this recent case, Jill and Vincent had given birth to their daughter, Callie, on February 6, 1998. Jill and Vincent were never married. Five years later on July 5, 2003, Jill married Christopher. Christopher had been unemployed for six months, and eventually found a job in Indiana earning $60,000.00 annually. Jill was employed part-time, and this part-time employment occasionally required Jill to leave home. Jill had also become pregnant with her new husband and was going to give birth to her second child, Callie’s half-sibling.

After Vincent became aware that Jill wanted to move to the State of Indiana, Vincent filed an application with the court requesting that Jill be enjoined and prohibited from moving out of state with his daughter, Callie. In deciding whether to grant the injunction, the court was required to consider several factors including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Vincent’s previous involvement with Callie prior to coming to court;
  2. The likelihood that Vincent was, in fact, the biological father of Callie; and
  3. The impact on Jill’s financial status, and her physical and emotional health from requiring Jill to remain in Illinois with Callie.

In ruling on Vincent’s application for an injunction asking to prohibit Jill from removing Callie from the State of Illinois, several witnesses testified, including a psychologist, Jill, her new husband, Christopher, Callie’s social worker who had been visiting with Callie for behavior problems, and Callie’s biological father, Vincent.

At the trial court level, Vincent’s request to enjoin and prohibit Jill from moving to Indiana with her new husband and the minor child was denied, and Jill was given permission to move; however, the case did not end in the trial court. Vincent filed an appeal, arguing in effect, that it was not in Callie’s best interests to be removed from the State of Illinois and be separated from her biological father. What do you think the Appellate Court decided?

On February 16, 2005, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the trial court decision, and enjoined and prohibited Jill from moving to the State of Indiana with her new husband and the minor child, Callie. If Jill wanted to move to Indiana, she would have to turn Callie over to the biological father. In arriving at this decision, the Illinois Appellate Court held that Vincent had presented sufficient evidence to establish that if Callie were removed from Illinois, his relationship with his biological daughter would be severely tarnished, she would be separated from her extended paternal family, she would see her biological father less often, her biological father would not be able to attend school functions, and there was substantial concern as to how Callie would be cared for by her step-father when the biological mother was out of town on work assignments.

In summary, when having children out of wedlock, the burden for establishing one’s right to move out of state with a minor child or children rests with the custodial parent. From a societal point of view, I agree with the decision because individuals who decide to have children out of wedlock are now required to confront the same hurdles as divorced parents when seeking permission to move out of state with their child or children.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Can you be your own attorney in a divorce?

Jul 25

Can you be your own attorney in a divorce?

Judge Grace Dickler is arguably one of the most knowledgeable, experienced and respected Judges in the Cook County Divorce Division; however, even Judge Dickler had her “hands full” in overseeing a divorce between Anna and Albert. This divorce proceeding was difficult because not only did it involve issues concerning distribution of property, but it also involved issues concerning custody of four children, one of whom had learning disabilities, claims of adultery, and orders of protection. After Judge Dickler thought she had completed the case when she entered a Divorce Judgment on January 18, 2006, the parties continued to have disagreements, which led to more hearings, and an eventual appeal to the First District Appellate Court of the State of Illinois, which entered its final ruling on April 13, 2007.

woman being her own attorneyAlbert was apparently an intelligent individual who was “spurned” by his estranged spouse, who had found another lover during her marriage to Albert. Albert decided to represent himself throughout his two years of dissolution of marriage proceedings. The divorce proceeding contained your typical allegations of infidelity, lying in court, claims of bias by the Judge, allegations of drunkenness, physical abuse involving the children, and guns in the house.

Anybody who has had the unfortunate experience of participating in the divorce process in a Cook County Circuit Court has most likely learned the hard way that the Cook County court system is overcrowded, and there are too many cases assigned to each Divorce Judge. This is especially true in Judge Dickler’s courtroom, since she is the only Divorce Judge assigned to the Skokie Courthouse; therefore, when a case is filed in Skokie, Judge Dickler will most assuredly be assigned to the case. (If the person served with the Divorce proceeding does not want to take his or her case before Judge Dickler, then he or she can request that the Divorce case be transferred to Downtown, Chicago).

Now Albert, who had apparently done a reasonable job of obtaining some favorable rulings during his two year divorce, ended up with a preliminary decision on December 16, 2005 awarding him allocation of parental responsibilities of his minor children and allowing him substantial parenting time with each child. Apparently emboldened by Judge Dickler’s decision to award Albert allocation of parental responsibilities, Albert, who did not have the advice of any counsel during his divorce, decided to continue “pushing the envelope” in his newfound success as a “pro se litigant” (a litigant representing himself), and called his former wife after midnight immediately after Judge Dickler’s allocation of parental responsibilities ruling and left her a voicemail that “he was never going to stop pursuing the matter, and that the court awarded allocation of parental responsibilities of his children just to punish him.” Albert’ misguided anger, his inexperience in handling a Divorce case by himself, and his overwhelming desire to retaliate against Anna apparently was too much for Albert to handle. The allocation of parental responsibilities order which had been entered on December 16, 2005, was immediately amended to change the ruling from allocation of parental responsibilities of the minor children to the mother, Anna. The following month, on January 18, 2006, Judge Dickler completed the case, and finalized her allocation of parental responsibilities order previously entered December 16, 2005.

Judge Dickler thought that she had successfully completed the case on January 18, 2006, only to find out that Albert continued to pursue allegations of alleged missed visits that had taken place during his divorce. Most likely because of the overcrowded docket in Judge Dickler’s courtroom, and because she had already gleaned a thorough knowledge of the parties, the allegations between the parties, the best interests of the minor children, and all other aspects of this case, she ultimately denied Albert’ final petition asking that his former wife be held in Contempt of Court for not allowing parenting time on certain dates and times. Because a full hearing was not granted on Albert’ petition alleging parenting time disputes, this single ruling by Judge Dickler was reversed, allowing Albert yet another day in court to pursue his allegations of alleged missed visits with the minor children.

In summary, Albert most likely saved thousands of dollars in attorneys fees by representing himself, but he apparently “missed the boat” by not doing what was in the best interests of his minor children in continuing to pursue his custody dispute with his wife. Several lessons can be learned from this unhappy story, the first of which is:

  1. Try not to get divorced;
  2. If you insist on getting divorced, try to resolve your custody issues between yourselves without involving the court; and
  3. If you do decide to get divorced, and do decide to fight over custody, then be sure to engage an attorney to help you in your dispute.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Can Mom Move with Dad’s Child to Another State?

Jul 25

Can mom move with dad’s child to another state?

Approximately three years ago, this column wrote on the issue of whether, after a divorce, a custodial parent could move out of state with her child or children over the father’s objections. On May 22, 2003, the highest court in Illinois issued a decision attempting to clarify this highly emotional issue. In a case which made its way all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, Sonia had been divorced from Jeff in 1999 after a fourteen year marriage. At the time of the divorce, Sonia had two children ages 13 and 8 years old. The 13 year old went to live with dad, and the 8 year old went to live with mom. Two years after the divorce, in 2001, mom became engaged to her fiancé, who was self employed, and had a successful business 1000 miles away in a small town in Massachusetts. (There was no discussion as to how Sonia met her fiancé) After Sonia became engaged, she wanted to move with the parties’ 8 year old son to Massachusetts to be with her fiancé and raise her new family.

little girl under boxJeff, who had custody of the parties’ 13 year old son, had already remarried and was living happily in a small house with his new wife and oldest son. The oldest son and his brother, who were living separate from each other (the oldest brother with dad and the youngest brother with mom) had different friends, different interests, and were not particularly close to one another.

At the trial which first took place in the trial court, Sonia testified that the move to Massachusetts would enhance the general quality of life of both her and the parties’ 8 year old son in the following ways: they would live in a bigger house, mom would have a better job earning more money, mom’s work hours would be tailored around her son’s schooling, her son could be more involved in extracurricular school activities, she would be around to drive him to and from school events, mom would have no more overnight business trips with her new job, mom would pay for all transportation costs to and from their new home in Massachusetts, and mom offered dad up to 10 weeks of summer vacation parenting time, as well as additional visits with the minor child throughout the rest of the year. Sonia would also be able to start a new life with her fiancé, just as Jeff had started a new life with his new wife here in Illinois.

Jeff testified in the trial court that everyone in Jeff’s family would see his youngest son less often, he would no longer be involved in his younger son’s daily life, the younger child was doing fine in school here in Illinois, and the only person who would truly benefit from the move to Massachusetts would be Sonia, the mother; not the minor child.

After a two year court process, the Illinois Supreme Court ultimately decided that Sonia could move to Massachusetts to marry her fiancé and take the parties’ youngest son with her on a permanent basis. The highest court has attempted to clarify important questions governing a custodial parent’s right to move with a minor child out of state. The Illinois Supreme Court has stated that comparing direct benefits of the mother and indirect benefits of the minor child is not particularly helpful; that the court must focus on the child’s best interests, the improvement to the general quality of life of both the custodial parent and the minor child, and the parenting time schedule for the minor child once the child moves out of state.

Finally, the Illinois Supreme Court, in attempting to walk a fine line between a mother’s right to remarry and move out of state, with the father’s desire to stay in close proximity with his child, has stated that, some deference is due the custodial parent who has already determined the best interests of her child and herself are served by remarriage and removal; however, a mother’s mere desire to move to another state, without more, is an insufficient basis for removal.

In summary, moving out of state with one’s child, thereby creating further separation between that child and the child’s other parent is a difficult process, but can be done with proper planning and lots of money to pay the attorneys.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Are you receiving child support on time?

Jul 25

Are you receiving child support on time?

There is a little known law in Illinois (750 ILCS 5/706.1 (E)) which allows a court to assess a penalty against employers who do not remit payments of child support on time. In Illinois, fathers (or mothers as the case may be) who must pay child support are required to have this child support withheld from their paychecks, and forwarded to the custodial parent within seven business days after the money is withheld.

parent holding hand of small childLet me tell you about the problem of this one man corporation that decided to take a shortcut with the law. Lets call this one man corporation, “Mobil Man Cellular, Inc.” Mobil Man was required to collect $175.00 each week in child support from Tom Terrific’s paycheck. Mobil Man was required under Illinois law to remit these withheld amounts to Tom’s former wife, Sheila. Mobil Man, who did not excel in bookkeeping, remitted these child support payments at the end of each month to Sheila, once every 4 weeks, and lumped 4 payments together by sending Sheila one check for $700.00 ($175.00 x 4). One year later, Sheila (who was shy) decided to contact a lawyer and do something about her tardy child support payments. Sheila learned that, when an employer fails to send child support to mom within seven business days after it has been collected, the employer is liable for payment of a mandatory penalty in the amount of $100.00 for each day the payment is late.

The purpose of this provision is to eliminate the substantial burden on mom who might be forced to postpone purchasing essentials for her child such as food, medicine, clothes, or payment of other important bills. The Illinois statute does not require mom to notify the employer of this penalty provision. The employer is responsible for understanding its obligations under the child support law once it receives an Order for Withholding that has been signed by the court.

In the example above, Mobil Man had been three weeks late with the first weekly child support payment every month for twelve months. Mobil Man’s penalty for one year of remitting payments late to Sheila amounted to $25,200.00! The first payment in each of the twelve months was 21 days late. 21 days x 12 months = 252. 252 x $100.00 per day = $25,200.00.

One Appellate Court in Illinois was unsympathetic towards a small employer that had accumulated a $12,000.00 penalty for remitting child support payments late. The Appellate Court stated, “an employer defendant cannot be heard to complain about hardship to itself caused by payment of a penalty to a plaintiff where that employer defendant’s non-compliance with a court order caused hardship on the plaintiff.” The Appellate Court also stated, “The fact the penalty may in some instances be a ‘windfall’ for a plaintiff is irrelevant because the penalty will serve to compensate the plaintiff for any hardship and will deter future non-compliance by the employer.”

All custodial parents should be aware that they are entitled to receive child support within seven business days after it is collected from the non-custodial parent’s income. Also, employers who have the responsibility of withholding child support payments from their employees’ pay should always remit child support payments to the intended recipient on time!

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.

Are single parents chained to Illinois?

Jul 25

Are single parents chained to Illinois?

Have you ever seen the commercial for Southwest Airlines where the ending words are, “You are now free to move about the country?” A wonderful thought for vacationers! After listening to this advertisement four or five times, it reminded me of a recent Illinois Family Law case in which a divorced mother of two young daughters (10 years old and 8 years old) recently wanted to move from Highland Park, Illinois to Seattle, Washington.single parent

In 1991, mom and dad entered into an amicable divorce, agreeing to share allocation of parental responsibilities of their two daughters. The two children lived with mom on a daily basis, and visited with dad often, sometimes three or four times each week.

In 1994, mom remarried, and in 1995, gave birth to her third child, the first with her new husband. In 1997, mom’s second husband received an offer for a job promotion. He had been earning $37,000.00 annually while employed in Skokie, Illinois. His promotion offered him an increased salary ($44,000.00 annually), plus the likelihood of earning a $200,000.00 bonus if sales continued as planned.

The biological father of the two daughters continued to enjoy a close relationship with his children, visited them every week, and sometimes up to four days per week. Dad paid substantial child support every week, and never missed parenting time.

If you were the judge, would you allow mom to move with her second husband and three kids (two from her prior marriage) to Seattle, Washington?

Under Illinois Law, a parent having custody of his or her children that wishes to leave the State must file a petition in court seeking permission to move out of state. This process is called filing a Petition for Removal. When an Illinois court conducts its hearing on the custodial parent’s Petition for Removal, it is required to take into account the following five elements:

  1. What is the likelihood that the move to another city outside the State of Illinois will enhance the general quality of life of the custodial parent, as well as the quality of life of the minor children?
  2. Whether or not the custodial parent’s motives in seeking removal to another city and state are sincere, or simply intended as a ruse to frustrate the non-custodial parenting time with his children?
  3. What are the non-custodial parent’s motives in resisting his former spouse’s Petition for Removal?
  4. Has the non-custodial parent exercised his or her parenting time schedule diligently?
  5. Once the move out of state is allowed, can a reasonable and realistic parenting time schedule can still be obtained?

I wonder how many people reading this article are asking themselves whether or not the custodial parent in this case was given permission to move to Seattle, Washington. Keep reading.

Imagine being the judge having to decide the fate of these children’s lives when a Petition for Removal cannot be settled between the parents. How many witnesses does each parent need to call? Where will the children be better served? Is the custodial parent entitled to move with her new spouse to a distant location which would allow her to improve the quality of her life and her family? After all, the non-custodial parent is “free to move about the country.”

What about the father who has seen his children every week for the last six years? If Removal is allowed, how will dad’s relationship with his children change? What kind of compromise could you forge as a judge?

In the case described above, the judge decided that the mother’s reasons for wanting to move two thousand miles away were insufficient to overcome the father’s valid reasons for resisting Removal. Dad had seen the kids three to four days every week, and if his children were allowed to move to Seattle, Washington, even though he might be permitted to visit with the children for months at a time during the Summer, the judge decided this was not adequate to replace the current parenting time arrangements with his children.

Sadly, cases such as the one described above take place in Cook County, Lake County, and DuPage County often. The moral of this story is… when you have children, don’t get divorced!

Contact The Law Office of Micheal P. Doman and a Chicago Divorce Attorney can help you determine the right course of action for your case.

Are grandparents entitled to parenting time rights?

Jul 25

On August 19, 1999, the Illinois Legislature amended the provision in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act pertaining to grandparent parenting time rights. If you are a grandparent that has divorced children, you may have experienced difficulty in seeing your grandchildren. By way of example, let’s return to the friendly town of Hillbilly Village. Assume that Granny and Jed Clampett’s daughter, Ellie Mae, has three children with her estranged spouse, Billy Bob. Ellie Mae and Billy Bob have given birth to three children, Annie Mae, Fannie Mae and Danny Mae.grandparents parenting time

Billy Bob may be upset with Ellie Mae and her family, because Ellie Mae has found someone as charming and intelligent as her cousin, Jethro, to marry. Billy Bob is now being vindictive, and not allowing Granny and Jed to visit with their precious grandchildren. The question is, can Granny and Jed file a petition in Illinois requesting grandparent parenting time with their grandchildren?

Illinois Law

Section 607(b) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that under certain circumstances, a grandparent can petition for parenting time with his or her grandchildren either with or without approval of their biological child. Grandparents can petition for parenting time with their grandchildren before a divorce has been filed, after a divorce has been filed, or after a divorce has been completed. One of the following requirements must be met:

  1. The parents of the grandchildren are not living with one another;
  2. One of the parents has been absent from the marital residence for more than one month without the spouse knowing his or her whereabouts;
  3. One of the parents is deceased; or
  4. One of the parents joins in the petition with the grandparent requesting grandparent parenting time.

Once a grandparent petition for parenting time has been filed, a Court will determine whether it is in the best interests and welfare of the minor children to have parenting time with their grandparents.

In summary, Granny and Jed will be permitted to visit with their grandchildren, Annie Mae, Fannie Mae and Danny Mae, over the objections of the minor children’s father, Billy Bob, so long as one of the four requirements stated above has been met, and a Court determines it is in the best interests and welfare of the minor children to visit with his or her grandparents. The days for parenting time, and duration of each visit will be determined by the Court, taking into account the minor children’s best interest and welfare.

Contact The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman with all your parenting time and grandparents rights questions.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities: Do I Have a Say?

Apr 14

parental responsibilities

Laws regarding parenting between divorced spouses have changed dramatically in Illinois. Once called child custody, these new laws went into effect at the beginning of 2016 and are now referred to as allocation of parental responsibilities. Ultimately, the court will award parental decision-making tasks, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a say in the process.

The new Illinois law, in fact, calls for a parent plan to outline items included in the allocation of parental responsibilities. These documents are similar to the joint parenting plans or agreed orders previously used in family law cases for custody, visitation and support issues. The idea behind the new law is to make these agreements more structured and to better reflect how decisions are actually made.

Assignment of Responsibilities:

Under the previous law, child custody was generally designated as sole custody or joint custody to determine who would make the final decision in major areas of a child’s life. In other words, either one or both parents would make all decisions. Under the 2016 Illinois Child Custody law, the court will determine which parent will be responsible for each subject.

The four major areas that are part of such agreements are:

The court will only assign responsibility for religious upbringing when there is clear evidence that the parents had followed specific practices or had a prior agreement on this issue.

A judge can now award education and extracurricular decisions, for example, to the mother, while healthcare decisions are the father’s responsibility. The facts and circumstances of each situation will determine assignment of parental responsibilities.

Developing a parenting agreement with the help of Chicago family law attorneys that you and your ex-partner can agree on before heading to court is in your best interests as judges will often award responsibilities per your decisions. For help in determining parental responsibilities, contact the law offices of Michael P. Doman for help.

Relocating After A Divorce: Can My Custody Agreement Change?

Mar 31

RelocatingMoving With Your Child: Things That you Will Have to Keep in Mind

Your child custody arrangement typically indicates if you can move with your children. It also states how far you will be able to move. Even if your agreement does not state that you cannot move, you will still need to talk to your ex before you move. It is important to note that a number of problems can result if you move without your ex’s permission.

Even though you are the child’s guardian, you could still be charged with kidnapping if you move without telling your ex. If your ex does not tell you that it is okay to move with your child, then you will have to go to court. You will need to convince the court that you have your child’s best interest in mind.

Factors That Affect Child Custody Arrangements

Moving out of state may not have an effect on the current child custody arrangements. However, experts always take the needs of your child into consideration. Northbrook divorce attorneys have stated that as long as the agreement is workable and does not have a negative effect on the child, you will likely be able to move out of state.

Keep in mind that a child custody agreement has four parts. These parts are legal and physical custody, parenting time schedule, child-rearing decisions and childcare expenses. The maturity and age of the child, health of the child, type of travel, school schedule, the parents’ work schedule and distance between the homes are some of the things that you will have to consider before the child custody arrangement is finalized.

It can be difficult to figure out the right child custody arrangements if you want to move out of the state. That is why you should contact The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman for help.

 

 

 

Divorced: Who Covers The Bills While Going Through A Divorce

Mar 23

Bills Making the decision to divorce is never easy, but it can be even more difficult if you cannot agree on important financial issues. The process of divorce can be long and tedious, but it is possible to work out a satisfactory agreement until it the divorce is final. The following is an overview of divorce and who pays the bills until the final papers are signed. If you are considering divorce, it may help to speak with Chicago divorce attorneys for advice.

Who Normally Pays The Bills?

If one person was the primary bread winner and paid the bills routinely, it may be easiest to leave that in place. It is always best if couples can agree on their own about who is going to pay certain bills. Unfortunately, money is one of the biggest issues during divorces, so this is often impossible. In these cases, the court may need to intervene and decide who will be responsible for certain bills.

Dividing Up The Bills

When a couple has expenses such as credit cards only in their name, they should pay those bills on their own. It is more difficult, however, to decide who should pay bills with both parties names on them such as:

While it may be difficult to determine who is paying the bills, you have an obligation to protect your interests if your name is on them as well as your spouses. However, you must be aware that you will not be entitled to any of that money back once the divorce is final. Only agreements determined by the court that are in writing are legally binding.

If you are going through a divorce, you most likely feel overwhelmed with all of the decisions that need to be made. During this difficult time, you need a lawyer to protect your interests until your divorce is final. Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman to discuss the options available to you under the law in your state.

 

 

Surviving a Divorce with a Strong Support System

Dec 27

 

divorce support system

Divorce elicits different feelings and reactions in different people. Some people don’t want to be asked questions or to have to talk about what led to the divorce, sometimes because they don’t want to face the truth themselves. Others worry about how they will be perceived in society, especially if they are in the limelight.

Yet the support of friends and family when going through a divorce is imperative. It can be found in four ways:

1) Joining a support group
Someone who is going through the same thing that you are really gets it. You can find a support group for people going through a divorce in your area online. Hearing their own experiences and knowing you are not alone will give you strength.

2) Get involved in online forums
You can also join an online forum where you can talk to others or a counselor in a chat room or through a message board. You can also read blogs about other people’s experience on blogs and see what helped them to get through it.

3) Get out there
Pursue your own interests; start tending to your garden, travel to a place you’ve always wanted to go or get involved in parent’s activities at your child’s school. Do things that distract you and make you happy.

4) Lend a hand
If you feel abandoned and misunderstood rather than supported, turn it into a positive and offer support to the aged, the disabled, orphans or other groups of people who also feel aligned and alone. You will find happiness in creating theirs.

Starting point
A good place to start is to get the legal aspect sorted out. The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. is a team of Chicago Divorce Attorneys who can take care of that. If you wish, the Chicago Divorce Attorneys at the Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. can refer you to divorce support groups or councilors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effect a Divorce can have on Children this Holiday Season?

Dec 12

single father at christmasOne of the most difficult adjustments that children have to make when their parents get divorced is the family not being together during holidays. Sometimes, they have to make a choice of which parent they will spend the holidays with or they are shuffled back and forth to get some time with both parents.

Children thrive on routine and stability and this change really affects them. The best that parents can do is put their children first and try to give them a sense of stability and normalcy during holidays.

One way to do this is to alternate the different holidays on an annual basis. This means they spend one holiday with one parent this year and with the other parent the following year. The idea is to have the children spend all the different holidays with each parent even and for them to have the stability of knowing what the plans for the holidays are.

In the early days following the separation, it is recommended that the parents make the effort to spend holidays together with the children. Hopefully, both parents can work together and be civil and courteous enough to have Thanksgiving or Christmas lunch or dinner together. Perhaps plans can be made to do this at a neutral place like a restaurant if one parent does not wish to have the other one in their home. Once the children have had the time to process the separation and divorce, then the parents can have them for the different holidays.

The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. has a team of understanding Chicago divorce attorneys who know the effects a divorce can have on children. With this understanding, the Chicago divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. will endeavor to reach the other party with requests to have the children for alternative holidays. We don’t only formalize divorce but also do what we can to help both parties move on amicably as co-parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Ways to Plan for the Holidays when Divorced with Children

Nov 28

single parent during holiday season, divorced with childrenWhat makes holidays special is the family gathering together and depending on which holiday it is, sharing gifts bought for each other. When this will no longer be happening because their parents have split up, it takes a toll on children. While there may be ill feelings and ill will between the two parents who are splitting up, they both need to be civil and courteous for the sake of their children especially when it comes to how holidays will be spent.

There are three ways to do this;

1) Agree to enjoy part of the holiday together at a neutral location
Perhaps the marriage has ended because one partner was unfaithful, irresponsible with money or done something else that is very hurting or offending. For this reason, the offended partner may not want the other back in the marital home, even for a visit. A holiday can still be enjoyed at a neutral place like lunch at a family restaurant or at a theme park.

2) Involve older kids in planning for the holidays
Very young kids may not be able to understand that one parent will no longer be living with them. Older ones can. Help them get over their feelings about the divorce by involving them in holiday planning. Ideally, this should be done with both parents present so that they can discuss the options with the kids. If it’s possible to fit in all that the children want to do during a holiday, it should be done. Otherwise, discuss compromises that work for the kids.

3) Hold double celebrations
If one parent has moved far away and cannot make it for personal special days like birthdays and even holidays, double the fun and hold double celebrations. Let the kids celebrate separately with both parents when they have their time with the child or children. This way, there is no feeling of missing out.

Having handled so many divorces, the team of Chicago divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. has seen firsthand how harmful divorce can be on families. It is for this reason that The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. Chicago divorce attorneys do all that they can to try and reach agreements with the other party about custody and how holidays will be spent. We are not just about making a divorce final but also helping our clients and everyone to reach amicable agreements and move on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who gets the Children during the Holiday Season?

Nov 11

custody during holidaysFor a lot of parents getting a divorce, the matter of child custody is the most important and stressful part of it. In Illinois, Chicago, custody has two components. One is legal custody, which is the right to make decisions and be involved in making decisions to do with a minor’s health care, education, and religion. The second component is physical custody, which is about the routine daily care of a child and living with them. Courts rule on matters to do with custody with the primary goal of doing what is in the best interests of a child.

The court arrives at this decision by considering factors such as the individual wishes of the parents and of the child if they are old enough. How a child relates with the parents, their siblings and others in their household is also considered. The courts also consider whether there is any physical violence or threat of it from the potential custodian, whether it is directed to the child or someone else in the household.

Visitation rights

In situations where custody is shared, visitation schedules are set up to establish how much time each child will spend with each parent. If you have court-ordered visitation plans that gives the parent that does not have custody permission to spend every other weekend, some weekdays and some holidays with the child. However, parents are allowed to submit other visitation agreements for the court to approve.

Planning holidays can be touchy for children and parents when the pain of the divorce and formalizing it are still going on. The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. Chicago divorce attorneys understand this and help clients to come up with visitation schedules that the courts will approve and that are fair and agreeable to both parents and the children.

Sometimes, one of the parents may try to restrict a grandparent’s access to the children. It may also happen that a grandparent is appointed as a child’s primary caregiver by the courts. The Chicago divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Michael P. Doman Ltd. can help grandparents to get visitation rights such as around holidays or get legal guardianship of their grandchild. Contact us and let us help you ensure that your child or grandchild will be happy, well cared for and enjoy happy holidays despite their family being broken.

 

How Long does a Divorce take in Chicago?

Oct 24

divorce

Divorce is one of the worst things that can happen to lovers who have lived together happily, fighting and conquering the upheavals of life together. Yet it is an unnecessary evil that sometimes is inevitable to happen. However, should it happen, what is do you do? How do you go about it? And more so, how long does the process take, in this case, in Chicago? Such questions need answers because divorce is an emotional process that saps a lot of one’s energy. Prior knowledge of the cons involved may do good to strengthen the persons involved, especially the ones on the disadvantaged side.

Factors Affecting the Length of the Process

The length of a divorce process depends on how right it is done. It also depends on whether it is contested or not. Whichever the case, the more protracted the process, the more painful it can be for the involved individuals. Such issues as parental responsibilities and support for the affected children, as well as resolving matters to do with sharing of property accrued together play a major role in determining the length of the process. If it is uncontested, it may take between two weeks to two months. However, a contested divorce process may take as long as between eighteen to thirty months to conclude.

Expert Help

Given the delicate legal framework involved, it is vital to involve an experienced divorce attorney. Michael P. Doman, a Chicago divorce attorney with many years of experience, understands how delicate a matter it is and endeavours to pursue your case expeditiously to its conclusive end. So, if you need expert advice, get in touch with his office and let the experts walk with you through it to lessen the pain. Being a loss process, understand that it may be tough to go it alone. You need people who understand you to help you come through it successfully, and Michael P. Doman is ready to do just that.

Divorce: Grey Years

Oct 07

grey divorce

You could be young and in a blossoming marriage in which divorce is foreign language. Or you could have spent years enjoying your marriage and imagining losing it after investing all your marital years in it is unimaginable. Yet grey divorce is taking its toll on the society at an alarming rate. You can no longer rest on your laurels assuming it will never happen to you. Peradventure it does, are prepared to face it? And how do you go about it? These are pertinent questions that demand answers when it matters the most.

What to Take Note of

It is important to know what is involved in grey divorce. First, alimony is almost a lifetime norm after grey divorce. This is because it is a challenge for ex-spouses to get back on their financial footing again after the divorce. Secondly, note that your retirement money will feature at the centre of the divorce proceedings. Grey divorce Chicago provides that retirement benefits be divided between the two of you. Another vital property to mention is the house. If you keep it, be prepared to give up something else instead. As much as the kids by be older, they may also feature prominently in grey divorce proceedings. Their emotional reaction to the separation of their parents may be a real issue to deal with.

Experts also advise that anger and bitterness during the grey break up are of benefit to none. Be as amicable as possible. Chicago divorce experts further implore divorcing spouses to make new friends but to avoid dating before the conclusion of the grey divorce proceedings. Family divorce experts opine that it is important to sign a prenuptial agreement if you wish to enter into another marriage.

All the above issues can be tackled exhaustively by experienced divorce attorneys like Michael P. Doman, a very experienced Chicago divorce attorney. For any clarity about grey divorce, get in touch with his office and receive the necessary help that you need.

Child Support! Who Pays Who?

Sep 23

father supporting son

When going through a divorce with a child involved, child support almost always comes up. If you and your former spouse can agree upon no child support, it is far easier, keeps the divorce cost down and helps both of you make a clean break. However, this often only happens when the two of you are still amicable towards each other and make a similar amount of money. In all other cases, someone will need to pay child support. This is when you really need a Chicago family law attorney while going through your divorce in Chicago. It is possible to be roped into child support even if you make less money and have the children more often. An attorney can prevent this from happening.

Payments are typically made to the parent who has custody of the child. If you have split custody, child support is broken down into the frequency you spend with your child. If it goes week on, week off, than the frequency is even and may mean you don’t have to pay any child support. If you have the child longer than your spouse, they will need to pay child support, even if you make more money.

A common question regarding child support is if a stepparent needs to pay child support. They do not. Stepparents do not need to pay child support, nor do grandparents (so if the individual paying child support dies, it does not move on to the next of kin but instead stops completely). If the two of you were never married, it does open for the chance of opting out of child support, especially if you can prove you are not the biological parent of the child. However, more often than not you will still be required to pay child support if you are found to be the parent even though you were never married.

Questions? The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd can answer all you child support questions.

Social Media, Cheating, and Its Effects on Your Divorce

Aug 08
couple focused on social media

Social Media can create separations between couples.

With the rise of social media and networking sites constantly tout “getting back in touch” or “expanding your network,” it can be hard to recognize the situations you are putting yourself in. In terms of relationships, both old flames and new temptations are constant possibilities with these new avenues of media. In every situation there are always going to be more sides to the story.  What you may think is innocent, your over half may not.  This can then lead to arguments among your spouse and then possibly divorce. Even though Illinois is now a no-fault state when it comes to seeking divorce, a party having committed adultery can have repercussions when it comes to the settlement of the case.

Social Media can harm, even when you think you are having conversations in private settings, all communications are fair game, when it comes to the divorce process. If you are going to be filing for a divorce, it’s good to have documented proof of your spouse’s cheating.

Proof that a party is cheating can be found in many places. Discovering a dating website or app profile is one method, such as when the adultery-facilitating site Ashley Madison’s data breach exposed millions of clients. More straightforward documentation, like conversations or pictures exchanged via social networks, can also be admitted into evidence. Despite the fact that these pieces of evidence are potentially faked, documenting them can still be extremely helpful to building a case. Even if your soon-to-be-ex-spouse has not brought this cheating offline, intentional behavior can be a boost to your case.

As you proceed with your divorce, it’s important to build the strongest case possible to garner the best possible outcome for you and your family. If you’re looking for legal help with your Chicago divorce, contact the legal team at the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman for a consultation today.

Love Hurts! The Cost of Divorce

Jul 22
woman stressed divorce costs

Divorce costs can be stressful, let Michael P. Doman help you.

If you are looking at going through with a divorce in Chicago, one of the first questions you may have is “how much will this cost?” This is a very difficult question to answer as there is nothing set in stone. One divorce may cost more than another, and it also depends on if there is some sort of agreement between you and your soon-to-be-former-spouse or not. However, there are a few ways you can ballpark the cost of divorce in Chicago when going through Chicago family law attorneys.

First of all, there is the cost per hour of having an attorney. This is going to run you, on average, $250 an hour. Granted, this is an average, so it can go higher or lower. Having a lawyer now is very important. You need to protect yourself and make sure you receive the proper defense and representation. Whether you are still amicable with your former spouse or not, a lawyer ensures you receive what you deserve and are not taken advantage of. Without a lawyer, you put yourself at great risk.

The next step is how long. If you do not have many assets or if it is rather straight forward, it shouldn’t take more than a handful of hours. However, if there is fighting between the two of you and if it is drawn out before a judge (this is especially the case when custody is involved with the divorce) it can end up costing you close to $15,000 in fees, most of which are attorney fees. Attorney fees are the bulk of any divorce, so even if the two of you no loner get along, if you can work together through the divorce, you both can walk away relatively unscathed. No matter how long it takes, Michael P. Doman will be on your side and there to properly represent and defend you.

 

Divorce: What Not to Do

Jul 08
family ripped apart, divorce process

Divorce can create tears in all aspects of your life, if you need help call Michael Doman.

When you’re starting divorce proceedings, you’ll be buffeted on every side by advice. Some is warranted: legal advice, advice from trusted friends, and the like. But much of it comes from well-meaning acquaintances. Constantly being told what to do can muddle the process. But there is also a list of things not to do that many people early in the divorce process ignore.
1. Avoid sharing on social media. If possible, avoid posting at all, as a picture of an innocent lunch with friends can be used in court to show misuse of marital funds. If you must keep up your social media presence, post content unrelated to your divorce, as that content can be used against you.
2. Do not ignore the court. Despite the court’s temporary orders being, well, temporary, ignoring them can cause permanent consequences that affect your case.
3. Avoid spending lavishly. It can be tempting to see the divorce as the “end” of something and to adopt a devil-may-care attitude regarding your finances. However, the financial split is a huge aspect of the divorce case, and any attempt to somehow hoard or break down shared finances could cause a discrepancy in the final division of property.
4. Do not attempt to manipulate your children. Child custody is determined by a complex set of factors, one of which can be the child’s preference. However, to establish what is truly best for the child, allow your role as a parent to speak for itself.
If you’re looking for experienced legal guidance in the divorce process, contact the experienced Chicago divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman for a consultation today.

Domestic Violence in Child Custody Cases

Jun 10
domestic violence

If you have suffered from a violent relationship, contact an experienced divorce attorney today!

A child’s exposure to domestic violence has only recently come up for consideration in child custody cases, as, in the past, it was assumed that a child’s formative years were best spent with the mother.

The Family Violence Project, 1995, initiated viewing domestic violence records as an important consideration in custody awards. However, the legislation accepted by a number of states allowed plenty of court discretion, listing violence as only one factor in the domestic well-being of the child.

Here are some important red-flag court statutes that misunderstand the nature of domestic violence and its potential to harm both spouses and children.

Friendly parent statutes
“Friendly parent” statutes give each parent equal status without necessarily considering domestic abuse. Qualifications like this may put unfair pressure on the abused spouse to cooperate and co-parent with someone who has done harm to the family. If the abused parent proves reluctant, he/she is in danger of being considered ‘uncooperative’ by the court.

Joint custody
Joint custody became a consideration when studies of highly-motivated divorcing couples were evaluated. Couples in high conflict with the addition of domestic violence were not part of this assessment. It is now recognized that highly-conflicted parents have poor potential for successful co-parenting. Children of conflicted domestic life are found to be more profoundly affected by conditions at home preceding the divorce than by the divorce itself. As such, frequent interaction between divorced, conflicted parents leads to an acceleration of both verbal and physical abuse.

A Chicago divorce lawyer is well-aware of the potentially harmful considerations of friendly parent statutes and joint custody when domestic abuse has been a factor. Contacting a Chicago divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman is the first step towards addressing divorce and child custody and its ramifications for the future of the family. We are available for a consultation today!

Adopting Your Spouse’s Child

May 20
father_daughter

If you wish to adopt your step-child, contact us TODAY!

In many TV re-marriages, there is a touching moment when the new parent offers to adopt the spouse’s child, and the child accepts. Often this is the end of that particular plot line. But is adopting your spouse’s child from a previous marriage actually that easy?

In Illinois, step-parent adoption is possible and common, and it occurs when you legally become a parent to a child after marrying a current, legal parent. Though it is also called adoption, it is a very different, more streamlined process than adopting a child through an agency or private adoption.

First, both biological parents, if involved in the child’s life, must consent to the adoption. This can be a difficult step, depending on the relationship between ex-spouses. The child, if over 14, must consent as well. After that, the step-parent adoption can be complete in as few as thirty days by filling out the proper forms and cooperating with the court.

The biggest roadblock occurs with the child’s other biological parent objecting. The court has the ability to determine that parent’s unfitness, and they often consider the ability for the adults to provide for the child, as well as the relationship of the child and step-parent.

If you are considering legally adopting your spouse’s child, recruiting an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer can make the process run smoothly and efficiently. Contact The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today for a consultation about your potential step-parent adoption.

Receiving Social Security Benefits after a Divorce

May 06
If you have questions about social security benefits and your divorce, contact us TODAY!

If you have questions about social security benefits and your divorce, contact us TODAY!

Most retirement plans revolve around social security benefits in some form or another once the person is old enough to qualify. In some cases, people don’t qualify on their own and instead benefit from spousal benefits. But after a divorce, those people may seem to suddenly have lost their retirement plan. This isn’t necessarily true.

The reason divorced spouses have the potential to qualify for the social security of their ex is because they contributed to the spouse’s income-earning capacity in one way or another. The Social Security Administration has guidelines to make sure the non-qualifying spouse fits these criteria. The marriage must have lasted at least ten years, and the non-qualifying spouse must not be remarried upon applying and be over 62 years of age. A couple may even file early, if the qualifying spouse is also at least 62 and collecting social security, or the couple has been divorced over two years.

It is common to worry that a collecting ex will diminish the qualify spouse’s benefits, but social security doesn’t work that way in this case. The non-qualify spouse’s benefits do not affect yours. This allows both spouses to have a comfortable retirement, even with independent financial situations.

If you are unsure the social security benefits you are entitled to post-divorce, contact an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer. The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman are available today for a consultation.

Ruffled Feathers: Who Gets the Pets?

Apr 15

Let an experienced Chicago Divorce lawyer help you!

divorce_and_pets

If you are facing a divorce, contact us today.

When around 50% of all households in Illinois have at least one pet, a good portion of divorces every day require thought about this issue. To some, pets are every bit a member of the family, which can be a problem because Illinois law views pets as personal property. Because of this, pet custody is a strange blend of kid and couch: something where custody is important, but no legal guidelines are in place to protect it.

First of all, when you’re determining pet custody, remember that the most important element is where the pet will receive the highest level of care. Extent of travel, a busy schedule, and the pet’s own preferences can give an easy answer to this, even though one party may find it hard to accept. Custody arrangements are something that can be decided outside of court, mirroring an allocation of parental responsibilities arrangement like alternating weeks or months, or splitting weeks and weekdays.

With some work, there is a possible advantage to the fact that a pet is considered property by the court. If you can demonstrate to the court that you have a greater interest in this piece of property (the pet), you have a solid case for custody. Determining personal property in this way requires receipts for the pet’s adoption, vet bills, food, medicine, or classes. This financial investment shows that the property is more personal than joint.

Keep an eye out for a partner whose interest is not in the pet itself, but rather in manipulating your emotions to using the pet to obtain another divorce asset. When strong emotional bonds like the one between you and your pet are in play, it’s important to have someone on your side whose negotiation skills will remain sharp to secure custody without relinquishing anything else. Contact a Chicago Divorce lawyer at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today.

Equally vs. Equitably in a Chicago Divorce

Mar 16
If you are facing a divorce, contact the experienced Chicago Divorce attorneys now.

If you are facing a divorce, contact the experienced Chicago Divorce attorneys now.

After twenty years of marriage, Sue and Sam have decided, amicably, to divorce. Their twenty years of marriage have occurred with joint bank accounts, and finances have always been thought of under a “what’s mine is yours” criteria. Add in their similar salaries and doesn’t it make sense to split everything right down the middle?

Not exactly.

When it comes to asset division, the key term is “equitably,” which does not mean equally. Instead, it means fair. The court must take into account more aspects than just salary. For example, perhaps Sue gave up a powerful, high-paying career to stay close to Sam. Past earnings, lifestyle, and earning potential all must be observed. This goes for debt as well. Other considerations include the value of each spouse’s properties and businesses, retirement plans, stocks & bonds; the degree to which each spouse contributed to acquiring marital property or the earning power of the other; the future financial and health needs and liabilities of each spouse; and of course, any prenuptial agreements.

When children are involved, equally and equitably get even further apart. If one spouse is the one feeding the children and picking them up from school, there’s an uneven contribution that should be equitably settled. Generally, the court proceeds in the child’s best interest, with the parent who provides the bulk of the childcare receiving the bulk of the assets.

Generally, equitable division is sensible, and if both parties agree on property division, there’s no reason to get a court involved. However, no matter how complicated your financial situation is, working with a lawyer is key to making sure you haven’t overlooked an asset that you will regret forgetting in the future. Contact the experienced Chicago Divorce lawyers The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today.

How Can You Help Your Kids Cope With Your Divorce?

Feb 05

Ending your marriage can be one of the most stressful times of your life. If this is a bad time for you, imagine how it must feel for your kids. When children’s family dynamic is suddenly changed, it can be deeply upsetting. We are not saying you should remain in a miserable marriage for the sake of the kids – there is evidence that shows staying in a bad marriage is even worse for children in the long term. However, there are ways you can handle your Chicago divorce that may help your children adjust and accept these changes.

father comforting daughter

Honesty and understanding can help children cope with divorce. Call our law offices to begin the divorce legal process.

How do you address the topic of divorce with your children? The key is honesty. You can be honest about the split in an age-appropriate way that your kids will understand. For younger children, they may need a simple explanation such as, “Mommy and Daddy have been fighting so much, we think that living apart may help us get along and be better parents.” Older children will need a bit more information, but you can still keep the explanation appropriate, especially if it concerns sensitive subjects.

During the divorce process and while you are co-parenting in different households, the way you treat each other is important. You may be dealing with raw, difficult emotions, but you should not air out your conflicts in front of the kids. It can help to approach parenting as a business arrangement, with the well-being of your children a common goal.

You will need to listen to your children’s needs and concerns during this time, and reassure them that they are loved by both of you even if you no longer love each other. Establishing consistent routines in your new household can give your children a sense of stability. Even if your ex does things differently, your kids will understand what is expected of them in your home if you stick to the rules. You can also come up with new family traditions that may help ease the blow of a divorce and make new, positive memories.

Divorce is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. The Chicago divorce attorneys at Michael P. Doman can help you during each stage of the process.

What are the signs your soon-to-be-ex might be hiding assets?

Jan 14
Man and woman signing documents

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets during your divorce, call us for help.

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that when you divorce, your property would not necessarily be divided 50/50, but would depend on your case. This would mean that, were your case to go to court, the judge would consider the circumstances of both you and your spouse in considering how to divide the property accrued during your marriage. Depending on whether you were the main breadwinner of the family, or if you stayed at home and did not work, how the marital property is divided could have a significant impact in the coming months after your divorce.

Regardless of your financial situation, you are entitled to the assets that would be legally yours at the end of your marriage. If your spouse is hiding assets, this is not only unfair to you, but illegal. So how can you tell if he or she is being sneaky about funds or property? The following points are signs that might alert you to possible hidden asset fraud:

Of course, you might have already learned to trust your intuition by now, but in many cases, divorce fraud can seem to come out of nowhere. This can be devastating if you find out after the divorce is final that your spouse had been hiding assets. You will need to contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible about the matter. At The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, we will take the time to investigate all aspects of your case and do our best to uncover marital property that you are entitled to.

The Disappearance of At-Fault Divorce in Illinois

Nov 11

As of January 1, 2016, the rewritten version of the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution of Marriage Act (Public Act 99-90) will come into effect. This will come with several major changes, not the least of which is the transformation of Illinois into a purely no-fault divorce state. Yes, you read that correctly. In less than two months there will be no more At-Fault divorce in Illinois.

What does this mean?divorce in illinois

Up until January 1st, Illinois courts have accepted divorce claims based on the following reasons, of which one spouse is considered to be at fault:

Why switch to the purely no-fault system?

Some people pursued at fault divorces in order to receive a greater percentage of the marital property, or because they sought to avoid being ordered to pay alimony. However, the majority of divorces already proceed under the claim of irreconcilable differences. The process is considered quicker and less adversarial as it does not depend on proving the misconduct of one spouse.

Does this mean I can be divorced without my consent?

Due to the fact that the only necessary grounds for divorce are that there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage, attempting to contest the divorce only further proves the division between the parties. Furthermore, under the new law the two-year required separation period has been shortened to six months. Under the current law, this two-year period can be shortened to six months if both parties consent to signing a waiver. Under the new law, there is no more waiver, and the only prerequisite for filing divorce is that the parties have been living separately for at least six months at the time of filing. This removes another option for a non-willing spouse to prevent or postpone the divorce. Depending on the circumstances of the marriage, this could be considered either a positive or a negative change.

If you have questions about how the new laws will affect your pending divorce, contact the Law Office of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. to schedule a consultation. Our knowledgeable legal team is here to help and to protect your rights. Call today.

Length of Chicago Divorce Proceedings: What to Expect

Sep 25

Chicago divorce lengths can vary based on whether they are contested and fought in court, or whether they are resolved through mediation and arbitration. Filing the paperwork alone will take about one month, but if the participants are unable to amicably make decisions on division of property, assets, and child support, the proceedings will go to court and you can expect at least one year before the divorce is finalized. Illinois has four options for divorce, each with their own expected timeline:shutterstock_208770094

Joint Simplified Divorce is only available to some couples, because it may only be pursued by couples who have been married less than eight years, have no children, earn less than $35,000 a year between them, do not own real estate, and have less than $10,000 in assets. If your marriage meets these qualifications, and you are able to reach an amicable settlement agreement with your spouse, you will be able to file and finalize your divorce as soon as the court is able to fit you in.

Uncontested Divorce is similar, except it is for those who do not meet all of the requirements of the Joint Simplified Divorce. If you and your spouse are able to reach a settlement agreement, and if your spouse agrees to sign an entry of appearance (meaning you can cut out the time it takes to officially serve your spouse with the complaint and wait the 30 days mandated by the court for his/her response) then you will be able to finalize your divorce as soon as the court can schedule a time.

Collaborative Divorce is a choice for those who wish to seek a settlement agreement instead of fighting it out in court, but may not be able to do so on their own. In a collaborative divorce you and your spouse will be helped in the decision making process by your attorneys as well as financial and custody advisors. The length of time for this type of divorce will vary depending on how long it takes to reach a settlement.

The longest divorce option is the Contested Divorce. While generally settled within 18 months, it can typically take one year for these divorces to finalize. These are difficult cases, where the spouses are unable to reach a settlement and must present their cases to the court for a ruling. The combative element of these divorces means the proceedings can go back and forth for months before any progress is made.

No matter which type of divorce you are planning to file, you should consult with an attorney to make sure you understand all the legal ramifications of your actions, and to make sure you are not being taken advantage of in your settlement agreements. The Law Office of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. is committed to fair, efficient divorce law. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.

Same-Sex Divorce and Custody: Divorce In Chicago

Aug 20

“I should have custody of the kids, I’m their mother.” While this has historically been a convincing argument in the eyes of the court, what happens when both parents can make that claim? Or what if neither can, because they are both fathers? What will the courts do then?

With the legalization of same-sex marriage in all states, same-sex divorce is also legal in all states. However, many states are just now facing their first cases of same-sex divorce, and there isn’t a strong precedent in place. In Chicago, same-sex civil unions have been legal since 2011, and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2014. Less than two years have passed, and it takes time to build legal precedent. It is vital to have a committed and knowledgeable attorney on your side to fight for you and set those precedents.same-sex divorce

Here are some factors the court considers when determining custody:

Biologic Parentage- If one of the divorcing spouses is the genetic parent of the children, this will generally weigh in that parent’s favor. However, it is not the only factor, and should not be considered a guarantee of custody. Emotional parentage claims through acting in the role of parent and having a bond with the child also hold weight.

Did the children arrive before or after the marriage? Children who were born to either parent within the marriage can be considered products of the marriage, even if the child was conceived with the aid of a third party donor. Parents who gave birth or adopted children prior to the marriage may have a stronger claim, but again, it is not a guarantee. With same-sex cases the issue is complicated with the fact that many parents were legally unable to marry at the time the children were born or adopted, and argue that they would have been married at that time if the law had allowed it.

Legal Adoptions are a crucial factor. If your partner brought their own children into the marriage, whether from a previous heterosexual relationship, adoption, artificial insemination or surrogacy, did you then officially adopt your partner’s children? If not, you may face difficulties in obtaining custody, but it is by no means hopeless.

In custody cases the state of Illinois cares, primarily, about the welfare of the children. They will determine custody based on what is in the best interest of the children. If you are considering divorce in Chicago you will need an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer on your side to prove your custody claim will be the best outcome for your children. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.

Child Support- My ex isn’t paying! Chicago Divorce Lawyer

Aug 13

You already went through the pain, stress, and difficulties of obtaining the child support order, and like most of us you would expect that to be the end of it and payment to be guaranteed. The court has spoken, and your ex must obey. However, having an order in place doesn’t mean your ex will come through. If he or she is not paying at all, is late in paying, or is claiming an inability to pay, check out our Do and Don’ts for getting the money your children need:Chicago Divorce Lawyer

DON’T

DO

We understand your frustrations. You may not be married anymore, but having children means that you and your ex will both always be parents. There is no avoiding or eliminating those responsibilities to your children. They need and deserve the support from their non-custodial parent, and the law agrees. A Chicago Divorce Lawyer at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd we have the experience you need to petition the court for enforcement of your child support. We will vigorously defend the financial support rights of your children. Contact us today for a review of your case.

I need my spouse OUT- what are my options?

Jul 10

Divorce is an emotionally complicated time, and continuing to live with your soon-to-be ex doesn’t make it any easier. However, as much as you may feel like your spouse should vacate, the courts will only intervene if there is a clear danger to you or your children. Consult a divorce lawyer Chicago about these three options:shutterstock_188941811

Orders of Protection are available regardless of whether you have filed for divorce, but only if protection is truly necessary, such as in cases of abuse. If you or your children are in physical danger from your spouse, this is the best course of action. These types of evictions fall under the Domestic Violence Act, instead of the Divorce Act, and the proof required is somewhat less than it would be to evict under the Divorce Act.

Temporary Evictions are another possibility, which the court has the power to order. These evictions are considered temporary because it is still possible for your spouse to receive possession of the home after the divorce is finalized.

Eviction Proceedings under the Divorce Act allows you to file a petition to have your spouse evicted during the divorce proceedings, but again only when there is a demonstrable danger to you or your children’s physical or mental health. You may need a mental health professional to testify to the endangerment of you or your children’s mental health. You must also show that there is less of a hardship for your spouse to move than for you and potentially your children to move.

As difficult as it is to continue living with your soon-to-be ex, remember that forcing him or her out of the home is a drastic step. If you have children, consider the type of relationship you want to be able to maintain with their mother or father. As long as you and your children are not in real and present danger, attempting to force a move prior to the divorce being finalized is an aggressive move that could have long lasting consequences on the amicability of the future relationship. Consult our understanding divorce lawyer Chicago team at the Law Office of Michael P. Doman for help in these difficult times.

Sole or Joint Custody- which one is right for me? Ask a Chicago Divorce Lawyer

Jun 18

Jessica has decided to file for divorce. Her husband, although loving at first, has grown more and more distant over the years. She feels they have nothing in common anymore and are merely roommates instead of married partners. Jessica knows this emotionally vacant environment is not the best place for her or her two young sons. Her Chicago divorce lawyer is asking her what custody arrangement she wants to pursue. Although she knows that her sons love their father and it would be difficult for them to be separated from him, she is afraid that if she agrees to joint custody, she will end up losing valuable time and experiences with her children. Should she fight for sole custody, or agree to joint?Sole or Joint Custody, picture of family seperating

Many people make the mistaken connection that “sole custody = sole parenting.” While it is true that with sole custody you will have the sole power to make the important decisions, such as medical care, living arrangements, religious and schooling choices, it does not mean that the other parent is automatically shunned entirely. The father, in this scenario, will still have parenting time rights.

Joint custody is a situation where both parents will still have the power to make the critical decisions for their children. Jessica and her husband, while emotionally estranged, are amicable enough that it would be reasonable to expect them to be able to cooperate on these major decisions. Joint custody would not even be an option for them if they were unable to do so. Although Jessica fears losing out on time with her children, joint custody would not mean an equal 50/50 split of time. Most likely Jessica would still be awarded “residential custody” of the boys, meaning they would primarily reside with her.

In this situation, Jessica could pursue either option. Many factors go into determining custody. Not only does she want to choose what she believes will make her the happiest and most fulfilled, but more importantly she needs to choose what will be best for her children. Her divorce lawyer chicago will be there to help her, and we want to be there to help you too. Contact the legal team at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, LTD to review your case.

Chicago Divorce- How do I start?

Jun 04

When you fall in love and get married, divorce will be the last thing on your mind. The decision to end your marriage is not one you have come to lightly, but now that you know it is your next step, do you know how to begin?

Talk to a Chicago divorce lawyer.

Even when you have planned an amicable divorce, talking to a Chicago divorce lawyer should be your first step. A lawyer will help you understand your rights, your options, and what you can expect from the process. You might have friends who have gone through divorces, but don’t expect your process to be like theirs. Each case is as unique as the individuals within it. At the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, LTD we will listen to your unique case and find customized solutions for you and your loved ones.

Listen to your children.

If you have children, this is the most important step of all. Children will not understand all of the reasons behind the divorce, either because you have sheltered them from it or because they are too young. As powerless and uncertain as you may be feeling, your children will be feeling it even more so. Remember that your children do not want to be put in the middle or forced to choose a side. Listen to their needs and wants, and let these be crucial influences in your decision making process.

Collect documentation.

Your lawyer will be able to describe the documentation you will need. These can include the following and more:

• Tax information
• Any Prenuptial agreements
• Credit reports
• Household expenses
• Debt information
• Bank statements
• School records for your children
• Any record of criminal filings against your spouse, such as restraining orders
• Medical records

Pick your battles.

What areas are you willing to compromise on, and what areas are non negotiable? Your Chicago divorce lawyer will help you understand what you have a right to fight for and where the gray areas are. Deciding beforehand will help you from being pushed into an unfavorable settlement. Although in some areas you may need to compromise, define what you truly need to be stable and happy going forward. Do you need sole custody of your children, or is joint custody the right choice? Do you need to keep the house, or are you fine with a monetary settlement? These are difficult decisions but they do need to be made.

Don’t do it alone.

We understand this is a heart-wrenching, humbling time for you. Let the legal team at the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, LTD be on your side. You have enough to deal with right now, let us help with the legalities. Contact us today for a consultation and let us take some of the stress off your shoulders.

Chicago Divorce: 10 Things You Need To Know

Apr 16

Chicago Divorce: 10 Things You Need To Know

Divorce brings about a wide range of emotions for all parties involved- spouses and children especially. With so many things changing, deciding what to have for lunch can be difficult, let alone deciding new living arrangements, what to do with property and money, and figuring out how to manage parenting schedules. The following article can help you to be a bit more informed when making these big decisions, guiding you to come out with as little stress as possible.

  1. Remember, each divorce is different. Don’t believe everything you hear.

When everyone around you has gone through a divorce or knows someone who has, it can be hard to separate the sound advice you receive from the misleading information that develops through months of he said she said. While it is important to ask for advice and opinions from others, seek advice from professionals involved in your case- your attorney, mental health professionals, and financial consultants are best. All of these people are educated on your case and the specific issues and aspects of the desired outcome. Your divorced friends may mean well by sharing what they think is “normal” but there truly is no “normal” when it comes to divorce.

  1. Document and copy all important items and paperwork

Disputes over valuable items, household items, and other important paperwork can be stressful and overwhelming. You can avoid this extra stress by taking an inventory of all items in your home and documenting them correctly.

-Be sure to take photos of every item/item set.

-Use the front page of the newspaper as a time stamp in your photo, this will authenticate the date and time you took the picture.

-Get appraisals for you item inventory, list all of the items and keep them in a safe place, along with your photos.

Don’t forget to make copies of all key documents. In many cases one party in the divorce may try to destroy and hide important documents in an attempt to gain more or stop the progress in the divorce… this can be avoided by making copies of all important paperwork, such as pre-nuptial agreements, and keeping them safe.

  1. Have accurate expectations of what a “fair settlement” truly is.

Sometimes divorcing spouses have expectations of a “fair settlement” that are inconsistent with the law. In order to get your case resolved quickly, be sure to understand how the law applies to your case and be prepared to compromise. Consulting with an attorney to better understand the potential outcomes of your case may be something to consider. Remember, the settlement is only considered “fair” if it is legally supported and backed.

  1. You are divorcing your spouse…your children are not.

Many psychological studies show that the more fighting there is in a divorce, the more damage the process has on the children involved. While it is easy to get upset in the moment, saying harsh things to your spouse in the presence of your children causes lasting heartache and damage.

Remember to think before you speak, especially around the children. Unless there has been abuse, it is likely your children will continue to have a relationship with their other parent. Do not discourage this relationship by saying things out of spite or pain. Rather, think of your children and encourage them to connect with their other parent and have a healthy parent-child bond.

Consider looking into counseling for your children and yourself to better deal with and cope with the divorce.

  1. There is no “winning” a divorce case.

In a divorce case, there are many factors that play into the final awarding that there truly is no winner. Instead of going into the case with the attitude of having to “win” everything, consider the long-term effects each awarding may have and then determine who should get what. Despite societal pressure, it is possible for each party to come out of a divorce happy. The negative impact a heated divorce battle has on each spouse and on the children, usually is not worth the short-term happiness of “winning”.

  1. Court alternatives

Yes, you read that right… there are alternatives in divorce for going to court. Mediation (face to face meetings between spouses with a mediator running the meeting) has been proven very successful. Collaborative Divorce is another option. In this type of divorce each party hires a collaborative attorney and, with the help of other professionals, the divorce is worked out using calls, face-to-face meetings, and other forms of communication… no court.

Both of the previously listed alternatives enable each party to make their own decisions. This is especially helpful when working with children, as it helps to fit each child’s needs specifically instead of having a standard schedule chosen by a judge.

However, it is important to remember that when resolving a problem such as abuse, child support, alimony, etc. you must go before a judge who can help with the legal backing in these problems.

  1. Honesty is key.

While it can be tempting to hide things from your spouse and attorney such as money made, shared items, etc., it is important and absolutely vital to your case to be honest. Not only will the court frown upon your behavior when the truth comes out- because it will- resulting in a unsettling awarding… it is also illegal in many states to withhold information regarding income, expenses, assets, and debts.

  1. Court isn’t as simple and rewarding as it seems.

It is easy to threaten taking things to court when it seems negotiations are not going well. However, remember that divorce court is long and expensive. After several days in court for even the smallest things, spouses are left still uncertain of how things will turn out once the ruling comes. Consider all of the options before rushing into divorce court.

  1. Be the bigger person.

Divorces happen because the parties involved aren’t happy, in the long run the ultimate goal is to find happiness and move on. When obsessions about bad feelings, negative comments, and hurtful actions develop, it is impossible to move on and make choices that are positive for your future and your family’s future. Do your best to be the bigger person and move on from the past. Don’t sweat the little things. Sometimes making a compromise and having a quicker settlement is more important than getting that VHS collection back that you have since you were 14.

  1. Think things through.

Divorce brings up many emotions and life altering decisions. During such a draining- physically, mentally, and emotionally- time, it is important to always stop and think before making impulse decisions or comments. If necessary, seek advice from professionals involved in your case before making choices- this may be the key to having a successful divorce.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. for your divorce attorney needs.