What is the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?

Nov 28

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity/ father with childA Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage (VAP) (or paternity) in Illinois is a document used when a child is born to unmarried parents. It establishes paternity for the child without going to court. It’s best to consult with one of the many Chicago IL family law attorneys before signing a VAP.

Why sign a VAP?

The VAP establishes parentage of the child, and gives the father rights. It prevents the need to go to court, thus avoiding the fees associated with that. A VAP can be signed at any time before or after the birth of the child.

Who signs the VAP?

The VAP is filled out with information about the child, the mother, and the man trying to prove he is the father of the child. Both parents sign it, and a witness that is at least 18 years old and is not either of the parents or the child also signs it.

What if the mother is married?

If the mother is married to a man who is not the father, her husband must first sign a Voluntary Denial of Parentage. After that, the father can sign the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage.

What if the father is under 18?

A father under the age of 18 can still sign a VAP, and he can do so without his parents’ consent. However, parentage will not be established until six months after he turns 18.

Is there any reason not to sign a VAP?
Before or as a condition of signing a VAP, you can request a paternity test to ensure you are the biological father. Once you sign a VAP, however, you give up that right. Even if a genetic test later proves you are not biologically the father, you will still be that child’s parent unless it has been less than 60 days since you signed it.

Signing a VAP both gives and takes away rights. It’s best to consult with a south Chicago divorce attorney before taking such a huge step. The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman Ltd. can help you understand and make the best decision regarding a VAP before you sign.

The Rights of Father’s in Chicago

Nov 28

Fathers’ Rights/ Father and sonFatherhood is an essential part of child upbringing. In the United States, 34 percent, equivalent to 24 million children, live without the biological fathers. The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC), while advocating for the father’s visitation rights, reports that a child who grows up without a father is more likely to abuse drugs, live in poverty, or suffer child abuse. Further, the minors can adapt criminal behavior, perform poorly in school, endure ill health, behavioral, or emotional problems.

What Are Fathers’ Rights Chicago?

The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman Ltd. firmly believes in the advantages of fathers having continued access to children. Our Chicago family law attorneys will ably handle the issues below:

• Divorce proceedings

• Paternity cases.

• Lawsuits in which the father faces accusations of domestic violence or protection orders.

• Modification of your child support rulings.

• Parent relocation.

Chicago IL Family Law Attorneys

Our Chicago law office has an enviable record of fighting for father’s visitation rights. Whether you face accusations of domestic violence, unfair allegations of posing security risks to your spouse and children, you have a dedicated fathers rights Chicago advocate, The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman Ltd. Our highly-skilled family law team will fight for your right to exercise fatherhood and parental rights. We help families resolve issues and come to just conclusions.

Justice for Fathers in Chicago

We are a law firm that upholds the principle that both the father and mother are the crucial caregivers to the children. Our Chicago divorce attorneys will fight against forcing fathers out of the child’s life or the relegation of dads to an inferior role.
To find out how our Chicago IL family law attorneys proudly advocate for fathers’ rights and how we can help you,  contact us by phone at (847) 897-5288 or email us at michael@domanlaw.com.

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.

Shall I Move In with My Boyfriend?

Jul 26

Shall I move in with my boyfriend?

Now that the divorce rate in Illinois has been hovering around 50% for several years, many divorced individuals who are recipients of monthly alimony payments (today referred to as ‘maintenance payments’) are confronted with a difficult decision as to whether or not a new boyfriend should be permitted to move in. Under Illinois law, the general rule is that a recipient of maintenance payments from one’s ex-spouse terminates upon the death of either party, the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance, or if the party receiving maintenance cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.

couple moving inHow have Illinois courts interpreted the phrase, “cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis?” The following fact situation played out in an Illinois courtroom on March 23, 2004. After twenty-nine years of marriage, husband and wife divorced on August 16, 2001. Husband was ordered to pay four years of reviewable maintenance, which meant that four years later, the wife could petition the court again and request more maintenance. About two years after the divorce, wife found a new boyfriend with whom she began an exclusive dating relationship which included sexual relations. Wife’s new boyfriend slept over at her house between two to five times each week. The boyfriend would occasionally eat meals at his girlfriend’s house, cut the lawn, rake the leaves, take out the garbage and shovel the walk after snowstorms. In addition, former wife would occasionally do her new boyfriend’s laundry.

After observing his ex-wife’s relationship with her new boyfriend, the ex-husband filed a petition to terminate his obligation to pay maintenance. By the time of the hearing on March 23, 2004, ex-wife and boyfriend had been dating for approximately nine months. At the time of the hearing, the former wife testified that she had no joint bank accounts or joint assets with her boyfriend, had no joint debts, owned no property together and had taken no vacations together. At the hearing, there was also testimony that even though the parties had been dating for nine months, they had only been “sleeping together” for four months. Before you decide whether or not the former husband ultimately won his petition to terminate his obligation to pay maintenance to his former wife, consider that Illinois law requires judges to consider the following factors in determining whether parties have cohabited with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis:

  1. The length of the relationship;
  2. The amount of time the couple spends together;
  3. The nature of the activities engaged in;
  4. The interrelation of their personal affairs;
  5. Whether they vacation together; and
  6. Whether they spend holidays together.

This case was appealed, and decided by the Illinois Appellate Court on December 16, 2004. In this case, the Illinois Appellate Court decided that the ex-wife and new boyfriend had no economic interrelationship with one another, no joint assets, no joint debts, and therefore, the parties were not engaged in “resident, continuing conjugal relationship.” Therefore, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the trial court decision made on March 23, 2004 and ordered the ex-husband to continue paying maintenance in accordance with the terms of his original judgment entered back on August 16, 2001. Hard to believe, but I suppose our Illinois Appellate Court is getting more liberal by the day. Nevertheless, a recipient of maintenance should think long and hard before allowing a new boyfriend to move into her residence.

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

Sexually Active Teenagers Lose Freedom

Jul 26

Sexually active teenagers lose freedom

parents talking to daughterAs an unmarried young woman, have you ever given thought to having a child and then losing your freedom to leave Illinois? This family law topic comes to mind after I reviewed the recent Illinois Supreme Court case of Fisher vs. Waldrop. The Fisher case involved a young unmarried woman who had given birth to a child out of wedlock with her boyfriend. When the child was two years old, the relationship ended. The mother subsequently married a man who obtained employment in Indiana, so mother wanted to leave with her child to the State of Indiana with her new husband. Seems simple. Do you think she was able to do so? Before answering this question, it is important for young women who contemplate becoming sexually active to give serious consideration to the potential restrictions placed on them if they become pregnant, and subsequently wish to leave the State of Illinois with their newborn child. Of course there are no restrictions placed on the father of the newborn baby prohibiting the father from leaving the State of Illinois, so why is it fair that the Illinois Legislature has placed restrictions on an unmarried woman seeking to leave the State of Illinois with her newborn child?

Under Illinois law, it has always been the rule that a parent who ends up with custody of his or her children at the conclusion of a divorce must first seek additional permission from the court before removing his or her children to another State. Several factors must be established before a custodial parent is given permission to remove his or her children from the State of Illinois, such as whether the move to another State will improve the quality of life of the children, the motivations behind the custodial parent’s desire to move to another State, and also whether or not the parent left behind in Illinois would still have a reasonable parenting time schedule with the children after the move out of State?

This Removal law was extended to apply to unmarried mothers on July 10, 2003; however, the validity of certain provisions in this statute was not addressed by the Illinois Supreme Court until April 20, 2006.

The concern that unmarried women (which generally includes teenagers) should have is that if you decide to become sexually active and eventually become pregnant, you may not be able to leave the State of Illinois with your child without permission from the court, or permission from the child’s father. Of course, the unmarried mother could always turn over her child to the child’s father; however, this may well not be a realistic option for many first time mothers.

Today, should an unmarried mother wish to leave the State of Illinois with her child, she must follow the same guidelines, rules and laws as divorced mothers seeking permission to remove children from the State of Illinois. This process will include hiring attorneys and gathering substantial evidence to support a theory that it would be in the best interests of the minor child to be permitted to go with her mother to another State. Oh yes, the answer to the question posed above is, we don’t know, because for technical reasons not discussed in this article, the Illinois Supreme Court has returned the matter back to the trial court for further hearings on the mother’s request to move to Indiana with her new husband. Stay tuned . . .

Hopefully this article gives unmarried mothers (including teenagers) a brief education on Illinois Parentage Law, but also further discourages teenagers from becoming sexually active without taking proper precautions.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Are Grandparents Entitled to Parenting Time Privileges?

Jul 25

Are grandparents entitled to parenting time privileges?

On August 13, 2001, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld the constitutionality of the Illinois Grandparent Visitation statute in the divorce case, Michael Mehring vs. Julie Mehring. This decision was significant for all grandparents throughout the State of Illinois, because last year, the Illinois Grandparent visitation statute was partially struck down in the case, Lulay vs. Lulay. In the Lulay case, both mom and dad opposed parenting time by the paternal grandparents, and in that case, the paternal grandparents were prohibited from petitioning for parenting time with their grandchildren. The current Illinois law regarding grandparent parenting time with grandchildren can be summarized as follows:

grandparent and grandchildren sitting on bridgeGrandparents can petition for parenting time privileges with their grandchildren in general under the following circumstances:

  1. Mom and dad do not live together;
  2. Either parent has been absent from the marital home for more than one month; or
  3. Either mom or dad is deceased.

Typically the issue of grandparent parenting time arises during a divorce proceeding, or after a divorce proceeding has been completed. The constitutionality of the Illinois statute, as well as many other state grandparent parenting time statutes across the country, has been challenged on the basis that parents’ rights to make decisions for their minor children should be absolute, because these rights should be guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

In rejecting this reasoning, the Illinois Appellate Court has stated that for intact families, the State does not interfere in the decision making process for minor children. Also, there are many situations in which Illinois does impose its rules on behalf of parents. For example, the State government can:

  1. Require parents to keep their children in school;
  2. Prohibit parents form placing their children into the labor force;
  3. Require blood transfusions for children over the parents’ objections for religious reasons;
  4. Prohibit children from getting married under the age of eighteen.

If all of these laws are constitutional, then what is the problem with an Illinois law allowing for grandparent parenting time over the objection of one of the parents if the court feels that such parenting time would be in the best interests of the minor children? If both parents object to grandparents visiting with their grandchildren during or after a divorce proceeding, then such parenting time can be prohibited; however, so long as one parent believes that grandparents should visit with the minor children, then the issue can be raised in court.

By way of example, assume that Charlie Brown and Lucy get married, and have a child named Peanuts. Peanuts is five years old, has visited with Charlie Brown’s parents once or twice each month since Peanuts was born, and would like to continue seeing Peanuts. Lucy files for divorce against Charlie Brown blaming Charlie Brown’s parents for their breakup. Lucy says Charlie Brown is “too attached” to his parents and she does not want Peanuts to see his paternal grandparents on a regular basis. Lucy says during the divorce process, that Charlie Brown’s parents are prohibited from visiting with Peanuts. Under these circumstances, and pursuant to Section 607(b)(i)D of the Illinois of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Charlie Brown’s parents can file an independent petition for grandparent parenting time privileges with Peanuts, and there is a reasonable likelihood that this petition will be granted.

In summary, the validity and enforceability of the Illinois Grandparent Visitation Statute, which came into effect on August 19, 1999 is both constitutional and fully enforceable.

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

A Million Dollar Chicago child support penalty?

Jul 25

A million dollar Chicago child support penalty ?

On November 29, 2007, the Supreme Court of Illinois upheld a failure to pay child support penalty in the amount of $1,172,100.00. If you think this was an outrageous penalty which had no relation to the amount of actual child support owed, you are right. If you think the Illinois Supreme Court probably got this one wrong, you are probably right. However, any employer responsible for remitting child support payments on behalf of an employee certainly won’t be remitting those child support payments late anymore. Here are the facts: Lenora’s former husband, Harold, was ordered to pay Lenora child support in the amount of $82.00 per week. Harold worked for his father in his father’s Architecture firm. Harold’s father properly received a Notice from Lenora’s attorney requiring Harold’s father, and his Architecture firm, to withhold $82.00 per week from Harold’s pay, and remit this child support payment to Lenora on a weekly basis. The facts are as plain and simple as that.

Chicago child supportAs of January 1, 1999, the Illinois Legislature enacted a child support statute which provides for a $100.00 per day penalty for each child support payment which is not made in a timely fashion. For example, if an employer pays his employee a salary each week, the employer is required to withhold child support from his employee’s pay check on a weekly basis. If the employer does not withhold the requisite child support and send the money to the custodial parent each week, then the penalty applies. If the employer does not remit child support payments for 2 and a half years, as Harold’s father failed to do, each of the weekly child support payments continue to incur a $100.00 per day penalty for each day the child support payments remain unpaid. There are 130 weeks in a 2 and a half year time period (52 weeks per year times 2 and a half years), and if an employer does not remit child support during a 2 and a half year period, each one of the 130 weekly delinquent child support payments accrues a penalty of $100.00 per day.

In the Miller case, Harold’s father (and employer) accumulated 11,721 penalty days at the rate of $100.00 per penalty, for a total of $1,172,100.00 in penalties. (As an aside, the unpaid child support totaled a mere $12,382.00.)

As you might expect, the Illinois Legislature has broad discretion and authority to impose fines and penalties for violations of its statutes. Indeed, such governmental authority has existed for years. The Illinois Supreme Court made several statements about this child support penalty, including the statement that, “It is difficult to imagine a more compelling state interest than the support of children.” The Illinois Supreme Court also noted that it is impossible to quantify the harm suffered by custodial parents when they do not receive child support on a timely basis, which may prevent a custodial parent from purchasing essentials such as food and medicine for a child.

It is doubtful that the entire penalty will ever be paid; however, obligations to pay unpaid child support are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, and therefore, will probably never be removed from the employer’s record.

In conclusion, it may well be that the penalty imposed on Harold Miller’s father/employer may well have been excessive, unreasonable, harsh and oppressive. The penalty was nevertheless legal, enforceable and will most certainly deter employers in the future from failing to withhold child support payments from employee pay checks, and remitting these child support payments to the appropriate party.

Need a Chicago Child Support LawyerContact our office today.

For your Protection!

Sep 12

women protecting face before getting hit, Order of protectionAlmost everyone marries out of love. You have certain expectations and beliefs in how your wedding is going to play out. However, that isn’t always the case and sometimes you will need to look towards a divorce in Chicago. Even then, you hope the divorce is somewhat smooth, yet there can be those individuals who become violent during the marriage, causing you to fear for your life. Should this ever happen it is time for you to move on and move out as quickly as possible and get an order of protection.

As soon as things turn violent and you know it is time to move on, you need to contact Chicago family law attorneys. They can help walk you through the process. If you are hit or injured in any way, make sure to document this. It will help your case when it goes to court. Even if just a small bruise you need to photograph it and date it.

The next step is to move out. If you fear for your life you need to find someplace you can go. If there are children, make sure to take the kids as well for their protection. Even if it means leaving the house temporarily, it is better to be safe now.

Also make sure to contact the police. Make sure you have something lined up for where you can go when calling. If you are in the house and believe you are in immediate danger, always call 911. Police reports on file do help substantially and will make it easier for you to prove any kind of physical violence. Also look into filing a restraining order on the individual.

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

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.

Adopting Your Spouse’s Child

May 20

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.

Establishing Paternity: It’s Not as Easy as D-N-A

Apr 01

Work with experienced Chicago Family Law Attorneys Today!


If you have questions about establishing paternity, contact us today!

We’ve all seen the shows. The envelope comes in. The man and woman are nervous. The audience leans forward. The host unfolds the piece of paper, and out comes those words: “You . . . are the father!” DNA tests are simply and accurate. But what distinguishes these one-off paternity tests on TV from real life is that in a real life court room, you cannot always request a DNA test.

In a court room, paternity is implicit if it has already been established. There are four ways to establish paternity in Illinois. First is the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that each parent is given the opportunity to sign and date, in front of a witness, immediately after the birth of the child. This adds the father’s name to the birth certificate. By signing this, the parents have agreed the father is the biological father, and both have waived their right to genetic testing.

After the VAP, establishing paternity gets more complicated. Second, Child Support Services can enter an Administrative Paternity Order to make sure a child is financially supported. Third, a party (the child, mother, mother to be, a government agency, or the supposed father) can file a paternity action, and finally, marriage establishes paternity.

If any of those four cases have been fulfilled, paternity has been established, and during a case, that paternity has already been accepted by the court, and the father’s right to demand a DNA test has disappeared. This is by no means a dead-end, however, and having the right lawyer on your side can secure the right to a DNA test, no matter what paternity has been established before. If you’re caught in an uncertain paternity situation, contact a Chicago Family law attorney at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today.

Four Misconceptions Regarding Spousal Abuse

Feb 05
stop domestic violence sign

There are many misconceptions surrounding domestic violence. Call our office for help in escaping an abusive spouse.

Work with a experienced Chicago Divorce Lawyer to leave an abusive relationship behind

Despite statistics bordering on epidemic proportions (with up to 10 million victims a year being affected by domestic violence), abuse remains a subject that is widely misunderstood. Consequently, those who are stuck in abusive marriages may not know how to leave, or they might not even think they should leave. The following points are some of the most common misconceptions you might not realize about domestic abuse.

“She had it coming.” Tragically, many people think that a victim deserved to be struck by an intimate partner. The victim might also believe it. No matter what you might think, nobody deserves to be slapped, punched, kicked or otherwise physically hurt by someone they should be able to love and trust – no matter the reason.

Women and children are the only victims of abuse. This statement could not be more wrong. Anyone can be victimized by an abuser, whether they are a woman, child, man, wealthy, poor, black, white, educated or uneducated. Abuse does not discriminate by age, gender, race or social or economic status.

It’s not spousal abuse if nobody is physically hurt. Actually, verbal and emotional abuse are some of the worst ways an abuser can cause damage. Studies have shown that emotional abuse may be just as harmful as being physically struck. It can cause confusion and doubt and make the victim feel as if he or she is “going crazy” or just imagining the abuse. Emotional and verbal attacks can cause long-lasting psychological trauma.

They would leave if the abuse was that serious. Sadly, it is very difficult to leave an abuser. They tend to gain control over all aspects of their victims’ lives. Also, leaving a violent spouse can be dangerous. It is important to involve law enforcement and abuse agencies in leaving a violent abuser.

The Chicago divorce attorneys at our law office understand the difficulties you face if you are considering divorcing an abusive spouse. Your options may include obtaining a protective order and seeking emergency shelter. We can advise you on effective ways to achieve the help you need in leaving your spouse, as well as get you started in the divorce process.

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

How do protective orders work in cases of domestic violence?

Jan 14
A woman and child hugging

If you are a victim of domestic violence, call us for assistance in escaping your abuser.

At The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, we understand that no divorce is ever easy, but it can be especially difficult if you are trying to escape an abusive spouse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as any situation in which you or your children are being harmed by a loved one – usually an intimate partner. This harm is not solely restricted to physical violence, however. You can also be a victim of domestic abuse if your spouse uses intimidation, insults or emotional manipulation to control you or restrict you from certain activities.

Many abusers go to great lengths to keep their victims from leaving, up to and including threatening their physical safety or that of the children. This is where a protective order may be useful. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, you have several options for protective orders in Illinois. Your first step would be to seek a temporary order. This would give you time to get to a safe place, or to take steps to have your spouse removed from the home. A protective order prohibits your abuser from contacting or approaching you and your children. Violating the terms of the order may result in criminal charges.

An emergency order generally lasts between two weeks and 21 days. During this time, you may seek an interim order if you haven’t yet had a hearing for a plenary order. Interim orders extend your protection up to 30 days. Applying for a plenary order requires a full hearing, during which both of you will have the chance to present your case. The judge will consider the evidence of domestic violence and may grant protection for up to two years. You may apply to renew a plenary order of protection as many times as you feel it is necessary.

If you are taking the steps to end an abusive marriage, an experienced family law attorney may be your greatest ally. At The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, we strive to protect those who are affected by domestic violence. We can advise you of your rights and help you obtain the protective order you need to keep you and your children safe.

Implications of changed custody terms in the 2016 version of the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution Act

Nov 02

The law continues to develop and change as the needs of the community change. Over the past few years, there have been several major changes to the Marriage and Dissolution Act, and so a comprehensive rewrite has taken place. As of January 1, 2016, the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution of Marriage Act (Public Act 99-90) will include some fundamental changes across several areas of divorce. Today we discuss the changes to changed custody terms.changes to child custody terms in Chicago divorce law

Joint and Sole Custody– These familiar terms will become obsolete. This change came, in part, because of a general misunderstanding of how Joint and Sole Custody function, and also in part to include new ways to divide responsibilities between parents.

Visitation- Another familiar term, “visitation” is disappearing from the Act, in part to reduce the stigma of being the parent that only has “visitation rights” as opposed to being the “custodial parent”.

New Terminology

Allocation of parental responsibilities for decision-making– Significant decisions include place of residence, education, religion, and health related decisions. It is important to note that with this new allocation terminology, there is more chance for a logical division of decisions that does not automatically favor the “custodial parent”.

Allocation of parental responsibilities for parenting time– “Parenting Time” refers to the time in which one of the parents will be responsible for the caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making with regards to the child. This replaces the terms “custody” and “visitation.”

Allocation Judgments– Instead of a custody order, the parties will construct, or the court will order, “Allocation Judgments.”


As the law is currently written, a flaw was that decision-making power generally went hand in hand with being awarded the “custody” of the minor children, and child support was required of whichever parent was not awarded custody. This new terminology allows for different decisions to be allocated to different parents. In theory, even though a child predominantly lives with one parent, the other parent may have the right to decide where the child goes to school, or other major decisions.

Child support will be less affected by these changes, as the allocation of caretaking responsibilities will still be a main factor in determining who will pay child support.

Are you concerned that these changes will affect your next custody modification or child support review? Contact the Law Office of Michael P. Doman, Ltd.

Suspected Child Abuse- Modify Chicago Custody Orders

Oct 16

You made it through the divorce, but you feel like your troubles have only started. You send your children to your ex for their court ordered parenting time, but you’re disturbed by how they return. Perhaps they are emotionally withdrawn and distant, or they have emotional outbursts that can’t be explained only by the difficulties of having divorced parents. They might even have unusual bruises or signs of sexual abuse. You know this can’t go on, but you are afraid of violating the parenting time orders. You don’t know what to do next- but the Michael P. Doman Law Firm knows.

Act Now.child abuse

The parenting time orders were put in place because the court sincerely believed that an ongoing relationship with both parents was in the best interest for the child. The courts would never knowingly endanger your children. Perhaps there was never evidence of abuse before the divorce. The divorce changed everything about your ex’s life, and not all of it would have been for the better. It is entirely possible that in the aftermath of the divorce, your ex has struggled with depression or anger, and fostered dangerous new habits that have led to becoming an abuser in ways no one could have predicted.

Find Out The Truth.

Perhaps it isn’t your ex that is committing the abuse, but a new partner, roommate, or neighbor. Even if your former spouse has never hurt your children, they are still to blame if they are providing an environment in which your children are not safe. A parent’s job is to always protect his or her children. If your spouse is not doing everything possible to make sure the children are safe when they are with him or her, then you have every right to seek a modification to the parenting time order.

Get Help Immediately.

Don’t wait until the next scheduled review of your custody arrangement, and don’t try to confront your ex on your own. Contact the law office of Michael P. Doman as soon as possible. We will help you immediately act to protect your children. Whether through court ordered parenting classes, having visits always supervised by a trusted adult, or by stopping parenting time entirely, there are many solutions available. Trust your instincts. If something is wrong, if you suspect abuse, contact the Michael P. Doman law firm now. We will do everything possible to help you protect your children.

How to Change a Child Support Order in Chicago

Sep 14

You’ve been taking care of the children since the divorce and making due with the child support that comes in, but you just found out your ex has a new job and makes much more than ever before. You want your children to benefit from their parent’s income increase, but your ex thinks you should still be satisfied with what the original support order determined. What can you do? Read more for the steps to change a child support order in Chicago. shutterstock_128447138

Income levels and the needs of your children will change over time. In recognition of this, once every three years the Division of Child Support Services in Chicago will notify you that you are able to request a modification of your child support order. However, you do not have to wait for this notification, if one of these other conditions exists:

If any of these factors are at play, you can file a request for a modification review with the Division of Child Support Services. If the DCSS agrees that changes in your circumstances mean you are eligible for a review, they will require both parents to submit income information. This will be used to recalculate the amount of the child support order.

What if the court doesn’t agree that your child support should increase? Whether you feel like your spouse was dishonest in the reported income or that the courts do not fully understanding the needs of your children, you are able to contest the modification results. The process will depend on whether you have a judicial order or an administrative order.

If you need to fight for the rights of your children, the Law Office of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. is here to help. We focus on divorce and family law because we care about the needs of children and families. Contact us today for a consultation on your unique case, and let our extensive experience help your children.

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



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: 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.