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McHenry County Family Law Blog

What divorce does and does not do

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Deciding to divorce is a big step, a decision with life-altering ripples. Before making that decision, Illinoisans should consider what divorce can do for them and, just as importantly, what it cannot do. Doing so will better arm them to decide whether to go through the emotion and expense of the process.

So what can divorce do? It can do three things. First, it can untangle the Gordian knot of shared finances over the course of the marriage.

Tori Spelling's husband behind on past marriage child support

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Bringing a child into the world is an awesome responsibility. A life is in constant need of support from his or her parents. Because of that dependency, Illinois law requires parents to support their children, even after the parent's marriage has come to a close. When a former spouse does not live up their obligation, the custodial parent can seek the court system's help in ensuring that the former spouse follows through.

Tori Spelling's husband, Dean McDermott may find that out the hard way. According to reports, McDermott has a teenage son from a prior marriage. The ex-wife has filed a claim in court alleging that McDermott is behind nearly $9,000 in child support. Her filing gives McDermott 30 days to pay up.

Federal government's role in child-support enforcement

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Having a child can be wonderful thing. It can bring joy, exhilaration and a legacy. But it also provides many new, significant responsibilities. One responsibility is financial--paying for food, clothing, shelter and so much more. When those elements mix with split parenting, the resulting brew can be contentious.

That's no surprise. After all, the financial aspects of split parenting can be difficult. One parent spends most of the time with their child. The other parent must provide support. Striking a balance between what the noncustodial parent's view of how much raising a child should cost and how much it actually costs the custodial parent to do so can be far apart. For that, and other reasons, a parent may not pay.

Should parents who owe back child support go to jail?

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Paying child support is important. When Illinois parents fail to do so, they may face a variety of legal consequences. The biggest arrow in the quiver of consequences is jail. But is that arrow fair? And, even if it is fair, should it be used?

The idea behind the threat of jail, of course, is that it will light a fire underneath the feet of parents who fail to pay. No one wants to go to jail after all. But that incentive should be balanced against the resulting harm: a jailed parent cannot work and thus cannot make money to pay for child support. That sequence invites a downward spiral of continual non-payment.

Protecting personal information during divorce

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During marriage, Illinoisans interweave their lives with their spouses. That means joint financial accounts and often sharing of social-media accounts. When the marriage is going well that trust can be a benefit. But when the marriage goes south, that trust can be a source of serious harm.

Just how trusting are couples? Consider a survey done by McAfee. According to the results, almost every person who responded said they trust sensitive information like photos, passwords and other personal content. But while nearly everyone gives broad access during a relationship, not everyone is good about closing off that access later. For instance, many couples share intimate photos. But only a third of survey participants said that they asked their former flames to delete those photos once the relationship had come to an end.

How same-sex couples will be affected by new laws

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Even though Illinois has been one of the states at the forefront of allowing same-sex couples to legally marry, the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the right to marry across the entire country carries with it certain ramifications that must be understood. Bearing in mind the potential changes that the ruling makes, there are certain issues that have to be considered. With a conventional divorce, there are laws in place as to how the process goes. The same will be true for same-sex divorce.

Studies have shown that the number of same-sex couples who have ended their unions - whether it was a marriage or a partnership that was not legally recognized - is similar to that of opposite sex couples. As same-sex couples marry and realize that their unions are legally recognized across the nation, it is inevitable that some of these couples will choose to end their union and divorce. Such issues as child custody can be complicated because in many instances, there is only one member of the couple who is biologically linked to the child. If both parents were granted custody, it can be a difficult issue to navigate.

Receiving an order of protection under Illinois family law

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Regardless of the problems that can afflict an Illinois marriage, there is never an excuse for domestic abuse. Unfortunately, this happens all too frequently and it becomes necessary to consider seeking an order of protection. There are certain state laws that are in place when it comes to receiving an order of protection. It must be understood what they do and the consequences if they are violated.

An order of protection can be provided to a person who has been abused by family members. It will restrict the alleged abuser's actions and access to the abused person and the family. Under this order, the abuser will be prohibited from continuing performing abusive acts or making threats. This includes harassing, physically abusing, intimidating, interfering with personal liberty, and willful deprivation. The abuser will be barred from sharing the residence with the abused. They cannot use alcohol or drugs. The abuser will be required to stay away from the person who was abused and not go to the place of work, school, and other locations.

What is the law for visitation rights in Illinois?

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When an Illinois couple shares a child and decides to part ways, the best interests of the child are paramount. Unless there is some issue that makes it preferable for the child not to have contact with one of the parents, it will be beneficial for the child to have contact with both parents. This is why visitation rights are so important. The state has laws in place requiring that visitation be granted.

The parent who does not have custody of the child will be allowed to have visitation. The exceptions are if the child will be placed in danger physically, mentally, morally, or emotionally if visitation is granted. If the custodial parent does not have an identified address, alternative arrangements for visitation with the non-custodial parent will be made. Visitation is defined as time spent between the non-custodial parent and the child. This might also involve electronic communication at junctures that the court will determine.

What child-custody arrangements are available?

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Every family is unique. Every separation is different. Every parent-child relationship is distinct. The many permutations that accompany these variations call for flexibility in fashioning a child-custody arrangement. Fortunately, Illinois laws allow for just that.

Child custody can be arranged in whatever way works best. Parents can slice custody into physical and legal. They can share custody or give one person sole custody. They can split custody so that some kids live with one parent and the other lives with the other parent.

Supreme Court authors historic same-sex ruling

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For generations, same-sex couples have dreamed of receiving equal treatment under the law. But for years, it was just a dream, a hope far over the horizon. Not anymore.

By a vote of 5-4, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. According to the ruling, "No longer may this liberty be denied" to same-sex couples. Going forward, these couples have "equal dignity in the eyes of the law."