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McHenry County Family Law Blog

Celebrity chef getting divorced

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Illinoisans may have heard that another celebrity marriage may be coming to an end. According to reports, Bobby Flay, a celebrity chef, and Stephanie March, one of the stars of "Law and Order: SVU," have separated and are in the process of filing for divorce.

What caused the 10-year relationship to end? Allegations of infidelity, apparently. In 2010, Flay was linked to January Jones of "Mad Men" fame. That year, Jones had a fender-bender. Right after, Flay showed up on the scene. That coincidence sent tongues wagging. Eventually, the gossip reached March, who questioned her husband about the timing.

How does bankruptcy affect child support?

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Imagine the following scenario: an Illinois couple has a child together. They split up; one parent gets custody of the child, and the other pays child support. A few years later, the parent paying child support falls on hard times and files for bankruptcy. What effect does the bankruptcy have on the parent's child-support obligation?

Good question. But before answering it, let's look at how court orders (such as a child-support order) are usually treated. Normally, parents must pay. If not, they will land in serious legal hot water. Their wages may be garnished, their licenses taken and their passport frozen.

Moving can cause a child custody battle

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When an Illinois couple marries, they normally commit to living in the same place. But, if they split, that commitment no longer applies. That means the couple may move miles, states or even countries away. No problem, right? Sure, unless the couple had a kid together. In that case, the move can become a major child custody issue, because the move may mean that only one parent gets to see the child on a day-to-day basis.

When that happens, the couple needs to reconsider their current child custody arrangement. If they cannot agree on their own, then a court will need to enter the mix. If so, the court will decide how to divvy up child custody based on the best interest of the child.

Does Illinois still recognize same-sex civil unions?

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It has been more than a year since same-sex marriages first started being legally performed in Illinois, but there is still a lot of confusion about the new laws and how they affect previously existing laws about marriage and domestic partnerships. Some same-sex couples who legally formed civil unions before same-sex marriage was legalized may wonder whether their unions are still binding, or whether they automatically converted into marriages

The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is no.

Addressing interstate child support issues

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In Illinois and elsewhere, when parents split a gaggle of issues can arise. One of those is child support. Usually child support follows statutory guidelines that require the parent who does not live with the child (that is, the noncustodial parent) to pay child support. The amount will be determined through a child support formula. If the noncustodial parent fails to make good on the obligation, the state may be able to step in and force payments by garnishing wages, taking tax refunds and more.

But what happens when a child lives in Illinois while the noncustodial parent lives in a bordering state? What happens when that parent fails to meet their child support obligation?

Illinois residents can get help establishing paternity

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Having a child is a great joy and privilege, one that many Illinois residents experience over the years. But, when a baby is born, it is not always easy to know who is responsible for it. In many cases, knowing who the father is can be tricky. Despite this, it can be important to determine paternity.

Determining who the father is, also known as establishing paternity, can help all involved: the mother, the father and the child. It can help the mother in a couple ways. When the mother is not sure who the father is, establishing paternity creates closure. It also helps the mother financially, because she can use the paternity finding to receive child support payments. Establishing paternity helps the father by cementing legal rights and by paving the way towards a relationship with his child. And, establishing paternity helps the child both by facilitating a relationship with the father and by increasing the financial support received.

How is Facebook changing divorce?

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Many, if not most, residents in Illinois have Facebook accounts. This social network site has changed the face of divorce. How? In two main ways: by setting the groundwork for a divorce and as a rich source of evidence during the divorce. This post will focus on the second aspect: evidence during the divorce.

How often is evidence found on Facebook used in divorce cases? Often. Indeed, a recent study by the American Association of Matrimony Lawyers showed that two-thirds of attorneys used Facebook as a key source of evidence during divorce.

Griffin divorce flares up

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As a general rule, Illinois couples get married because they love each other. And they get divorced because they no longer do or, worse, they can no longer stand each other's company. That is hardly a recipe for a smooth, unemotional divorce process.

Just ask Ken Griffin and his wife. Griffin, the billionaire CEO of Citadel, is going through a complicated divorce involving children, a challenged prenuptial agreement and claims for more than $10 million in child support per year.

Not all debt is the same during a divorce

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Divorce is a time of transition. A couple goes from a "we" to a "me." And, in the process, they need to separate their lives. One of the biggest items that must be disentangled is the finances. Doing so gets more complicated the more assets a couple has and the longer they have been together.

The first step in divorce is sorting through finances is to identify all assets and debts. That can be a challenge. Assets get hidden and debts can too. But that's a topic for a separate post.

There are many ways to collect back child support in Illinois

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Child support must be paid -- even when it is hard to come up with the money. Failure to do so hurts not only the child, but the parent failing to pay, because of the penalties the state of Illinois will impose.

The process often starts small. For example, the parents may try to resolve the matter on their own or the parent who cannot meet their child-support obligation may ask the court that issued the child-support order to lower the parent's obligation. The court may agree to do so if the amount is no longer in line with the parent's income (perhaps because the parent lost his or her job or there is another change in financial situation).