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McHenry County Family Law Blog

Illinois couple contesting custody of the family dog

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

When Illinoisans get divorced, they have to sort through a swath of issues,some emotional, others legal. Many times the emotional and the legal merge. In some cases, that means fighting over child custody. But in other cases, it may mean deciding who gets to keep which friends, including man's best friend, the family dog.

Take, for instance, a recent dispute between two Illinoisans over who gets to keep the couples' Lab-German Shepherd Mix. Just like many child custody disputes, both Illinoisans want the dog. Unlike child custody, however, under Illinois law, pets are personal property.

Rapper fails to appear at child-support hearing, warrant issued

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

Having a child is a wonderful moment, but it also creates lasting responsibilities. For example, Illinois parents have an obligation to provide food, clothing and shelter for their children. Unfortunately, when parents split, some parents stop meeting their obligations, including obligations to pay child support.

Take, for instance, a recent case in which a Cook County judge recently issued an arrest warrant after an Illinois father did not appear for a child support hearing. The father is a South Side rapper who goes by the name "Chief Keef." The hearing was regarding alleged back child support Chief Keef allegedly owed to his daughter's mother. Chief Keef reportedly owes more than $10,000 in back child support.

Man jailed for non-existent back-child support finally released

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

For Illinois parents who owe child support, an easy way to make the payments is to have their employer withhold the amount from their paycheck. Normally, having the amount withheld is a reliable way for Illinoisans to make sure their children get what they deserve. But, mistakes will happen.

Take, for example, a father whose employer withheld part of his paycheck to pay his child support. The employer made some kind of clerical mistake. That mistake meant the money did not find its way to the father's son. As a result, a judge had the man jailed, even though the father had already paid-off, the mistake was discovered and the employer confessed the error was its fault.

Three steps to take before filing for a divorce

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

Many Illinoisans have likely heard the axiom: "Don't do tomorrow what you can do today." But, for many people thinking about divorce, the opposite view wins out: "Don't do today what you can do tomorrow." Then, people dress that procrastination up with rationalizations, some more compelling than others. Illinoisans may tell themselves that they just want to wait for the holidays to pass, the school year to finish or any number of other things.

Nonetheless, procrastination during an impending divorce can be costly. Instead of pushing off the decision, whether because of the timing or out of a desire to put off working through alimony, child custody or property division, Illinoisans should start preparing. Preparation enables people to decide whether to get divorced from a position of strength.

Sailor's child custody case paused, while he is out to sea

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

Many Illinoisans have likely heard about the child custody lawsuit between a submariner and his former wife over their six-year-old daughter. The case made national headlines when it looked like a family-law court might take the child away from the submariner, while he was out to sea.

That result will no longer happen. The family-law judge recently put the case on ice, while the sailor is out to sea. In support, the judge cited a federal law that stops court actions involving military personnel who are away on duty. The judge claims she would have paused the case earlier, but did not know, until recently, that the sailor was out to sea.

Bitcoin the next step for hiding marital assets?

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

As evidence by teaching plans for toddlers and young students that focus on sharing, humans may naturally want to keep their things to themselves. . And even after all the time and training at a young age, sharing does not always come naturally to some people, especially during a divorce. When that happens, these individuals may try to avoid a fair asset division by hiding assets such as real estate and other marital property.

Illinoisans looking to hide assets may have a new means by which to do so with digital currencies like Bitcoin. Bitcoin offers several advantages that have made it increasingly popular with people engaging in improper behavior. First, it affords its owner relative anonymity. Second, the currency is also more difficult to link to an individual than bank accounts and stock certificates. And, third, the currency can be moved quickly and almost unanimously. Add these advantages together and digital currency can be an attractive alternative to honestly reporting a person's real assets.

Halle Berry ordered to pay child support

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

Many Illinoisans may know about the Oscar-winning actress, Halle Berry from her many film roles. But they may not know that Berry is becoming a family-law veteran.

Her experience is the result of a relationship she had with an ex-boyfriend. As part of the relationship, the couple had a six-year-old daughter. The couple had a custody dispute a couple years ago. During the dispute, Berry tried to move the daughter to France, but was ultimately blocked by a judge.

Are social-media prenups a good idea?

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

Social media like Facebook and Instagram allow users to share many of their most intimate moments with friends and families. For many Illinois couples, that means announcing each relationship landmark from the first month anniversary and beyond. It also means countless pictures of fancy meals, road trips and vacations. In fact, smart phones have made nearly it instantaneous for couples to snap a picture and post it online.

This sharing can be a great thing. But it can also create problems. Those problems can get heated and public if not handled properly. In the best cases, those problems will be embarrassing such as drunk pictures. In the worst cases, those problems will be downright nasty such as revenge porn or other illicit photos. As a result, Illinoisans going through a divorce need to be especially wary.

Divorce: To litigate, or not to litigate, is often the question

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

Every divorce is different. Some are straightforward and calm. Others are complex and emotional. Where a divorce falls on than spectrum influences the issue of potentially taking the divorce to court in Illinois. Three questions can help sort out whether going to trial is the right approach.

First, what is being argued about? If there is common ground, negotiation can prove effective. If there is complete disagreement, a trial may be necessary to break the impasse. For example, topics like the amount of spousal support or the terms of a shared child custody agreement are often best dealt with through negotiation. In contrast, topics like whether there should be any spousal support or shared custody at all may be decided best in court. Similarly, if one spouse refuses to disclose assets or income, or makes outrageous demands during asset division, again, the courtroom might be the most appropriate option.

Unpaid Illinois child support obligations total over $3 billion

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

Normally, Illinoisans think of child support as an unfortunate, but, ultimately, personal problem. But that assumption is only partially true. Certainly the cost of food, clothing and shelter is borne by the custodial parent. However, when the parent cannot meet that burden or needs help in getting the noncustodial parent to pay child support, the state can step in to help.

Many custodial parents need state assistance in collecting child support. They need help because nearly 340,000 families across Illinois are owed $3 billion in unpaid child support. Nationally, the number balloons to a little more than $115 billion.