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McHenry County Family Law Blog

Child custody overview

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For Illinoisans with children, one of the hardest divorce issues to resolve is child custody. Parents love their children; they want their children to live with them. But when parents separate, there are two parents and, at times, only one child. That math means only one parent can have custody at a time. In dealing with this scarcity, some parents can develop a custody arrangement amicably while other parents need a court to decide for them.

Custody comes in several shapes and sizes, namely legal and physical. Legal custody refers to who gets to make key decisions about the child's religion, education and health care. Physical custody, on the other hand, involves where the child lives most of the time.

How do you file for and serve a divorce petition in Illinois?

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For many Illinoisans, just making the decision to get divorced is tough. Because of that, little things can cause them to put off taking action. One small roadblock is figuring how and where to file and serve a divorce petition.

A divorce petition is a legal document filed in court by a spouse seeking divorce. The petition announces the filer's intent to get divorced and starts the divorce process. After the divorce-seeking spouse files the petition, they must also serve the other spouse. In other words, they need to give a copy to the other spouse.

Illinois collects $1.4 billion in child support

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Child support is a big deal for children who need it. It can also be a large amount of money. In fact, an Illinois agency collects more than $1 billion in child support annually. This past year the agency collected the most it ever has at more than a whopping $1.4 billion.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services says it collects the money in a variety of ways. Most of the money is gained through income withholding. But the rest comes through more coercive means. For instance, the agency will sometimes freeze and seize bank accounts when owing parents fail to pay their obligation. Other times, it directs professional and occupational licensing agencies to suspend or rescind licenses. The agency will also sometimes ask the Department of Natural Resources to deny non-compliant parents hunting and fishing licenses.

Divorcing couple battles over $20 billion property division

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For many Illinoisans, divorce can be one of the most difficult chapters in their lives. For younger couples, the hardest issues tend to revolve around child custody. For older couples, the hardest issues tend to revolve around property division. Take, for instance, an oil tycoon's divorce.

The divorce marks the end of a 26 year marriage between the tycoon and his wife, a time in which the couple saw its wealth expand a thousand-fold. But, before the divorce can be finalized, the parties need to determine how split their nearly $20 billion fortune.

Power couple begins divorce process, gets set to square off

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Whether in Illinois or elsewhere, divorce is seldom easy. But some factors can ratchet up the difficulty level. For younger couples, the trickiness of the divorce typically centers around the couples' children. For older couples, the sticking point usually hinges on financials. The more money the couple has, the bigger the potential battle. Take, for example, the divorce of multibillion-dollar couple.

One of the partners is the CEO of a hedge fund that manages $20 billion in assets. The other is a manager and partner at a firm that invests in media and technology. Together, the couple is worth north of $5 billion and owns two condominiums in Chicago's Park Tower along with residences in three other states.

Illinois couple contesting custody of the family dog

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.