April 17th, 2014 at 4:53 pm
According to new sources, foreign adoptions by American families have fallen by 18 percent, the lowest record of adoptions in twenty years. The U.S. State Department, in a report they released in March 2014, showed that in 2013, there were only 7,094 children adopted, this being a 69 percent drop from the 22,884 adoptions that went through in 2004. Since 2004, adoption numbers have drastically declined.
The most recent decline in foreign adoptions has been attributed to Russia’s adoption ban. Russia was third in line on the list of countries that accounted for the number of U.S. adoptions taking place; China has seen the most amount of adoptions, Ethiopia is ranked second, and with Russia’s ban, Ukraine has taken its place. There was also a significant drop in the amount of children from South Korea, where in 2012 there were 627 U.S. adoptions, but last year, only 138 adoptions went through.
Another suggested reason for the decline has been the manner by which the U.S. State Department has implemented the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption, which enforces the ethical standards that govern inter-country adoptions.
Illinois Adoption Numbers
In Illinois in 2013 there were 319 total adoptions, with 174 of the children being female. Of the 319 children adopted, there were 126 children who were between one and two years old; 51 children were between the ages of three and four; 98 children were between the ages of five and 12; and 20 were between the ages of 13 and 17. Illinois, specifically, is thought to have the strongest adoption laws, however, it is failing to stop the terrifying practice called “re-homing.”
Rehoming: The Illegal Practice of Transferring an Adopted Child
Rehoming is a practice by which adoptive parents, who believe they are unable to take care of the children they have adopted because of the children’s emotional, behavioral or health problems, find a way (usually through the internet) to relocate and rehome the adopted children. The danger of the “rehoming” process is due largely to the lack of regulations of the adoptive parents, and children many times in this situation find themselves in sex trafficking or child slavery within the new “home.” In a normal adoption, especially in an international adoption, there are severe and rigorous evaluations that are made of the adoptive parents when deciding whether or not to provide the family with a child. The re-homing practice, however, has not received the appropriate amount of redress, with many state laws being ineffectual at curbing the practice within their borders. Generally, state child endangerment laws were considered to be helpful, but not effectual at full deterrence.
The federal law is also loose and at times only applies a misdemeanor to wrongdoers. Illinois’s Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children only discusses penalties of sender companies having their licenses or permits suspended or revoked and contains no mention of criminal penalties to further deter these types of violations.
It is important to weigh and evaluate many factors before deciding to pursue an international adoption. An adoption, however, provides a home for a child who may be in desperate need and may be a perfect addition for your family. If you and your family are considering an adoption, or are interested in one of our other family law practice areas, please feel free to contact one of our experienced Naperville attorneys for a consultation.
April 11th, 2014 at 12:50 pm
After a spouse has passed away, the widow(er) may feel that he or she will never find love again. And then suddenly, love strikes when least expected.
As our lifetimes lengthen and we are living longer and healthier lives, the possibility of a second chance at love after a departed spouse has become less unusual. According to an article in Psychology Today, later-in-life marriages tend to be more successful than couples who remarry before the age of 50 for a variety of reasons.
First, the children of each individual are adults at this point and do not require the same financial and emotional maintenance that non-adult children would require. In addition, each individual in an elderly couple has accumulated savings throughout his/her lifetime, and is financially in a position to be wed. Finally, an elderly couple that meets and comes together later in life has a foundation in friendship and companionship, and those within choose their partners based on shared interests and commonalities.
What to Consider Before Saying “I Do”
Though the number of older Americans who are finding love later in life has been increasing, marriage of these individuals has been stunted due largely to the fear of what a remarriage would mean financially and legally for the couple; the legal and financial ramifications become more difficult when there are children and grandchildren involved, and when the individuals are receiving survivor benefits from the first marriage to the deceased spouse, to name a few.
According to an article written in Investopedia, elderly couples considering later-in-life marriages must consider quite a few things when deciding whether to remarry. The following are things an elderly couple should evaluate and discuss before saying “I do”:
Finances and Financial Obligations
Older couples have accumulated more in separate assets (assets that have accrued either from a previous marriage or due to their own earning capacity throughout their lifetime). Each individual should review each other’s credit reports and assess the types of financial liabilities for which each individual is responsible, such as spousal maintenance payments (in the case of a previous marriage where the ex-spouse is not deceased), and child support if there are children who are not over the age of 18.
It is important for an elderly couple to evaluate their properties and assets and readjust a will to ensure that assets are divided appropriately upon death. Many times it makes sense for elderly couples to write up a prenuptial agreement, especially if each individual would like their separate property to remain within the first family.
Social Security and Medicaid
Depending on age, remarrying may complicate problems with a widow(er)’s benefits received from a pension fund. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, a widow(er)’s benefit might terminate if the widow(er) remarries before the age of 60 (in the case of a disability, the age would be 50). In addition, Medicaid could also be terminated if the covered individual marries someone who is making a higher income.
Experienced Naperville Family Law Attorneys
These are just a few of the financial and legal ramifications to be considered when deciding when or whether to marry later in life. Our experienced, Naperville attorneys can help you and your significant other weigh your options with regards to cohabitation or marriage and whether a prenuptial agreement (or any other necessary documents) should be executed. Please contact us today for a consultation with one of our family law attorneys.
April 5th, 2014 at 10:02 am
In an article recently published in the Chicago Tribune, the United States in the last few years has seen a significant increase in the number of women who are paying alimony (also known as “maintenance”) to their ex-husbands. The changes reflect a gender-neutral interpretation of laws regarding spousal support and the trend of many women being the breadwinners within the family while the men are taking on more supportive, domestic roles within the household.
Factors Evaluated in Spousal Maintenance Calculation
According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, spousal support or maintenance is determined at the time of the dissolution of the marriage. At this time, the court takes into consideration a variety of factors, and the weighing of these factors ultimately leads to the calculation of the support to be given to one spouse from the other. The following are some of the factors that are evaluated:
- The marital and non-marital property owned by each spouse and the amount that each spouse receives after the marital property has been divided;
- The earning capacity of each spouse, present and future, taking into consideration each party’s contribution to the home if one of the spouses is responsible for the domestic affairs of the household;
- The age and any physical or mental impairment or disability of each individual, which requires certain financial needs and affects the earning capacity of the individual;
- The duration of and quality of life of the marriage; and
- Any other factor that the Court should take into consideration so that the maintenance is just and equitable.
Factors to Evaluate When Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support Payments
Though it is up to the Court and its calculations for how much spousal support an individual should receive, this award amount is not set in stone. The Court may be able to take into consideration changes in circumstances that would affect the amount of spousal support that the party should be receiving or if the party should have their spousal support terminated altogether. According to Section 510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are several factors that would substantially change the circumstance of the receiving party’s needs, and therefore a modification or termination of spousal support could be requested. The following are some of the factors that may be considered:
- Any change in the earning capacity (for example, a change in the employment status) of the individual;
- Whether the party has become self-supporting;
- The party’s physical or mental impairment has been cured or improved on and requires less financial need;
- Whether the party is now deceased and therefore no longer needs spousal support; and/or
- The receiving party is cohabitating with or remarried to another person and therefore no longer requires the support.
Determining that there should be a modification or termination of the alimony payments may be difficult to prove as one has to prove that there has been a “substantial” change in circumstances. Solid evidence may be crucial to showing that there should be a modification or termination of the spousal support because there has been a substantial change. Showing that the spouse has received a promotion, recently has inherited a significant amount of money, or showing that the spouse is cohabiting on a “continuing, conjugal basis” may be the type of evidence to satisfy the threshold.
If you are looking to modify or terminate your spousal support payments because you believe that your ex-spouse’s circumstances have changed, please contact one of our experienced, Naperville attorneys who will be able to guide you through the process. Please contact us today for further information on child or spousal support.
March 28th, 2014 at 4:33 pm
Illinois is about to see a significant shift in its day-to-day life. Starting soon, the first 5,000 licenses to carry a concealed weapon will arrive at residences. Reported by The Chicago Tribune, the new law allows Illinois residents to apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon out in public. The law, however, does not provide for a right to shoot that weapon, except in situations where imminent danger to yourself or others is present.
And though this new concealed weapon law is controversial in its own right, it becomes even more so in the context of domestic violence, where a gun may be used against a spouse who is possibly seeking divorce. Also, federal law prohibits convicted abusers from obtaining a permit, while state law also prohibits the issue of licenses to those who are currently under order of protection and to those who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery. Yet the impact is less than significant.
Illinois State Law on Domestic Violence Abusers’ Right to a Permit
Under Illinois state law, the prohibition of obtaining a firearms permit extends only to those who have been, in the last five years, convicted of violent offenses, and not to those who have been arrested. In addition, once the order of protection has been lifted against the perpetrator, the person is free to obtain a firearm. This offers little protection to those victims who are currently in a violent household where his or her partner has been arrested, but has never been convicted.
The way the law is currently written, a person may be arrested up to five times within a seven-year-period for any offense before his or her application for a license to carry a concealed weapon is denied. Many times, in domestic violence cases, the perpetrator does not necessarily need multiple violent incidents before inflicting serious or fatal harm to his or her spouse. A report by the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network cited a study showing that the threat of homicide increases by up to 500 percent when firearms are present in a domestic violence home.
Law Enforcement Officials’ Revision of Applications in Illinois
As it stands, it is up to law enforcement officials to review all applications for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public. Though there are many objective qualifications for denying an application, it is up to the discretion of the officer to provide the green light for any applications. Any flagged applications are reviewed by the state advisory board for further investigation.
With the new law going into effect, thousands have applied for their permits. Throughout the state, 50,000 applications have come in since January; 300 were denied outright, while 800 denied applications are currently being investigated further. In Lake County, 41 of 369 applications were denied,with half being denied because of domestic abuse. In Chicago, 86 of the 3,186 applications were denied. In Cook County, of the 14,000 applications sent in, 430 were denied; 167 of the 430 were denied because of domestic abuse and another 50 were denied because of orders of protection.
Legal Restrictions to a Permit to Carry Concealed Weapons
The following are legal restrictions that the Illinois law enforcement officials are using to weed out applications for permits to carry concealed weapons:
1. A person may be ineligible for a firearm owner’s identification card, a prerequisite to obtaining a concealed carry license, if they are or have been:
- convicted of a felony;
- convicted, within the last five years, of battery, assault, aggravated assault or violation of an order of protection;
- currently under an order of protection;
- found not guilty by reason by insanity or found incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case;
- convicted of use or possession of a marijuana or a controlled substance.
2. A person may be ineligible for a concealed carry license if they do not qualify for a firearm owner’s identification card AND for one of the following reasons:
- If law enforcement believe that the applicant is a threat or danger to himself/herself or to others;
- If the applicant has five or more arrests in the last seven years for any offense;
- If the applicant has been arrested three times in the last seven years for gang-related offenses;
- If the applicant, in the last five years, has two or more driving under the influence violations.
With the passage of this new state law to carry concealed firearms, certain requirements will hopefully be added to restrict people who have perpetrated any type of domestic violence or any violent offense against another. If you or a loved one has been a victim of domestic violence, and you would like to take steps to divorce or separate from your abuser, please contact one of our experienced attorneys. Our experienced Naperville attorneys may be able to provide guidance and counsel to protect you and your loved ones from domestic abuse. Please contact us today for a consultation.
March 22nd, 2014 at 12:36 pm
After a divorce, it may be extremely difficult to get the family back to its normal routine. This can be especially difficult if the court has awarded joint custody, and positive co-parenting with your ex-spouse may seem almost impossible. It can be difficult to figure out how these new arrangements are going to work, what the relationship that each parent will have separately with their child will look like, and the positive attitude that each parent must project to their child about the other parent. Joint custody is generally determined by the court and pursuant to Illinois‘s Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/). The court determines the type of custody framework by reviewing relevant factors that assess the best interest of the child.
These factors may include:
- Wishes of the child as to who will maintain custody;
- Wishes of the child as to who will be the custodian;
- Changes to the child’s home, school, and standard of living, depending on who receives custody;
- The health and well-being of each parent;
- The presence or past history of physical or mental abuse toward the child or against another person; and
- The willingness of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent.
To determine whether joint custody is in the best interest of the child, each parent must draft a joint parenting agreement, which outlines the parent’s “powers, rights and responsibilities for the personal care of the child and for major decisions such as education, healthcare, and religious training.” Generally, the court may determine that joint custody is appropriate if it is found that it would be in the best interest of the child. The determination of joint custody focuses on the following:
- Whether the parents can cooperate effectively and consistently; and
- The quality of life each individual parent may provide for the child.
- The process may be arduous, as there are many factors to evaluate, but if joint custody has been awarded to both parents, co-parents need to find the appropriate way to effectively co-parent together.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation is a process by which one parent may attempt to force a child to pick a side against the other parent. Some things that a parent may do to alienate the other parent are to badmouth the other parent, limit the child’s contact with the other parent, give off the impression that the other parent is dangerous, or in some way denigrate the other parent.
An article by Psychology Today shows that a parent who attempts to alienate his child from the other parent sends off a three-part message, specifically: 1) I am the only parent that loves and supports you, 2) the other parent is not around and may be dangerous, and 3) a relationship with the other parent will ruin a relationship with me. This type of alienation, especially immediately after a divorce, may take effect quickly, especially before a child has been set into a routine.
How to Co-Parent Effectively
Parental alienation can be avoided if both parents decide that this is not the path down which they want to pull their children. The Huffington Post provides a list of ways that co-parents can avoid parental alienation and denigration:
- Save your fights for when the children are not around. You do not have to like your spouse, but you should not subject your children to the anger and frustration you might feel for them. Always attempt to be civil and show your co-parent respect, especially in front of your kids.
- Remember that your children need both of you.
- You can only control your own household; do not attempt to control the parenting style of your ex.
- Your child is not your therapist. Keep any decisions, questions about your ex, or your personal feelings to yourself or your actual therapist. Do not place your children in the middle of the problem.
Co-parenting and joint custody may be difficult adjustments to make, especially after a prolonged and protracted divorce. But, if the court decides that joint custody is in the best interest of the child, then make the best of the situation and make having joint custody solely about the child’s welfare, and not about your personal problems with your ex.
The process for fighting about custody rights is a difficult and emotional time for most parents suffering through a divorce. Our experienced Naperville divorce attorneys may be able to answer any questions you may have, and can guide and counsel you through this difficult time. Feel free to contact our office today.
March 17th, 2014 at 12:21 pm
Many things can cause a divorce; infidelity, insanity, incarceration, impotence and incompatibility. Another major cause of divorce is arguments about money, according to a study published in the Family Relations journal. That is partially because fights about money tend to last longer and be more heated compared to other arguments about in-laws, children or sex. It seems like some couples have decided it is better to say nothing at all or even lie rather than fight about finances.
A poll authorized by the National Endowment for Financial Education and Forbes Woman has been conducted twice over the last three years by Harris Interactive. In 2011, after surveying over 2,000 people, 31 percent of the respondents admitted to lying about joint finances. 32 percent admitted to being deceived. In 2014, those numbers increased to 33 percent confessing to deception and 35 percent acknowledged being deceived.
The most common types of deceptions from the 2014 survey were hiding a minor purchase, hiding cash and lying about something financial. The least common deceptions were hiding a bank account, lying about their income, and hiding a major purchase. While the more common deceptions are less extreme, they can still have severe consequences on the health and length of the relationship.
Some deceptions may be due to a lack of communication. Others may be caused by a lack of trust or fear of rejection. Sometimes the reason can be a desire to protect the other spouse from worrying about money. Regardless of the intent, the study by the National Endowment for Financial Education showed that 75 percent of people who experienced financial deception had repercussions in their relationships. Divorce was the final result in ten percent of these relationships.
If your spouse has lied to you about your finances, you may be hurt and angry. Unfortunately, during any divorce, marital assets are split in the same manner that debts are during the division of property. A spouse could successfully blow most of the marital assets and still be entitled to a portion of the remaining funds and property. Contact an experienced divorce attorney in Naperville who can make sure that assets that may have been hidden during your marriage are uncovered during your divorce.
March 11th, 2014 at 12:45 pm
Illinois state Representative Barbara Wheeler recently proposed Illinois House Bill 3744 in an effort to provide greater protection to victims of domestic violence by requiring for a defendant who has been charged with a violent crime to undergo a risk assessment evaluation. The results of this risk assessment evaluation, as evaluated by the Illinois Department of Human Services, will determine whether, as a condition of bail, the defendant might be forced to wear a Global Positioning System (GPS) ankle bracelet. The GPS device will be used to monitor violent offenders 24 hours a day during the pretrial phase, and is meant to keep abusers a safe distance from their victims. The new law may prove critical for local residents in the midst of a tumultuous divorce where domestic violence is at issue.
This new House Bill proposed would be an extension to the already in place Cindy Bischof law, which requires that the offender need to have violated an existing order of protection before a judge may order the defendant to wear any type of electronic tracking device.
The Cindy Bischof law went into effect on January 1, 2009, after the tragic death of Cindy Bischof. Bischof was shot and killed in a parking lot by her ex-boyfriend, who had already been arrested and prosecuted for violating his restraining order on more than one occasion. House Bill 3744 would allow a judge, based on the facts specific to the case, to order the defendant to wear a GPS device, regardless of whether an order of protection had been submitted. Once a defendant was ordered to wear an electronic tracking device, specific “exclusion zones” would be set up around the victim’s home, work, or other areas where the offender is barred from entering. In addition, the victim could also wear a GPS device to ensure that, even if he or she is out of the exclusion zone, the defendant would not be allowed to come close to the victim.
Findings of the U.S. Department of Justice
In a study published by the U.S. Department of Justice in June 2012, the findings showed that the use of GPS-tracking devices had an overall positive impact with regard to protection of the victim, but also protection for the defendant. Overall, the GPS effectively provided teeth to existing restraining orders. In the short term, there was a lower likelihood that the defendant would violate curfew and other program requirements. In the long term, the GPS decreased the likelihood of arrest for domestic violence offenses.
Defendants had a mixed reaction to the use of the GPS technology; some were frustrated by the program confinements, such as curfew and exclusion zones, while others appreciated that they could maintain their employment during the pretrial time period, and the GPS had the possibility of shielding them from false accusations. Though victims were apprehensive about their abusers roaming the streets, many felt more comforted knowing that the abusers were unable to get close or stalk them at their residences or work sites. The one problem that was encountered by the GPS-tracking was, though it could limit the abuser’s physical proximity to the victim, the technology could not halt any other types of communication, such as text message, emails, or phone calls.
Though this House Bill is still on the House floor and has not passed yet, victims of domestic violence have options. One possibility is to request an order of protection, a court order that prohibits the abuser from, among others:
- Entering shared residences or the victim’s residence;
- Getting in the same physical proximity to victims and/or other persons protected by the order, such as family members or members of the victim’s household.
- Going to the victim’s workplace, school, or other areas where the victim frequents.
- Hiding a child from the victim or taking the child out of state.
If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence, and would like more information on obtaining an order of protection from a perpetrator of domestic violence, or you would like to receive more information on divorce or separation from an abuser, please contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney today.
February 28th, 2014 at 12:24 pm
People decide to get married for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes that union results in raising children. If the marriage begins to deteriorate, couples may struggle with the decision to split up or stay together for the sake of their children. It is often unclear which option is better for the children; divorce or sticking together.
If you’re considering divorce, consider the issues that are creating problems in the marriage. If the grounds for divorce include verbal or physical abuse, infidelity, or addiction, then leaving your spouse might be the best option for the safety of you and your children. Consider filing for an order of protection before or during your divorce if there is any threat of danger to you or your children. Divorce will allow some control over who has physical and legal custody of your child in cases of abusive or otherwise unfit to parent.
If you are considering divorce because you have grown apart from your spouse, marriage counseling might be an option.
Raising a child in an environment filled with conflict is not easy. While you might be there for your child physically, it might not be easy to show them the love and support they need while arguing with a spouse. It might be better to remove them from a contentious and even potentially hazardous situation. If you’ve already decided on a divorce but are on good terms with your spouse, consider alternative dispute resolutions such as collaborative law or mediation.
Research about how children recover from divorce may ease some of the worry about splitting up with a spouse. Psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington of the University of Virginia and one of her graduate students, Anne Mitchell Elmore completed such a study in 2002. They found that children often experience short-term side effects like anxiety, shock, disbelief and even anger after a split. However, the majority of children rebounded and their symptoms decreased or disappeared by the second year after the divorce. Only a small number of children continued to express those feelings more than two years later.
The most important thing to remember before filing for divorce is to consider the best interest of your children. That is the same principle that judges use to settle child custody issues during a divorce. The divorce court may assign a guardian ad litem whose job it is to represent the child and their best interests during a divorce.
Contact an experienced divorce attorney in DuPage County to begin this process today.
February 20th, 2014 at 12:56 pm
When someone is in an abusive relationship, the idea of leaving can be even scarier than the idea of staying with an abuser. Victims may fear that their abusers will come after them if they leave, or worse, they will come after the victim’s friends and families. When abuse is introduced into a relationship, it is very unlikely that it will go away and victims should seek any help that they can to get away from their abusers as quickly as possible.
If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, they may or may not realize what is happening, and it may be difficult for them to get away. Do what you can to be supportive, and if the abused person is hiding signs of abuse, it may be in their best interest to contact the authorities.
Sometimes domestic abuse victims do not leave their abusers because they do not know what to do. DomesticViolence.org answers two common questions that domestic abuse victims have when considering leaving:
- Can I take my children with me when I leave?
- If you can get them out safely, then yes, take your children away from the abusive home;
- As soon as possible, seek legal assistance to get custody of your children;
- If you cannot get your children out of the abusive home safely, getting custody may be more challenging. The parent with physical possession often has an upper hand in getting temporary legal custody;
- If you succeed in getting your children out and getting custody, do not put it past your partner to try to steal them back. He or she may do this by kidnapping, threatening, or harming the children so that you will return them;
- If you believe that you are in immediate danger and you cannot get your children out of the abusive home, contact police to arrange temporary protective custody during the process of gaining permanent custody.
- Where do I go?
- Stay at a friend’s or a relative’s home.
- If you are a woman, avoid staying with any men who are not relatives. This could impair your chances of getting custody of your children in court and even getting spousal support. In addition, it may cause more conflict with your abuser by creating jealousy.
- There are many battered women’s shelters that will take you and your children in. Staff at these shelters can help you with legal and financial concerns, along with emotional support and counseling for both you and your children.
- If you feel that you still have nowhere to go, call 911 to start.
If you have been abused and have left or are thinking about leaving an abusive relationship, contact a family law attorney for assistance. Attorneys at Roscich & Martel Law Firm in Illinois can help you with custody and your entire divorce hearing if you contact them today.
February 13th, 2014 at 12:56 pm
The current divorce rate in the United States is about 50 percent, according to DivorceRate.org. With a number that high, it is a fair concern to be worried about what will happen to you financially if you divorce your partner. One way to protect yourself from financial troubles in the event of the end of a marriage is to get a prenuptial agreement.
Should the marriage come to an end, either by divorce or death, a prenup will serve as an outline for how the debts and assets of the couple will be distributed. Prenups are often touchy and emotional subjects with couples, but New York City financial advisor Nancy Dunnan suggests that couples “Think of it as a(n) insurance policy…marriage is not just an emotional and physical union — it’s also a financial union.”
It is a common misconception that prenups are only for the rich. Even if you have very little, financially, you can still protect what you have in a prenup. Consider a prenuptial agreement if you relate to any of the following:
- You have assets like a home, stocks, or retirement funds;
- You are the owner of a business;
- You are expecting to receive an inheritance;
- You expect a large increase in your income;
- You are pursuing a degree or license in a potentially lucrative profession such as medicine or law;
- One partner is much wealthier than the other;
- You have children or grandchildren from a previous marriage;
- You have to care for relatives like elderly parents;
- One partner is supporting the other through college;
- Either partner has large debts or loans.
If you are getting married and you would like to protect your assets in case the marriage ends, do not be afraid to do so. It is important that you can protect what is yours. Contact a family law attorney in Naperville, Ill. to help you create the prenuptial agreement for you and your partner. Attorneys at Roscich & Martel Law Firm can help you smoothly protect what is yours today.