June 2010 News: The Chicago Family Law Blog

The Chicago Family Law Blog

June 2010 Archives

Actor and filmmaker Mel Gibson tells a much different story than his ex-girlfriend, Russian musician Oksana Grigorieva, as the former couple argues over child support and abuse allegations. Mel Gibson and Oksana have a young daughter together.

The Russian beauty says the 54-year-old actor physically abused her and has not paid any child support for their 9-month-old daughter, as reported by the New York Daily News. Mel Gibson, on the other hand, said her claims have no merit. Chicago family law attorneys would say that the truth usually comes out during the discovery process of civil trials.

Miami Heat basketball player and NBA all-star Dwyane Wade is finally divorced from estranged (now ex) wife Siohvaughn Wade, according to the Chicago Tribune. There were few surprises, although Siohvaughn Wade's Chicago family law attorney vowed to appeal the ruling.

Dwyane Wade said he felt relieved that the long and bitter ordeal is finally over:

"It's been a long, long process and to finally get this part behind us. I feel great, even though we still have more to get done."

Former New York Giants football star Tiki Barber, who allegedly had an affair with a 24-year-old NBC intern while his wife was pregnant with their twin daughters, might be too broke to pay for the proposed settlement with estranged wife Ginny Barber, according to the New York Post.  

Perhaps it's a case of instant karma, but NBC recently terminated the former football star's $300,000-per-year contract as a "Today Show" correspondent. NBC said the decision was made before his alleged infidelity became public, but Today Show tends to appeal to viewers who would be more critical of a correspondent with questionable ethics.

Regardless, Ginny Barber is seeking $150,000 per month in alimony (also called spousal support).

Golfer Tiger Woods may very well have squired a cub or two out of wedlock if he really was as promiscuous as tabloid reports allege. Porn actress Devon James, for one, believes Tiger Woods is indeed the father of her 9-year-old son and has sued in a Florida court for paternity, according to the New York Daily News.

Devon James filed the court papers under her real name, Melinda Janette. She also claims a TMZ.com report that Tiger Woods was cleared by a 2001 DNA screening was not true. The test actually cleared a man named "Matt," she said, and Tiger Woods never did take a test.

An international child custody dispute involving a Frankfort man, his 15-year-old son and the boy's mother, as reported by the Southtown Star, has few easy answers.

The state of Illinois wants Gerardo Serrano to pay back child support in honor of a Polish court order, but he insists that his son was kidnapped a decade ago and that he is the custodial parent of the child.

Making matters even more confusing, the father has Cook County court orders saying his son was "unlawfully removed" by his mother and that he does not owe child support.

Marriage and family therapist Mitchell Rosen, of California, wrote an editorial in the Riverside Press-Enterprise about the importance of fathers being actively involved in the lives of their children. Obviously, the significance of the timing is the upcoming Father's Day holiday.

First, he insists that bias against fathers in family courts is not nearly as prevalent as many would have you believe. His experience most likely is limited to California; thus, an Illinois family law attorney might have a different take on how local courts handle child custody and visitation cases.

Quite a few deployed military service members also are fighting child custody battles. But while extended tours of duty undoubtedly make it difficult for custodial parents, judges often award custody to the other parent just because of their military obligations, Stars and Stripes reported.  

The Dept. of Defense and various state and federal lawmakers hope to change laws they say unfairly discriminate against soldiers seeking custody.

Illinois is one of 33 states that provide additional protections, according to information from the DOD cited by Stars and Stripes. An Illinois family lawyer could better explain how Illinois law treats child custody cases with respect to deployed parents.

Lindsey O'Brien and Rachel Miller, who have been in a committed relationship for five years, walked into the Rock Island County Clerk's Office for a marriage license but were quickly denied, as reported by the Quad City Times.

It doesn't take an Illinois family lawyer to know that two women, no matter how committed, cannot get married in the state.

The swift refusal was expected but the request was a symbolic act of protest against what the two women and countless others believe is an act of discrimination. Along with an entourage of 10 supporters, the couple walked across the Centennial Bridge to the Scott County Recorder's Office in neighboring Iowa with the same request.

Down south in Collinsville, 30-year-old convicted sex offender and father Steven D. Ballinger has been charged with producing child pornography, according to the Belleville News-Democrat. The man has been at the center of a high-profile child custody case involving his 2-year-old son, Romell McGee.

To the dismay of Thomas Kennedy, the Illinois family law attorney representing the child's former foster parents, a judge removed the child from foster care and placed him with Steven Ballinger's parents last August.

But the attorney, who is licensed to practice in Illinois but maintains an office in Clayton, Mo., was relieved to hear that the boy's father has finally been charged:

"I am thrilled that someone finally took these claims seriously."

The child custody dispute between Chicago parents Joseph Reyes and Rebecca Shapiro over the religious upbringing of their daughter provided a cautionary tale on what can go wrong with interfaith marriages, as discussed in a Washington Post article.

Child custody fights over religion may not always be as bitter as the Reyes-Shapiro dispute; but interfaith marriages, while on the rise, seem to be especially difficult to maintain. Data taken from the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey found that those who were in mixed-religion families were three times more likely to be divorced than those who were of the same faith (PDF).

Miami Heat basketball star Dwayne Wade was granted temporary custody of his two sons last week by a Chicago judge, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Heat's marquee player, a South Side native, is in the midst of an ugly divorce and custody battle with estranged wife and high school sweetheart Siohvaughn Wade.

Specifically, the ruling grants Dwayne Wade "physical possession" of the boys in response to a request for an emergency order filed by his Illinois family law attorney alleging "continual interference" by his wife. 

Marriage and divorce experts say marriages usually fall apart in the first few years or right after children leave the home, but not after several decades of marriage. That's why Michal Doman, a divorce attorney in Chicago, told Chicago Tribune reporters that Tipper and Al Gore's separation after 40 years is very rare:

"A lot of times you make it through while the kids are in school. Then once the youngest goes off to college, the couples look at each other and say, 'What do we have?' Forty years, though, that's hard to explain."

Former Vice President Al Gore and wife Tipper Gore recently announced their intention to separate, shocking friends and associates who believed their marriage was especially strong.

Representing the estranged wife of an already wealthy basketball superstar about to sign a multimillion-dollar contract might seem like a dream to most divorce attorneys in Chicago. But NBC Miami suggests that maybe Siohvaughn Wade, estranged wife of Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade, isn't worth the hassle

Marsha Fisher, the most recent Illinois family lawyer to represent Siohvaughn Wade in her divorce case, has dumped the client due to "irreconcilable differences." The irony is so thick, it's not even worth pointing out.

But this is hardly an isolated case of an attorney-client personality conflict, since Marsha Fisher is the eighth divorce lawyer (out of nine total) to dump her as a client.

Predicting Divorce: 15 Red Flags

Determining whether or not your marriage is headed for divorce is not an exact science, a Daily Beast article has identified 15 red flags of a marriage headed for the dustbin. On the bright side, the US divorce rate has leveled of and fallen to somewhere between 40 and 50 percent; that's not excellent but shows a positive trend.

Some of the findings make total sense, such as the likelihood that financial disagreements often sink marriages. The "State of Our Unions 2009" study from the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project found that couples who argue over money once a week are 30 percent more likely to call divorce attorneys in Chicago.