July 2010 News: The Chicago Family Law Blog

The Chicago Family Law Blog

July 2010 Archives

It's not even worth mentioning anymore when older men date or even marry women less than half their age (Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's penchant for barely legal girlfriends is a prime example). But for some reason we still find it outrageous when older women, also known as "cougars," hook up with much-younger men.

Recent cougar news involves 50-year-old Linda Hogan's engagement to 21-year-old bleach-blonde Charlie Hill, according to celebrity gossip and news site Popeater.com. Linda Hogan's claim to fame is her former marriage to retired professional wrestler Hulk Hogan; the couple has a daughter who is one year older than Linda Hogan's new beau.

Orange County Superior Court Commissioner Thomas Schulte ruled that celebrity mechanic and former Sandra Bullock hubby Jesse James is entitled to physical custody of daughter Sunny and can take her from California to his new home in Texas, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Six-year-old Sunny's mother, former porn actress Janine Lindemulder, was granted extended time with her daughter when the girl is on vacation from school. She had been granted shared physical and legal custody two years ago, but modified the order after she was convicted of tax evasion.

Richard Masson, Janine Lindemulder's attorney, asked the judge if he'd reconsider if his client also moved to Texas, prompting her to shout, "I'll move, I'll move!" Commissioner Thomas Schulte said he'd reconsider.

Successful and well-known architect Lucien Lagrange worked alongside wife Jessica Lagrange, who ran her own interior design practice, until he filed for divorce last October, as reported by the Sun-Times. But his recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which throws a financial monkey wrench into the divorce proceedings, has made his estranged wife very suspicious.

His firm, Lagrange Architects Ltd., cites debts between $1 million and $10 million and assets in the same general range. He claims a lack new contracts and unpaid commission for work in Saudi Arabia have led him to bankruptcy.

But Eunice Ward, Jessica Lagrange's divorce attorney in Chicago, said the bankruptcy filing was a complete surprise for her and her client. She said they are "investigating the filing" and what impact it will have on the divorced proceedings.

Divorce and child custody proceedings are stressful, anyone who's gone through the process would tell you, and this stress often carries over into the workplace. But workers can't afford to risk losing their jobs in the current economy, especially when considering the costs associated with a divorce and custody case, as a Kansas City Star article explores.

Fortunately it seems as though the legal community is paying attention.

Mitchell Karpf, who chairs the American Bar Association's Section of Family Law, organized a Families Matter Symposium last month as a way of addressing workplace stress and other concerns. It's likely that a few Chicago family law attorneys were in attendance.

Most Illinois state officials already offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits to their employees, on par with those extended to state treasury employees by Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias' recent executive order, according to the State Journal-Register.

The June 13 executive order allows gay and lesbian treasury employees to take time off in relation to the medical needs of their same-sex partners, in line with the rights of heterosexual employees under the Family Medical Leave Act. The department has 180 employees total.

If you're in a committed domestic partnership and would like more information about what this means legally, you might consider meeting with an Illinois family lawyer

An article by the Maryland Daily Record (subscription), republished by the Family Law Prof Blog, tells the "shaggy dog" story of a divorced couple that was granted joint custody of their Lhaso Apso, Lucky. Usually, as explained by FindLaw, the law treats family dogs much like "a table or a lamp" when divorcing couples divvy up marital property.

So this is quite an unusual case.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a similar court order among Illinois' family court records, but Chicago family law attorneys might have a better handle on how the state's courts deal with family pets.

Mel Gibson, the actor and director famous for the "Lethal Weapon" series, is under investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept. on allegations that he physically abused ex-flame Oksana Grigorieva, Fox News reported. He could serve as many as four years in prison if charged and convicted for felony assault.

The two have an 8-month-old daughter, Lucia Gibson, and are in the middle of a bitter custody battle. And as any Illinois family lawyer would attest, a domestic abuse conviction (especially on felony charges) would not exactly help the "Passion of the Christ" director's odds of gaining custody of his daughter.  

Kelsey Grammer and estranged wife Camille Donatacci have cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for their divorce. But that hasn't stopped the gossip columnists from speculating about the reasons for the split, according the New York Daily News. The couple is calling it quits after 13 years of marriage.

The former "Frasier" and "Cheers" star said the marriage failed simply because there were "a few things" the couple was unable to work out. Although it appears that the rumors are just rumors, Chicago family law attorneys would tell you the real reasons for a divorce impact decisions such as alimony and child custody.

Following closely behind LeBron James' overwrought announcement of his free agency decision last week on ESPN, Washington, D.C. attorney Leicester Bryce Stovell made is own announcement. He claims he is King James' biological father and is suing him and his mother for alleged fraud, TMZ reported.

He is seeking $4 million in damages for the alleged cover-up of his alleged paternity by the newly signed Miami Heat player's mother, Gloria James. He claims he had "consensual sexual relations" with Gloria James in 1984 in his lawsuit and also is seeking a paternity test.

Most Chicago family law attorneys likely would call this is an unusual case, although wealthy and high-profile celebrities often attract litigation. 

A child custody battle pitting an adoptive Southern California woman against an Ohio man she claims doesn't have a relationship with the child shows how messy interstate family law issues can be, as covered by the Associated Press. Judges and attorneys in Orange County, California and in Montgomery County, Ohio hashed out the details via teleconference.

After much debate and discussion, it was decided that Ohio's jurisdiction takes precedence. An Illinois family law attorney can fully explain how interstate custody disputes are handled, although each one is unique.

The unnamed biological father of the 2-year-old child is seeking custody but allegedly has not made an effort to be an involved parent. Adoptive mother Stacey Doss has been raising the girl ever since she was an infant and believes the child would be better off with the only parent figure she has ever known.

Although it's tough to root for a father who was so delinquent in his child support payments that he was sentenced to six months in jail, the New York Times story of deadbeat Chicago dad-turned-master gardener Adolf Jerger is inspiring.

He entered the Cook County Jail in February and is scheduled for release in August. While Chicago family law attorneys would advise their clients to do everything in their power to pay court-ordered child support, it's nice to know that even jail can offer something positive.   

Adolf Jerger is on his way to earning his master gardener certificate, along with 21 other inmates. The Chicago-area jail has offered training courses in horticulture, gardening and landscaping to nonviolent offenders for nearly 20 years; more than 200 inmates have completed the program.

More than 200,000 children under the age of 18 are living in households headed by their grandparents, according to the Illinois Dept. on Aging. Milly Kaiser, a life educator with the University of Illinois Extension, told Suburban Journals that this number has increased by more than 50 percent in Illinois over the past 13 years.

Older adults find themselves in the position of raising their children's children for a variety of reasons and circumstances. In order to ensure the child's needs are properly taken care of, it helps to contact an Illinois family law attorney and establish legal guardianship.

The Dept. of Aging lists the following reasons why grandparents often find themselves raising their grandchildren: Abuse, neglect, substance abuse, unemployment, incarceration and death.