September 2010 News: The Chicago Family Law Blog

The Chicago Family Law Blog

September 2010 Archives

No one goes into a marriage expecting it will end in divorce, even if the statistics don't exactly provide encouragement. But the odds of divorce are significantly higher for those whose own parents were divorced, despite their hopes for a relationship "until death," CNN reported. Newlyweds Cory and Zulema Green, both products of broken homes, hope they'll beat the odds.

Zulema Green said her mother had been divorced three times by the time she was 12 but she expressed optimism that things will be different in her marriage:

"I figured I can get married. I can do it right."

Lori and Craig Gertz are still grieving over the loss of their 7-year-old adopted daughter, Ellie, who now lives with another family 1,700 miles away in Washington State, according to the Chicago Tribune. They weren't ruled unfit parents and the child wasn't taken away from them.

It just became clear to the couple, who has two natural born children as well, that Ellie wouldn't work out in their family. 

It turned out that Ellie has serious mental problems that most likely were caused by her birth mother's admitted use of crack cocaine and PCP during her pregnancy. Her health records didn't indicate her destructive habits, which is why the Gertzes were so confused by her erratic and often violent behavior. The birth mother would commit suicide a few years later.

The increasingly nasty divorce of Frank McCourt and his estranged wife Jamie McCourt has turned to the ever-confusing question of who will own the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, according to an unnamed source cited by the Associated Press.

While Jamie McCourt claims she's entitled to part ownership of the team, estranged hubby Frank McCourt claims he is the sole owner of the struggling Dodgers. But the anonymous source said it may be decided in mediation.

Like in California, divorcing Illinois couples also have the option to resolve disputes through mediation, in which the parties try to reach a compromise outside the courtroom but with their Chicago family law attorneys available as counsel.

If you marry a dancer instead of a nuclear engineer, are you more or less likely to need the services of a divorce attorney in Chicago? What sounds like a rhetorical question was put to the test in a new study that breaks down divorce rates by occupation, as reported by The Washington Post.

The study was conducted by Radford University professor Michael Aamodt and will be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. His prior research mostly concerned the personalities of police officers, including one in which he debunked the myth that police officers have a higher-than-average suicide rate.

Actor Morgan Freeman, who won an Oscar for 2004's "Million Dollar Baby," and now ex-wife Myrna Colley-Lee have finalized their divorce in Mississippi, according to the Associated Press. While the terms of the settlement, the divorce decree was entered on Sept. 15, according to Morgan Freeman's attorney William R. Wright:

"It was done without a trial. Everybody is glad it's over."

Divorces rarely make it to trial and usually are resolved out of court, as most divorce attorneys in Chicago would attest. Divorcing parties typically either negotiate directly with the help of their attorneys, resolve disputes through mediation or arbitration, or engage in a collaborative family law process, as FindLaw explains. 

The child custody dispute in Cook County Circuit Court between Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and ex-wife Siovaughn Wade is in full swing, as the Chicago Tribune reported. And since the couple can't seem to agree on much of anything, it promises to get ugly.

Both Dwyane Wade and Siovaughn Wade, whose divorce was finally granted in June, are seeking sole custody of their two boys, ages 3 and 8.

James Pritkin, a divorce attorney in Chicago representing the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, attempted to paint a picture of Siovaughn Wade as irresponsible and erratic. He asked questions about her relationships, confrontations with past attorneys and court officials and her parenting decisions.

Orlando Magic basketball star Dwight Howard is the subject of complaints by ex-girlfriend and mother of his baby Royce Reed, according to celebrity news and gossip site TMZ. She said her ex regularly flakes out on scheduled visitations with their 2-year-old son and wants the court to appoint someone to supervise him whenever he has custody of their child.

Royce Reed, a former NBA dancer who was once slated to appear on the VH1 reality series "NBA Wives," claims Dwight Howard regularly misses visitations and is a deadbeat. You don't need an Illinois family law attorney to tell you that missing scheduled visitations doesn't help your case when revisiting custody arrangements in court.

While gay-rights activist Rick Garcia said Senate Bill 1716 has enough votes among state lawmakers to get passed, according to the Alton Telegraph, the sponsor of the bill that would allow civil unions said he's not so sure.

Civil unions would give same-sex partners the exact same rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples, according to reporters. While that sounds a lot like marriage, a Chicago family law attorney could better explain how the two compare.

Chicago's own Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat star basketball player, returned to a Chicago courthouse on Wednesday to square off against ex-wife Siohvaughn Wade for custody of their two sons, according to USA Today.

The Illinois family law attorney appointed to represent the 8- and 3-year-old boys filed a pretrial memo explaining the recommendations he plans to make at trial, including a suggestion that Siohvaughn Wade agree to "extensive therapy."

The trial is expected to last until about Sept. 20; Dwyane Wade is expected to report to the Miami Heat training camp on Sept. 28.

Looking At Divorce As An Opportunity

An article in the Toronto Sun highlights some recently divorced celebrities who have weathered the storm relatively well, including Tiger Wood's ex-wife Elin Nordegren. While the title of the story is "When Women are Better Off Divorced," it's not a reference to her 9-figure alimony.

As divorce attorneys in Chicago also may attest, divorce can either crush a newly single woman's will or provide an opportunity to recharge and embrace her new life. Elin Nordegren, who told People Magazine she feels "stronger than [she] ever has," said she first went through the stages of grief following Tiger Woods' reported infidelity.

While a majority of Chicago-area residents responding to a Chicago Tribune poll said they support civil unions for same-sex couples, the region remains divided on same-sex marriage, the Tribune reported. The newspaper and radio station WGN, which co-sponsored the poll, surveyed 800 heads of household from the six-county Chicago region.

You don't have to be an Illinois family law attorney to know that gay and lesbian couples currently don't have the right to get married in the state, but the laws are constantly in flux and public opinion is slowly shifting in favor.

Saul Hudson, who most people know as "Slash," filed for divorce from wife Perla Ferrar after nearly nine years of marriage, according to celebrity gossip site TMZ. The couple was married in October 2001 and separated on July 15 of this year.

TMZ cited unnamed sources as saying the breakup is "extremely acrimonious" and teased the story with the statement "it's gonna get ugly," but the relatively bland boilerplate language on court documents doesn't reveal much (PDF).

Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers may be having a lackluster year even though the team is shouldering a hefty $95.4 million team payroll (10th highest in the league according to ESPN). But the biggest liability for the Dodgers may be the bitter divorce of its co-owners, Jamie and Frank McCourt.

Accusations and insults have been flowing from both sides of the dispute for a while; but USA Today and other news sources reported that the McCourt divorce has only just now begun. And since both parties claim ownership of the storied baseball franchise, the couple's divorce may hold sway over its future.

The Dodgers organization is valued between $750 million and $1.5 billion, a fortune unheard of to most Chicago family law attorneys with respect to marital property.