The Chicago Family Law Blog

January 2011 Archives

Child Custody Dispute Focuses On Son's Religious Upbringing

Elina Margolina and Nelson Derbigny divorced in 2007 and are currently in trial to settle a custody dispute over their 8-year-old son in Cook County Circuit Court. Margolina, who is in her 30s, wants sole custody of their son and seeks to dissolve a previous joint custody agreement with her ex-husband.

Margolina became a devout Hasidic Jew after the divorce and wants to raise their son under the religion's traditions. She claims Derbigny's refusal to maintain a kosher home and guarantee that their son will wear a yarmulke to school will damage the 8-year-old's religious upbringing.

But Derbigny, 52, argued that he should get sole custody because Margolina's stringent expectations for the boy's religious upbringing are keeping Derbigny from being a part of their son's life.

Newborn Infant Left At Gerarld Croarkin's Doorstep

Authorities reported a newborn baby was found on the doorstep of a Patrolman Gerald Croarkin’s home in northwest Indiana. The infant, a 5-pound 15-ounce girl, had been wrapped in a blanket and fleece sweatshirt, placed inside a cardboard box, and even had her umbilical cord still attached and unclamped.

Investigators presume she was born only a few hours prior to being left with the Croarkins, according to the Chicago Tribune. Merrilliville Detective George Fields said it was around 7 degrees outside when Gerarld Croarkin’s wife, Angie, found the infant that evening. The baby girl, whom nurses have named Olivia, is currently being cared for at a local hospital and appears to be healthy.

Oprah Winfrey Reveals Half-Sister She Never Knew About

Chicago locals may have heard about Oprah Winfrey recently talk about her half-sister Patricia, whom Winfrey said she never knew about until this past October. According to Reuters, Winfrey revealed to her audience on her daytime television program "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that she and Patricia share the same birth mother, Vernita Lee.

Patricia appeared at Winfrey's show and shared that she had grown in up foster homes since she was seven years old. Lee had apparently given Patricia up for adoption because she was concerned she would not be able to get off welfare if she had a second child. Winfrey, who was then nine years old, said she was not even aware that her mother had been pregnant because she was living with her father at the time.

Jesse James Engaged to Kat Von D: Prenup Up Next?

Big news in the Hollywood version of ex-husbands behaving badly. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the baddest ex of them all, Sandra Bullock's former husband, Jesse James is going to try it again. James is reportedly engaged to tattoo artist and LA Ink star Kat Von D (real name, Katherine von Drachenberg).

Under the heading of "why should Chicago care about the romantic musical chairs in Hollywood," anyone considering marrying when they carry personal wealth or property into the union should think about a prenuptial contract. A prenup, so a part of our pop culture make-up these days, is often dismissed by "regular" people as something only folks like Kat Von D should think about. This is not always the case.

Carlina White Reunited With Biological Parents After 23 Years

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Some Chicago locals may have heard the story of Carlina White, who had been kidnapped as a 19-day-old infant and reunited with her biological parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, at the age of 23. According to the Associated Press, a woman dressed as a nurse abducted White in 1987 after her parents took her to Harlem Hospital to get checked for a fever. No suspects were ever arrested.

White said she grew up in Connecticut under the name Nejdra Nance and was raised by a violent drug addict. She had also assumed for a long time that she was not the woman's real daughter. White's supposed mother could not even provide a birth certificate for her when she became pregnant at 16 and sought prenatal care.

Thanks to a Surrogate, Elton John is a Dad

Any Elton John fans in Chicago were probably interested in the news that the legendary rocker and his husband, David Furnish, were blessed by the birth of their son Zachary at the end of December. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the little one was born thanks to a surrogate and through the assistance of the Center for Surrogate Parenting in Encino, California.

Like so many other couples, becoming a parent was important to John. He even recently told a Sun-Times reporter, "becoming a father is something I want so badly, and so does David. We will make it happen one way or another!" Sometimes, the path to parenthood isn't as easy or as obvious for some, as it is for others. John and Furnish also reportedly attempted to adopt a child from the Ukraine, but were turned down, ostensibly due to John's age.

Sarah Ellyn Farley: Who Has Rights To Her Estate?

Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O'Connor has been placed in the middle of a dispute regarding the estate of former partner Sarah Ellyn Farley, who worked at the firm's Chicago office. Farley, 37, died of cancer last September, and her parents claimed they were entitled to receive the money from their daughter's profit-sharing account after her death.

However, The ABA Law Journal reported Farley's wife, Jennifer Tobits, argued that she had the rights to the proceeds of Farley's account, considering the two were legally married in Toronto, in 2006. The case has brought about the question of whether a same-sex marriage that is legal in one jurisdiction should also be acknowledged as valid in another jurisdiction that does not permit same-sex marriage.

Facebook Posts Used As Main Evidence In Divorce Cases

Two out of three attorneys are now using Facebook as a primary source of evidence in separation and divorce cases, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. My Fox Chicago reported divorce lawyer Norman Levin says that he used evidence from the popular social media site in custody disputes.

Levin said he would look over the Facebook pages of parents who claim they are "better" but have photos where they appear naked or at a party. He added that most of the time he did not even need to "friend" (create a direct connection) with the parent he was investigating. If he became "friends" with their friends, Levin would immediately have access to the parents' personal information.

David Arquette Checks In To Rehab

Actor David Arquette checked himself in to a rehab over New Year's weekend after acknowledging his problem with alcohol. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Arquette's estranged wife and actress Courteney Cox, helped convince him that it was the right decision to make.

"He was a total mess," said one source about David Arquette.

Arquette had apparently suffered from alcoholism for a while and had begun drinking heavily even before his separation with Courteney Cox. The source revealed David Arquette was out late this past weekend celebrating New Year's at a Los Angeles strip club. It was then that Arquette "realized he had to get help," said the source.