The Chicago Family Law Blog

August 2012 Archives

How to Change Your Name During and After a Divorce

You've been free of his lies and treachery for months. Your divorce is about to be processed. Unfortunately, much like that filthy STD that his "secretary" gave him and he shared with you, something about him remains as a semi-permanent reminder of the pain: his last name.

You've considered keeping it. After all, it's been your last name for some time now. All of your vital records, your professional license, and even your birth certificate are now under your married name. Nonetheless, every time you sign that seven- (or however many) lettered abomination, you become nauseated.

It's time to move on.

How to Become a Foster Parent: The Costs and Benefits

You're probably wondering: What will caring for a foster child cost? Kids are expensive, right? Well, yes. And raising a kid, even temporarily, will cost some money out of pocket. However, the state does help out quite a bit.

In addition to the state benefits, there's also the possibility of tax deductions for expenses related to dependents, medical expenses, and child care. Really though, the main benefit is simply helping out a child that is coming from a truly screwed-up home and perhaps setting them up for a successful future.

Here's what you need to know about foster-parenting expenses:

How to Become a Foster Parent: The Qualifications

So you want to become a foster parent? Congratulations, and thank you. It's a very noble cause. Let's see if you qualify.

According to the Adoption Information Center of Illinois, the following qualifications are required:

How to Become a Foster Parent: The Application Process

Did you know that you can make a difference in the lives of many children, all without sending a dollar a month to a strange bearded man in Africa? Jokes aside, the State of Illinois needs more foster parents to provide temporary homes to kids displaced by abuse, neglect, or simply their parents' temporary inability to care for them.

These temporary parental figures provide stability and a nurturing home to kids that otherwise would be in a group home, homeless, or sometimes even worse: their parents' home.

How can you become a foster parent? Read on.

What We Can Learn from Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' Divorce

We'd imagine that Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries feel like their divorce is beginning to resemble a colonoscopy: an invasive pain in the butt that can't end quickly enough. Then again, Kris is pushing for a little more, according to the Daily Reporter.

Their 72-day marriage, and even more so their prolonged divorce, serve as a lesson about the worst-case scenario for nuptials gone wrong. The couple's initial divorce filing was in October 2011. It has now been about 10 months and they still haven't come close to finalizing it.

Rapists' Rights? What Happens When the Victim Gets Pregnant

A recent verbal miscue by a Missouri Congressman has sparked loads of criticism and hopefully some intelligent debate and reform. Nearly everyone has heard of Rep. Todd Akin's comment that women don't get pregnant from "legitimate" rape. The immediate response was forceful, angry, and in at least one case, incredibly insightful.

Shauna Prewitt, a self-described author and advocate, wrote an open letter on xoxojane.com addressing Rep. Akin's comments. As a mother of a child that was conceived through forcible rape, she was appalled by his comments. Instead of merely venting however, she also took the opportunity to point out that in the majority of states, there are no laws to restrict the custodial rights of rapist fathers.

Marriage License in Illinois ... or Elope to Vegas?

Love is in the air! You’ve met your soul mate or trophy spouse and now you want to make your relationship official. No, we don’t mean Facebook official. We mean official official.

Where do you start? Head to the county clerk’s office for whatever county in which the wedding will be held. You’ll need identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. You’ll also need to pay the fee, which is between $35 and $40 ($40 in Cook County). If you have been divorced in the last six months, you’ll need an official copy of your divorce decree.

Soldier, Scot's Int'l Custody Dispute Heads to U.S. Supreme Court

What country’s child custody law applies when parents reside in different countries? This fundamental question still has no clear answer. However, according to Reuters, the Supreme Court will finally get around to answering the question.

Jeffrey Chafin is a U.S. Army sergeant residing in Alabama. Lynne Chafin is a Scottish woman residing in Glasgow. Since 2007, Lynne and the couple’s daughter have lived in Scotland, apart from Jeffrey, due to the Jeffrey’s job with the military.

Legal Custody and Choosing Your Child's School

It's time for little Thurgood to return to school! He's grown up so fast, hasn't he? In fact, he'll be entering the seventh grade this year. Just yesterday, he was falling asleep in your lap while you perused the latest Supreme Court news.

The problem is, you still don't know what school he is going to attend. Thurgood's father wants the children to attend the closest public school, a cesspool that he once attended. He's tossing out meaningless words like "legacy" and "alma mater."

How to Officiate a Marriage in a Few Easy Steps

Your two best friends need someone to officiate their wedding. Priests are too religious for them. The groom's had a fear of judges ever since that incident we're no longer allowed to talk about. As for the county clerk, marking a lifetime commitment in the same way they'd apply for a driver's license lacks that certain je ne sais quoi, right?

So your friends need an alternative. How about you? By becoming an "ordained minister" via the Internet, or in real life, and filling out some paperwork, they can have someone they truly care about asking, "Are you sure you really want to marry him?" in front of the entire family.

ACLU Forces DCFS to Reduce Caseloads, Add More Staff

An agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Department of Children and Family Services should mean more investigators for DCFS and better protection for Illinois children, reports NBC Chicago. The agreement, which will require the hiring of more staff despite budge cutbacks, was part of litigation that dates back to 1991.

That 1991 case settled with an agreement to resolve ongoing issues with DCFS’ treatment of child abuse and neglect cases. The original problem was similar to the present one: understaffing. The agreement required that case workers be limited to 12 new cases per month for nine months out of the year and 15 new cases per month in three months out of the year.

Paula Cole's Cowboy and Alimony Laws in Illinois

Where is my John Wayne?
Where is my prairie song?
Where is my happy ending?
Where have all the cowboys gone?

Paula Cole's eternally relevant tune, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" is more than a morose song of sorrow about the pitfalls of country life. It is a sociological portrait of a typical country housewife. With the ever-climbing divorce rate slowed only by the destitute state of the economy, it is more important than ever to be aware of the rights of the child-rearing homemaker.

What is the Status of Open and Closed Adoption in Illinois?

It's been awhile since we've covered adoption on this blog. Back in June, we covered adoption for same sex couples on Father's Day. Though the article had a "two fathers" approach, the information is generally applicable, since the law does not distinguish between adoptive parents based on sexual preference.

One thing we did not address in that blogging masterpiece was the issue of open versus closed adoptions. Indeed, this is a pretty important consideration. Will your child know their birth parents growing up, or will you completely sever contact?

What is 'Separate Property' in a Divorce?

We've tip-toed around the issue a bit lately. We covered the splitting of debt in a divorce, including separate and joint debts. We've introduced the fabulous FindLaw Guide to Divorce and Property Division, which gives you an overview of the process.

However, what the guide and our previous coverage lack is a definition of what exactly is separate (or "non-marital") property in this fine state?