The Chicago Family Law Blog

September 2012 Archives

Weight Loss Clauses, Cheating Clauses, and Other Crazy Prenups

Crazy? Or brilliant? Sure, a weight loss clause in a prenup is demeaning, and a clause that pays bonuses based on the numbers of babies birthed is a bit unfair. But when two intelligent adults come to an agreement on marital expectations, isn't that exactly the point of a prenuptial agreement?

The New York Post recently interviewed a divorce lawyer who described some of the more preposterous provisions of prenups she's put together for clients -- for example, a payout for the wife if the husband cheats, and the wife not being allowed to cut her hair.

One truly absurd prenup sought to force the wife to have an abortion if pregnancy occurred, as the husband was already in his 40s and did not wish to have children, the lawyer told the Post.

Is that even legal?

Divorce-Probability Study: It's the Woman's Job to Cook and Clean

An interesting study confirms what many men of older generations have always maintained: The woman should be the one in the kitchen. That's because a gender-equal couple risks a much higher probability of divorce.

The study found that in "modern" relationships, in which household chores are split approximately 50/50, the divorce rate was about 50 percent higher than for relationships in which the woman handled the majority of the chores.

The study, however, was conducted in Norway. It's not clear how the results would translate with regard to American couples.

Legal U: No Name, No Shame: IL's Safe Haven Law

We’ve all heard the stories of babies left in dumpsters to die. It’s a depressing and preventable problem that Illinois sought to address with the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act of 2001. The law allows a parent to relinquish custody of her child, within 30 days of birth, to any Safe Haven location in the state. This includes police stations, fire stations, and hospitals.

The entire process is anonymous and completely legal. According to the Chicago Tribune, in the first 10 years of the law, 64 newborns have been left at safe havens.

How Culpable is a Mother for Boyfriend's Abuse of Her Child?

Cathleen A. Koch faces up to 14 years in prison for aggravated domestic battery and she didn't even lay a hand on the victim, her then 23-month-old daughter, reports the Daily Herald. Her crime was far more passive: Koch, 30, of Elgin, stood by while her toddler was viciously beaten by her abusive boyfriend, and then helped cover his tracks when he tried to escape.

To be sure, there are mitigating factors. Signs point to an abusive relationship between Koch and her ex-boyfriend, James Cooper, 29. Koch's mother testified that Koch had been in abusive relationships for about 12 years. Since the tragic incident in October 2010, she has sought counseling and has been an attentive mother to her other child, a 10-month-old boy.

Divorce Coaches: What Do They Do? Are They Worth It?

Divorce can be difficult. Some view it as a war of attrition, with both sides pushing their lawyers to fight to the death over such vital victories as the vacuum cleaner and the pumpkin garden in the back yard.

But in other divorce cases, the process has become more touchy-feely. Along with brutish litigation, we have the option of mediation. Along with depositions, we have settlement conferences. And now, along with lawyers, we have "divorce coaches" and self-help solutions to the paperwork problem.

Your Feet Are Cold For a Reason; Don't Wed if You Doubt

Your pending nuptials are just around the corner. He's kinda perfect. Kinda. Yet you can't help but feel like there's something fleeting, something not quite eternal, about your love.


Yeah, we know. Momma said it was just cold feet. Everyone gets cold feet. However, according to a new study done by the University of California, Los Angeles, 19% of women with cold feet ended up divorced within four years. Only 8% of those who were certain ended up with negated nuptials, reports USA Today.

Financial Tips for the Days After the Divorce

Many people see the time immediately after a divorce as the time to reinvent themselves. They go on a shopping spree, get a new car, and completely ignore principles of fiscal responsibility. It's understandable. This is your chance at a new life of freedom and fun. After years of suffering in an unhappy marriage, the phrase "[Expletive] it, it's Vegas" seems to rule your world.

Go out and buy that mid-life crisis gift. This is a time to celebrate, reward yourself, and figure out who you are as a single person. However, adhering to some, if not most, of these principles will keep you from putting yourself in an inescapable pit of debt.

Lawyer's Trainwreck Marriage Shows Need for Prenups, Planning

Amour fou. Crazy love. Smitten. These are all terms to describe that feeling when you fall blindly in love in an instant. It can be the greatest feeling in the world while it lasts, but it can also blind you to reality.

The Sun-Times shares the story of Christian, an attorney who fell quick and fell hard. At age 30, he met a 25-year-old dancer. She was gorgeous, "exotic," and had an "engaging personality," he told the paper. They got married six months later.

Lessons from a 'Gossip Girl': International Joint Custody Stinks

In a way, the ruling, and the underlying law, makes sense. If one parent is legally stuck in another country, and cannot travel back and forth, then the movable parent should be the one to make the commute while the stuck parent covers the cost. It's a fair compromise. It allows both parents to have a relationship with the children.

Still, it sucks. Granted, the alternatives are even less desirable. You could take away custody from one parent. You could also shuttle the kids back and forth on a commercial flight every two weeks. Neither are better options for a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old.

Fixing Your Finances: Get a Postnuptial Agreement

So, you didn't take our advice. Bad move. Though you neglected to put a prenuptial agreement in place prior to your grand and glorious wedding, there's still a glimmer of hope for financial security in the form of a postnuptial agreement.

A postnuptial agreement is simply a prenuptial agreement signed after the pomp and circumstance of your wedding. Much like a prenup, it defines each party's separate assets and provides clarification and security in the event of a divorce. Note that the longer you have been married, the more entangled your assets become. Getting divorced after a year is much easier than getting divorced after 10 years and three kids. A postnup clears up the confusion that comes with 10 years of asset commingling.

The Real Lesson From Camille and Kelsey Grammer's Divorce: Prenup

In 1997, Kelsey Grammer was in the midst of his "Frasier" fame. He had also appeared as the same character in the show "Cheers" back in the 1980s. He had a production company, Grammnet, that was producing quality programming. He also married a former Playboy model, Camille Donatacci.

At that point in their lives, Kelsey had already achieved fame and fortune. He was worth millions. Camille had also achieved some fame, including appearing in a few music videos, working on MTV, and appearing in Playboy.

Learning From Seal and Heidi: Tips For Dating While Divorcing

Things are getting crazy between Seal and his soon-to-be ex-wife Heidi Klum. What started out as a celebrity divorce with an ordinary custody battle has now turned into a dog fight over a dispute over common assets and whether or not Heidi is "fornicating with the help," reports the Huffington Post.

Seal is hurt. His former spouse of seven years has been dating her bodyguard for three months. The couple announced their separation back in January and filed for divorce in April. The revelation of her new relationship before the divorce was finalized prompted the ugly remarks and is leading to an even more contentious split.