December 2012 News: The Chicago Family Law Blog

The Chicago Family Law Blog

December 2012 Archives

Fire Leads to Two Dead Toddlers; Two Charged Adults

It started with an unpaid gas bill. Tatiana Meakens' attorney blamed the fire on the conditions imposed upon Meakens and her family on the landlord, who she argued cut off the gas as part of an attempt to evict the family at Christmas time. The landlord, Daniel Spaulding, told FOX Chicago that the gas was turned off by People's Gas, and the meter removed, because Meakens had not paid her bill. He tried to discuss the matter with the gas company but was unable to because he was not on the bill.

He did, however, warn her not to use space heaters due to the fire risk.

It wasn't exactly a space heater that led to the fire. It was a hot plate, which was being used to heat the children's bedroom. Both Javaris, 2, and Jariyah, 3, died in the fire. Darnell, 7, and Marquis, 4, escaped the blaze.

Teen Allegedly Throws a Baby in the Trash; No Charges Filed Yet

There are few things more tragic in this world than a dead baby resulting from a teen pregnancy. This is made even more so by the sheer preventability of these situations by birth control, parental attention, adoption, and safe haven laws.

Late last week, a teen showed up to the hospital with “complications.” Of course, it was going to be obvious to any medical professional that she had recently given birth. She admitted that she had done so on Thursday of last week, two days before going to the hospital, reports ABC Chicago.

Are Schools Legally Responsible for Injuries From School Shootings?

Some might say that we’re living in a new reality post-Columbine, post-Virginia Tech, and more recently, post-Sandy Hook. Sadly, while mass murder isn’t a new concept (see the origins of “going postal” for a prime example), the recent spate of school shootings should have educational institutions worried. Many have implemented new security measures and called for other reforms to reduce the likelihood of repeat occurrences.

Another question, which unfortunately must be asked, is what is the school’s liability in these situations? Often, the possibility of liability can provide additional incentive to increase safety measures.

We’re not implying that schools don’t care or aren’t already doing everything that they can. However, a financial incentive might help to free up additional funding from state and local governments which in turn might increase student safety.

Can a school, and by extension, the city and state, be held liable?

Helping Kids Cope With Divorce? Try Sesame Street and These Tips

Death. Incarceration. Race. Sesame Street has never shied away from the tough issues. One issue they haven’t addressed, however, is divorce.

According to Time, they tried once before. In that quickly shelved segment, Snuffleupagus, a.k.a. Snuffy, discussed his parents’ impending divorce between sniffles to Big Bird. Daddy was moving out the cave because of something called a divorce. Big Bird and Snuffy were confused. The toddlers that made up the focus group were traumatized, and asked if their parents were going to get divorced as well.

Ouch.

The Worst Idea Ever? A Consource

Divorce can be a very expensive proposition. Two lawyers, court fees, a new residence, moving costs, and various other expenses mean that for many, it's going to dramatically damage your financial situation, if not outright destroy it. It will also dramatically disrupt the lives of your children.

What's the solution? Dr. Keith Ablow suggests to Fox News that couples consider a "consource" instead. What is this newfangled solution? It's cohabitation for formerly married couples. In short, you end the romantic part of your marriage while sustaining the platonic friendship, household, and possibly even the marital bedroom (without the hanky-panky) for the sake of the children. Saving money is an added bonus.

Los Angeles Laker Steve Nash Fights to Keep Kids in Arizona

This might be the oddest custody dispute in recent memory. Two time MVP and perennial NBA All-Star Steve Nash, of the Los Angeles Lakers, is fighting his ex-wife over her plans to move his children closer to him, reports TMZ. Ironically, Canadian-born Nash cited Los Angeles' proximity to Phoenix as his reason for choosing the Lakers over other suitors, including the Toronto Raptors. 

Normally, a custody battle is keep a parent from moving the children further from their parents. This battle is allegedly being fought to keep them away. Why? Well, because of a gag order in the case, the exact reasons may remain unknown. TMZ speculates that it may have something to do with child support. A less cynical explanation might be that he's trying to avoid uprooting the children.

Happy Holidays are Coming, but Parents Have Different Religions

It's the season of holidays, but newly-divorced parents are in the midst of a battle about their child's future. While joint physical custody seems like a certainly, the former couple cannot agree on spiritual issues. Momma is Orthodox Jewish from Brooklyn and Poppa is a born-again Christian from Texas. Though their lawyers are pretty sure that this is merely an excuse to fight, neither side is willing to budge.

That means the holidays won't be very happy. The solution is either more time in court or a compromise between the parents.