The Chicago Family Law Blog

August 2010 Archives

Actor Michael Douglas and ex-wife Diandra Douglas ended their marriage a decade ago. But a follow-up to the popular 1980s film "Wall Street" appropriately titled "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" has prompted them to lawyer-up once again, the BBC reported.

Diandra is seeking half the earnings from the forthcoming film, which reprises the role of greedy antihero Gordon Gekko. She claims a clause in their divorce settlement entitles her to a portion of earnings from "spin-offs" of his films. But is the film is a "spin-off" or, as attorneys for Michael Douglas claim, merely a sequel?

This is a unique case rooted in entertainment law, but a divorce attorney in Chicago could better explain how an Illinois court would interpret such language.

Divorce Attorney: Tiger Woods Overpaid Elin Nordegren

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First let's set aside rumors that Elin Nordegren secured a divorce settlement from Tiger Woods for the astronomical sum of $700 million; it actually was closer to the still-high amount of $100 million (based on estimates). Still, some attorneys say even that much was way too much, a CBS News article reported. 

I'm sure plenty of Chicago family law attorneys have their own opinions but one divorce attorney, Raoul Felder, said he believes Elin Nordegren made off like a bandit.

He said the high settlement (which he believes is too high) can be attributable to Tiger Woods' desperate situation at the time and lack of public support. The real settlement amount, which he believes was somewhere between $100 million and $500 million, is confidential:

Woman Charged With Faking Pregnancy In Child Support Scam

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A woman in the Seattle area faces charges of theft and perjury after allegedly faking pregnancy and bilking a man out of thousands of dollars in child support payments, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported.

According to King County prosecutors, Federal Way resident Carmen Lynn Johnsen told her then-boyfriend in December 2008 that she was pregnant and that he was the father. She took pregnancy tests one month later, showing she was not pregnant, but prosecutors said she kept that to herself.

It must be noted that DNA tests used to determine paternity are extremely accurate and in any event, it may be a good idea to consult with an Illinois family lawyer first before agreeing to child support payments.

Joe and Katherine Jackson Divorcing

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The Daily Mail reported on a as-of-yet unsubstantiated rumor that the parents of the late "King of Pop" Michael Jackson, Joe and Katherine Jackson, are divorced after 60 years of marriage. They were separated in 2005 and have been living apart ever since but Katherine Jackson allegedly said she has had enough of his reportedly cruel ways.

A history of emotional or physical spousal abuse usually doesn't help the case of that individual in a divorce proceeding. Chicago family law attorneys could better explain how such allegations might play out in their divorce (if it indeed is in the works). 

The 19th Century Case That Formed Basis Of Custody Law

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Many of our laws and statutes are based on centuries-old English customs and are known as common law, such as those forbidding murder and theft, as outlined by LawBrain. But others take time to develop, often through the court system, and often can be traced back to specific stories.

The divorce and custody dispute of a New York couple married in 1804, for example, set the groundwork for U.S. child custody law, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. Quite a bit has changed in the 200 years since, but the story provides a glimpse into the origins of current custody law.

Survey: Most Americans Convinced They Married Right Person

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Maybe it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that most of the 1,004 adult Americans polled by a recent survey said they married the right person, according to an Associated Press article published in The Vancouver Sun. Otherwise, would they still be married? But only two-thirds said their spouse was their "soul mate," according to the poll.

While 97 percent of the men and 94 percent of the women in a Marist poll said they believe they got hitched to the right person, only 66 percent said they believed that person was destined to be their soul mate. Still, that figure is quite a bit higher than the estimated 50 percent of Chicago couples, for example, that eventually will need the services of an Illinois family lawyer.

Chicago father and suspected deadbeat Ronald "Boobie" McIntyre broke both legs after jumping from a third-story window after the Cook County sheriff's officers tried to arrest him for unpaid child support, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

The 35-year-old father owes $5,979.66 in court-ordered support for his children, according to police. He also has been arrested 14 times and has 80 unrelated criminal convictions, according to court records. So while his Illinois family law attorney may try to help give him some wiggle room, his chances at leniency by a family court judge don't look good.

Ohio man Maurice Lyons was apprehended and charge with aggravated murder after he allegedly stabbed wife Tonya Hunter 17 times, took her car and left her 4-year-old son on the side of the road, CBS News reported. The victim was a marriage counselor but tragically didn't realize her own marriage problems until it was too late.

This just shows how hard it can be for domestic violence victims to face reality and leave their abusers. Violent spouses rarely if ever change; so you may want to consult with a divorce attorney in Chicago if you feel threatened by your partner.

Maurice Lyons is in jail on $8 million bond. He faces the death penalty; although his criminal defense attorney argues that his client has psychiatric problems.

Will California's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Affect Illinois?

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Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled recently that the voter-approved measure banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. And while it's still in legal limbo, same sex couples theoretically have the right to marry in California.

But gay and lesbian couples in Chicago that want to get hitched in California may need to wait a while, as Chicago family law attorneys also would advise. The ruling already has been appealed to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals by backers of Proposition 8 (Prop 8), the measure voted into law on 2008.

Prop 8 received most of its financial backing from the Mormon church, which ironically was persecuted for its own particularly unpopular marriage customs in the 19th Century. The church eventually banned polygamy in 1890 so that Utah could join the union, according to

Lynn France Alerted To Husband's Bigamy Via Facebook

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Facebook-assisted news of infidelity and other evidence that can effectively end a marriage and help divorce attorneys in Chicago win their case are nothing new. But Cleveland woman Lynn France's Facebook discovery that her husband married another woman, as reported by the Associated Press, certainly is newsworthy.

The wife and mother of two young children already suspected her husband, John France, was having an affair. She searched for the suspected other woman on Facebook and saw wedding pictures of her estranged husband and his new wife at Walt Disney World:

"I was numb with shock, to tell you the truth. There was like an album of 200 pictures on there. Their whole wedding."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Cook County Sheriff's Unit Targets Deadbeat Parents

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As reported by CBS News Chicago, a relatively new squad of Chicago-area police officers known as the Cook County Sheriff's Child Support Enforcement Unit specifically tracks down and often arrests child support scofflaws.

Sometimes even the most favorable child support order brokered by the most skilled divorce attorney in Chicago isn't enough. The state's Dept. of Child Support Services often can help by garnishing wages or other methods.

Divorce & Child Custody: A More Collaborative Approach

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Several states are considering various pieces of legislation, according to the Christian Science Monitor, including a Massachusetts "father's rights" bill seeking to create the presumption of joint custody. Other states are mulling laws that would limit the duration of alimony payments.

And yet, as Chicago family law attorneys also would point out, the article highlights three fundamental problems unlikely to be addressed by new legislation that usually cause the most tension for families going through divorce:    

  1. Litigation costs of child custody and alimony disputes
  2. Deferring control of child care and financial decisions to the courts
  3. Extra stress placed on the children as a result of the antagonism caused by litigation

Woman Who Starved Daughter Won't Be Kept From Newborn

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A Seattle-area court denied prosecutors' request for an order to prevent a pregnant woman convicted of starving her infant child from having contact with her newborn, due in less than one month, the Seattle times reported. Brittainy and Samuel Labberton's two children were removed from the couple's custody after their infant was found starving; the mother also had threatened to kill their older child.

Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell told the court that Brittainy Labberton starved her baby because she thought the dangerously underweight child was getting fat. The homeless couple hopes to get their children back as they await the birth of their third.

Typically, courts base such decisions on the best interests of the child, as an Illinois family lawyer also would say.