Every spouse has possessions they value more than others, and if divorce happens, these seemingly small differences will often take on a new significance when negotiating or litigating a property settlement. With most possessions, a level of detachment remains, even if a spouse does have an affinity for it in divorce. The same cannot be said for pets in most households, and many owners view pets as members of the family. Fortunately, Illinois is one of just a few states that has a law addressing the issue of pets in a divorce.
One woman wanted to prevent another occurrence of a sad situation she experienced at the end of her first marriage when her husband used her attachment to the family dog to get her to make concessions during divorce. When she decided to marry for a second time, she included the issue of pets in a prenuptial agreement so there would no question or fight about it if the marriage ended. Resolving this issue is a large concern for many divorcing couples, so it is important to understand how the law applies to these situations.
Illinois Pet Statute
Most animals that live in a household are there for companionship, and recognizing this distinction, the Illinois statute regarding pets and divorce only applies to pets that are considered companion animals and not those classified as service animals. Further, the animal must be a marital asset, meaning it belongs to both spouses. Assuming these prerequisites are satisfied, a court is empowered to award the pet solely to one spouse, or jointly to both, and is directed to take the well-being of the animal into consideration when making this decision. Thus, the analysis should include some consideration of where the pet would better adjust and thrive under the new circumstances....
The stereotypical image of a divorcing spouse doing everything possible to make the other party look bad is, unfortunately, not always an exaggeration. However, Courts are not interested in hearing divorcing spouses badmouth one another and will generally not give this type of information any consideration unless false allegations are made that significantly affect a party's rights. Under these circumstances, the situation changes and becomes more than bickering that may be disregarded.
Falsifying documents or making untrue allegations principally affects a party's rights in property distribution and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Typically, false allegations come in the form of claims of abuse (child and/or domestic), drug use and submissions of fabricated financial affidavits/documents.
While dishonesty between spouses is rarely worth taking legal action, lying or misleading a Court can result in serious consequences. Statements made directly to the Judge and documents filed with the Court all come with the stipulation that the information provided is true and accurate. If the Court later discovers a party intentionally lied or provided erroneous information, the potential consequences can reach both the outcome of the divorce case and include the imposition of criminal penalties....
In legal terms, divorce is the dissolution of a marriage prior to the death of either spouse. In Illinois, a divorce can move through the legal system as either contested or uncontested.
A contested divorce occurs when there are issues to settle between the parties, such as child custody and spousal maintenance. Typically, contested divorces take more time and may require the use of outside resources to resolve the disputed matters. Uncontested divorce, by contrast, occurs when spouses settle all issues privately and seek formal approval of the agreement from the Courts. Uncontested divorces, because the procedure is more or less a ratification of the couple's negotiated settlement, are less expensive and faster.
However, the ease and quickness of uncontested divorces may lead a spouse to believe he or she can skip certain steps that commonly occur during litigated divorce cases. While uncontested divorces are simpler from a legal standpoint, parties choosing to use this simplified process should still take precautionary measures to ensure their interests are adequately protected....
The process of divorce, from beginning to end, is different for everyone. Few couples rarely jump to ending a marriage at the first sign of trouble. However, couples who enter divorce must decide at some point that the marriage is not salvageable. Legally dissolving the relationship may be the best decision.
Once the decision to divorce is made, the hardest part of the process may seem over, yet filing a divorce petition and proceeding through the legal system is not as seamless as one may think. First, one must determine where he or she is eligible to file for divorce, and in which specific courthouse to file the papers. Someone seeking divorce cannot simply walk up to any Court in the state to file the necessary documents. At the very least, residency and venue requirements must be satisfied before a Court will accept a person's petition for divorce.
Residency and venue issues are the gateway to starting the divorce process. Yet while these issues are straightforward for most couples, others may have reason to challenge the opposing party's claim. Consider how to establish residency and determine venue for purposes of divorce, as well as when someone may want to dispute these issues....
Regardless of whether the decision to divorce is mutual, at least one spouse will typically deal with substantial financial fallout. While some couples make enough money individually to weather the repercussions of divorce with minimal adjustment, in many households one spouse makes substantially more than the other. This disparity means that the lesser-earning spouse is forced to scramble for alternative ways to obtain money.
Borrowing from family and friends or selling possessions are methods commonly used to make up the shortfall. While this situation is hardly sustainable in the long-term, the situation should still be addressed in the short-term to prevent irreparable financial loss. Illinois allows parties with pending divorces to request temporary support until the dissolution is finalized and property division and spousal/child support is established on a more permanent basis.
Ex-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, are currently facing this situation. Sandi Jackson alleges Jackson Jr. is not contributing to household expenses while their divorce is pending, leaving her to ask friends for money and selling belongings to make ends meet. Given how contentious the issue of support is in divorce, understanding when support may be temporarily awarded is important....
A previous post on this blog discussed the concept of legal separation and why some people may consider it a more desirable option than divorce. For some people, however, neither option is desirable; instead, they may want an annulment.
What is Annulment?
When most people think of an annulment (now legally called a Declaration of Invalidity in Illinois), they think of it in a religious context. Some churches, such as the Catholic Church, prohibit divorcees from getting remarried until their ex-spouse dies (thus severing the marriage in the eyes of the church, thanks to the vow of “’til death do us part” literally coming true) or the marriage is annulled by the church. In these instances, the marriage is deemed null and void in the eyes of the church, as though it never happened....
Or so you think, until your ex-spouse violates the visitation agreement, not once, not twice, but numerous times. Unfortunately, some parents continue to use their children long after the marriage has ended. If this is happening in your life, you need the guidance of an experienced Palatine child custody attorney.
Enforcing Child Custody in Illinois...
More than a quarter century ago, George Strait, an American country recording artist, released one of his most popular songs, All My Ex's Live in Texas. What may have been lyrical for Mr. Strait does not necessarily hit the high notes for the rest of U.S. divorcees.
Recently reported by The Huffington Post, Texas did not even rank in the top 10 states that may sway your marital success. The American Community Survey (ACS) ranked the following cities and their respected states as possibly hazardous to your wedded bliss:
|1||Panama City, Florida|
|2||Sierra Vista, Arizona|
|3||Charleston, West Virginia|
|8||Palm Bay, Florida|
|10||Grand Junction, Colorado|
Texas may be off the hook, but for those couples residing in Panama City, Florida, or any of these top 10, perhaps a change in address may be a considerable option. So what about Illinois?...
While filing for a divorce is never easy, there are several things that you can do to make the process easier. According to Forbes magazine, you can give yourself a significant advantage in a divorce proceeding by filing first.
Being first to file for divorce has a few legal advantages in Illinois. Firstly, if you and your spouse have been separated and live in different counties, filing first allows you to have the divorce decided in the jurisdiction where you reside. Additionally, it allows you to be the first person to present your case at trial, if you should choose to do so.
Choosing to be the first to file for a divorce has several other serious advantages as well. First of all, you can assemble a file with copies of all of your important paperwork, including bank and income statements for both you and your spouse. This may prevent your spouse from attempting to hide assets later. It also allows you the time you need to prepare for the financial impact that divorce will have on your life, as well as save the funds you will need to hire your qualified divorce team....