A survey last fall showed that family law practitioners are handling more marital agreements (also known as prenuptial agreements) than they had in the past. Couples are apparently taking the time to assess their non-marital property and to plan their financial futures before they get married. Unfortunately, data for individual states wasn't available, so it's hard to know where Illinois falls.
We had a lively discussion this weekend about marital and non-marital property. A friend of ours was visiting Chicago from one of the prairie states, and after a few minutes of conversation she went into a panic. Not a breathing-in-a-paper bag panic, but definitely a wild-eyed "yikes" panic.
We've been talking about marital and non-marital property and how the law deals with the division of property in a divorce or separation. When we left off in our last post, we were talking about property acquired before the marriage that increases in value during the marriage. Illinois courts must consider several factors in these matters, including the contribution each spouse made to the increase in value.
We've talked about the McCourt divorce before. The couple has been arguing over the ownership of the Dodgers baseball team that he, or they, acquired during their marriage. The case has involved conflicting contract language and months of court time. (The couple is in settlement talks at this writing.) When the ownership agreements between the husband and wife were thrown out, the court left the McCourts to figure out the division of property on their own.
Many parts of a divorce can feel like moving targets. We know that child custody agreements can be modified, and that spousal maintenance can be modified. One thing that's almost always permanent is the property division agreement. Naturally, property division arrangements are unique to each marriage. But, as with most things, if the parties can't decide, a judge will.
As his parents continue their struggle for visitation with his 4-year-old son, a bill bearing Steven Watkins' name is making its way through the Illinois General Assembly. Watkins was murdered in 2008 when he went to pick up his son for a court-ordered visitation. This bill would allow the court to suspend the driver's license of a person like Watkins' wife who fails to comply with a visitation order.
We've been talking about a recent report that gave some astonishing figures for back child support payments. This year, the total is about $3 billion. Last year, the total was about the same. The year before? About the same.
A recent report showed that non-custodial parents in Illinois owe $3 billion in back child support, about the same amount owed last year and the year before. With the state currently collecting around 58 percent of support payments, child advocates say the picture isn't likely to get better.
A "get" is a Jewish divorce. A woman who fails to obtain a get is unable to marry again under Jewish law. These women are "agunot." There are more of them out there than you think, and a Chicago filmmaker has tackled the subject in "Women Unchained," a documentary making its way into theaters this month.