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October 2012 Archives

High court steps into custody battle between surrogate and father

We are not talking about the U.S. Supreme Court here. We are talking about the high court in another country, Pakistan, that has agreed to consider a custody matter for a U.S.-based couple. The case is interesting not only because of its subject matter -- surrogacy and custody -- but also because of the tension between civil law and religious law. As we read the story, we wondered if the case would turn out differently here in the U.S.

Mom, guardian change divorce law for spouses with mental disabilities p4

We are concluding our discussion of a recent Illinois Supreme Court case. The case is an unusual one for family lawyers, because it deals directly with circumstances that, to be honest, don't come up that often. A wife suffered severe injuries in a car accident during the marriage and became mentally disabled. Her husband's own health issues ended his guardianship of her, and their daughter took over. When the question of divorce arose, though, the daughter's role as guardian was not entirely clear.

Mom, guardian change divorce law for spouses with mental disabilities p3

Guardians have immense responsibilities and could have immense power over a person's affairs. The law, however, does not favor handing complete control of one person's life to another, so it includes safeguards. Court-appointed guardians, for example, must give the court a regular accounting of the ward's financial health and overall well-being. Family members or third-parties can challenge guardianships based on abuse of power.

Mom, guardian change divorce law for spouses with mental disabilities p2

We are continuing our discussion of an Illinois Supreme Court decision that gives spouses with mental disabilities more independence. The new rules could very well serve as a template for other states.

Mom, guardian change divorce law for spouses with mental disabilities

The Illinois Supreme Court handed down a decision earlier this month that marks a significant shift in public policy. It also marks a profound victory for people with mental disabilities.

Cohabitation poses more challenges in custody disputes, p. 2

Once burned, twice shy? Research has shown that the divorce rate for second marriages is much higher than the divorce rate for first marriages. In fact, almost two out of three second marriages will end in divorce. Is that one of the reasons people choose to cohabitate the second time around? In the end, the answer may be both unknowable and beside the point.

Cohabitation poses more challenges in custody disputes

With more couples choosing not to marry, courts are facing some interesting challenges in custody cases. The question is not about the unmarried couple's children, but children from previous marriages that the partners bring into their new relationship. Parents have rights; stepparents have some rights. Whether parents' partners have rights, though, is something that courts are still grappling with.

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