Being a single parent is not easy, especially in this age of extra-curricular activities. It is hard enough for two parents to juggle soccer practices and games, music or dance lessons or any of the multitude of enriching activities available to kids today. Being a single parent can mean coordinating all of those schedules alone. Being a non-custodial parent in a difficult divorce and custody situation can mean losing parenting time to those activities.
An interesting story from another state raised questions of guardianship and divorce as well as the status of a marriage after one spouse has undergone gender reassignment. Guardianships and family matters may intersect more as the Baby Boom generation ages. The gender reassignment question is particularly enlightening for states like Illinois that do not recognize same-sex marriage.
We are reviewing the provisions included in a family law bill that is making its way through the Illinois General Assembly right now. The bill, HB 1452, is the product of four years of research by the Family Law Study Committee. The group met with child advocates, family law practitioners, family law judges and the public to weed out the outdated portions of current law and to craft new language that more accurately reflects how the courts and families operate now.
Summer is just around the corner, and for many families in Illinois, this means vacation time is close at hand. However, if you have recently been divorced, you may be nervous about planning your first trip as a single parent.
Apparently Otto von Bismarck never actually said, "Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made." Whoever did say it first certainly had it right, though. Just ask the committee that has been studying Illinois' family laws for the past four years.
We are continuing our discussion of an appellate case from a different state. It is important to remember that Illinois courts are not bound by decisions from other states, but they can still look to other states' opinions for guidance, especially on new or emerging issues.
It seems like it divorce has been dragging on for the reality star, but Kim Kardashian appeared in court recently for a hearing, attempting to settle her divorce case from NBA athlete Kris Humphries. Sources report that the TV star sat with her hands crossed on her lap in a jury, waiting for her court appearance. A judge has guarded the proceedings due to confidentiality mandates in the former couple's divorce settlement.
In Illinois and every other state, child custody issues are governed by the "best interest of the child" doctrine. And, just as every family is unique, every custody decision is decided on a unique set of facts. Statutes and case law provide some guidance on what factors a court should consider, but there is no such thing as a "rubber stamp" custody decision. Each family court must weigh the evidence in each case to determine what will be the best situation for that child.
Marriage is on the minds of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices these days. Last week, the court heard arguments in two high-profile cases that could change how states and the federal government define marriage. While the decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry will not directly affect same-sex couples in Illinois, the court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor could. Much, of course, depends on the state's recognition of same-sex marriage, a matter that is still pending in the General Assembly.