We are currently discussing an international child custody dispute that went before the United States Supreme Court last week.
When one or both parties to a family law case do not agree with the decision made by a trial court judge, they can file an appeal. Although rare, it is possible for a family law case to be appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court, the nation's highest court. Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides of an international child custody dispute.
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.
The First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has entered the ever-escalating battle that same-sex marriage has become. The court ruled this week that the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act does in fact discriminate against same-sex married couples. However, same-sex couples hoping for nationwide acceptance of their right to marry, to have children and even to divorce will have to wait a little bit longer: The court said DOMA will remain in full effect until the U.S. Supreme Court has reviewed the law.
Child custody disputes are usually complicated and full of emotion for Illinois families. An estranged couple's multi-national child custody battle recently reached a resolution. Just over two years ago, the custody battle took center stage, as the boy's parents brought their clash all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
We are continuing our discussion of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case about child support. The appellant hadn't been able to pay. The family court found him in contempt and sentenced him to a year in jail. The Supreme Court was asked if a non-custodial parent has the right to counsel in a child custody hearing when incarceration is a possible outcome.
This past March, we talked about a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. One of the issues involved civil contempt for past due child support payments. The Court handed down its ruling recently, and the result could mean some changes to Illinois courts.
We're wrapping up our series on the child support case recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The father was in serious arrears with his support payments and had been haled into court on the matter many times. He explained to the court that he was simply too poor to make the payments, and the family court charged him with civil contempt and sent him to jail each time. The man argues that the court should have appointed an attorney for him. The Supreme Court is now asked to determine if courts should appoint an attorney for unrepresented, indigent parties in civil matters (specifically child support cases).
In our last post, we were discussing a case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The controversy at the bottom of the matter involves a father who could not make his child support payments. Charged with civil contempt, the man was sent to jail a number of times, at least once for as long as a year. The objective of civil contempt is coercion, not punishment. The defendant claims his jail time was pure punishment, because he was too poor to make the support payments.
If a father hasn't paid child support in accordance with a court order, he can be sent to jail. There are penalties for not doing what a court of law tells you to do -- you can wind up with a civil contempt of court charge and jail time. The most famous civil contempt of court cases involve reporters who refuse to reveal their sources after a judge has issued an order. They spend time in jail until they disclose the information, or they appeal, typically with the help of the newspaper's attorney.