Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Parenting Classes

Do you need to complete the required Children First parenting class? HSC in Sparta, IL is offering the classes on the following 3 dates:
The program is two sessions, each lasting two hours. The groups are led by Pam Jackson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and include viewing vignettes, group discussion, and appropriate take home materials. There is a one time fee of $75 per person which covers both sessions. This is due prior to the first session. If you'd like more information, contact HSC at 618-443-3045.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to tell your children you are getting divorced.

I found this article in the blog of an attorney I greatly respect, Marta Papa--from St. Louis, Missouri.  I am re-posting here because I believe the advice is sound.

Top 10 Tips For Telling Your Children You Are Getting Divorced

February 12th, 2016 by Staff of The Law Office of Marta J. Papa, P.C
  1. Prevent your children from experiencing any of the conflict between you and your spouse. Research shows it is the “conflict” between Mom and Dad that is emotionally damaging to the children; not the divorce itself. So take your conflict outside or to a therapist; don’t let your children see or feel it.
  1. Tell your children the TRUTH about what is happening. You just don’t need to tell them all the specifics or blame yourself or your spouse. Tell them this is a decision you have reached as adults and it has nothing to do with them.
  1. Reassure them they will still have a Mom and Dad who love them dearly.
  1. Explain that you will all continue to be a family; but that Mom and Dad are going to be living in different places.
  1. Reassure them they will have access to both Mom or Dad whenever they want.
  1. Assure them that they did not cause the divorce and they can’t stop the divorce.
  1. Reassure them that they can take whatever they want with them (pet, favorite stuffed animal, toy, etc.) when they move back and forth between Mom and Dad’s houses.
  1. They have the right to continue to love both Mom and Dad and neither of you will be angry that they show affection towards or spend time with the other parent.
  1. Plan together when you are going to tell the children and what you are going to say. Practice your parts aloud in front of each other (i.e. rehearse it aloud) before telling your children.
  1. If you have more than one child, tell them as a group. Do not tell one child and leave it up to him or her to tell their siblings.
This may be one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life, so prepare emotionally. It will also be one of the hardest days in your children’s lives so prepare emotionally for their reaction. They might each have different reactions to this news based upon their age and whether they may have already picked up on issues you have been having as Mom and Dad. So make certain that you do not give them this news right before a holiday, final exams or someone’s birthday. The children will handle this event only as well as you handle it. This is not the time for you to break down crying. This is your opportunity for the children to lean on you for emotional support. Make sure you are strong enough to give them that support.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Scholarship winner!

I am way behind on posting this, but we have a scholarship winner!  Here is the article from the Nashville News:

Congratulations to Kyler!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Scholarship Opportunity!

I'm a member of the Washington County Bar Association and we are proud to offer 3 scholarships to Washington County high school seniors.  Here are the details:

Washington County Bar Association Law Day Scholarship

The Magna Carta was an attempt to limit the power of the Crown.  Though not the first, it was the most successful.  Over the course of the next 800 years, the idea of the Magna Carta gathered momentum and the ideas of liberty and justice became more and more important.  The concepts of liberty and justice kept monarchs and governments in check over the course of time.

In honor of the 800 year anniversary of the Magna Carta, the Washington County Bar Association is offering three scholarships to deserving students.  The scholarship prizes are First Place $500; Second Place $300; Third Place $100.

1.     Student must be a senior in high school.
2.     Student must be a Washington County resident.
3.     Student must submit an essay on the topic:  The Magna Carta and its relevance in present day America.
4.     The essay must comply with the following rules:
a.      Cover page with name, address, and telephone number.
b.     Typed.
c.      12 point Times New Roman font.
d.     Double spaced.
e.      1,000 to 1,500 words (4 to 6 pages).
f.      Must include bibliography/works cited of at least 3 source.
g.     Use the citation style you learned in school.
5.     Students should not put the essay in a booklet.  Simply staple the pages together with the students name only on a cover page.

6.     The essay is due on June 30, 2015 and should be sent to:  Letisha Luecking Orlet, 236 East St. Louis St., Nashville, IL  62263.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Child First Program

Do you need to attend the Children First Program before you can finalize your divorce? There are upcoming classes in Sparta, Illinois at the Human Service Center, 104 Northtown Drive, Sparta. 

The upcoming classes are offered on the following dates: 
****02/17/2015 and 02/18/2015
****03/17/2015 and 03/18/2015
****04/21/2015 and 04/22/2015

Contact the Human Service Center at 618-443-3045 for more information.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Illinois Eavesdropping Law--An Update

January 2015, vol. 58, no. 7

Eavesdropping in Illinois: An update
By Matthew A. Kirsh

In the May 2014 edition of the Family Law Section Newsletter, I wrote about the Illinois Supreme Court case of People v. Clark, 2014 IL 115776. In Clark, the Supreme Court declared parts of the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute (720 ILCS5/14-1, et.seq.) unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. The legislature was quick to respond and on December 30, 2014 Governor Quinn signed SB 1342 which contains the new Illinois Eavesdropping Act (“new statute”). This article will summarize the revisions to the Eavesdropping Statute contained in the new statute as they pertain to the practice of family law.

The Clark decision was a real “Back To The Future” moment. Clark held that the Eavesdropping Statute, as then written, was overbroad and unconstitutionally infringed on protected speech. Clark required that before the recording of a conversation can be considered a crime, there must be a realistic expectation of privacy surrounding that conversation. Clark essentially reaffirmed the Court’s prior holdings in People v. Beardsley, 115 Ill.2d 47 (1986), and People v. Herrington, 163 Ill.2d 507 (1994). After the Herrington decision, the legislature amended the statute and specifically removed the expectation of privacy requirement of a protected conversation.

According to the new statute, a party to a conversation commits the offense of eavesdropping as follows:
(720 ILCS5/14-2) (a) A person commits eavesdropping when he or she knowingly and intentionally:

(2) Uses an eavesdropping device, in a surreptitious manner, for the purpose of transmitting or recording all or any part of any private conversation to which he or she is a party unless he or she does so with the consent of all other parties to the private conversation.

At first blush, the language of the new statute seems no different than the statute found unconstitutional in Clark. However, the difference between the new statute and its predecessor is found in the definitions. In this case the key is the legislature’s definition of the new term “private conversation”. “Private conversation” is defined in the new statute, 720 ILCS 5/14-1(d), as:

any oral communication between 2 or more persons , whether in person or transmitted between the parties by other means, when one or more of the parties intended the communication to be of a private nature under circumstances reasonably justifying that expectation. A reasonable expectation of privacy shall include any expectation recognized by law, including, but not limited to, an expectation derived from a privilege, immunity, or right established by common law, Supreme Court rule, or the Illinois or United States Constitution.

The Court in Clark, Herrington, and Beardsley specifically found that there can be no expectation of privacy by the declarant where the individual recording the conversation is a party to that conversation. Until the Supreme Court reverses itself on this issue and changes the common law, a party to a conversation has no expectation of privacy under the new statute.

The new statute states that “Surreptitious” means “obtained or made by stealth or deception, or executed through secrecy or concealment.” A cell phone in your client’s pocket would probably be considered surreptitious. A cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter may be an entirely different kettle of fish. If a party can show that the recording of a conversation was not “surreptitious”, the question of “expectation of privacy” becomes moot. However, since most conversations carry no expectation of privacy, the question of surreptitious or non-surreptitious seems irrelevant.

The new statute returns us to the state of the law prior to the 1994 amendments to the Eavesdropping Act. As I stated in my May 2014 article, we are in a new world of “speaker beware.” As lawyers, we must advise our clients that anything they say to their spouse, or someone they do not trust absolutely, may resurface at an inopportune moment in their divorce case. As a lawyer on the other side of the case, an obstacle to the admission of relevant information has been lifted. All family law practitioners need to be familiar with the provisions of the new statute as it has a potentially significant impact on our practices. ■

Saturday, March 15, 2014

You've been ordered to mediation, what now?

It is required in the State of Illinois that parties arguing about custody and visitation participate in mediation. Ultimately, the success of mediation depends upon the willingness of both parties to cooperate and put the child first.

Prior to mediation, please think about what issues you might be willing to come to compromise on with the other party.  You should consider legal and residential custody and visitation schedule.  Consider what type of legal and residential custody situation you are in currently.  If you currently have sole custody, you will want to think about whether or not you are willing to give up sole custody.  Sole custody means that parent makes all of the decisions and does not need permission or agreement from the other parent.  The parents are encouraged to discuss matters with each other, but agreement regarding the major decisions is not required.

Joint legal custody to both parents with residential custody to one parent essentially means that the two of you must be able to communicate and cooperate while raising the child.  You both have the ability and the right to make decisions for the child.  Major decisions regarding healthcare, school, and religion must be agreed upon by both of you or you could end up back in court.  Each parent makes the day to day decisions on his/her own when the child is in that parent’s custody.

Consider both of these types of custody carefully before you make any agreements at mediation.  It is important that you not take this lightly because custody decisions are final for at least two years.  After that time period, a parent is able to bring a petition to modify.  However, within that two year time frame, a parent is only able to ask for a modification if the child is seriously endangered or there is a substantial change in circumstances.  This is a very high standard and it is a difficult position to win.

It is important to understand the mediation process so it can be used successfully. Listed below are some warnings, suggestions, and information:

  1. If you have been the victim of physical abuse, you may not be a good candidate for mediation.  If this is the case, be sure to share this information with your lawyer or, if pro se, the Judge.

  1. Mediation can be difficult. Prepare yourself for potentially two hours of discussion.  The court requires at least four hours of mediation, but mediators typically meet for no more than two hours at a time.

  1. Be prepared to become angry. It will happen. The key is to keep it under control and refuse to become victimized by it. Try to remain calm and continually think about what is in the best interest of your child.

  1. Remain patient. Threats to leave the mediation are counterproductive.

  1. Refrain from attacking the mediator or the other party during the mediation.

  1. Be creative. Be willing to look at ways to satisfy the other party’s needs. At this point, the case is totally within your control.  The two of you have plenty of leeway to make your own agreement.  There is no real standard that you need to adopt as your own.

  1. Be attentive. Negotiation can be extremely difficult to track. You must be very attentive to the proceedings.

  1. Be thorough. Read the final agreement carefully. You may sign the draft agreement, but nothing becomes a final order until it is entered by the court.  If there is something that was not covered to your satisfaction, make sure the mediator knows and makes note of that on your draft agreement.

The mediation process creates pressure and fatigue. In one sense, this is good because it simulates the pressure and fatigue that arise at trial, so it facilitates settlement. On the other hand, your agreement must be knowingly and intelligently done, and of your own free will. So, if you find yourself getting to the point of feeling unwanted pressure or fatigue, let the mediator know. She will arrange for a break, something to eat or drink, or an end to the session. 

Above all else, remain open minded prior to and during the mediation.  Be creative regarding solutions to the problems.  Feel free to call your lawyer prior to (or even during) the mediation if you would like to discuss further any ideas, questions, or thoughts you may have regarding the mediation.

Best of luck during your mediation and, remember, this is your chance to settle matters to your satisfaction--without the Judge and lawyers--just you and the other parent.  It's in you and your child's best interest to make the most of this chance.