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Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, gay marriage, gay divorce,A Florida judge recently allowed a gay couple to divorce, even though the state did not officially recognize the couple’s right to marry in the first place. However, that might change soon. In August 2014, a federal district judge overturned Florida’s gay marriage ban. Both the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to extend a stay on the ruling, which means that gay couples were able to marry beginning in January.

Florida’s first same-sex divorce is a harbinger for gay couples in Illinois, where gay marriage became legal in June 2014. Illinois gay couples now have the same rights as straight couples, which includes the right to divorce. Not every state permits same-sex marriage, though, so a gay couple that marries in Illinois could move somewhere that does not recognize their marriage – or their divorce.

Same-Sex Marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court

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Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois marriage statute

Divorce is a common occurrence in the United States. Most Americans “enjoy” this right and probably take it for granted that an unsuccessful marriage does not have to last forever. In fact the right to divorce exists everywhere in the world – with one exception.

 The Philippines is the only country that does not allow a majority of its citizens to divorce. (The country permits divorce between Muslim couples.) The only recourse for unhappily married couples is church annulment, civil annulment or legal separation. Of course, couples who legally separate are not allowed to remarry, and annulment requires evidence that the marriage was defective (e.g., one of the parties was too young or already married). Note that a marriage cannot be annulled due to irreconcilable differences or infidelity.

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family law, Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law,The New York Times recently published an article debunking the widely held “myth” about sky-high divorce rates. Contrary to popular belief, “It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce. It has not been for some time.” The truth is that the divorce rate peaked three decades ago and has been in decline ever since. According to the numbers:

  • Of couples who married in the 1970s and 1980s, 65 percent reached their 15th wedding anniversary;
  • Of couples who married in the 1990s, 70 percent have reached their 15th wedding anniversary; and
  • Of college-educated couples who married in the early 2000s, 89 percent have reached their 7th anniversary.

Based on these trends, experts predict that only one-third of marriages will end in divorce. That number is starkly different from the 50 percent statistic commonly cited by cable talk show hosts and other talking heads. However, part of that decline can be attributed to falling marriage rates. A recent Pew Research Report found that 20 percent of adults who are older than 25 have never married. Compare that to the nine percent of adults older than 25 in 1960 who had never married.

Even though fewer Americans are getting married, those who do marry are staying together longer. Here are several reasons that explain the declining divorce rate:

  • Some consider the higher rates of the 1970s and the 1980s to be a product of a feminist movement. New societal norms (including the acceptance of women as breadwinners) have eliminated the reasons that some women initiated divorce during that era.
  • People are marrying later. On average in the 1950s, men were 23 years old when they married while women were 20 years old. By 2004, the median marriage age climbed to 27 for men and 26 for women.
  • Societal acceptance of single-parent families has resulted in fewer ill-fated shotgun weddings.
  • Similarly, society now accepts couples living together before marriage. The result is that more couples who would have divorced now break up before taking the marriage plunge.
  • The growing number of women in the workforce means that marriage is no longer an economic necessity for them. That means more women can marry for love instead of for food and shelter.
While it is true that fewer marriages end in divorce, it is equally true that divorce is still an unfortunate reality for many couples. Our experienced Kane County divorce attorneys can help prepare for that possibility by crafting a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to protect your financial assets. Our attorneys can also guide you through the divorce process. We handle everything, from division of marital property to child custody arrangements. Contact us today for a consultation. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.
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Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Illinois divorce lawyer, DuPage County family law attorney,The U.S. Supreme Court made headlines last month when it declined to review several same-sex marriage cases, allowing the unions to proceed in those states and opening the door for them to proceed in others. That decision also affirmed the legality of same-sex marriage in Illinois. However, a recent decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals could have an impact on Illinois family law – and family law across the country – if that case ultimately winds up before the Supreme Court.

Federal Court Jurisdiction

There are three main levels in the federal court system. The trial court level is classified by district. For example, there are three federal district courts in Illinois: the Northern District, the Southern District and the Central District. Appeals from those courts are heard by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which also hears cases originating from district courts in Indiana and Wisconsin.

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marriage rights, Illinois family law, Illinois divorce attorney, St. Charles family law attorney, Marriage bestows certain rights and responsibilities upon spouses. These marriage rights can vary based on where you marry and whether or not your jurisdiction even allows you to marry (for example, while same-sex marriage is now legal in Illinois, it is not allowed in numerous states). Illinois sets forth a couple’s rights in the Rights of Married Persons Act, including:

  1. Right to sue and be sued: A married person may sue or be sued without joining his or her spouse as a party in the lawsuit. Spouses may also sue one another for any tort (a civil wrong) committed during the marriage.
  2. Defense in own right or for the other: If the spouses are sued jointly, either party may defend in his or her own right. Furthermore, if one spouse decides not to defend himself, the other spouse may defend for them both.
  3. Spouse desertion: If either spouse deserts the family, the other spouse may prosecute or defend, in the deserting spouse’s name, any action that the deserter might have prosecuted or defended.
  4. Recovery of damages: If one spouse commits a civil injury, damages are collected from that spouse alone. The innocent spouse is only responsible for the damages if he or she would be held jointly responsible if the marriage did not exist.
  5. Debts incurred before marriage: Neither spouse is liable for any debts or liabilities that the other spouse incurred before marriage. They are also not liable for the other spouse’s separate debts.
  6. Earnings: A married person may receive, use and possess his (or her) own earnings and sue for those earnings in his (or her) own name, free from his (or her) spouse’s interference or interference from his spouse’s creditors.
  7. Property: Not all property held by a married person is considered marital property (belonging to both spouses). For example, if a married person obtains real or personal property by descent or gift, that property belongs to the individual and not to the marriage.
  8. Unlawful possession of non-marital property: If a spouse unlawfully obtains possession of the other spouse’s non-marital property, the property owner may initiate a legal action against that spouse.
  9. Attorney in fact: A spouse may consider the other spouse to be his or her attorney in fact in order to dispose of property for their mutual benefit.
  10.  Removal of children: Generally, neither spouse can remove their children from the home without the other spouse's consent. (“Removal” does not apply to routine comings and goings, such as running errands or going to school.)  If one spouse abandons the family, however, the abandoned spouse gets custody of the minor children and does not need the other spouse's consent to move the family elsewhere.
If you have questions pertaining to marriage rights – whether the question concerns a joint or separate legal battle, the disposition of marital property or something else entirely – contact one of our experienced St. Charles family law attorneys today.
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