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Peoria Family Law Blog

What important things should I do in my divorce?

There's a lot of advice circling around the Internet and among family and friends about what divorcing spouses should and shouldn't do during their legal process. This article will focus on the "do's" of divorce, and specific things that all Illinois spouses should strive to do while dissolving their marriages.

Be reasonable and try to reach an accord. When you're not reaching an agreement easily with your soon-to-be ex, take a pause, and see if the area of disagreement is worth the extra time and stress or if it's possible to let it go and reach a compromise.

How prevalent is junk science in criminal court?

Our U.S. legal system is built on a foundation of protecting our rights. Unfortunately, junk science continues to adversely affect our lives and rights, according to The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In some cases the facts are being distorted as a result of junk science in the criminal courts. Concerns have mounted as prosecutors attempt to persuade jury decisions with what some believe to be insufficient evidence. The fact remains that the court's authority is limited to issues of law. It has little influence on the type of evidence or witness.

Junk science in criminal courts is often a practice of measuring and deciphering patterns. Pattern matching is part of the forensic process of criminal convictions. The problem with pattern accuracy is the degree of severity, causing the evidence to be questionable. Cases in the court systems comprised of evidentiary errors include matching DNA samples, shoe prints and firearm mark analysis. As a result of these errors, case verdicts are being reversed.

Wife wants part of exonerated man's $20 million settlement

A recently freed man who was wrongfully convicted of raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl has received a $20 million wrongful conviction settlement in Lake County. However, he had to suffer the indignity and suffering of 20 years in prison before he received the exoneration and eventual settlement following the discovery of DNA evidence that cleared him.

The man later sued multiple law enforcement agencies, which resulted in the $20 million settlement last year. His lawyers advertised the settlement as the largest wrongful conviction payout in Illinois history. After attorneys' fees and taxes, the man retained $11.4 million of the settlement.

Illinois expands protections for juvenile defendants

Advocates for juvenile justice are cheering several new Illinois laws will reform the juvenile justice system to protect the rights of juvenile defendants, remove some mandatory minimum probation periods and allow records to be expunged in more cases.

Here are three new laws that will go in effect Jan. 1, 2017:

Grandparents and child custody

Most people wouldn't expect a grandparent to take over the raising of their grandchildren unless both parents of the children passed away, but there are other circumstances that could result in a grandparent taking over custody. In these situations, the court will review the facts pertaining to the parents and the children to determine whether the parents are fit to raise their children. If deemed unfit, the court will seek a new guardian for the children among next of kin, which could be the grandparents in many cases.

When grandparents need to forcibly assume custody of their grandchildren, the cases often involve documented alcohol abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness or neglect. Alternatively, one parent might be unfit and the other parent either cannot or will not take over responsibility for the child, so the grandparents are the only ones left to step in.

Domestic relations disputes can take many turns

Domestic relations can break down at any age. Often, when a husband and wife start arguing on a regular basis, one or the other may choose to move on with life - get a divorce. Unfortunately, many arguments can take a turn. Stories like this generally make their way to a call to police and possibly a domestic violence arrest.

But one man in Kansas allegedly made a different choice -- one that no attorney could ever recommend. While frustrated over arguing with his wife, he sat down and penned a demand letter that he planned to use to rob a bank, according to The Washington Post. He stated that he wanted to get out of his current situation with his wife, hoping to land a bed in jail, a criminal complaint explains.

Is there such a thing as divorce season?

Ask any divorce attorney and he or she will tell you that divorces come in waves, and the peaks of those waves generally happen in March, not long after Valentine's Day, and August, shortly before we start gearing up for holiday season. New research recently confirmed these divorce lawyer murmurings about seasonal cycles, and it appears that they are right.

Researchers point out that couples tend to try and repair their relationships over the winter holiday seasons. However, when these efforts fail, which usually is readily apparent once Valentine's Day comes around, the tides may shift in favor of divorce. Then, if the couple was able to survive the post-holiday blues, by the time summertime is ending and the kids are gearing up to return to school, relationships again founder. Not so coincidentally, this is the time when nationwide suicide rates are rising, and many couples buckle under the stress of their failed unions. Finding the courage to call it quits by taking formal legal action can be liberating.

Extra DUI patrols are already on the road for Labor Day

With Labor Day fast approaching, law enforcement agencies throughout Illinois are ramping up efforts to enforce the tough DUI laws in the state. Drivers in Peoria are well aware that police and prosecutors are aggressive when it comes to drunk driving -- the city is ranked number 5 in Illinois for DUI arrests and has recorded an 86 percent increase in arrests over the past two years - a sharper jump than any other city in the state.

With cooler fall temperatures on the horizon, many people celebrate Labor Day at a park, boating or throwing a barbeque with friends. Alcohol is often present. As a result, the unofficial end of summer often is associated with a large number of people facing DUI charges. This year, law enforcement is focusing on seat belt violations and driving under the influence as part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign that includes extra patrols and sobriety checkpoints. Police do not wait for the holiday weekend -- extra patrols are already on the road. The increased enforcement effort runs through September 6, according to the Peoria Police Department.

Is recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling a setback for gay rights?

A recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling may diminish the rights of unmarried domestic partners. The ruling is being considered a setback for same-sex couples in our state. Primarily, it affects domestic partners who need to go to court in order to resolve a property dispute following a breakup.

The court ruling was issued last Thursday regarding two domestic partners who had been together for almost 30 years and raised children together. The two women broke up in 2008 -- long before the state of Illinois chose to legalize same-sex marriages. In the lawsuit, one of the women -- a Cook County Judge -- wanted a share in her ex-partner's medical practice. In order to do so, however, the woman's attorneys needed to request the Illinois Supreme Court overturn a previous high court ruling in 1979 that barred these kinds of claims by unmarried partners.

Love and Marriage Remain Elusive During August And March

March may be the month for lucky four-leaf clovers and pots of gold; however, it also seems to be a time for the mischievous leprechauns to wreak havoc. That is, if divorce filings are any indication. But what about during other times of the year? Are there seasonal variations in the divorce rate?

University of Washington associate sociology professor Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini unveiled a distinct seasonal pattern to the timing that people file for divorce -- with March and August being peak times. Though initially set to research the effects of the recession on marital stability, after examining divorces throughout Washington state from 2001 to 2015, researchers discovered a surprising trend: huge leaps in the number of filings during those two months. With the first quantitative evidence of a pattern in hand, numerous professionals and armchair therapists are scrambling to explain the discrepancy. 

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