4 Reasons to Hire a Divorce Lawyer

Chicago Divorce LawyerDivorce can be an expensive and stressful and process, and it can become even more complicated if you try to mediate your divorce without help from an experienced legal team.

The main objective for a divorce attorney is to ensure you receive what you are entitled to in a divorce.  The majority of people going through a divorce are doing it for the first time, so it’s beneficial to have legal expertise on your side that can explain the process and help save you money.  Although it may seem cheaper to try to settle your divorce without paying for legal services, it can actually be more costly if things are done incorrectly.  Illinois Divorce Attorney Sean Sullivan provides commentary on the benefits of hiring a divorce attorney.

  • Divorce attorneys have a wealth of knowledge – Although no two divorces are exactly the same, divorce attorneys have been through the process hundreds of times and know how to put your needs first.  There are a variety of motions that need to be filed with the court, and you won’t need to worry about missing a deadline or failing to file a motion if you hire a divorce attorney to take care of the paperwork for you.

“Some people think that they cannot afford to hire an attorney to handle their divorce, but the question may very well be, ‘can you afford not to?’”

  • In cases of custody or abuse – Divorces become even more complicated when issues of custody or alleged abuse arise.  If you are determined to earn full or partial custody of your children, it’s best to hire an attorney to assist in the process.  Trying to tackle this matter by on your own can lead to added emotional stress and convey the wrong message during the custody process.  If you are accusing your spouse of verbal or physical abuse, an attorney can help protect your rights and safety.

“Emotional issues can be very painful during a divorce if you don’t have someone to lean on for support.  Always hire your own divorce lawyer and let them handle it from the beginning.”

  • It can save you money – There is a common perception that going through a divorce without a lawyer will save you money in legal fees and court costs, but that is not always the case.  For example, if you fill out forms incorrectly or neglect to prepare for court, it can be more expensive to fix your mistakes.  Also, by not hiring an attorney you may be forced to miss work for court sessions.  Although you aren’t paying for an attorney, you miss out on earned income or may be forced to burn valuable personal days.

“Oftentimes it is more expensive to fix things that are done wrong than it is to pay for them to be done correctly in the first place.”

  • They’ll make sure you don’t get swindled – One of the biggest reasons why you should hire a divorce attorney is because your soon-to-be-ex has hired one.  As mentioned above, the main goal of a divorce attorney is to get you everything you’re entitled to.  If one side is backed by legal expertise while the other is armed with only their “best guesses”, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see who is going to come out on top in the courtroom.

If you simply rely on the advice or go with whatever your soon-to-be-ex’s lawyer suggests, you could end up paying more in legal fees in the long run.”

Illinois Mandates Sexual Abuse Education in Public Schools

Illinois has passed a new law that requires all public schools to teach age-appropriate sexual assault and abuse awareness in their curriculum.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the measure known as Erin’s Law on Thursday, saying “those who are victims, we want to not only protect them but help them become survivors.”

The measure was named after 27-year-old Erin Merryn, who was sexually abused as a child and forced to endure the abuse for seven years before she had the courage to speak out.  Merryn has been pushing for the law for three years, and Thursday’s signing brought an overwhelming sense of relief.

“You do not know how joyous this is for me, how hard I’ve worked for this,” Erin said.

Merryn was the victim of sexual abuse from the ages of 6-8, and again from 11-13.

The governor signed the bill at The Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County, the same place Erin first spoke up against her abuse.  She hopes the adoption of the bill will help children identify the signs of abuse and speak up sooner.

“This is a place I walked into scared and terrified that I wasn’t going to be believed,” said Erin.  “I never would have imagined 15 years later I would be walking through these doors getting a law passed to give kids a voice in the same place I found my voice.”

Although the bill is the first unfunded mandate in two years, it gives schools the flexibility to decide how they’ll teach the age-appropriate awareness.  Schools can pay to have an outside agency develop a curriculum, or they can teach their staff how it should be implemented.  Merryn says she doesn’t want to negatively impact any school budgets, and she hopes educators train their own staff to talk about sexual assault and abuse.

“Schools don’t just need to hire someone to come in (from) outside the school,” Merryn said. “You’ve got the staff right there that you already pay that are capable of teaching this, with the proper training.”

The law requires abuse education to be taught to children starting in pre-kindergarten.  Merryn said the age-appropriate awareness could be as simple as identifying who to talk to if children have questions or concerns.

Now that Erin’s Law has been passed at the state level, Merryn said she hopes to push for nationwide adoption.

“My innocence was killed, my trust was taken, but I reclaimed my voice and I want every victim of sexual abuse to do the same,” Erin said.

Illinois Attorney Miriam Szatrowski comments

This law, if implemented effectively, will help children understand what sexual abuse is, and where to go for help to make it stop. It may also aid law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting these cases by encouraging victims to come forward immediately, when the evidence and memories of the abuse are still fresh, instead of waiting weeks, months, or even years out of fear or shame.

This may also have the effect of preventing wrongful convictions, because any exculpatory evidence is also more likely to be available if allegations are made sooner.

It is important for people to know that if they are accused of any type of sexual abuse, they should talk to a lawyer immediately, and should not make any statements to police or anyone else before they have spoken with a lawyer.

Related source:  ABC, Chicago Tribune

The New Illinois TVDL Driver’s License Law Explained

The Illinois House recently passed a bill that will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses (TVDLs).

The bill passed the house on January 8th. It now goes to Governor Quinn to sign into law (the governor is expected to sign the bill). This will make Illinois the fourth state in America to pass such legislation.

The new Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses will become available later this year, ten months after Governor Quinn signs it into law.  This law will allow individuals who cannot prove their immigration status to receive a special driving license for use in Illinois.  This special license will not be valid for many of the normal purposes of a driver’s license.  It cannot be used as legal identification, so it cannot be used to do any of the following:

  • purchase a gun or ammunition
  • apply to vote
  • board an airplane
  • enter a federal building

The driving requirements for these licenses will be the same as for any normal driver’s license.  The applicants will have to pass a written test and a driving test. The licenses are designed to ensure that anyone driving has been properly vetted for their competence as a driver, no matter their immigration status.  Hopefully this will make our streets safer to travel on.


Related Sources:

icirr.org, HTQ72YRWWDB8

Medical Professionals Must Tread Carefully in the Digital Age

In the ever-expanding digital age, the lines between personal and professional practices continue to be blurred by social media.  Facebook and Twitter have positioned themselves as personal social media sites, while the site LinkedIn stresses a more professional appearance.  Although people go on to social media sites to share their personal opinions and photos, researchers warn that some professionals should think carefully before they post certain things.

A study by a professor at the University of California sought to determine what is and isn’t acceptable in the digital realm.  For his research, Dr. Ryan Greysen presented a group of state medical licensing directors with a variety of social media scenarios, ranging from mostly innocent to completely absurd.

The survey asked the licensing directors which scenarios would prompt board investigation by their state.  Examples of the scenarios presented to directors include a doctor posting drunken photos to a social media account, and a surgeon using foul and demeaning language on his website.

The questionnaire was “based on things medical boards told us they were concerned about,” said Greysen.  “It’s not hard to find images just like the ones we used with just some limited searching.”

The goal of the research was to help establish social media guidelines for medical professionals, but none of the scenarios prompted unanimous review, meaning that was is acceptable in one state may be deemed inappropriate in another.

Survey Findings

Below are the survey findings and the percent of states that would conduct board review. (48 states reported)

  • Citing misleading information about clinical outcomes (81%)
  • Using patient images without consent (79%),
  • Misrepresenting credentials (77%)
  • Inappropriately contacting patients (77%)
  • Depicting alcohol intoxication (73%)
  • Violating patient confidentiality (65%)
  • Using discriminatory speech (60%)
  • Showing alcohol use without intoxication (40%)

As indicted in the findings, there is moderate consensus for certain actions, but none are unanimous.  Not only is it concerning for medical professionals who are wondering if their actions are acceptable, but it also offers warning that certain illegal activates may go unregulated.

“It’s not 100 percent, which gives you some pause,” says Dr. Vineet Arora who works at University of Chicago Medical Center. “What triggers an investigation in those states? If this doesn’t do it, what does?”

Arora says she believes most mistakes are made by people who are relatively new to social sites and are still learning the appropriateness of social media.  Although there are no defined social guidelines, medical professionals should strongly consider the implications of their actions before posting something for the whole world to see.

Sean Sullivan comments

Medical professionals should heed these warnings very carefully.

Sometimes just the inference of impropriety or unethical behavior can get someone in trouble with the state licensing boards.  The state licensing laws are written very broadly as to what the regulators can penalize professionals for.  Think about what you’re posting so you don’t have to go into a hearing to defend yourself from something you posted online.

Most licensing disciplinary actions are publicized on the Internet, so do some research before delving into the world of social media.  Professionals have to remember that friends and potential patients could be looking for them online.

Related source: NPR.org

Top 5 Illinois Family Law Terms

  1. “GAL” – Guardian Ad Litem. This term refers to a court appointed attorney. This is a third attorney appointed by the Judge who represents the interests of the children in the divorce. This attorney is separate and independent of any attorney either of the parents have on retainer.
  2. “MSA”- Marital Settlement Agreement. This is a legal document that sets out the agreed upon terms of a divorce. It is a legally binding contract that governs all the issues that affect the parties after the divorce such as marital property, child support, custody, etc.
  3. “JPA”- Joint Parenting Agreement. This is the written agreement that deals with the interests of the children. It is often included as a separate agreement that is adopted and incorporated as part of the MSA. It governs everything related to the children: who gains custody, when is visitation, how much is child support, who gets the kids for what holidays, etc.
  4. “Maintenance.” The legally correct term for “alimony” in Illinois. This is the amount of money that one party pays to the other party to support them after the divorce. In Illinois the party that typically earns the higher income is the party that pays “maintenance” to the other party. Regardless of whether that party is the husband or wife. There is no hard and fast rule on what amount of maintenance the courts may award a party. Rather the courts look at the levels of income, the Parties’ standard of living, all of the marital assets, and then determine it on a case by case basis.
  5. “Residential Custody.” This term relates to the parent with whom the children reside. The other parent still has “custody” over the children in that they still have a say in how to raise the children, and visitation rights. But the parent with residential custody is the parent with whom the child lives on a general day-today basis.

Teen Arrested After Posting Threats on Facebook

An Indiana teen was arrested Thursday after police say he posted Facebook messages threatening to go on a rampage.

Eric Rizley, 19, was charged with intimidation after he allegedly posted violent messages on the social media site.

Rizley reportedly posted a statement saying “Watch out portage people might be dying soon,” and “No seriously imma go on a rampage.”

Police were made aware of the threats, and Rizley was brought into custody.

When asked why he posted the messages, Rizley said he had no intention of carrying out the threats and couldn’t explain why he didn’t stop when his mother asked him to.

Social Media is a great medium for expressing ideas these days, but it can also be used to incriminate oneself,” says Illinois lawyer Sean Sullivan. “As a criminal defense attorney, I have seen that the rules of evidence in the court system are shifting to allow social media posts to be admissible. People should be careful of what they put out there.  Do not post something that may incriminate you later.”