order, Arlington Heights family law attorneyMost of us have heard stories about parents who for one reason or another—and often many reasons combined—were the subject of an investigation by child protective agencies. It is possible, as you are most likely aware, for such investigations to result in the termination of parental rights if the situation is found to present serious danger to the children. Agencies like the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are tasked with keeping children safe even if it means separating them from their parents in some cases.

While protecting children is certainly an admirable and necessary goal, is it possible for agencies and family courts to go too far? A recent decision by a family court judge in New York has raised that exact question.

Limits on Future Pregnancy

Judge Patricia Gallaher issued a court order in December that directed a Rochester, NY, woman to avoid getting pregnant again. The woman—a known prostitute—had already lost custody of her four children based on findings of neglect. In her order, the judge stated that the woman was not to get pregnant again until she had regained custody of her infant son.

The judge indicated that her order was meant to increase the mother’s chances of rehabilitation from drug addiction. She maintained that if the woman were to have another baby, it would decrease the likelihood of her getting clean and being reunited with her little boy. The order also mandated that the state cover the mother’s birth control expenses. The consequences for failing to comply with the order were not made clear, but the judge stated that the woman would not face jail time for getting pregnant.

Critical Response

Many in the legal community believe that the order violates the mother’s constitutional rights. It is one thing to limit a person’s parental responsibilities and parenting time, they contend, but quite another to decide whether or not a person is allowed to procreate. According to various reports, the woman intends to appeal the ruling, and the New York Civil Liberties Union may offer assistance in the appeal. Similar orders have been overturned in the past, but it remains to be seen how this situation will ultimately unfold.

Protecting Parents’ Rights

At Cosley Law Office, we understand the importance of protecting children. Terminating a person’s parental rights is an extremely serious matter and must be done in accordance with existing laws and legal precedents. If you are the subject of a DCFS investigation and are concerned that your rights may be in jeopardy, contact an experienced Arlington Heights family law attorney immediately. Call 847-253-3100 for a free consultation today.





Posted in Parental Responsibilities, Parenting Time | Tagged , , , , ,

social media, Arlington Heights divorce attorneyAccording to recent estimates, approximately 1.86 billion people around the world use Facebook regularly. The use of Facebook and other forms of social media to express one’s daily thoughts and opinions has become a popular aspect of modern culture in today’s society. For those who are going through a divorce, however, social media use can create some unique challenges. While posting updates or pictures may seem innocent, almost any personal detail uploaded to a social network has the potential to be exploited by a former partner for his or her own advantage.

Courts Review Social Media Activity

During a divorce, all aspects of a couple’s life are subject to scrutiny by the court. Information posted on Facebook and other social sites, whether it be posted by an individual involved in a divorce or a third party, can often be cast in a negative light during divorce proceedings.

Damage Can be Caused by Third Party Social Media Updates

Divorcing couples need to understand that the potential damage caused by sites like Facebook extends far beyond photos and messages that they themselves are posting. Family members, friends, or even complete strangers can post information online that may drastically impact divorce proceedings. For example, an innocent photo of one spouse at a bar with a drink in his or her hand can lead to the suggestion by the opposing side that said spouse has alcohol problems and should have access to his or her children limited.

Social Media Can be Used to Your Advantage

A skilled divorce attorney should fully understand basic social media concepts and should be able to advise clients on how to manage online social networks effectively. For example, a savvy attorney will understand the difference between Electronically Stored Information (ESI) and traditional paper documentation and that there are different laws regarding how ESI is preserved.

A knowledgeable attorney will not only advise his or her client on how to properly utilize Facebook and other social sites, but he or she will also guide the client regarding using social media to the client’s best advantage. Facebook is often a source of information that can also be used to support a variety of claims. Online posts can identify instances where marital property is misused, can provide evidence for alleged affairs, or can determine whether parents are suitable guardians for their children during allocation of parental responsibility hearings.

Social media is a powerful tool that can be incredibly helpful or a potential liability. To learn more about how social media should be managed during your separation or divorce proceedings, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows divorce attorney. Call 847-253-3100 for a free consultation at Cosley Law Office today.





Posted in Divorce, Social Media and Divorce | Tagged , , , , ,

business, Arlington Heights divorce attorneyIt is not easy to build and maintain a successful business. Family-owned and operated businesses, in particular, demand a considerable amount of time to sustain, and often necessitate substantial financial and time contributions from spouses to function. Owning a business is an effective method of building financial and employment security, but can become problematic if spouses who both play a role in the operation decide to divorce.

Ending a marriage is always a difficult process, regardless of how contested the divorce is, but when complex issues, like family-operated businesses, are present, the implications of dissolving the marriage become much thornier (absent a prenuptial agreement). Given that family-operated businesses account for at least 80 percent of all companies in the U.S., the issue of how to treat the business in the division of property is a frequent matter that is ideally addressed between the spouses privately—usually with the assistance of attorneys—before a divorce petition is filed. Understanding how these assets are divided in divorce before the process is initiated will allow parties to enter the process armed with knowledge that could assist them during settlement negotiations.

Type of Property and Valuation

Illinois applies an equitable division of property standard in divorces, and as such, all divorces should involve an assessment of one’s assets and obligations at outset of the process. This information will give a party a sense of the financial resources he/she will have once the marriage is dissolved, and can identify any potential disputes over how the property is divided. Determining how to approach this aspect of divorce largely hinges on whether the property is marital or non-marital. All property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be marital and subject to division. Thus, if the business was started while the couple is married, the courts are likely to view the business as marital property and require the parties to divide it in some fashion, unless non-marital assets were used to fund the enterprise. Before determining how the business should be divided, the parties must first obtain a fair market value of the business so the court has a valuation baseline to consider. Fair market value is what a willing buyer would pay for the business if fully apprised of all relevant facts about the operation, and is determined by a valuation expert. The business is typically awarded to the spouse who holds the title, with the other spouse entitled to an in-kind division or buy-out.

In-Kind Division vs. Buy-Outs

An in-kind property division is a division of the property that leaves each spouse the sole owner of his/her portion. Courts favor this type of property division, but it may not be possible to do so or in the best interests of the parties. In that case, the court will order the spouse who intends to keep the business to buy out the other. Buy-outs are accomplished by awarding a greater share of the marital assets to other spouse until the equivalent value is received, as a lump-sum cash payment, or if the marital estate is insufficient to cover the spouse’s share of the business, as payments over time.

Talk to a Divorce Attorney

If you are facing divorce, talk to an experienced Rolling Meadows divorce attorney about your rights and obligations that govern the divorce process in Illinois. Every divorce case is unique, and should be evaluated by an attorney able to detect potential issues and produce an effective response. Call 847-253-3100 for a free consultation at Cosley Law Office today.





Posted in Division of Property, Divorce | Tagged , , , , ,