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Naperville divorce lawyerA divorce decree is legally binding and neither spouse is allowed to violate its terms. If your spouse does not abide by the agreement settled on during mediation or by a judge’s ruling, it is vital to work with a divorce attorney to clarify and resolve this conflict. Since there are many aspects to a divorce, there are different ways a spouse can violate a court order and each violation can carry different consequences. There is no one-size-fits-all punishment for violating the terms of a divorce.

Enforcing an Illinois Divorce - Contempt Proceedings

In general, when someone violates a court order, he or she is held in contempt of court. A spouse’s willful neglect to make child or spousal support payments, failure to comply with a parenting time order, and the refusal by one spouse to give specific assets to the other as stated in the divorce decree are all examples of violations. If your ex-spouse violates the terms of your divorce, you can file for contempt proceedings.

It is essential to try to communicate with your ex-spouse and learn if there was a reason that he or she failed to follow your divorce terms. There are many reasons a spouse may not be able to make child support payments on time. Sometimes, learning what mitigating factors might exist can lead to a resolution without court intervention.

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Oak Brook marital property lawyerIf you are an animal lover, you may have serious concerns about what will happen to your pet after your divorce. For some divorcing couples, deciding who gets to keep the family pet is easy. If one spouse was the main caretaker of the pet or he or she had the pet prior to the relationship, it makes sense that he or she would retain ownership of the pet(s). However, when both spouses want to keep the pet or one spouse insists on keeping the pet simply to hurt the other spouse, the situation becomes much more complicated.

Options When Divorcing Spouses Disagree About Pets

Pets are considered property according to the law and are therefore subject to equitable distribution. If a spouse obtained a pet before getting married, it may be considered a non-marital asset and assigned to the spouse who originally owned the pet. However, if the pet is considered a marital asset, each spouse may have an equal claim to the animal. Your dog, cat, horse, or other pet is probably like a member of the family to you. Because of this, discussions about who should keep the pet can become quite heated. Collaborative law and mediation are two methods of alternative dispute resolution during which spouses work to negotiate issues such as property division. If you are struggling to reach an agreement about pets and other issues, you may want to consider pursuing one of these dispute resolution options.

“Pet Custody” in an Illinois Divorce

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement about pet ownership or other property division concerns, the court will step in and make a decision for you. Fortunately, Illinois law does make a distinction between pets and non-living pieces of property. According to the current law, a judge may consider the health and well-being of a pet when deciding which spouse the pet should live with. A spouse who has been actively involved in pet caretaking responsibilities, such as feeding the pet and taking the pet to veterinary appointments, can make the argument that he or she is better equipped to care for the pet than a spouse who did not take on these responsibilities. Divorcing spouses may also choose to share ownership of the pet. If both you and your spouse want to keep the pet, you may be able to negotiate an arrangement where each of you has the pet on certain days or certain weeks.  

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Naperville child custody lawyerUnmarried and divorced parents have a legal right to parenting time with their children. However, if the court finds that a parent’s involvement in a child’s life puts the child in danger or has a negative effect on his or her wellbeing, the parent can lose this right. One issue that can sometimes lead to the loss of parenting time is parental alienation. Parental alienation occurs when a parent or other family member attempts to destroy the relationship between a parent and a child.

Turning a Child Against His or Her Parent

Sharing a child with someone you used to be in a relationship with can be a very challenging situation. Parents may hold grudges against each other and harbor resentment because of disagreements that happened while they were in a romantic relationship. Some parents may also feel bitterness toward their child’s other parent because they do not want to be away from their child during the other parent’s parenting time. Whatever the reason, the tension between parents can have a major impact on children’s mental wellbeing. When a parent makes an intentional effort to break down the relationship between their child and the child’s other parent, this may be considered parental alienation. Actions such as refusing to share essential information about the child with the other parent, telling a child that the other parent does not love them, or using lies to convince a child that the other parent is evil may cause a child significant psychological harm.  

Consequences of Parental Alienation

It should be noted that making mildly disparaging comments to a child about a parent such as, “Your father is always late!” or “Your mother should get you to bed earlier,” will likely not be considered parental alienation. However, if there is an intentional aim to ruin a child’s relationship with his or her other parent through the use of manipulation or deceit, the courts will likely consider this conduct that impairs the child’s mental health and emotional development. This may result in the reduction or elimination of his or her parenting responsibilities, mandatory supervision during parenting time, and other consequences. Proving parental alienation can be very difficult. Physical evidence such as text messages or voicemails as well as expert witness testimonies from child psychologists or social workers may help a parent prove that parental alienation exists and is harmful to the child.

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