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CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND FAMILY LAW

Arguments in Favor of Prenuptial Agreements

For those planning to tie the marital knot, there are a lot of things to consider, and making a prenuptial agreement should be right up there on your list. A prenup – a legal document that determines how assets will be divided and protected in the event of a divorce – is not only a smart financial decision, it can improve your relationship and chances of staying together by addressing sensitive financial issues right from the start. And it provides protection for your assets if you eventually do decide to get divorced. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, so courts will divide...

How a Divorcing Couple's Age Affects Asset Division

While the U.S. divorce rate has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s, it has increased for couples over age 50. In fact, according to a Bowling Green State University study, the divorce rate for senior couples doubled between 1990 and 2010. One reason may be that people are living longer, and when looking at the best way to enjoy a projected lengthy retirement, they may evaluate relationships and find them lacking. When older couples split up, issues differ from those of younger couples as child support and custody aren’t usually involved. Older couples often have higher incomes and assets and more complicated financial...

Study Estimates 13% of Divorces Caused by Student Loans

Student loan debt, now at a record high of $1.5 trillion, has become a marriage killer. According to a June 2018 survey by Student Loan Hero and reported by CNBC, more than a third of borrowers said college loans and other money factors contributed to their divorce, and 13 percent of divorcees blame student loans specifically for ending their relationship. This is not surprising when you consider that the average outstanding student loan balance is $34,144, up 62 percent over the last decade, according to a report by Experian. And the percentage of borrowers who owe $50,000 or more has tripled over...

Illinois Man Shares Experience to Highlight Possibilities of Reform

There can be life after prison, although the road to get there is usually difficult and badly needs reform. Consider the case of an Illinois man, now heading to Stanford University after having served 15 years of a 30-year prison sentence for marijuana trafficking.  Jason Spyres, now 36, was caught with 38 pounds of marijuana in Macon County in 2001.  He was given a Class X felony sentence, fined over $200,000, and told that he was un-rehabilitatable. Class X is considered more serious than a second-degree murder conviction, where the sentence may be probation. Now that he has left prison, Spyres is on...

Divorce "Tax Break" Will Soon Be Eliminated

There is never a good time to get divorced, but if you have high assets, you probably will be best off getting one as fast as possible.  The reason is the new Republican tax law, which will eliminate the tax break for alimony payments that are finalized or modified after Dec. 31, 2018. Agreements signed before the end of the year will still qualify for the annual deduction. This can make a big financial difference for wealthy couples where one spouse earns substantially more per year than the other. The Securities Exchange Commission defines a high-asset or high-net-worth couple as a couple...

Are Traffic Fines a Scheme for Governments to Make Money?

Have you received a traffic ticket recently that you think is unfair?  You are not alone. Fines generated by traffic violations are a major source of revenue for governments, and some of these fines, often in places that are set up as speed traps, may not only be unfair, they may even be depriving people of their civil rights. According to an article in the Washington Post, a recent lawsuit filed by The Institute for Justice against an Atlanta suburb raised the issue of how routine traffic tickets and code violations can be used unfairly to raise government revenue. In this...

Marijuana Laws Continue to Drive Conversation in Illinois

Marijuana laws have become much-debated issues among Illinois lawmakers and candidates for office.  Legislators recently approved a bill that allows medical marijuana to be used in place of prescription painkillers and also eliminates requirements for patients to get fingerprints and criminal background checks. While this would make it easier to possess marijuana legally, Governor Bruce Rauner is against the expansion of medical marijuana, and it is still possible for someone to be arrested for a marijuana crime. If you have been charged with a crime involving marijuana or any other drug in Illinois, your could wind up with a criminal record...

Our Justice System Can't Cope with Mental Illness

The Illinois criminal justice system is not equipped to handle inmates with mental health issues. Despite the fact that people struggling with mental illness need treatment, in our society too many of them wind up in jail, putting a strain on both those that have the mental health problems and those without them. Estimates from 2009 show that about 2 million times each year, people with serious mental illnesses are booked into U.S. jails. The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) estimates that 16 percent of 48,000 individuals in the total DOC population have a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, jail only makes their conditions worse, since...

How Out-Of-State Moves Impact Custody

What do you do about custody and visitation when one divorced parent wants to relocate to another state? If the move involves a large distance, it can create major disruptions in the child’s life and the ability to spend time with the other parent. However, these issues can exist even if the move is within the state of Illinois – if the distances involved are large enough. Any move that disrupts an existing family schedule can lead to conflict and negatively affect the children involved. In January, 2016, as part of the revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act,  the law regarding...

Validity of Bloodstain Patterns Called into Question

Judges and juries are often swayed by what they think is the scientific reliability of the so-called "forensic sciences" such as analysis of handwriting, fingerprints, hair, bite marks, and blood spatter patterns. No wonder. It can be very impressive when people who claim to be experts in forensic science fields testify as to their conclusions about evidence that supposedly links an accused suspect to a crime. However, while some evidence (such as from DNA) can be extremely accurate, there are limitations to many areas of forensic science, and tools such as bloodstain patterns can be flawed. In fact, appeals due to...

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