Overview: legal issues in family cases

Henry VIII of England by Joos van Clees (public domain)

Henry VIII of England, by Joos van Clees (public domain)

Parties to a marriage usually promise their love, care, and support will last “til death do us part,” but as the infamous King Henry VIII showed the world, sometimes the commitment fails for one reason or another. When this happens, numerous legal questions arise that must be dealt with.

Thankfully, society has moved beyond spousal execution as a legally-permissible form of marital dissolution, but today, most parties in a family case are still left with a lot to learn during an emotionally-difficult time. Continue reading

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Hidden costs in taking a guilty plea

photo by Victor1558, by CC license on Flickr

photo by Victor1558, Flickr CC license

Pleading guilty in a criminal case can sometimes seem like the only option. A criminal defendant might feel like it’s just not worth fighting it, even if he or she is innocent. But often, this decision is made without understanding how a guilty plea affects one’s life 3, 5, or 10 years down the road. It can be a lot more severe than having to check the criminal history box on a job application and explain the situation at an interview. Continue reading

Convictions with immigration consequences

Photo by LosAnheles (CC license)

Photo by LosAnheles (CC license)

People who are not U.S. citizens and are in trouble with criminal cases need to be very careful when dealing with the system.

Whether such an accused should plea guilty or not should always involve an analysis as to how this affects immigration consequences. This is because immigration law is very complicated on this subject; a single crime of a certain type will not cause the same effect on everyone. Continue reading

Step-parent adoptions

Father and son (used under GNU license)

Father and son (image used under GNU license from Wikipedia)

A popular scene in film dramas (and the occasional comedy) is where one parent might say to an ex-spouse “[New spouse] is going to adopt our child, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” And then there is a set of events that occur to stop the court deadline and restore friendly relations for everyone.

But in real life, family law cases are usually not that simple, and far too often, friendly relations are long gone. Continue reading

Unbundled services

Attorney and Client, Fortitude and Impatience (Image is in public domain)

Attorney and Client, Fortitude and Impatience (public domain)

The Illinois Supreme Court recently made some changes that allow lawyers to offer an a-la-carte menu of legal services, otherwise known as “limited representation” or “unbundled services.” Continue reading

IL drivers face higher penalties for a DUI in WI

Photo by Elvert Barnes, used under CC attribution license

Photo by Elvert Barnes, used under terms of CC attribution license

Did you know that a first offense DUI in Wisconsin almost always means losing your license in Illinois? Because there are two separate legal systems involved, it can be much worse for an Illinois driver to get a DUI in Wisconsin, than for Wisconsin residents driving in Wisconsin, or for Illinois residents driving in Illinois.

Continue reading

Who takes care of my kids if I pass away?

Kids playing with marbles, photo by Tup Wanders (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Kids playing with marbles, photo by Tup Wanders (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Many people think about writing a will as something to put off for tomorrow, thinking that their kids are automatically going to get everything, and that’s that. But another aspect of a will that many people don’t consider is planning for who will step in to take care of your children if you pass away. Continue reading