Living Apart Together as a “Family Form” Among Persons of Retirement Age: The Appropriate Family Law Response

As the Baby Boom generation enters retirement age, patterns of living among older persons are beginning to change.1 Unlike their predecessors, the Baby Boomers lived through the sexual revolution, divorced more easily and more often, and institutionalized new patterns of coupling, such as cohabitation. As a result, the rate of marriage has declined and the percent of the population classified as “single” has gone up.2 This age cohort has now moved into the sixty-five-plus group and makes up those we think of as the retirement generation, or the “Third Age” group.3

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Posted By The Berna Law Firm
Lawyers can search for unaccompanied immigrant children's cases through new ABA project

Asylum-seekers who have legal representation have a five times greater chance of winning their case. That’s the motivation behind Pro Bono Matters for Children Facing Deportation, an online platform launched Thursday that connects volunteer lawyers across the country with unaccompanied immigrant children who have been detained by the federal government or released to family during deportation proceedings.

“Until children in deportation proceedings have the right to appointed counsel at public expense, pro bono attorneys are a key support to the legal service organizations that provide this critical representation,” ABA President Bob Carlson said in a press release.

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Are pets assets or part of the family? States are passing laws that give judges a longer leash in divorce custody proceedings

Lawyers are supposed to be dispassionate about the cases they handle. But a California couple’s 2015 divorce fight over a dog named Sweet Pea nearly broke one attorney’s heart.

Erin Levine, a certified specialist in family law and owner of the Levine Family Law Group in Emeryville, California, recalls a husband who adopted a pit bull-type dog at a shelter. When he brought the dog home, he gave his wife a greeting card. She recalls it read: “This [dog] is your gift for Christmas. I love you.” Both parties were very attached to the pet and extremely anxious about the outcome. They had no children, so Sweet Pea was their child.

If you have questions about this subject or other family law matters

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FAMILY LAW: Modern Technology and the Definition of "Writing"

One of the most common formalities required for family law agreements is that they must be in writing. At common law, premarital agreements were within the statute of frauds. The Uniform Premarital Agreements Act ("UPAA") requires that premarital agreement be both written and signed by both spouses. UPAA §§ 2, 5. Many states, by case law or statute, likewise require that divorce settlement agreements be written. Amendments to family law agreements must also often be written.

A generation ago, a writing requirement was easy to construe—the text of the agreement had to appear on paper. But in the 21st century, the world is increasingly paperless. It seems quite likely that the world of family law agreements will join the movement away from paper. Most states have adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act ("UETA"), which provides:

(a) A record or signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.

(b) A contract may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because an electronic record was used in its formation.

(c) If a law requires a record to be in writing, an electronic record satisfies the law.

(d) If a law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law.

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This is currently being challenged in the family law court in Illinois. What qualifies as a signature? Does an electronic signature qualify as a “signature” under the statute? If you have questions about this subject or other family law matters

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ABA-sponsored app helps families access advance directives and medical information

It was Barbara Keller’s experiences in elder law and caretaking for her parents that inspired her to develop the Mind Your Loved Ones app.

Keller, the senior partner at the Keller Legal Group in New York City, helps pro bono clients of the City Bar Justice Center’s cancer advocacy and elder law projects with their advance care directives. These include legal documents such as living wills that allow them to express their wishes for health care in case they are later incapacitated.

Keller needed quick access to her own family’s advance care directives when called in an emergency situation, when helping them in the hospital and in a rehabilitation center, and in figuring out how to set up home care.

She also saw several clients and their family members walk into hospitals with shopping bags full of critical information and realized they needed a more practical storage spot. She understood the importance of properly organizing that information.

“The idea of the app was really that simple,” she says. “It’s to ensure that vital information that affects critical health care decisions is controlled by the individual or by their loved ones and is readily accessible at the right time and the right place.

“Most people leave the information at home or in a drawer or somewhere, but there is no better place than to have it on your phone.”

Mind Your Loved Ones, a mobile app sponsored by the ABA and officially launched in May, allows users to create customized profiles for each member of their family, including their pets. Each profile contains not only their advance care directives, but also other important medical information.

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Maintenance Without the Alimony Deduction by Nancy Chausow Shafer
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In December 2017, the congressional revenue act known as “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” was signed into law, amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. While making major changes in many different areas of tax law, one notable change which directly impacts family law practice is the elimination of the deduction for alimony (called “maintenance” in Illinois) payments.

The federal statute first provides for the repeal of provisions providing for the inclusion of maintenance in the calculation of gross income……

Read entire article at the Docket August 2018

Posted By The Berna Law Firm
Full text of SB2289 Section 10. Amendment of IMDMA section 504, 505, and 510

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is amended by changing Sections 504, 505, and 510as follows: (750 ILCS 5/504) (from Ch. 40, par. 504) Sec. 504. Maintenance.(a)Entitlement to maintenance. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, or legal separation, or declaration of invalidity of marriage, or dissolution of a civil union, or a proceeding for maintenance following a legal separation or dissolution of the marriage or civil union by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse, a proceeding for modification of a previous order for maintenance under Section 510 of this Act, or any proceeding authorizedunder Section 501 of this Act, the court may grant a maintenance award for either spouse in amounts and for periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and the maintenance may be paid from the income or property of the other spouse. The court shall first make a finding as to determine whether a maintenance award is appropriate, after consideration of all relevant factors, including:

Read Complete Legislative Text here

Posted By The Berna Law Firm
Effect of 2017 GOP Tax Reform on Maintenance in Illinois

Maintenance/Alimony (hereinafter referred to as “maintenance”) is “…a payment to or for a spouse or former spouse made under a divorce or separation instrument.”1 The IRS has specific requirements for payments to a spouse to be considered maintenance.

The payments must be:

1. Paid as cash or cash equivalents;

2. Made pursuant to a qualified instrument (usually a divorce decree or separation agreement);

3. Is not designated by the instrument as “not maintenance”;

4. The parties must reside in separate households when payment is made;

5. The payor is not liable to make any payment after death of payee spouse;

6. The parties must file separate income tax returns; and 7. The payment is not treated as child support.  Read complete article

Greta Berna
Immigrant Rights Advocates Call On Illinois Gov. To Sign Bills

As news has centered on the plight of hundreds of families who have been separated while trying to enter the US through Mexico, concern has been raised over the ultimate destiny of about 1,500 children being held in detention centers and shelters. There are at least 66 of those children in Chicago, according to Heartland Alliance, a non-profit with nine shelters for unaccompanied minors there.

While officials and citizens push for answers, advocates in the state are calling for three pieces of legislation they helped draft to be signed into law. They all passed through the state legislature over spring session, and have until the end of the month to go to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his consideration before they die. His spokesperson would not say if Rauner has yet decided if he'll sign them.

Lawsuit alleges sex discrimination was 'the norm' at CareerBuilder

A former marketing director at CareerBuilder has sued the company in federal court, saying it allowed sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying to flourish unchecked.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday, says the digital job-listing company "created a male-dominated culture where degrading, discriminatory conduct towards women permeated everyday life," with conduct ranging "from sophomoric to predatory." (Read the lawsuit below.)

CareerBuilder spokeswoman Jennifer Grasz said in an email that the Loop-based company was "committed to providing a safe, supportive, positive work environment that treats all employees equally. … We are examining the complaint."

The woman filing the case, Lori McInerney, was dismissed last year, three weeks after she complained about the company's culture, the lawsuit says. Though she began pursuing her legal claim through administrative channels before Harvey Weinstein was outed as a serial sexual harasser in October, since then the cultural landscape has been reconfigured by women speaking out against harassment in film, media, politics and business. read entire article