The State Of Illinois Turns 200

Illinois2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Illinois’ statehood, as well as the creation of our Supreme Court. With this milestone in mind, Sherer Law would like to take the opportunity to step back and reflect on our history and some on the great legal minds who have shaped our State.

On December 3, 1818 Illinois was promoted from a United States territory to the 21stState to join the Union.  However, in order for Illinois to be granted full statehood status, we first had to adopt our own constitution.  Our constitution shaped our current judicial system, creating our Supreme Court and providing for trial and appellate state courts to be created.[1]Originally, our Supreme Court consisted of a Chief Justice and only three Associate Justices.

The first Illinois Supreme Court Justices were appointed by the General Assembly, commissioned by the Governor, and elected for life. In 1848, our constitution was changed to require that the Supreme Court Justices would be elected by popular vote for a term of service.[2]  In 1870, our appellate court system was established. This was composed of circuit court judges appointed by our Supreme Court.

Currently, our Supreme Court is presided over by 7 Justices: Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier and Justices Robert R. Thomas, Thomas L. Kilbride, Rita B. Garman, Anne M. Burke, Mary Jane Theis, and P. Scott Neville Jr.  Each of whom will serve a 10-year term before being up for reelection. [3]

Many of the changes to our judicial system over the past 200 years are due to some of the great legal minds who have called Illinois their home.  Most of us will be familiar with the famous attorney and legal crusader from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, our 16thPresident of the United States. In fact, four of our Presidents have roots in Illinois.  Ronald Reagan, the only U.S. President born in Illinois; Ulysses S. Grant, who lived with his family in Illinois for some time; and Barack Obama, also an attorney, who lived and taught in Illinois.

George Leighton, a Federal District Court Judge who passed away this year, was another great legal mind from the state of Illinois.  Mr. Leighton was the son of immigrants, and he himself never graduated high school.[4]  He was forced to leave before graduation in order to work on an oil tanker to help provide for his family.  Nevertheless, he continued to study independently and eventually received his college diploma from Howard University.

From there he entered Harvard Law School in 1940.  His schooling was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the United States Army and was awarded the rank of Captain and received a Pacific Service Metal and a Bronze Star. After he completed his service, he returned to Harvard Law School and earned a Bachelor of Laws in 1946.

After graduation, he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he fought to desegregate juries and schools, represented those who could not afford an attorney, and advocated for people facing the death penalty.  On December 19, 1975, President Ford nominated him to serve as a judge for the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois.  He served as a judge until retiring on November 30, 1987 and returning to private practice.  The Honorable Judge Leighton continued to work as an attorney until retiring at the age of 99.[5]After he passed away on on June 6, 2018, he was fittingly laid to rest in Arlington Nation Cemetery.

[1]http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/isl2/id/167

[2]https://ballotpedia.org/Judicial_selection_in_Illinois

[3]http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/meetsupremecourt.asp

[4]http://www.jonathanpollard.org/2001/100501c.htm

[5]https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-george-leighton-dies-20180606-story.html

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

Divorce: How to Break it to the Kids

break it to the kidsOne of the worst parts of getting divorced is when you have to break it to the kids. Depending on how old the kids are and how much the marriage has deteriorated, they may have already guessed what’s happening, but you should still broach the subject carefully. We’ve come up with some tips to help.

Do It Together

It’s always hard to do things with your soon-to-be ex, but it’s important to remember that you will both continue to be parents, so this is a good time to start practicing how to raise the kids as a divorced couple.

Plan Ahead

There’s no way to map out exactly how a conversation will go, and you can’t expect it to happen just the way you plan it, but you can foresee some questions (maybe even objections) and decide how you’ll address them. Because you and your partner should have the conversation with your kids together, you should also complete the planning stage together. It’s important that you both agree on how and when to broach the subject, as well as the kind of language you’ll use. The words you choose to use can make a big difference, so it’s important that you decide carefully, agree on it beforehand, and stick to the plan.

Talk to Everyone at Once

If you have more than one child, be sure to talk to all the children at the same time. This is not a situation to deploy the “divide and conquer” strategy. While it might be tempting to try to talk to just one child at a time, in reality that will just lead to confusion for them and emotional exhaustion for you, since you’ll have to have the same tough conversation multiple times. It will also give them a chance to talk about it amongst themselves before you have a chance to talk to each of them, which will lead to rumors and fear.

Answer Any Questions

They’re bound to have questions: where will they live? Who will they live with? Will they still see both parents? Will they still be a family? It’s important to address all these questions and any others they might have in order to reassure them that your decision to end the marriage has nothing to do will your love for them.

Be Prepared for Multiple Conversations

It will take a while before they’ll be able to fully digest what you tell them and what it might mean for them. Be prepared for them to come back later with more questions and be open to answering all those questions. Just keep in mind the first rule of talking about divorce with the kids: do it together. You might not both be in the same room when one of your kids asks you about the divorce, (they’ll likely feel more comfortable talking to one parent than the other), just remember the words and language you and your partner decided on and continue to abide by that plan. You should also keep your partner in the loop about any questions or concerns your children are having, just as they should keep you abreast of anything that one of the children might approach them with after the initial conversation.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

What Does Divorce Look Like if You’re Over 50?

divorce over 50We all thought our lives would be set by the time we hit our 50s – that we would have it all figured out. But life doesn’t work that way. No matter what our age, there are always things that can surprise us, and that can include divorce.

Is Divorce the Same at Any Age?

Yes and no. The laws don’t change, but where you’re at in life has a significant effect on divorce proceedings. For example, one or both of you might have established careers and have compiled significant financial assets, all of which will have to be taken into account when dividing marital property.

If you have kids and one of you stayed home to raise them instead of working outside the home, that will have a significant effect on the spousal support the court will award. The parent that stayed home will find it hard to get a job because of both their age and how long they’ve been out of the workforce, so it’s possible that spousal support will be their only form of income.

Retirement

If you’re in your 50s, you’re probably starting to think about retirement – or you might even be one of the lucky few who managed to retire early. The reduced income you have in retirement could affect the amount of spousal support you have to pay, assuming you didn’t retire early (before age 65).

Social Security

If one spouse stayed home to raise the kids and take care of the house, they won’t have much Social Security of their own because they weren’t paying Social Security for all those years they weren’t in the workforce. In some cases, the court might award them a portion of their ex-spouse’s Social Security income, but only if they’re over the age of 62, have not remarried, the marriage lasted for at least ten years, and at least two years have passed since the divorce was finalized.

In general, retirement funds, such as 401k plans, IRA plans, and pension plans are considered marital assets if the parties contributed to the funds during the marriage, though there may be exceptions to this rule for things such as inherited IRAs or other inheritance or gifts.

Pension Plans

Pension Plans are also considered marital property (if earned partially or entirely during the marriage) and the Court typically awards each spouse a percentage of the pension plan.  A pension is divided though a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), in which case the pension plan administrator will send the payments directly to each spouse when the plan participant qualifies to receive same. This ensure payments to each party in the proper form and amount and allows each party to be taxed only on his/her portion of the benefits.

Survivor’s Benefits

You also might want to consider trying to negotiate for survivor benefits. Most pension plans give their workers the option of reducing their retirement benefits for themselves during their lifetime so that more can be paid to their spouse after the employee’s death. This is especially common in cases where the wife stayed home while her husband made the money  or the wife earned far less than the husband during the marriage.  Women tend to live, on average, seven years longer than men. That makes for a substantial amount of survivor’s benefits, so it’s worth it to at least try to get it included as part of your retirement division agreement.

No matter what stage you’re at in life when you and your spouse decide to split, you need a qualified family law attorney on your side – someone who will listen to your story and come up with the best solution for your needs.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. See additional disclaimers here.