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b2ap3_thumbnail_confidential-informant_640.jpgA federal appeals court Thursday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. See the full article at


b2ap3_thumbnail_att-pucci.jpgThe staff at Schwarz & Pucci, LLC would like to announce that Julia A. Pucci has been appointed to serve on the Illinois State Bar Association Family Law Section Council for the 2012-2013 period.  Per the website for the Illinois State Bar Association, the mission of the ISBA Family Law Section is as follows:

  • to encourage and support a high level of professional and ethical commitment and expertise among those who practice family law in all its substantive branches;
  • to remain sensitive to the changing needs and mores of families and individual family members in our society; and
  • to respond, through reasoned efforts directed toward the appropriate branch of government, and bar and/or the public;
  • to accomplish understanding of the law as it exists and is applied, or change of that law, where it is needed.

Serving on the Council is quite an honor, as committee members help to create seminars for continuing legal education, draft and review proposed and pending legislation, contribute to the Section newsletters and, overall, attempt to affect a positive difference in the overall legal community.


b2ap3_thumbnail_Scales-of-justice_600x400.jpgIn line (somewhat) with the topic of my last post, I came across this article today:

The current prediction is that this case is very likely to make it to the Supreme Court, bringing with it the hot-button issue of gay marriage.

b2ap3_thumbnail_gavel-law_640.jpgThe Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act is a short statute that creates a "civil union," which is not a marriage in Illinois, but a status that is very much like a marriage.  The statute makes no reference to gender, and in fact, opposite-sex couples can also obtain a civil union. The benefits of a civil union are like those of a marriage, and the requirements for obtaining one are few.  So, if a civil union confers all of the benefits of marriage, the question (at least in our practice) then becomes:how do you dissolve one?  Do you get a divorce?  Well, no.  But you must enter into a process very much like a divorce:a dissolution of a civil union.  Just as in a marriage, parties to a civil union can move to dissolve the union in Illinois, or in another statute with the express consent of the jurisdiction of Illinois courts.  And the procedure is generally the same.  The process is started with an action entitled "In re the Civil Union of ___ and ___".  There are few differences between a dissolution of a civil union and a divorce; one issue is federal taxes.  It is well-settled that the division of the marital estate incident to a divorce is not  taxable to either party.  However, the Defense of Marriage Act (1996) prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriage under federal law by defining marriage as between a husband and a wife.  Further the DOMA allows states to enact legislation specifically denouncing same-sex marriages from other states.  So what does this mean?  Well, federal law is, obviously, far-reaching.  Recent estimates state that over 1,138 federal rules or benefits use the word "spouse."  A Guide to the New Civil Union Law, Richard A. Wilson, IBJ May 2011.  Therefore, upon a dissolution of a civil union, the "divorce is not a  taxable event" rule under federal law does not apply.  And under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, maintenance is taxable to the payee under Illinois and Federal law.  But this benefit is not available to the payor of spousal support pursuant to a Judgment for Dissolution of a Civil Union.  And, one more issue when dealing with a dissolution of a civil union should be mentioned:children.  If parties to a civil union choose to have a child, by any means, the question of parentage remains unclear.  Thus, it is wise to consult an attorney and obtain a determination of parentage in order to protect both parents' rights.

Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-words3_640.jpgThe length, and content, of the divorce process depends on many factors, including the agreement or non-agreement of the parties on division of assets, custody of the children, and support of the children or spouse. The more agreeable the parties, the less time and money spent on the divorce. The actual time period can range from 60 days to several years.

b2ap3_thumbnail_lawyer_600x400-1.pngAlthough an attorney is not required by the court in Illinois to obtain a divorce or other family law determination (such as custody or separation), Judges are required to hold each person to the same standards as if he or she was an attorney, even if the person is representing him or herself. It is always advisable to have legal counsel to guide you through the divorce process, especially if you have children or assets. The Illinois Supreme Court has put certain rules in place that govern custody matters and the law regarding the division of assets in a divorce is complicated and ever-changing. Even if you believe your case to be very simple, an attorney will ensure that your case is handled smoothly, and often it will be completed much more quickly than if you were to handle the matter on your own.

Further, spouses who believe they have agreements on all issues often eventually have disputes regarding certain matters before the divorce is finalized. An attorney will be able to provide advice regarding a proper resolution. Remember that the agreement you reach on financial and custody issues must be put into a legal document, and this document must be free of mistakes and oversights or you may be required to return to court in the future to further litigate the issues. Attorneys who limit their practice to divorce matters draft these documents regularly, therefore it is much less likely you will have to return to court to re-litigate.

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