Family Law, Divorce, Custody, Support

Divorce, Child Custody, Removal, Visitation, Spousal Support, Domestic Litigation, Grandparents Rights, Guardianship Cases, Probate and Estate Administration

The following are representative of some of the divorce, dissolution of marriage, child custody, child removal, removal, modification, visitation, alimony, spousal support, domestic litigation, Grandparents Rights, Probate, Guardianship and Estate Administration cases that have been involved in the Southern and Central Illinois Regions.
EDWARDSVILLE (MADISON COUNTY), ILLINOIS As Edwardsville, Illinois Divorce Attorneys we were involved in a child removal case where our client wished to remove the minor children to the State of California. We took the position that removal was in the best interests of the minor children and our client prevailed and the children were relocated from Illinois to California. This case involved Alton, Illinois Divorce attorneys and a favorable ruling from the Madison County Circuit Court.
CARLINVILLE (MACOUPIN COUNTY), ILLINOIS As Carlinville, Illinois Divorce Attorneys we handled a divorce case involving a husband and wife disputing how to divide the family farm that they had operated for decades in Macoupin County, Illinois. This case involved a divorce attorney from Springfield, Illinois. We took over representation from a Sangamon County, Illinois attorney and proceeded to represent the wife who claimed the husband had a new girlfriend and basically abandoned his wife in the course of the marriage. The case was before a Judge in Macoupin County Circuit Court.
ATTORNEY/CLIENT PRIVILEGE VANDALIA (FAYETTE COUNTY), ILLINOIS As Vandalia, Illinois Divorce Attorneys we represented a husband engaged in a divorce that wanted to have outside counsel to work with his local Vandalia, Illinois divorce attorney. The case involved millions in assets and went to the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fifth District. As Belleville and Effingham, Illinois divorce attorneys, we reviewed all available records and gave advice regarding the settlement, including the final resolution reached by the parties after a contested divorce proceeding.
UNDIVIDED ASSETS MT. VERNON (JEFFERSON COUNTY), ILLINOIS As Mt. Vernon, Illinois Divorce Attorneys we represented a wife whose husband had contested tax issues with the Internal revenue Service and was seeking her share of the marital assets and family business. The husband was represented by a Jefferson County, Illinois divorce attorney. The wife was employed outside the home and the husband claimed the wife made more than he did and we reviewed all records obtained from the husband.
UNPAID CHILD SUPPORT NASHVILLE (WASHINGTON COUNTY), ILLINOIS As Nashville, Illinois Divorce Attorneys we represented a client who was claiming he was paying too much in child support. He was a coal miner and had moved from Ohio to Indiana to Illinois and had affairs and children along the way. We worked out a settlement that exceeded his expectations. The case involved a Washington County, Illinois divorce attorney and a Nashville, Illinois Judge.

BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS DIVORCE LAW FIRM ST. CLAIR COUNTY, ILLINOIS FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS CHILD CUSTODY REMOVAL AND SUPPORT METRO EAST, ILLINOIS LAW FIRM MADISON COUNTY, ILLINOIS PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT LAW FIRM MONROE COUNTY, ILLINOIS CONTEMPT OF COURT LAW FIRM METRO EAST, ILLINOIS ATTORNEYS INVOLVED IN FAMILY LAW LITIGATION Blake Law Group, P.C. – AVRATED LAW FIRM INVOLVED IN ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION CASES IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS METRO EAST, ILLINOIS LAW FIRM HANDLING CONTESTED ADOPTIONS ST. CLAIR COUNTY, ILLINOIS LAW FIRM HANDLING PATERNITY LAWSUITS MADISON COUNTY, ILLINOIS ATTORNEYS HANDLING LEGAL SEPARATION CASES SOUTHERN ILLINOIS TRIAL ATTORNEYS AND APPELLATE ATTORNEYS FOR FAMILY LAW, DIVORCE, CUSTODY, REMOVAL AND OTHER CASES

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We are never too busy to meet or communicate with you in any manner as may be appropriate.  You should know that if you are our client we will do our best to make sure your interests are protected and we will vigorously advocate your positions to obtain the best results.

Illinois Father’s Rights and Mother’s Rights

As with any type of lawsuit, we zealously advocate the rights of our clients, whether it be the father or the mother. Since we have more attorneys regularly handling family law cases then most family law firms in the area, we have the advantage of comparing rulings in various cases in Courts throughout the Metro East and Southern Illinois areas. It is only logical that cases involving father’s rights also involve mother’s rights.

One attorney is advocating the position of his or her client and the other attorney is advocating the position of the spouse.

Here is the difference. We believe the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. In other words, we believe the outcome of any case can be affected by a variety of factors. As soon as we accept a case for representation we immediately begin working on it. We send confirmatory correspondence to any new client that we have accepted the case for representation and how we intend to proceed. We respond to all telephone calls or inquiries from our clients and we make time for office conferences which result in our clients having a comfort level that we are working assiduously on their case and that they are being kept timely informed of all developments.

We try not to be a firm that spends a lot of money to advertise or market services. We also do not wish to be a firm that has so many cases that the client ends up being a number, or that the client feels that the law firm simply does not have enough resources, including attorneys and legal assistants, for the level of experience, competence and expertise they are seeking.
Simply stated, if we represent you, our goal is to do our homework, make ourselves available, keep you advised throughout our representation, to aggressively pursue your rights and to protect your interests in order to successfully achieve the best results for our clients.

Divorce

We have been representing clients in contested and uncontested dissolution of marriages for years.  We have vast experience in litigation, including issues involving property, custody, visitation, insurance, tax, maintenance and other matters.

Father’s Rights

We have represented fathers for years in contested and uncontested family issues.  We understand the facts, strategies and nuances in this area of the law.  Regardless of who we represent, we provide timely, aggressive and affective representation.

Adoption

We have been handling adoption cases for years, including complex areas where a natural parent cannot be located, or may reside in a foreign country.  We work through the Court system to ensure that adoption matters are handled correctly in order that problems may be avoided in the future.

Child Custody

We are aggressive and responsive in regard to child custody cases.  In certain instances, this involves the taking of deposition of various parties, working with health and/or behavioral specialist, background checks, depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case, presentations to the Court regarding the best interests of the child, working with mediators and/or guardian ad litems regarding issues and matters related thereto.

Child Support

We have represented clients in regard to obtaining current and back child support and we have represented individuals in regard to defending claims being brought against them in regard to unpaid child support, including by local or state agencies.  In many instances, this involves providing representation at contempted Court proceedings and matters relating thereto.

Military Divorces

Since we have been handling military divorces for decades, including involving Scott Air Force Base (which is located in St. Clair County, Illinois) and other military installations throughout the country and the world, we provide aggressive representation on behalf of our clients in this area of the law, including when it pertains to property division, child support and other characteristics of a military divorce.

International Family Cases

We have been involved in complicated family cases that have involved foreign countries, including Kuwait, Iraq, England, Japan, Canada, etc.  It is not unusual for us to work with clients or attorneys in foreign countries, as may be appropriate under the circumstances.

Paternity Actions

We have represented numerous clients over the years in regard to paternity actions, both attempting to show a person is the natural father of a child or attempting to defend a wrongful claim that a person is the father of a child.  In many situations, especially with children born out of wedlock, parties do not take timely action to establish certain rights or have orders entered by the Court.

Modification of Custody

We have handled a variety of modification of custody cases.  In those situations, we emphasize what may be in the best interests of the minor child or children, taking into consideration numerous factors, including the circumstances of the natural mother, the circumstances of the natural father, what is occurring in the lives of the child or children, the ages of the child or children, the preferences and wishes of the child or children, etc.

Legal Separations

We are often requested to provide counsel and advise regarding legal separations versus dissolutions of marriage.  In those instances when legal separations may be appropriate, sometimes clients do not wish to proceed with a dissolution of marriage, or else there could be adverse consequences if they did proceed with a dissolution of marriage, including either the wife or husband no longer being able to be covered by the spouse’s insurance.

Child Support Cases

We are sometimes requested to defend child support cases, including collection activities directed against the non-custodial parent or efforts to have the non-custodial parent increase child support.  In other instances, we represent clients who are seeking reductions in child support, either because of substantial changes in financial condition, the ages or circumstances of the children, or changes in regard to other facts and circumstances.

Protection of Children

A parent who becomes aware of facts and circumstances that threaten his or her children’s safety can file pleadings with the Court to attempt to protect the child or children.  Parents wish to protect their children, whether they are the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent.  Sometimes actions can be brought requesting ex parte relief, which is relief being requested under exigent circumstances where notice to the other parent may not be given.  In other cases, a moving party may be asking for injunctive relief to enjoin certain matters for the protection of the children.  It is not unusual for a parent to request modification of custody and/or visitation, taking into account the relevant circumstances of the parties, and the best interests of the children.

Interference with Relationship with Children

A goal of family law is the protection of the relationship between parent and child.  There should not be interference with custody.  If possible, divorcing parties should promote the children’s love, respect and affection toward the other parent.  It is not unusual for the Court, prior to or after a hearing, to explain to the parties, that the parties may be held to the highest standards of conduct in ensuring that the best interests of the children are protected, including by fostering the love, respect and affection of the children toward each parent.

The Father-Child Relationship

Just as the mother-child relationship has always been viewed as important to a child’s upbringing, a father-child relationship is  just as important.  In regard to the well-being of the children, if parents divorce, the mother-child relationship and the father-child relationship, to the extent possible, should weigh heavily in regard to issues concerning the best interests of the children, the type of custody, the nature and extent of visitation and other issues that directly or indirectly affect the children and their parents.

Family Law Negotiations

Negotiations in family law cases involve issues relating to custody, visitation, child support, issues regarding marital property, issues involving non-marital property, maintenance and pension or retirement plans.  We usually advise clients early on in proceedings to formulate a reasonable settlement demand including so as to attempt to save some additional time, fees and expense.  In that manner, and early in the case, there can be an attempt at narrowing the issues, and in determining matters that can be agreed upon and matters in regard to which further negotiations or a hearing may be required.  Parties sometimes have their own perspectives regarding the negotiation process.  Sometimes they do not wish to make the first offer because they have the belief  that the first offer is never accepted anyway.  Once an offer is made, sometimes parties do not understand that a counter-offer generally results in rejection of the original offer by the other side.  In order to facilitate resolutions, the law generally provides that settlement negotiations are inadmissible in the event of a hearing.  In settlement negotiations, we usually clearly identify letters of offer, acceptance or counter-offer as Settlement negotiations – not admissible in order that all attorneys and parties understand that if matters are not settled, those written communications clearly may not be introduced as evidence for any reason at a hearing.

Mediation

In many cases, we explore the concept of mediation with our clients.  Although mediation is often times associated with custody disagreements, mediation can also be used in regard to other issues involved in divorce and family law.  Mediation can be through a third-party lawyer, or a retired judge or others.  There can be one or more mediation sessions.  Usually the mediation sessions do not involve the attorneys for the parties, although sometimes this process involves a mediator, the parties and their attorneys.  Mediation can occur at a neutral location, or at a venue identified by the mediator.  A general concept of mediation is that if matters have not been resolved over a period of time through litigation, mediation may be recommended as a way to move the case toward  settlement on all remaining issues.

Custody Modification

We are often asked by clients to provide representation relating to modification of custody, including when there has been a change in circumstances that substantially affects the best interests of the child or children.  In those situations, attention is given to the actions of the parents, and/or the circumstances of the child or children, and the Court can take into consideration factors in determining how custody may be modified in the best interests of the child or children.  The older the child or children, the more likely the Court may take into consideration the wishes of the child or children in regard to who the child or children believe should have custody, or the type of custody, and/or visitation that the parents should have.

Changes to Visitation

Sometimes visitation ordered by the Court does not work.  Even if the parents agree to a visitation schedule, there are facts and circumstances which can arise, and which were possibly unanticipated at the time of the divorce, which results in modification of visitation being recommended.  For example, sometimes the non-custodial parents engages in activities that are not in the best interests of the minor children.  In other instances, the non-custodial parents knows may not show up timely for visitation periods or may use visitation as a strategy or a tool to disrupt the parent-child relationship of the custodial parent.  A divorce decree may not necessarily be the end of animosity, disputes or litigation between the parents.  As a practical matter, issues relating to custody, visitation and support can be a source of continuing disputes even though a divorce may have taken place years ago.  It has been our experience that on some days in Court there are just as many post-divorce cases pending, as there are cases pending where divorces have not yet been granted.

Mother’s Groups

Committee for Mother and Child Rights
210 Old Orchard Drive
Clear Beach, VA 22624-1647

Mother’s Without Custody
P.O. Box 27418
Houston, TX 77227

National Center of Women and Family Law
275 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1206
New York, NY 10001

Parents without Partners
8807 Colesville Road
Silver Springs, MD 20910

Father’s Groups

American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC)
2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 148
Washington, DC 20006

Dads Against Discrimination
320 SW Stark, #516
Portland, OR 97204

Father’s Rights and Equality Exchange
701 Welch Road, #323
Palo Alto, CA 94304

National Congress for Fathers and Children
P.O. Box 171675
Kansas City, KS 66117-1675

Child Custody

Mothers Without Custody
P.O. Box 27418
Houston, TX 77227

National Association of Child Advocates
1522 K Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005

National Center for Missing Represented Children
2101 Wilkes Blvd., Suite 550
Arlington, VA 22201

Find the Children
11811 West Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Settlement Structured to Provide for Non-modifiable and Modifiable Maintenance

We were contacted by a husband to take over representation in a vigorously contested divorce proceeding. The husband had fallen in love with another women and his wife of a long-time marriage was unforgiving. The wife was contesting grounds since none of the statutory basis’ appeared to apply. The husband was attempting to smooth matters over with the wife in an attempt to have her agree to the divorce. He initially offered her non-modifiable maintenance in excess of •500,000 to be paid over a period of years. We did not believe the wife was a qualified applicant for such a generous non-modifiable maintenance award, including because although she claimed she had received doctor’s orders not to work because of depression and some other issues, it turned out that she was a premier long-distance runner who was regularly in training and had recently participated in and had finished marathons. A concern we had related to the ability of the husband to pay substantial non-modifiable maintenance in the future since, although he was an executive with a large corporation earning a generous salary, that could not be relied upon in the future. As it turned out, a settlement was reached whereby there was a minimal base non-modifiable maintenance award provided for coupled with increases depending on additional wages the husband may receive from his employer in the future. In other words, if earnings remained substantial, including if there were increases or bonuses, the former spouse would share by having increased maintenance. If not, at least the former spouse would be assured of a base amount of non-modifiable maintenance for a period of years. As it turned out, shortly after the settlement was agreed to by the parties and finalized, the husband lost his position at the large corporation where he had worked throughout the course of the marriage.

Antenuptial Agreement at Issue

We represented a wife in a divorce proceeding in regard to which an Antenuptial Agreement had been secured by the parties approximately fifteen (15) years prior to the dissolution of marriage proceeding being litigated.  At the time when the Antenuptial Agreement procured, the wife was a successful business person and the husband was retired and receiving a pension.  As matters evolved, the wife sold her assets and dissolved her business.  The husband started a new business which was immediately profitable.  There were issues concerning which assets the Antenuptial Agreement applied to and whether or not there was a valid Antenuptial Agreement.  In the course of depositions, we learned that the husband had transferred in excess of •800,000 to his daughter, either prior to or after the marriage, which had not been previously disclosed to the wife.  Although the daughter in another state had possession of said substantial funds for years prior to the dissolution of marriage being filed, there was an issue as to whether or not she was holding said funds as nominee or if she actually considered those funds to be hers.  At the discovery deposition of the daughter, she testified that she had current business and personal financial statements at her local bank in another state.  We inquired if the assets that were transferred to her from her father, either prior to or after the marriage to her stepmother, had been disclosed on those financial statements.  The daughter admitted that those funds had not been disclosed in her financial statements.  This was consistent with our position that the daughter was simply holding the funds as nominee for her father in the event the marriage did not survive and/or the Antenuptial Agreement did not hold up or did not provide sufficient protection for her father in regard to said assets.

Dispute over which High School a
Minor Child was to Attend

We represented a client in a dispute with her former husband which had to do with which high school the minor child was to attend.  Our client wished for the child to attend a public high school in the city where she resided.  The former husband wished for the minor child to attend a public high school in the city where he resided.  An action was brought by counsel for the former husband.  We were able to prevail on behalf of our client by invoking the Joint Parenting Agreement, and in particular, that provision which provided that our client had veto power in regard to what school the minor child was to attend.  Although the Joint Parenting Agreement provided that the former husband was the primary custodial parent, and had the right to choose what school, there was a provision in said Joint Parenting Agreement that said right to choose was subject to the consent of our client.  The Court interpreted that paragraph of the Joint Parenting Agreement to provide that our client had the right to choose which high school the minor child was to attend.

Recovery of Unpaid Child Support in excess of •75,000

We represented a former spouse who believed her ex-husband may not have complied with child support terms and conditions set forth in their Marital Settlement Agreement and Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.  Our client was entitled to receive a base amount of child support per month for a number of years.  However, our client was also entitled to receive increased child support automatically based on the income of her former husband.  The former husband had an executive position at Anheuser-Busch Companies.  After we filed pleadings in Court, through the discovery process, we asked for copies of tax returns from the former husband.  After we received the tax returns, we discovered that there had been substantial stock options received from Anheuser-Busch Companies.  Although the stock options were not cashed, these property rights were included as income on the tax returns of the former husband.  We then made the argument to the Court that if the stock options were reported as income on the tax returns that necessarily meant the stock options should be treated as income and, therefore, our client was entitled to recover back child support because she should have received a portion of this substantial additional income as part of the child support formula agreed to by the parties when the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage was entered.  Our client received a •75,000 back child support award in regard to this issue.

Mother looses Custody because she Enrolled in College

We represented a former wife in regard to a modification of custody/visitation.  Although our client was represented by a different law firm when custody was initially decided by the Court, in our investigation in regard to the modification representation, we discovered that the Trial Court may not have had all the facts at the time custody was originally ordered.  Our client was attending a local junior college to improve her job prospects and to earn a better income for her family.  This meant that she was not always home to take care of her child.  Even though she always made arrangements to look after the minor child, the Trial Court gave custody to her husband.  We believe another approach would have been that some type of accommodation should have been made to take into account the educational pursuits of the former wife.  For example, we believe our client’s former attorney could have argued that there should have been some type of temporary custody, possibly even joint custody, with the custody issue being revisited after the former wife completed her studies.  In that event, there is no question that her educational pursuits would have been completed and she would have been a strong candidate for sole custody.  In our review of these issues, we advised our client that we believe she should have taken an appeal from the decision by the Court at the time when she was represented by a different law firm.

Representation of St. Clair County Physician

We have represented doctors and doctors’ wives in divorce proceedings.  In one case, the marriage had basically been broken and the husband was interested in seeing other women.  The wife wished to move on with her life.  There were two (2) minor children involved.  We took the position that the doctor’s professional license should be taken into consideration as marital property and/or should have otherwise been considered by the Court at the time the dissolution of marriage was entered.  Through the discovery process it appeared that the valuation of the practice by the doctor was low.  The doctor did not let accountants or others maintain his books.  Since the doctor maintained his own books, there may have been a creditability issues in regard cash on hand, account receivables, work-in-process, etc.  The doctor had an excellent practice in St. Clair County, Illinois, and our client was employed as a legal assistant at a law firm that did not handle matrimonial litigation.  After we were able to obtain sufficient documentation and information, we were able to work out a settlement that met with the satisfaction of our client.

Contested Adoption Proceedings

We have been involved in contesting adoption proceedings.  For example, with a private agency adoption, the natural parents are requested to execute written consents and surrenders.  There can be facts and circumstances that allow for contesting adoption proceedings with respect to the consents and surrenders, including based on fraud and/or duress.  There must be appropriate allegations to state a cause of action and discovery can be recommended to attempt to develop additional facts that will allow for sustaining any burden of proof at trial.  With respect to fraud, that may have to do with material misrepresentations made wherein the natural parents may have relied upon same in proceeding with executing any consents or surrenders.  In regard to duress, that may be related to undue influence, pressure or intimidations such that any consent or surrender may not have been the result of any knowing and voluntary agreement to the adoption.  Sometimes the natural parents in a private agency adoption may believe they are at a disadvantage or that their economic or social circumstances could result in issues with their child.  In contesting adoption proceedings, it is recommended that investigation be thorough, including in regard to how the prospective adoptive parent or parents came to know of the availability of the child, what the adoptive parent or parents did in regard to expressing interest or pursuing the child sought to be adopted, communications and other matters between the adoptive parent or parents and the natural parents, etc.  There are safeguards built into the system that allow for all parties to exercise their legal rights throughout the adoption process. It would generally be recommended that the natural parents who are requested to execute any consent or surrender relative to the adoption process seek the advice of their own attorney before taking any action or signing any documents that may be presented to them for signature.

Belleville Divorce Mediation Attorneys

We have been involved in many mediation cases.  We sometimes recommend mediation when litigation has been ongoing for a period of time and there has not been a settlement satisfactory to all parties and a trial is inevitable.  Our philosophy is that sometimes mediation works because it gives the parties an opportunity to have an independent third party review the situation with them and make recommendations.  There is some additional time and cost involved in mediation.  The mediator can benefit from trial preparation undertaken to date, including pleadings filed, orders entered, discovery completed, including depositions.  It is simply another strategy in attempting to work out a resolution in order to resolve complicated issues.  Sometimes parties are amenable to the suggestions of a mediator and sometimes they are not.  A mediator is usually seeking compromises which sometimes can be substantial.  In certain instances, parties are willing to make substantial compromises while in other instances they are not.  Sometimes mediation takes one session and in other instances mediation can involve multiple meetings, usually directly with the parties, but sometimes including the parties, the attorneys and the mediator.  If a mediated settlement can be worked out, same is usually reduced to writing by the attorneys and then the parties can approve and the mediated settlement can be submitted to the Court for approval.

Illinois Fathers Rights and Mother’s Rights

As with any type of lawsuit, we zealously advocate the rights of our clients, whether it be the father or the mother.  Since we have more attorneys regularly handling family law cases then most family law firms in the area, we have the advantage of comparing rulings in various cases in Courts throughout the Metro East and Southern Illinois areas.  It is only logical that cases involving father’s rights also involve mother’s rights. One attorney is advocating the position of his or her client and the other attorney is advocating the position of the spouse.

Here is the difference.  We believe the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.  In other words, we believe the outcome of any case can be affected by a variety of factors.  As soon as we accept a case for representation we immediately begin working on it.  We send confirmatory correspondence to any new client that we have accepted the case for representation and how we intend to proceed.  We respond to all telephone calls or inquiries from our clients and we make time for office conferences which result in our client having a comfort level that we are working assiduously on their case and that they are being kept timely informed of all developments.

We try not to be a firm that spends a lot of money to advertise or market services.  We also do not wish to be a firm that has so many cases that the client ends up being a number, or that the client feels that the law firm simply does not have enough resources, including attorneys and legal assistants, for the level of experience, competence and expertise they are seeking.

Simply stated, if we represent you, our goal is to do our homework, make ourselves available, keep you advised throughout our representation, to aggressively pursue your rights and to protect your interests in order to successfully achieve the best results for our clients.

“AV” Rating

Blake Law Group, P.C. has received an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the most trusted and respected service for rating attorneys in the United States.  The “AV” rating is the highest possible rating for legal abilities and reputation by other lawyers.

Referrals

We often receive referrals from other attorneys who may not practice, at least to the extent we do, in regard to certain areas of the law, including complex family matters.  As a result, this has increased our volume of cases and expertise in this area of the law.