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In 2011, Illinois passed the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act giving protection and recognition to the legal relationship between two persons, of either the same or opposite sex, to the type of commitment known as a civil union. [1] The Act includes particular language that equates a civil union with a marriage, and states that the party to a civil union is entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as spouses in a marriage. [2] Since the Act was passed, legislatures have continued to amend related aspects of family law legislation, awarding even more rights…
In October 2019, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass a bi-partisan bill that would designate certain forms of animal cruelty as federal felonies; this bill was passed by the Senate earlier this month and, on November 25, 2019, was signed into law by the President.  The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or the PACT Act, gained support from both the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Fraternal Order of the Police, and the National Sheriff’s Association. THE CURRENT LEGISLATION The PACT Law expands on the protections offered under prior federal legislation, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act.…
When filing for divorce, it may feel as though you are drowning in paperwork.  From tax returns to your child’s doctor bills, a party to a divorce proceeding may be required to submit a large number of documents. These documents are used to gain insight into how the couple or family functions financially. Each party’s counsel will request documents from opposing counsel and work with their own client to obtain necessary documents to provide to the other side.  This process is called discovery. If one party does not supply all the documents necessary to the other party, the proceeding can…
It is no secret that many individuals consider pets as a member of the family. In fact, a recent survey found the millennial generation was more likely to adopt a pet than to have children or move in with a romantic partner. [1] Considering this, it is no surprise that recent legislation has taken steps to ensure pets are protected. Illinois has expansive legislation regarding pets’ and pet owner’s rights and responsibilities in the state, and legislatures continue to introduce new bills that ensure pets are safe. A bill currently up for review in the Illinois house of Representatives, requires…
Illinois legislators have recently proposed a number of acts that further the opportunities for demographic groups at-risk of being disadvantaged, such as women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. If approved, many of these acts will go into effect January 1, 2020. Below is a brief summary of just a few of the bills currently under consideration by the state legislators. HB0002-Expanding Upon Pregnant Women’s Rights This bill outlines and specifies a pregnant woman’s rights when receiving health care throughout pregnancy and childbirth. One aspect the bill would expand upon is the communication resources available to pregnant women. If enacted, the…
In 2019, Illinois enacted a new law to expand anti-stalking and harassment laws to include digital contact and social media. This protection extends to any form of digital communication between the perpetrator and their victim. To understand this and other anti-stalking and harassment laws, it is important to have a clear understanding of what type of behavior and contact is defined as stalking. WHAT IS STALKING? The legal definition of stalking continues to develop as different issues and claims arise. In general, it is defined as repeated and intentional following of or attempted contact with an individual, who has not…
Social media is intended to unite individuals; however, when going through a divorce proceeding, social media may bring an individual too close to their ex and could even affect the way their case is settled. Without a second thought, many people create posts that give clues about their infidelities, income, habits, and lifestyle.  All of these posts can be used against an individual when drafting a divorce or custody settlement. In fact, over eighty percent of family law attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported they have seen an increase in the amount of divorce proceedings using…
If you have ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime in Illinois, you may have wondered what options you have to clear your record.  Illinois offers two distinct avenues – expungement and sealing – that may be available to you in these cases. Expungement is a process through which entries on your criminal and arrest record are removed.  Sealing a record does not remove the entries, but rather prevents the public from being able to view these things.  Only individuals or agencies connected to law enforcement or with special permission will be able to view items on a…
Likely most everyone has heard the news at this point that Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act on June 25, 2019, officially legalizing the use of recreational marijuana for anyone over the age of 21. [1] However, the bill also has several other lesser known provisions that you may not have been aware of.  Sherer Law Offices is here to walk you through two of largest side effects of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. First, the new law will allow for approximately 770,000 Illinois residents to have their criminal records expunged of certain marijuana related…
On Tuesday September 3rd the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuit against the Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, and the NFL must be heard in an open court room and not behind the closed doors of arbitration.[1] The City’s lawsuit alleges that the Rams violated the NFL’s 1984 league guidelines.  The league and Mr. Kroenke have alleged that any disagreement should be aired behind closed doors in arbitration, rather than in open court, pursuant to the 1995 lease agreement.  However, the Missouri Supreme Court disagreed and ordered the suit to proceed in open court. Currently, four suits are pending…
On Friday August 23, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed into law House Bill 2276, effectively amending the Illinois Vehicle Code and making it illegal for anyone to smoke in a car containing a person under 18 years of age.[1]  Specifically, it will be illegal for anyone to inhale, exhale, burn, or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, weed, plant, regulated narcotic, or other combustible substance while a minor is in the car.  The law applies whether the car is moving or stationary and regardless of whether windows and/or doors are open. The new law went into effect immediately and calls…
On June 19, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rendered its decision that the city of Chicago violated the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay provision when it continued to hold cars belonging to individuals who had filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. [1] This decision was the result of a consolidated appeal of four bankruptcy cases which arose when Chicago refused to return vehicles impounded for failure to pay multiple traffic tickets.  The City argued that in ordered to properly maintain their lien on the debtor’s vehicles and ensure payment of the fines, the City needed to…
Back in 2004, Illinois passed what is known as the Gender Violence Act in an effort to deter violence directed toward women.  Since its inception, the Gender Violence Act has undergone little change. It classified gender-related violence as a form of sex discrimination and allowed a person who had been subjected to gender-related violence to bring a civil action for monetary damages, injunctive relief, or other appropriate relief. [1]  However, on May 17, 2019, the Third District Appellate Court handed down a decision seriously expanding the scope of the Gender Violence Act. In Gasic v Marquette Management, the Court…
On Wednesday August 21st, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed into law Senate Bill 1090, making Illinois only the second state to prohibit landlords from evicting tenants solely because they are living in the U.S. illegally.[1] The bill also prohibits landlords from reporting or threatening to report a tenant’s immigration status to authorities as a means of intimidation, in retaliation for exercising their rights as tenants, or to force them to agree to move out.  The law does not prevent landlords from enforcing existing terms of the lease or evicting tenants for permissible reasons, only from doing so based on immigration…
Last month New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill officially banning religious exemptions for vaccinations.  The law was passed after states across the U.S. saw the largest measles outbreak since 1992 and since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. [1] In fact, just this year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 1,148 cases of measles have been confirmed in 30 states.  This is up from 372 cases reported in 2018 and 120 reported in 2017.  New York seems to have been hit the hardest by this recent epidemic, reporting 550 confirmed cases…
As of August 6, 2019, Illinois is the first state to require fire protection for pets kept in kennels and other boarding facilities.[1] House Bill 3390 amended the Illinois Animal Welfare Act to require that all kennel operators install a fire alarm monitoring system that triggers notification to local emergency responders, unless the kennel is staffed at all times.  If a kennel is found in violation, they can face a fine of $500 for a first offense, $1,500 for a second offense, and $2,500 and the loss of their license for a third offense. The bill, which passed through…