Law Office of Russell D Knight Blog

Blog Authors

Latest from Law Office of Russell D Knight Blog

All divorces in Illinois start the same. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed, the summons is issued by the court, and that summons and petition is served on the respondent (the other spouse).

“After the filing of the petition, the party filing the same shall, within 2 days, serve a copy thereof upon the other party, in the manner provided by rule of the Supreme Court for service of notices in other civil cases” 750 ILCS 5/411

The filing of a petition for dissolution and the clerk’s issuance of a summons are usually flawless. The service of
Continue Reading Due Diligence Of Service In An Illinois Divorce

Lawyers make the rules in divorce court. Lawyers enforce the rules in divorce court. It should be no surprise that lawyers have significant powers to ensure that they get paid in an Illinois divorce court.

Lawyers can ask the court to enter an order that the opposing side and/or even their own client pay their fees. An order to pay a divorce lawyer can be enforced by a subsequent order incarcerating the party who owes the lawyer.

If you didn’t like your ex’s divorce lawyer, you will really dislike the lawyer when they put you in jail.

Even your own
Continue Reading Can You Go To Jail For Not Paying Attorney’s Fees In Illinois?

People who get married make a lot of promises beyond “to love, honor and obey.” At the end of a marriage, people may be held accountable for these promises in a divorce court.

Normally, Promises Don’t Matter In An Illinois Divorce

The relief granted by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is so broad and flexible that there’s usually no need to outline a divorcing party’s promise and failure to fulfill that promise.

In fact, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act seems to explicitly state that it does not consider bad behavior such as empty promises
Continue Reading False Promises In An Illinois Divorce

The term “hedge fund” implies an elite financial institution. In reality, there are more hedge funds than there are Burger Kings.

A hedge fund is “a specialized investment group usually organized as a limited partnership.” Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019)

The operators of hedge funds claim to be able to see into the future with great accuracy…yet they get divorced as consistently as the rest of us.

The profits of the hedge funds are divided between the fund owners and the fund operators. The operators of these hedge funds get paid in a very particular way called “carried interest” which,
Continue Reading Hedge Funds And Carried Interest In An Illinois Divorce

For most, divorce is embarrassing. Some people, however, love talking about their divorce on social media where everyone can see the posts.

It is colossally stupid to post about your divorce on social media. Screenshots will be taken of the posts and used as evidence. A social media post is automatically admissible in an Illinois court as it is a “statement of a party opponent.”

“A statement is not hearsay if….The statement is offered against a party and is (A) the party’s own statement, in either an individual or a representative capacity, or (B) a statement of which the party
Continue Reading Social Media And Free Speech In An Illinois Divorce

Most Illinois divorces are resolved via settlement not trial.

Parties to an Illinois divorce will often circulate proposed agreements until they come to a final meeting of the minds and sign the same agreement.

Illinois law strongly encourages settlement.

The purpose of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is “[t]o promote amicable settlement of disputes between parties to a marriage attendant upon the dissolution of their marriage, the parties may enter into an agreement containing provisions for disposition of any property owned by either of them, maintenance of either of them, support, parental responsibility allocation of their
Continue Reading Unconscionable Marital Settlement Agreements In An Illinois Divorce

Trials and hearings do not happen a lot in an Illinois divorce proceeding. The factual issues in a divorce are, often, not disputed enough to warrant a hearing or trial. The parties typically agree as to what they own, what they earn and how they spend time with their children. An Illinois divorce court need only apply those agreed facts to the law to provide proposed recommendations…which the parties usually, again, agree to.

When parties do not agree to the facts (or the legal conclusions) they can request an evidentiary hearing to formally present the facts and arguments to
Continue Reading Circumstantial Evidence In An Illinois Divorce Trial

Divorce trials are high-pressure environments. No amount of practice will guarantee that a witness will say exactly the right thing. The court system is conscious of the frailty of human memory and allows attorneys to refresh their witness’s recollection with a document if necessary.

Refreshing A Memory In An Illinois Divorce Court?

It may sound bizarre, but a lawyer can stop a witness and politely ask, “Are you sure about that? Would you like to refresh your recollection?,” and then hand the witness a document stating what the lawyer would like the witness to say.  

“It is well settled
Continue Reading Refreshing A Witness’s Recollection In An Illinois Divorce Trial

People get divorced because they cannot communicate and/or cannot rely upon each other. The family law system then expects those parties to come to a full agreement on all issues…and follow that agreement to a tee. This is a tall order.

To encourage reasonable, if not good, behavior while living under a divorce agreement, Illinois courts can imbue the good faith and fair dealing doctrine into an existing agreement between two ex-spouses.

Divorce Agreements In Illinois

Illinois divorces are mostly resolved by agreement. In an ideal divorce, the parties enter into temporary agreements to keep the peace until they can
Continue Reading Good Faith And Fair Dealing For Illinois Divorce Agreements

Because of the portrayal of trials in movies, it is considered common for a witness to finally admit some horrible, damning fact in open court that resolves the case in its entirety (“You can’t handle the truth”)

This rarely happens at trial…but it can happen during the course of filing and answering pleadings, motions and discovery. Certain answers to legal requests can be considered binding forever. These binding answers are called “judicial admissions.”

What Is A Judicial Admission?

“Judicial admissions are defined as deliberate, clear, unequivocal statements by a party about a concrete fact within that party’s knowledge.” In re
Continue Reading Judicial Admissions In An Illinois Divorce

An Illinois divorce divides a couple’s property.

Property is either deemed “marital” or “non-marital” by an Illinois court in order to determine whether a court can distribute that property between the parties.

In an Illinois divorce, non-marital property automatically goes to the spouse who owns that property.

“[T]he court shall assign each spouse’s non-marital property to that spouse.” 750 ILCS 5/503(d)

Marital property, however, gets distributed by an Illinois divorce court. An Illinois divorce court “shall divide the marital property without regard to marital misconduct in just proportions” 750 ILCS 5/503(d)

Some parties to a divorce do not want any
Continue Reading Forcing The Sale Of A Home, Business Or Asset In An Illinois Divorce

The internet is full of chatter about divorce. The latest buzzword in the internet divorce community is the “silver bullet divorce”

A silver bullet divorce is a divorce that starts with an emergency order of protection (which is almost always heard ex parte…without the accused even being present.

The order of protection then excludes the accused party from the marital home and, often, denies the accused party access to their children.

The accused party then spends months waiting for the order of protection to be resolved. When the order of protection is finally resolved, the other party is settled into
Continue Reading Silver Bullet Divorce In Illinois

Divorce is unpleasant. Most people put off divorce issues…even during the divorce. In fact, financial issues can be reserved to be addressed later should the parties agree or the court determines that reserving a financial matter is appropriate.

For most cases, courts are strongly biased towards resolving every financial matter between the parties on the day of the divorce.

“The historical and practice notes [of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act] “encourage[] the court to decide all matters incident to the dissolution in a single judgment, to the fullest extent of its authority, in order to achieve finality,
Continue Reading Reserving Financial Issues In An Illinois Divorce

Everything matters in an Illinois divorce…until it does not. Divorce courts deal with issues brought forward by the parties and the courts do their best to eliminate those issues via temporary orders and settlements between the parties.

Yesterday’s emergency may become today’s dismissal or settlement. To memorialize the finality of the resolved issue, the last order regarding that issue will read that the matter is “dismissed with prejudice.”

Conversely, an order could leave the threat of the issue returning to court by noting that the matter is “dismissed without prejudice.”

Does it matter whether an issue is dismissed with or
Continue Reading Dismissing, Denying or Withdrawing Motions With Prejudice Or Without Prejudice In An Illinois Divorce

After a divorce, people move on. After a divorce, former spouses date and marry other people. Sometimes, they move very, very far away to date or marry other people.

Good luck to those who have found love again in a new community, new state or even a new country. However, if a moving parent has primary custody of a child…they are going to have a hard time as relocation with a child typically requires permission from the court that entered the original parenting plan.

There is a very detailed procedure in Illinois which does allow for relocation with a child
Continue Reading Relocating With A Child To Live With A New Spouse After An Illinois Divorce

There is probably no more thankless job than being a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in an Illinois divorce.

“A GAL is the ‘eyes and ears’ of the court.” In re Marriage of Wycoff, 266 Ill. App. 3d 408, 415 (1994)

Beyond eyes and ears, Guardian Ad Litems also have mouths…and parents often do NOT like what a Guardian Ad Litem has to say.

Inevitably, one or both sides become furious with what they perceive to be a court appointed interloper. Parents in the Illinois divorce process research how to change Guardian Ad Litems, not pay Guardian Ad Litems and
Continue Reading Subpoenaing A Guardian Ad Litem’s File In An Illinois Divorce