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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7
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Oak Brook restraining order lawyerRealizing that you are in an abusive relationship often takes much longer than many people expect. Due to the emotional ties and feelings of obligation that people in such relationships often experience, they may deny that abuse is occurring. In addition to enduring abuse, victims often struggle to gather the courage and strength to break ties with their abuser. For some, ending an abusive relationship is not only emotionally difficult, but it can also be physically dangerous. In these cases, a victim may be able to protect their safety by obtaining an order of protection.

Orders of Protection in Illinois

An order of protection is what many people commonly call a restraining order. While a restraining order may be obtained to protect against an abusive spouse or partner, these types of orders are not limited solely to those who are romantically involved. An order of protection can be obtained against the following people:

  • Anyone you are related to by blood or through marriage.
  • Those who you are tied to through having a child together.
  • Someone you are seeing romantically or have dated in the past.
  • A person acting violently or threatening to act violently towards one of your employees while at work.

If a judge approves the order of protection, this can mean multiple things for the accused. The judge can order the abuser to stop abusive acts, not contact you, physically stay away from you, attend counseling, pay child support, and/or move out of the home you share. Because not all of these stipulations apply to every abusive relationship, the details of an order of protection can vary based on the situation. 

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Wheaton cyberbullying defense lawyerFor young people in the 21st century, growing up under the influence of the internet and social media has resulted in different forms of bullying than in the past. Though cyberbullying is not new, it has continued to evolve as social media formats change. Internet usage among young adults has changed from IMing to DMing, from texting to tweeting, and from posting on Tumblr to selecting the best filter for an Instagram photo. Because the social media realm is ever-changing, new bullying tactics emerge as online trends change. 

Cyberbullying can occur through messaging, social media sites, and gaming programs. The United States at large has recognized the problem of cyberbullying; however, laws and regulations change state-by-state. Illinois has taken actions to reduce cyberbullying and improve youths’ experiences in junior high and high school, and those accused of cyberbullying should work with a criminal defense attorney to understand their rights and legal options.

Illinois Law: On Paper and In Practice 

Illinois has laws and policies against cyberbullying, in keeping with the majority of the country. Illinois has passed legislation highlighting the terms bullying, harassment, and intimidation when discussing cyberbullying. Anti-bullying laws are meant to protect individuals from harassment due to their race, religion, sex, age, marital status, etc. Using digital means to attack any person based on these distinguishing characteristics is considered cyberbullying, and it can result in criminal charges, as well as consequences for students such as suspension or expulsion from school. 

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Wheaton annulment attorneyAn annulment provides couples with a way to dissolve a marriage in some circumstances. Like a divorce, an annulment ends the legal partnership of marriage between two people. However, unlike a divorce, an annulment declares the marriage invalid, essentially erasing the existence of the marriage as a whole. While many going through a divorce may wish their marriage never happened, not all couples can obtain an annulment. In Illinois, there are several instances and time limits in which one can receive an annulment (known under Illinois law as a declaration of invalidity of marriage):

  • One or both spouses could not consent to be married. Reasons why a spouse may not have been able to consent include mental disability, the influence of alcohol or drugs, or the use of force or duress. The time limit for an annulment due to lack of consent is 90 days, and this type of annulment can be sought by either spouse or by the legal representative (such as a parent or guardian) of a spouse who lacks the mental capacity for consent.
  • One spouse is unable to consummate the marriage through sexual intercourse, and this was unknown to the other spouse before the marriage. The time limit for an annulment for this reason is one year from when the condition became known.
  • One or both spouses were under the age of 18 and lacked consent from a legal guardian. These marriages can be annulled by the minor or by their parent or guardian before the minor turns 18 years old.
  • The marriage was illegal. In Illinois, marriage to kin or to someone who is already married is prohibited. In these cases, an annulment may be sought by either party or their children, by the legal spouse of a person who is already married, or by the state of Illinois, and they may do so at any time before three years have passed since the death of one of the spouses. 

One of the most common reasons couples seek an annulment is for religious purposes. Under the rules of the Catholic Church, one cannot get married “in the eyes of the church” if they have been previously married. Those who believe in Catholicism must receive an annulment of their previous, thus labeling the marriage “null and void,” in order to get married in the church to another person.

Contact a DuPage County Annulment Lawyer

The annulment process begins with a petition to the court which will need to provide ample evidence to support the reason(s) the marriage should be made invalid. The timing of the petition is crucial, since an annulment will be denied if the marriage extends outside of the time parameters listed above. When obtaining an annulment, it is important to work with an experienced Oak Brook family law attorney, since the process is detail oriented and dependent on the specific details of your marriage. At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we have extensive experience with the annulment and divorce processes. Contact us at 630-472-9700 to schedule a free consultation and learn how you and your spouse can obtain an annulment. 

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Downers Grove weapons charges defense lawyerFirearm safety and gun laws are hot-button topics in America due to the high number of shootings that have occurred over the last couple of decades. Though many are advocating for the tightening of gun regulations across the nation, it is difficult to accomplish this when gun laws differ so significantly from state to state and situation to situation. Firearm owners should be sure to understand their gun rights as an Illinois resident or non-resident in order to avoid the possibility of facing weapons charges

Resident Rights

Obtaining the ability to legally carry and use a gun in Illinois is a fairly lengthy process. Residents planning to own firearms must acquire a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card. This is issued by the Illinois State Police after completing the application process and a required course. After receiving a FOID card and purchasing a gun, there is a 72-hour waiting period in order to earn possession of the firearm. 

Having a FOID card does not allow Illinois residents to walk around public areas while carrying guns. A concealed carry license is necessary in the state of Illinois. This is another process that requires the completion of a 16-hour training course. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. After obtaining a concealed carry license, Illinois residents must abide by the following regulations:

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Posted on in Pet Custody

Lombard divorce and pets attorneyTo animal lovers across the country, pets are an important part of their family. Many go so far as seeing their pet as another child to take care of. This is especially common in marriages without children. Strong feelings toward pets can make some divorce cases even more difficult than they already are, and changing attitudes toward animals and updates to divorce laws have added new factors for couples and courts to consider during divorce.

A Shift in Priorities

Over time, pets have become a staple in American homes, with many homes having two or three dogs or cats running around. The family pet has now become more than just another mouth to feed, but a full-fledged member of the family. This is evident in the sharp rise of money spent on animals each year. The pet industry has seen exponential growth over the last 30 years, increasing from a total of $17 billion in 1994 to an estimated $72 billion in 2018 alone. This increase in spending is more than just a result of higher prices. It is a reflection of the shift in attitude regarding household priorities in America.

More Than Property

In past divorce cases, pets used to be considered marital property. However, it is much more difficult to divide up a living animal in than it is to divide something like a living room set, especially for those who consider themselves “pet parents.” As part of a reflection of changing attitudes, the laws in Illinois have recently changed, and certain factors must be considered when divorcing spouses cannot come to an agreement over the pet’s permanent residence. 

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IL family lawyerGetting a divorce is not as easy as it looks in the movies. Filing for divorce is much more than just deciding you and your spouse no longer want to be together. There is an involved legal process that takes much longer than most people think. If you are considering filing for divorce, know the various steps that need to be taken in order to understand the road ahead.

  • File a Petition: Under Illinois state law, no waiting period is necessary to file a petition for divorce as long as one spouse legally resides in Illinois. Though this is the rule for petitioning, granting a divorce has other requirements. In order for the divorce to be granted, one spouse has to have legally resided in Illinois for over 90 days prior to the judgment.
  • Grounds for Divorce: Having grounds for divorce does not necessarily mean abuse or neglect. In Illinois, irreconcilable differences is one of the most common grounds for divorce. In layman's terms, irreconcilable differences means no faults were made, both parties simply no longer want to be married. This can be proven by showing that both spouses have lived apart for the last six months.
  • Trial or Agreement: There are a variety of agreements that must be made before a divorce can be finalized. This includes division of property, division of debts, spousal maintenance, and child custody decisions. Although many couples can do this through mediation or agreement, others must do this with the help of a judge.
  • Marital Property Division: The property of each spouse is not decided based on who brought in the most income, but rather is tried to be split evenly. This includes real estate, furniture, cars, savings accounts, stock portfolios, retirement savings and other assets made throughout the marriage.
  • Custody Decisions: This process involves much more than just choosing who lives with whom. Custody decisions are made regarding all parental responsibilities such as the child’s education, health, and religion. Most parents are required to create a “parenting plan” before the divorce can be finalized.
  • Child Support and Spousal Maintenance: Most child support decisions are based on which household the child will reside in primarily. The obligation to pay child support is usually given to the parent that does not house the child majority of the time. Spousal maintenance is not always a requirement in a divorce. This is situational based on the couple’s finances.

Seek Legal Help

Divorce is a trying time for everyone involved. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney is crucial in making the transition as easy and painless as possible. Our Dupage County divorce lawyers work to tailor your divorce contract to benefit both parties in the ending of their marriage. If you are filing for divorce and need help with the proceedings, call the law office of Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 for your free consultation.

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IL defense lawyerAlthough assault and battery are two different charges, the two are very similar and can often be confused. Both crimes require intentional harm towards another person but they have different outcomes. The results of the two charges are also very different. Knowing the legal definition of the two charges can mean a world of difference if you have been involved in a violent crime.

Assault

The word “assault” can be deceiving to those not well-versed in the law. Being charged for assault is much different than most people think. No one has to actually be physically harmed in the process. Assault is all about intent, which can occur through words or actions. If something you said caused someone immediate fear of being harmed, you can be charged with assault.

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Posted on in Premarital Agreement

IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements are no longer reserved solely for the rich and famous, though it may appear that way through media coverage. A prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a prenup, is a legal document that determines how assets, debts, finances, and property will be managed during a marriage or after a marriage if it comes to an end. In the past, prenups have been seen as taboo or damaging to a relationship; however, millennials often request prenuptial agreements, causing an increase in this form of legal documentation.

What Exactly Is a Prenup?

Prenuptial agreements are most commonly known for financial division; however, they cover more than just “who gets the money.” Although prenups are important in regards to officiating financial matters, they can also assist couples in managing prior commitments or obligations like children and ex-spouses. The document can help those with substantial assets or debts avoid conflict later in the marriage. Prenups are important because they take precedence over state laws regarding divorce and marital property, putting control into the hands of the couple requesting the legal documentation.

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IL defense lawyerHearing your child is on the path to juvenile detention can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Juvenile detention may be the adolescent alternative to incarceration; however, it does not make the situation any less concerning. Research has found that many offenders in juvenile detention have minor offenses and mental health issues, thus complete separation from their families and community is often ineffective and unnecessary. In order to avoid placing all youths into juvenile detention, diversion programs have been created as an alternative.

What Are Diversion Programs?

The purpose of diversion programs is to redirect youthful offenders from the justice system through programming, supervision, and supports. This is a way to avoid taking children away from their family and school community which often offers more help to individuals than being removed from their comfort zone. Diversion programs are often utilized by those who committed minor offenses. The idea is that becoming involved in their community, along with guidance from others, can help them learn how to become a positive addition to society.

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Posted on in Family Law

IL family lawyerNowadays, many more couples in Illinois are electing to simply live together or cohabitate, rather than getting married. This suits some much more, as a cohabiting relationship can simply be ended when one or both parties feel like it, without the time and trouble of a divorce. However, there are decided negatives to living together without the protection of being in a marriage. Either way, couples should understand the ramifications of foregoing marriage and/or living in a cohabiting relationship lest they get into a situation where they have no protection.

Property Rights

One issue that can be significant if a cohabiting couple splits up is that of property rights. A married couple who decide to divorce receive the benefit of Illinois’ equitable distribution laws, which hold that upon a divorce, all marital property will be divided “in just proportions” while considering a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the current and future earning potential of each spouse, and any alleged dissipation of marital assets (not in the sense of punishing for misconduct, but in the sense that it would be unjust to reward any waste of assets). A cohabiting couple has no “marital” property and as such, no real law to fall back on other than the simple axiom that whoever purchased an asset will, in many situations, own it.

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IL defense lawyerIllinois has enacted stringent domestic violence laws designed to safeguard victims from their abusers. However, merely passing a law does not eliminate the problem, and misinformation abounds which can wind up leading victims up the proverbial garden path. If you are in a critical situation, it is imperative to ensure that you understand the truth, lest you neglect a resource that might better your situation, especially if quality of life or safety are at stake.

Myth: “Domestic violence is an entirely private matter.”

Fact: In reality, victims have reported notably higher instances of certain diseases and health conditions, such as strokes, high blood pressure, substance abuse, and heart disease. Productivity losses associated with injuries and violent death due to domestic violence have been estimated at over $1.8 billion. Psychiatric conditions such as PTSD are reported at multiple times higher in domestic violence victims than they are in those who have never experienced such treatment, especially women. This is a crime which affects society in significant ways, at the very least economically.

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IL custody lawyerMany operate under the misconception that only parents and children are affected by a divorce, when in reality, multiple family members will have to adjust their own lives, offer support, and help the family as best they can. In some situations, family members may even seek visitation with children during the divorce proceedings. However, Illinois’ regulations surrounding this particular issue are quite complex. If you are in the position where you would like to seek non-parent visitation, it is possible to obtain that, but it is not easy.

The Process Is Complex

Illinois public policy favors a parent’s right to parent their children in the way they see fit as long as the child is not being endangered. However, certain family members - as of this writing, grandparents or great-grandparents, stepparents or siblings - may try to seek visitation (as opposed to parenting time) if they qualify under certain criteria. The main point that the nonparent seeking visitation must prove is that they have been “unreasonably” stopped from visiting with the child and that this has caused harm to the child (be it emotional, mental or physical).

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Posted on in Burglary

IL defense lawyerRobbery and burglary are two theft crimes that are sometimes spoken of interchangeably, but in reality, they are very different, at least under Illinois law. One is generally charged more highly than the other, but there are always exceptions. Either way, it is important to understand that each charge has very specific criteria that must be met if you are to be convicted. By knowing this, it may be possible to focus your efforts (that is, your attorney’s) on attacking specific pillars of the relevant charge.

Burglary Basics

Burglary is defined as someone entering into or remaining “without authority” in a building or vehicle (many types of vehicles qualify under the statute, including automobiles and boats, among others) with the intent to commit a theft or felony therein. The statute was just modified in recent years to include more areas than simply buildings (previously, only buildings were implicated in the law explicitly). It is important to keep in mind that while it is not enumerated in the law itself, the courts recognize residential burglary as somewhat more serious due to the nature of the crime, which is why it is usually charged as a Class 1 felony, while regular burglary is a Class 2 felony, which can in some cases be pled down to probation.

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Posted on in Child Custody

IL divorce lawyerSome child custody cases can get extremely heated, or sometimes there can be issues surrounding what custody arrangement may truly be in the best interests of the child or children involved. When this happens, the judge in the case may choose to involve a volunteer attorney to ensure that the children’s interests are truly represented. This attorney is referred to as a guardian ad litem (GAL), and their presence in a custody case can confuse and anger parents, though there is no need for it to happen. Understanding what the GAL’s role is can help minimize ruffled feathers and ensure that all are working toward the best possible outcome of your divorce vis-a-vis your children.

Fact Finders

A GAL can be named in any custody case, on the motion of either party or on the court’s own authority (in any county in Illinois). Regardless of who makes the motion to bring in a GAL, one will generally be appointed in a custody case only when there are certain facts at issue that require an impartial observer, as the job of a GAL is to be impartial. A GAL acts exclusively in the best interest of the child, reporting only to the court in terms of their findings.

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IL defense lawyerEven as the status of some types of drugs, such as cannabis, has changed with advances in medical science, possession, and use of most street drugs remains a serious crime. Illinois, in particular, has raised the sentences for drug possession and distribution in recent years, which means that if you find yourself charged with such an offense, it can mean serious penalties upon conviction.

The Elements Are Clear

There are three major elements to a charge of drug possession in Illinois. Possession can be charged if one is caught with either the listed drug or a controlled substance analog, which has a chemical composition similar to any listed controlled substance (such as certain designer drugs, for example). The elements are: 1) establishing the substance in question as controlled; 2) showing the defendant knowingly possessed that substance; and 3) the substance was in that person’s possession (either actual or constructive possession qualifies).

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IL divorce lawyerWhen getting a divorce, one serious concern that will appear for those who own a family business, or a small business in general, is how to divide it, or even if division is necessary. Illinois law on the subject can get confusing, so it may be a good idea to consult an experienced attorney on the subject before moving forward with asset division.

Obtaining a Business Valuation

One of the first steps that can help a couple decide what to do with a family business is to obtain a business valuation, usually through an accountant or licensed appraiser. Without an accurate estimate of how much a business costs, one cannot accurately tell how the rest of the marital estate must be divided in order to keep a business in one piece, or how much must be offset if the business is to be sold and its profits and equity divided. There are, however, multiple different ways to accurately value a business, depending on the type of method used - the two most common in divorce-related cases are the comparable model and the asset valuation model.

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IL defense lawyerMany crimes in Illinois have their ‘aggravated’ counterparts, from assault to sexual abuse. However, there is routine confusion about what exactly makes a crime aggravated, and how it affects sentencing. If you have been charged with a crime, understanding the nature of such a charge can help you determine how best to attack the problem and ensure your side of the story is heard.

Definitions Vary

When one examines an individual crime, the circumstances that make it aggravated will obviously depend on the cause of action. For example, in Illinois, a domestic violence charge becomes aggravated if the behavior in question encompasses criminal acts against a minor, any kind of sexual abuse, or great bodily harm against any victim, but drug crimes become aggravated if drugs are made or transported to certain buildings. Yet the general definition of aggravation in such a context is any circumstance or factor that makes a crime more injurious but is not a step that is part of the offense itself.

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 Illinois divorce lawyerIn many Illinois divorces, both child support and spousal maintenance may be awarded by the court. If this does happen in your case, however, the tax implications can be prohibitive. If it is possible, you may be able to help shift that burden using what Illinois calls unallocated support. While it is not always possible to use this mechanic, sometimes it can make a significant difference, especially for custodial parents.

Current Tax Law

Under current tax law, spousal support counts as taxable income for the recipient, and as deductible for the payor. Conversely, child support is neither deductible nor taxable. In many divorce cases, one spouse makes significantly more money than the other, and thus, any tax deduction that they are able to obtain can be very welcome. In order to get the benefit of the deduction and the lower tax rate, some couples may be able to treat spousal and child support as one lump sum referred to as unallocated.

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 Illinois criminal lawyerIllinois is a state that is very concerned with the appropriate regulation of firearms, having been the last state to legalize concealed carry and often making revisions to the relevant laws to increase safety. Because of this, the penalties for even a first firearms offense can be extremely severe. If you are charged with a firearms violation, it is imperative that you understand the nature of the allegations against you so that you can react accordingly.

FOID Cards and Concealed Carry Licenses

An Illinois gun license is known as a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card, and one must possess one in order to lawfully own a gun. To obtain one, a person must submit an application to the Illinois State Police and show that they meet the relevant criteria (or do not - for example, no one who has been convicted of certain crimes of violence or been found mentally incompetent within the preceding five years may hold a FOID card). It is important to keep in mind that a FOID card is not the same as a concealed carry license, though it is a prerequisite to obtaining one. In other words, the mere possession of a FOID card does not allow you to concealed carry in Illinois.

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 Illinois divorce lawyerWhen it comes to dividing up property during divorce proceedings, Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital assets are split as equitably (fairly) as possible. Thus, when large or expensive assets need to be divided, it can require a bit of maneuvering to ensure that both spouses receive the most equitable share of the estate. The marital home is one of the assets most commonly debated and argued about during proceedings, but it is possible to work out who should be awarded the home without leaving them otherwise penniless.

Is the House Marital Property?

The first question that must be asked is whether the home is even considered marital property or not. In most situations, the answer will be yes, but it cannot simply be assumed. Under Illinois law, any asset acquired by either spouse after the marriage is considered marital property, which usually includes the marital home - most couples will make that purchase together after they are married, sharing the title between them as joint tenants or tenants in common. (A joint tenancy occurs when two people own property together as a unit, meaning that if one person dies or wishes to give up their interest, it will be taken up by the other owner; on the other hand, tenants in common are free to sell or transfer their interest.)

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