More new laws coming to Illinois January 1 2014

On August 16, 2013, Governor Quinn signed two new distracted driving laws attempting to make Illinois roads safer for drivers. Eleven other states have banned the use of hand-held devices while driving: California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia. Effective January 1, 2014, Illinois will become the twelfth state to ban the use of all hand-held mobile devices while driving. In addition, effective January 1, 2014, drivers who cause an accident while using an electronic device may be sentenced to jail time. Currently drivers who cause an accident while using such a device are only subject to traffic violations.

Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia ban all cell phone use for novice drivers, or those under the age of eighteen. In Illinois, drivers under the age of nineteen are banned from all cell phone use while behind the wheel. Make sure your children are complying with this law when they’re behind the wheel.

It is incredibly likely that we will start to see violations of these new cell phone laws come up in divorce and other matrimonial law matters. Protect yourself and your family as well as the other drivers on the road by utilizing hands free devices whenever you find yourself behind the wheel.

In re the Parentage of J.W.

Biological father of 11-year-old girl, conceived in one-time sexual encounter but whose parentage had been presumed to be of mother’s first husband, legally established his parentage. In proceeding to determine visitation privileges under Section 14(a)(1) of Parentage Act, initial burden is on the noncustodial parent to show visitation is in the best interests of the child, using best-interest standard of Section 602 of Marriage Act. Court’s ruling that any presumption that it was in child’s best interests to promote parent-child relationship was rebutted by evidence, considering child’s actions and behavior and concern of expert and GAL for increased risk of harm to child at this stage in her concrete cognitive development if visitation with biological father were awarded. (KILBRIDE, FREEMAN, THOMAS, GARMAN, KARMEIER, and BURKE, concurring.)

Pursuant to 750 ILCS 45/5, a man is presumed to be the natural father of a child if the child was conceived during the marriage,  or if he and the child’s natural mother marry after the child’s birth and he is named on the child’s birth certificate as the father. It is important to note that this presumption of paternity may only be challenged by clear and convincing evidence and overcoming the presumption of paternity does not guarantee visitation with the child.

In the case of In re the Parentage of J.W., the biological father of an 11-year-old girl who was conceived in a one-time sexual encounter but whose parentage had been presumed to be of the mother’s first husband, was able to legally establish his parentage but not obtain visitation with his daughter after a “best interests hearing.” First he had to overcome the presumption that the child was the first husband’s which required several DNA tests. Once he had proven himself to be the biological father, the Court held a “best interests hearing” pursuant to Section 602 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and required the parties to call on multiple witness to testify as to the child’s best interests and whether the child should have a relationship with her biological father at all. By the time the biological father had discovered he had a child, she was 9 years old and had never had a relationship with her biological father. This combined with the other issues in the child’s life led the Court to hold that it was not in the best interests of the child to have a relationship with her biological father at this point and in fact such a relationship may be detrimental to the child.

Unprecedented Pre-nuptial

Earlier this year in New York, Elizabeth Cioffi-Petrakis, the mother of three and wife of a millionaire, won an “unprecedented” case having her prenuptial agreement overturned. She successfully argued that her husband, Peter Petrakis, coerced her into signing the prenuptial agreement by dropping it on her four days before their wedding and promising to add her name to the deed of their home. He further promised to destroy the prenuptial agreement after the birth of their first child. When Peter failed to add Elizabeth to the deed and when the prenuptial agreement remained after the birth of their twin boys twelve years ago, the two began a battle over the agreement that would land them in and out of attorneys’ offices for years to come. Cioffi-Petrakis was able to prove fraud by the inducement in a contract by presenting the Court with evidence of Petrakis’ patterns of behavior, showing he was not being honest when he promised to put her on the deed to the house or to destroy the agreement after the birth of their first child. Now that the Court has overturned the agreement, the parties can finally move on to their divorce.

Invalidating a prenuptial agreement is extremely difficult and the majority of the time not possible. If you receive a proposed prenuptial agreement from your soon to be spouse, no matter when you receive it, the first thing you should do is consult an attorney regarding your rights. In addition, you should never rely on oral promises that come along with the agreement. If Cioffi-Petrakis’ husband’s promises to add her to the deed of the home and to destroy the document after the birth of their first child had been added to the agreement, she could have saved herself the time and expense of challenging the agreement based on the fraud by the inducement committed by her husband.