Pro Se Chicago's Weblog

July 31, 2014

Inability to pay child support, court fee, & court-appointed counselor or examiner


A COURT MAY AWARD THE NONCUSTODIAL PARENT CHILD SUPPORT IF THE CUSTODIAL PARENT IS MUCH WEALTHIER THAN NONCUSTODIAL PARENT. THIS IS SO THAT CHILD CAN LIVE SAME LIFESTYLE WITH BOTH PARENTS.

In re Marriage of Turk 2014 IL 116730

 

Appellate citation: 2013 IL App (1st) 122486.

 

      JUSTICE KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

            Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Kilbride, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

      Justice Theis specially concurred, with opinion, joined by Justice Thomas.

 

            The parties to this Cook County child support dispute divorced in 2005 and have two sons, now ages 17 and 15. In 2012, the circuit court entered an agreed order establishing the father as custodial parent and setting up a visitation schedule for the mother under which she had regular visitation with the older boy once a week, for dinner on Wednesdays, and regular visitation with the younger boy, with weekly visits from Monday to Wednesday mornings, plus alternating weekends. This system gave her nearly equal time with him. At this time it was determined that the father earned approximately $150,000 per year and that the mother was earning less than $10,000. The father asked for termination of his obligation to pay support based on his custodial status, but the circuit court’s order required him to pay $600 per month in child support and to fund medical expenses not covered by insurance. The father’s claim that his designation as custodial parent meant that statute precluded requiring him to pay child support to a noncustodial parent was rejected by the circuit court, and the father appealed.

            The appellate court, like the circuit court, rejected the father’s claim of no obligation to pay child support, and it affirmed this aspect of the trial court’s ruling. However, it remanded for an evidentiary hearing for reconsideration as to the support amount. It did not, however, interfere with the circuit court’s ruling as to medical expenses.

            In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court said that the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act expressly confers on courts the option to order either or both parents to pay an amount that is reasonable and necessary for the support of the child, and, in its discretion, to order payment of various expenses determined to be reasonable, including health needs not covered by insurance. The supreme court explained that a parent who is technically noncustodial may have visitation rights which place the child in that parent’s care for periods of time which involve commensurate cost. This can be problematic if the noncustodial parent has fewer resources to meet the substantial support costs of an extensive visitation schedule. This would not only be unfair, but would leave the poorer parent with insufficient resources to care for the child in a manner even minimally comparable to that of the wealthier parent. A child should not end up living commensurate with the wealthier custodial parent’s income only half the time, when staying with the wealthier custodial parent. This could be detrimental to the child. Therefore, a trial court may order a custodial parent to pay child support where the circumstances and the best interests of the child warrant it.

            While rejecting the custodial father’s claims as to the meaning of the statute, the appellate court had remanded for an evidentiary hearing, with directions for the circuit court to clearly explain the basis for any support awarded. It was correct in this regard, but the supreme court held that, on remand, the circuit court should also revisit with specificity the issue of what portion of uninsured medical expenses the father should be required to pay.

            The appellate court was, thus, affirmed in part and reversed in part.

________________________________________________________________

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT HAS HELD THAT BEFORE A PERSON CAN BE JAILED FOR NONPAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT HE MUST BE GIVEN DUE PROCESS AND IN SOME CASES AN ATTORNEY – IF THE COURT DOES NOT PROVIDE THAT DUE PROCESS AS DEFINED IN THIS CASE

Turner v. Rogers, 131 S. Ct. 2507, 180 L. Ed. 2d 452 (2011) [2011 BL 161240]

If incarcerated for failing to pay child support must have been given due process – notice, due process evidentiary hearing where it must be proven that defendant has ability to pay child support, and counsel. In a civil case, due process does not always involve appointment of counsel.

This is true only if there are procedural safeguards:

These include (1) notice to the defendant that his “ability to pay” is a critical issue in the contempt proceeding; (2) the use of a form (or the equivalent) to elicit relevant financial information from him; (3) an opportunity at the hearing for him to respond to statements and questions about his financial status; and (4) an express finding by the court that the defendant has the ability to pay,

and the opposing counsel (parent) is pro se, then the court is not required to appoint counsel.

 

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August 9, 2012

Family Law – U.S. Consumer Protection Act limits amount of garnishment for child support


The consumer protection act REQUIRES that no more than 65 % of you income go towards paying back child support (this 65% includes  payment of taxes first, then child support, then any other garnishment of wages – total garnishment can be no more than 65 % if in arrears and 60 % of wages if not in arrears for child support).

From “Big Divorce Book” I Compiled:

11. “Title III, Consumer Protection Act”  Summary of authority and purpose of 15 USC § 1671 et seq. and 29 CFR Part 870 regarding maximum payments that may Be withheld under federal law from Obligor …………………………………………….  50-51

12. 15 USC § 1671 et seq. Federal Wage Garnishment Law (Title III of the Consumer Protection Act) & corresponding 29 CFR Part 870 …………………………………….  51-56

Mandates that when child support is an issue that federal and State taxes have priority over child support or other debts. Provides that child support has priority over other debts except for taxes. Provides that if the Obligor is not living with and supporting a spouse or child that no more than a total of 60% of net wages may be withheld from a paycheck and no more than 65% of net wages may be withheld from a paycheck if Obligor is more than 12 weeks in arrears ………………………………..   52-54

TITLE 15 > CHAPTER 41 > SUBCHAPTER II > § 1671. = 15 U.S.C. § 1671      Congressional findings and declaration of purpose

(a) Disadvantages of garnishment The Congress finds:

(1) The unrestricted garnishment of compensation due for personal services encourages the making of predatory extensions of credit. Such extensions of credit divert money into excessive credit payments and thereby hinder the production and flow of goods in interstate commerce.

(2) The application of garnishment as a creditors’ remedy frequently results in loss of employment by the debtor, and the resulting disruption of employment, production, and consumption constitutes a substantial burden on interstate commerce.

(3) The great disparities among the laws of the several States relating to garnishment have, in effect, destroyed the uniformity of the bankruptcy laws and frustrated the purposes thereof in many areas of the country.

(b) Necessity for regulation On the basis of the findings stated in subsection (a) of this section, the Congress determines that the provisions of this subchapter are necessary and proper for the purpose of carrying into execution the powers of the Congress to regulate commerce and to establish uniform bankruptcy laws.

15 U.S.C. § 1672. Definitions

For the purposes of this subchapter:

(a) The term “earnings” means compensation paid or payable for personal services, whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, or otherwise, and includes periodic payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program.

(b) The term “disposable earnings” means that part of the earnings of any individual remaining after the deduction from those earnings of any amounts required by law to be withheld.

(c) The term “garnishment” means any legal or equitable procedure through which the earnings of any individual are required to be withheld for payment of any debt.

15 U.S.C. § 1673. Restriction on garnishment

(a) Maximum allowable garnishment Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section and in section 1675 of this title, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subjected to garnishment may not exceed

(1) 25 per centum of his disposable earnings for that week, or

(2) the amount by which his disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty times the Federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by section 206 (a)(1) of title 29 in effect at the time the earnings are payable,

whichever is less. In the case of earnings for any pay period other than a week, the Secretary of Labor shall by regulation prescribe a multiple of the Federal minimum hourly wage equivalent in effect to that set forth in paragraph (2).

(b) Exceptions (1) The restrictions of subsection (a) of this section do not apply in the case of (A) any order for the support of any person issued by a court of competent jurisdiction or in accordance with an administrative procedure, which is established by State law, which affords substantial due process, and which is subject to judicial review.

(B) any order of any court of the United States having jurisdiction over cases under chapter 13 of title 11.

(C) any debt due for any State or Federal tax.

(2) The maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subject to garnishment to enforce any order for the support of any person shall not exceed— (A) where such individual is supporting his spouse or dependent child (other than a spouse or child with respect to whose support such order is used), 50 per centum of such individual’s disposable earnings for that week; and

(B) where such individual is not supporting such a spouse or dependent child described in clause (A), 60 per centum of such individual’s disposable earnings for that week;

except that, with respect to the disposable earnings of any individual for any workweek, the 50 per centum specified in clause (A) shall be deemed to be 55 per centum and the 60 per centum specified in clause (B) shall be deemed to be 65 per centum, if and to the extent that such earnings are subject to garnishment to enforce a support order with respect to a period which is prior to the twelve-week period which ends with the beginning of such workweek.

(c) Execution or enforcement of garnishment order or process prohibited No court of the United States or any State, and no State (or officer or agency thereof), may make, execute, or enforce any order or process in violation of this section.

15 U.S.C. § 1674. Restriction on discharge from employment by reason of garnishment

(a) Termination of employment No employer may discharge any employee by reason of the fact that his earnings have been subjected to garnishment for any one indebtedness.

(b) Penalties Whoever willfully violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

15 U.S.C. § 1676. Enforcement by Secretary of Labor

(If someone violates this law you should complain to the U.S. Dept of Labor)

The Secretary of Labor, acting through the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, shall enforce the provisions of this subchapter.

29 C.F.R. 870 et seq.

Title 29: Labor

PART 870—RESTRICTION ON GARNISHMENT Section Contents

Subpart A—General

29 U.S.C. § 870.1   Purpose and scope. § 870.2   Amendments to this part. Subpart B—Determinations and Interpretations

29 U.S.C. § 870.10   Maximum part of aggregate disposable earnings subject to garnishment under section 303(a). § 870.11   Exceptions to the restrictions provided by section 303(a) of the CCPA and priorities among garnishments.

Subpart A—General § 870.1   Purpose and scope. (a) This part sets forth the procedures and any policies, determinations, and interpretations of general application whereby the Secretary of Labor carries out his duties under section 303 of the CCPA dealing with restrictions on garnishment of earnings, and section 305 permitting exemptions for State-regulated garnishments in certain situations. While the Secretary’s duties under section 303 include insuring that certain amounts of earnings are protected, such duties do not include establishing priorities among multiple garnishments, as such priorities are determined by other Federal statutes or by State law.

(b) Functions of the Secretary under the CCPA to be performed as provided in this part are assigned to the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division (hereinafter referred to as the Administrator), who, under the general direction and control of the Assistant Secretary, Wage and Labor Standards Administration, shall be empowered to take final and binding actions in administering the provisions of this part. The Administrator is empowered to subdelegate any of his duties under this part. Any legal advice and assistance required for administration of this part shall be provided by the Solicitor of Labor.

29 U.S.C. § 870.2   Amendments to this part. The Administrator may, at any time upon his own motion or upon written request of any interested person setting forth reasonable grounds therefor, amend any rules in this part.

Subpart B—Determinations and Interpretations § 870.10   Maximum part of aggregate disposable earnings subject to garnishment under section 303(a). (a) Statutory provision. Section 303 (a) of the CCPA provides that, with some exceptions,

the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subjected to garnishment may not exceed

(1) 25 per centum of his disposable earnings for that week, or

(2) the amount by which his disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty times the Federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, in effect at the time the earnings are payable.

whichever is less. In the case of earnings for any pay period other than a week, the Secretary of Labor shall by regulation prescribe a multiple of the Federal minimum hourly wage equivalent in effect to that set forth in paragraph (2).

(b) Weekly pay period. The statutory exemption formula applies directly to the aggregate disposable earnings paid or payable for a pay period of 1 workweek, or a lesser period. Its intent is to protect from garnishment and save to an individual earner the specified amount of compensation for his personal services rendered in the workweek, or a lesser period. Thus:

(1) The amount of an individual’s disposable earnings for a workweek or lesser period which may not be garnished is 30 times the Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage. If an individual’s disposable earnings for such a period are equal to or less than 30 times the minimum wage, the individual’s earnings may not be garnished in any amount. (When the minimum wage increases, the proportionate amount of earnings which may not be garnished also increases.) On April 1, 1991, the minimum wage increased to $4.25. Accordingly, the amount of disposable weekly earnings which may not be garnished is $127.50 effective April 1, 1991. (For the period April 1, 1990 through March 31, 1991, the amount that may not be garnished is $114 (30×$3.80).)

(2) For earnings payable on or after April 1, 1991, if an individual’s disposable earnings for a workweek or lesser period are more than $127.50, but less than $170.00, only the amount above $127.50 is subject to garnishment. (For earnings payable during the period April 1, 1990, through March 31, 1991, when the Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage was $3.80, this range computes to more than $114.00, but less than $152.00.)

(3) For earnings payable on or after April 1, 1991, if an individual’s disposable earnings for a workweek or lesser period are $170.00 or more, 25 percent of his/her disposable earnings is subject to garnishment. (The weekly figure was $152.00 (40×$3.80) for the period April 1, 1990 through March 31, 1991.)

(c) Pay for a period longer than 1 week. In the case of disposable earnings which compensate for personal services rendered in a pay period longer than 1 workweek, the weekly statutory exemption formula must be transformed to a formula applicable to such earnings providing equivalent restrictions on wage garnishment.

(1) The 25 percent part of the formula would apply to the aggregate disposable earnings for all the workweeks or fractions thereof compensated by the pay for such pay period.

(2) The following formula should be used to calculate the dollar amount of disposable earnings which would not be subject to garnishment: The number of workweeks, or fractions thereof, should be multiplied times the applicable Federal minimum wage and that amount should be multiplied by 30. For example, for the period April 1, 1990 through March 31, 1991 when the Federal minimum wage was $3.80 per hour, the formula should be calculated based on a minimum wage of $3.80 ($3.80 multiplied by 30 equals $114; $114 multiplied by the number of workweeks (or fractions thereof) equals the amount that cannot be garnished). As of April 1, 1991, the $4.25 Federal minimum wage replaces $3.80 in the formula (and the amount which cannot be garnished would then be $127.50 multiplied by the number of workweeks (or fractions thereof)). For purposes of this formula, a calendar month is considered to consist of 41/3workweeks. Thus, during the period April 1, 1990 through March 31, 1991 when the Federal minimum hourly wage was $3.80 an hour, the amount of disposable earnings for a 2-week period is $228.00 (2×30×$3.80); for a monthly period, $494.00 (41/3×30×$3.80). Effective April 1, 1991, such amounts increased as follows: for a two-week period, $255.00 (2×30×$4.25); for a monthly period, $552.50 (41/3×30×$4.25). The amount of disposable earnings for any other pay period longer than 1 week shall be computed in a manner consistent with section 303(a) of the act and with this paragraph.

(3) Absent any changes to the rate set forth in section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, disposable earnings for individuals paid weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly may not be garnished unless they are in excess of the following amounts:

Date Minimum amount Weekly amount Biweekly amount Semi-monthly amount Monthly rate Jan. 1, 1981 $3.35 $100.50 $201.00 $217.75 $435.50 Apr. 1, 1990 3.80 114.00 228.00 247.00 494.00 Apr. 1, 1991 4.25 127.50 255.00 276.25 552.50

(4) Absent any changes to the rate set forth in section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, if the disposable earnings are less than the following figures, only the difference between the appropriate figures set forth in paragraph (c)(3) of this section and the individual’s disposable earnings may be garnished.

Date Minimum amount Weekly amount Biweekly amount Semi-monthly amount Monthly rate Jan. 1, 1981 $3.35 $134.00 $268.00 $290.33 $580.67 Apr. 1, 1990 3.80 152.00 304.00 329.33 658.67 Apr. 1, 1991 4.25 170.00 340.00 368.33 736.67

For example, in April of 1990, if an individual’s disposable earnings for a biweekly pay period are $274.00, the difference between $228.00 and $274.00 (i.e., $46.00) may be garnished.

(5) If disposable earnings are in excess of the figures stated in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, 25% of the disposable earnings may be garnished.

(d) Date wages paid or payable controlling. The date that disposable earnings are paid or payable, and not the date the Court issues the garnishment order, is controlling in determining the amount of disposable earnings that may be garnished. Thus, a garnishment order in November 1990, providing for withholding from wages over a period of time, based on exemptions computed at the $3.80 per hour minimum wage then in effect, would be modified by operation of the change in the law so that wages paid after April 1, 1991, are subject to garnishment to the extent described in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section on the basis of a minimum rate of $4.25 per hour. This principle is applicable at the time of the enactment of any further increase in the minimum wage.

29 U.S.C. § 870.11   Exceptions to the restrictions provided by section 303(a) of the CCPA and priorities among garnishments. top (a)(1) Section 303(b) of the Consumer Credit Protection Act provides that the restrictions in section 303(a) do not apply to:

(i) Any debt due for any State or Federal tax, or

(ii) Any order of any court of bankruptcy under Chapter XIII of the Bankruptcy Act.

(2) Accordingly the Consumer Credit Protection Act does not restrict in any way the amount which may be withheld for State or Federal taxes or in Chapter XIII Bankruptcy Act proceedings.

(b)(1) Section 303(b) provides the following restrictions on the amount that may be withheld for the support of any person (e.g. alimony or child support):

(A) Where such individual is supporting his spouse or dependent child (other than a spouse or child with respect to whose support such order is issued), 50 per centum of such individual’s disposable earnings for that week; and

(B) Where such individual is not supporting such a spouse or dependent child described in clause (A), 60 per centum of such individual’s disposable earnings for that week; except that, with respect to the disposable earnings of any individual for any workweek, the 50 per centum specified in clause (A) shall be deemed to be 55 per centum and the 60 per centum specified in clause (B) shall be deemed to be 65 per centum, if and to the extent that such earnings are subject to garnishment to enforce a support order with respect to a period which is prior to the twelve week period which ends with the beginning of such workweek.

(2) Compliance with the provisions of section 303(a) and (b) may offer problems when there is more than one garnishment. In that event the priority is determined by State law or other Federal laws as the CCPA contains no provisions controlling the priorities of garnishments. However, in no event may the amount of any individual’s disposable earnings which may be garnished exceed the percentages specified in section 303. To illustrate:

(i) If 45% of an individual’s disposable earnings were garnished for taxes, and this garnishment has priority, the Consumer Credit Protection Act permits garnishment for the support of any person of only the difference between 45% and the applicable percentage (50 to 65%) in the above quoted section 303(b).

(ii) If 70% of an individual’s disposable earnings were garnished for taxes and/or a Title XIII Bankruptcy debt, and these garnishments have priority, the Consumer Credit Protection Act does not permit garnishment either for the support of any person or for other debts.

(iii) If 25% of an individual’s disposable earnings were withheld pursuant to an ordinary garnishment which is subject to the restrictions of section 303(a), and the garnishment has priority in accordance with State law, the Consumer Credit Protection Act permits the additional garnishment for the support of any person of only the difference between 25% and the applicable percentage (50–65%) in the above quoted section 303(b).

(iv) If 25% or more of an individual’s disposable earnings were withheld pursuant to a garnishment for support, and the support garnishment has priority in accordance with State law, the Consumer Credit Protection Act does not permit the withholding of any additional amounts pursuant to an ordinary garnishment which is subject to the restrictions of section 303(a).

March 7, 2012

IISBA members retaliate against activists in family court fighting against extortion of family assets by court-appointed attorneys


Read complaint here.

On February 29, 2012 a group of moms and dads who were victims of court ordered extortion of their families appeared to testify before the Illinois House Judiciary I Committee in support of HB 5544, which would set a limit on fees that child representatives and guardian ad litems can bill families for services in divorce cases, when they are court-appointed to represent the minor children.

These moms and dads made compelling testimony that proved that judges were rubber stamping orders to pay these lawyers exorbitant amounts, from $300 to $1200 per hour, amounting to up to around $100,000 per divorce case. These fees which are often one to two times an average family’s yearly income, not including the fees the parents pay each of their own attorneys, cause the corrupt family court judges to ignore the law, 750 ILCS 5-506, that requires them to approve only “reasonable and necessary” fees, and order the families to use the children’s’ college funds to pay the court-appointed attorneys as well as to sell their homes – often making them homeless or end up living in trailer homes or with friends and relatives, to pay these fees.

Surely, this was not the intent of the legislature when they enacted these statutes to look after the “best interest of the children” – notably a term that the Nazis used 60 years ago to take Aryan looking from their parents and place them with good German couples in order to ensure a pure race!

For details of this scheme to rape the estates of families in divorce court to enrich lawyers see the complaint filed with the ARDC, Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Kilbride, with the attached copies of the slide show that these activists gave to the Illinois House Judiciary I Committee on February 29, 2012 to document this atrocious, immoral, and illegal scheme supported by the ISBA, whose member testified that they NEED these exorbitant fees and the families should have a penalty that impoverishes them for arguing with each other!

Read complaint here.

February 14, 2012

Tell your representatives support HB 2833 – end excessive fees to child reps & GALs in divorce


To: All Members of General Assembly

From: Concerned Citizens On behalf of families whose assets were depleted by the “cottage industry” and whose assets are no longer available for the care, up-keep, and education of their children – Michael Gerhardt, Esq., Milijana Vlastelica, Karyn Mehringer, MA., LCPC, Claudia Shabo, Miriam Shabo, David Bambic, Marie Szczypta and other Community Activists

Dear Legislators,

 

PLEASE REVIEW THE LANGUAGE OF HB 2833 HA#1 AND VOTE YES TO END THE “COTTAGE INDUSTRY” IN THE DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION PROBLEM:

Representation of Child statute, 750 ILCS 5/506 provides no fee cap that the private attorneys, in a capacity of a court-appointed Attorney for Child (AFC), Guardian ad Litem (GAL), Child Representative (CR), may bill the parties for representing their minor children in divorce/custody cases.

• On April 10, 2010, The Illinois Family Law Study Committee (Formed by the Illinois House of Representatives to investigate and recommend changes to laws) identified and referred to the present domestic relations system as a “cottage industry.”

• In Lawpulse, IBJ, July 07 publication, one of the attorneys stated, “There are attorneys making half a million dollars a year as child reps – and not working terribly hard for it”.

• Currently, the children’s attorneys, GALs/CRs/AFCs are allowed to bill a rate as high as $400.00/hour, especially in Chicago and its wide metropolitan area.

• Some GALs/CRs/AFCs are not submitting a detailed invoice for each 90-day period as required by the statute, without any consequences.

• Some courts are awarding lump sum fees to appointed GALs/CRs/AFCs without ever receiving properly itemized billing.

• Some GALs/CRs/AFCs are billing the parents a professional attorney rate for the preparation and presentation of their invoices. SOLUTION: House Bill 2833, HA #1 provides that:

• A court-appointed GAL/CR/AFC may be paid at a reasonable rate not to exceed $150.00/hour which is comparable to what a court-appointed attorney used to make in death penalty cases.

• A court-appointed GAL’s/CR’s/AFC’s failure to submit a detailed invoice for each 90-day period precludes the collection of fees for services rendered in that period.

• A court-appointed GAL/CR/AFC may not bill the parties any fees for the preparation and presentation of an invoice.

• A court may not award lump sum fees to a court-appointed GAL/CR/AFC.

• Deletes provision which states that unless otherwise ordered by the court at the time that the fees and costs are approved, all fees and costs payable to an appointed attorney, GAL/CR/AFC are by implication deemed to be in the nature of support of the child. STATUS: All 11 members of the Judiciary I – Civil Law Committee recommended that HB 2833, HA #1 be adopted with amendments to be added. DISCUSSION:  Fees capped at $150/hour instead of $300-$400 and more:

• Presently, there is no cap on as to what the private attorneys in a capacity of court-appointed GAL/CR/AFC may charge the parties in divorce/custody cases for advocating the minor children’s best interests. GAL/CR/AFC often bill between $300 -$400/hour; and many times, no one knows what their billing rates are as judges are not requiring detailed invoices and rubberstamping their fees without question. This is one of the reasons this area is labeled a “cottage industry” and is open to serious fee abuse.

• Pursuant to the Illinois Supreme Court Rule 906, the Special Committee stated, “Ideally, the State would provide sufficient funding to reimburse the private attorneys who are appointed by the court. In the absence of such funding, the individual judicial circuits will need to be innovative in meeting the financial requirements of the plans. In addition to requiring the parties to pay for the appointed lawyer’s services, the local rules could provide for the targeting of court filing fees. Voluntary pro bono service is also strongly encouraged.”  In practice, some judicial circuits became “innovative” by allowing the appointed attorneys to bill the parents excessive fees in excess of $100,000.00.  Voluntary pro bono service is virtually non-existent.

• No trial court should ever be in a position to generate an extremely lucrative business to the private attorneys without any recourse available to the parties.

• There is no reason, rationale, or basis as to why the court-appointed attorneys, GALs/CRs/AFCs in custody cases, are allowed to bill $400/hour when paid for by the parents, whereas all other court-appointed attorneys make only a fraction of that.

• In Death Penalty cases, an appointed attorney fees did not exceed $125/hour (adjusted for COLA) per 725 ILCS 124-10.

• In non-death penalty cases, attorney fees are based on 725 ILCS 5/113-3, at $40/hour for court time and $30/hour for non-court time.

• Even the most senior Public Defenders are paid no more than $40/hour; and they are dealing with loss of freedom – jail time.

• Therefore, the proposed rate of $150/hour is more than equitable.

• Being an attorney as a GAL/CR/AFC has lower costs associated than being any other attorney.

• No “marketing costs” as one does not have to look for a case; but is assigned the case. (Assignment, other than randomly, opens this area for much abuse and favoritism.)

• One does not have to worry about collection of fees as the judge will order the fees from the marital estate, and often with the threat of contempt. No other attorneys enjoy this luxury. And in a “cottage industry” this is particularly disturbing. Invoices need to be detailed and submitted:

• This area has already been identified as a “cottage industry.” That includes: fee abuses, work not performed, no accountability, etc.

• How does one determine an amount to bill if there is no record of work performed? There needs to be repercussions for failure to submit a bill, because failure to submit a bill indicates that there is something amiss.

• Regularly submitting bills will encourage settlement, and is a method to control costs of litigation.

• Every profession, including lawyers, regularly submits bills. There should be no huge surprise at the very end. Hiding costs until late in the process is unprofessional and borders on extortion. The federal courts have already held that the fees and costs payable to GAL/CR/AFC are not a domestic support obligation of the debtor:

• In Joel Levin v. Carlo M. Greco, No. 08-A-00251, In the United States Bankruptcy Court For the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, the Court held that the debt owed to a “child representative” in an Illinois divorce case is not a “domestic relations support obligation” under 101 (14A) of the Bankruptcy Code (Title 11, U.S.C), a status that would make the debt nondischargeable under 523 (a) (5) of the Code.

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