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What Is the New Illinois Companion Animal Law?

Thanks to a new law that took effect on January 1, 2018, Illinois courts now have the authority to help families determine who will be responsible for family pets following a divorce. The law specifically refers to “companion animals,” which generally include dogs, cats, and horses. Service animals are explicitly excluded from such considerations.



For many Illinois households, pets are a part of the family. They are loving, attentive animals who are much more than mere property to their owners. Unfortunately, divorce laws in Illinois have historically treated pets much like any other piece of property, leaving many pet owners frustrated and disheartened in the wake of a divorce.

In August of 2017, Illinois lawmakers passed a measure that went into effect at the beginning of 2018. That bill amended the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) to give courts the authority to “allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for a companion animal” belonging to a divorcing couple. The new law also requires the court to take the animal’s well-being into account as well.

If you are a pet owner who is facing the possibility of a divorce, you should keep in mind that arrangements for your pet do not need to be left to the court to decide. The amended IMDMA encourages divorcing couples to negotiate an amicable agreement regarding all aspects of their divorce, including provisions for companion animals. At MKFM Law, we are equipped to help you find common ground with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and to develop an agreement that protects your rights while promoting your best interests. Sometimes, however, a negotiated settlement is simply not possible. If this is the case for you, our team includes skilled litigators who will advocate on your behalf in the courtroom as well.

To learn more about our firm and how we can help you come to a suitable arrangement for your pets, contact our office. Call 630-665-7300 for your confidential consultation today.

After Our Divorce, How Does a 529 College Savings Plan Factor into Our Child's College Expenses?

College savings plans, including those authorized under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, must be considered when a court is determining whether divorced parents will be ordered to help their child with college expenses. Any college savings account created before the parents’ divorce is considered to be a financial resource of the child.



According to Illinois law, divorced parents can be required to help their children cover the costs of attending college or other post-secondary education programs. In making a determination regarding such help, courts in Illinois must consider the financial resources and needs of each parent, as well as the financial resources of the child.

Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code authorizes certain savings plans to be created for the purposes of funding post-high school education. These plans—known as “qualified tuition plans”—are afforded tax advantages and are often sponsored by state agencies and individual schools and universities. For example, a 529 plan can be used to “lock in” current tuition rates at a public college for a student who plans to attend that school in the future.

When determining whether to order divorced parents to help their child pay for college, the court will consider money in a 529 plan to be a resource that belongs to the child. Any contributions made to a plan by a parent after the order is entered will be considered part of that parent’s contribution toward the child’s college expenses.

To learn more about a child’s contributions to his or her own college education, please see our FAQ video “Will My Children Be Expected to Contribute to Their Own College Expenses?

If you are the divorced parent of a child who will soon be headed to college, an experienced family lawyer can help you understand all of your rights and responsibilities. Contact our office by calling 630-665-7300 and schedule your confidential consultation today.

Can I Be Arrested for DUI Based on My Prescription Medication?

It is possible for you to be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) based on a medication that you are taking as prescribed by your doctor. If a police officer has probable cause to believe that your ability to drive has been impaired by any drug, including a prescription medication, you could be arrested and charged with DUI.



Millions of Americans rely on prescription drugs to help them treat and control a nearly endless list of health conditions. Many prescription medications are known to have side effects that include drowsiness and decreased alertness. In fact, some prescription drugs have warning labels that remind patients not to operate heavy machinery while on the medication. These types of medications can also affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, and having a valid prescription will not automatically prevent you from being charged with a DUI.

If you are arrested and charged with a DUI related to your prescription medication, it is important to contact a qualified DUI defense attorney right away. Your attorney can help you understand the charges against you, as well as the possible consequences of a conviction. If you are facing a license suspension, your attorney can assist you in obtaining driving relief while your case is pending.

While a valid prescription does not guarantee that the charges against you will be dropped, it could be difficult for prosecutors to prove that you were impaired. There is no equivalent of a breathalyzer to determine impairment caused by a prescription drug. As a result, your attorney can also help you build an aggressive yet responsible defense to the charges against you.

A conviction on charges of DUI can change your life forever. If you have been arrested and charged in connection with a legal prescription medication, contact the office of MKFM Law. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation today. We serve DuPage County, Kane County, and surrounding areas.

Will My Children Be Expected to Contribute to Their Own College Expenses After My Divorce?

A child of divorced parents may be required by the court to contribute toward their own college expenses. These contributions may take the form of scholarships, grants, or the child’s wages, as well as funds saved in a 529 college savings plan. The court’s decision is based on the financial situations of both parents and the child.



Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), parents who are divorced or who are going through the process of a divorce may be ordered to help their child with college expenses. Whether such contributions are required and how much each parent must contribute depend upon the financial resources and needs of each parent.

Amendments to the IMDMA in 2016 also require a court to consider the financial resources of the child or student as well. The court has the authority to order the child to contribute toward his or her own post-high school expenses. For the purposes of this determination, a child’s financial resources may include any scholarships or grants for which the child is eligible, in addition to any income generated by the child’s employment. Any money that is being held in a 529 college savings plan is also considered part of the child’s financial resources. (See our FAQ video that addresses 529 college savings plans.)

Illinois law allows the court to order contributions toward a child’s college expenses as a special form of child support for a non-minor child. There are many factors that the court will consider in making its decision, and it is important to know your rights throughout the process. An experienced DuPage County family law attorney from MKFM Law can help you understand your situation and build a case designed to protect your best interests and those of your child. Contact our office by calling 630-665-7300 today.

Are There Other Options Besides Jail If I Was Charged With a Crime?

If you have been charged with a crime, there may be alternatives to jail time. Those alternatives depend on the circumstances of your case, but courts in Illinois have begun to recognize the value of focusing on rehabilitation instead of punishment in appropriate situations. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you explore your options.



Not everyone who breaks the law is a career criminal, and good people can make bad mistakes from time to time. Sometimes, those mistakes are due, at least in part, to mental health concerns and/or substance abuse issues.

Many county court systems have established unique programs for defendants whose mental health may have contributed to the commission of a crime. DuPage County, Kane County, and Cook County all have programs to help such offenders avoid traditional prosecution—which often includes jail time as a penalty—in favor of intensive treatment.

Similarly, DuPage County, Kane County, Cook County, and other counties throughout Illinois have also established specialized drug courts. Drug abuse has become a national problem of epidemic proportions, and it can be nearly impossible to break the cycle of dependence. Drug courts are designed to allow eligible offenders dealing with addiction to get the help they need.

There are also specialized courts that may be available to military veterans facing mental health, substance abuse, and other issues related to the commission of a crime. Veterans’ courts are modeled after the specialty courts described above but customized to address concerns unique to those who have served.

If you are facing criminal charges, a skilled attorney can assist you in exploring your options for avoiding jail time and other serious penalties. Contact MKFM Law to discuss your situation today. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation. We serve DuPage County, Kane County, and surrounding areas.

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250 W. River Drive, Unit 2A
St. Charles, IL 60174
630-665-7300
Evening and weekend hours by appointment.

From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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