Letisha Luecking, P.C.
PO Box 68
Nashville, IL 62263
Serving Washington and surrounding counties.
Mt. Vernon Office
Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
Or use the contact form.
9am to 4pm Monday through Friday
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Neither the transmission nor receipt of this website, nor the submission of any form or phone call, will create an attorney-client relationship or consist of legal advice between the sender and the receiver.
Letisha Luecking is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Missouri only. She does not provide any legal advice to persons from other states or to anyone via the internet or telephone.
Apri; 26, 2016
Do you need to complete the required
Children First parenting class? HSC in Sparta, IL is offering the classes on the following 3 dates:
The program is two sessions, each lasting two hours. The groups are led by Pam Jackson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and include viewing vignettes, group discussion, and appropriate take home materials. There is a one time fee of $75 per person which covers both sessions. This is due prior to the first session. If you'd like more information, contact HSC at 618-443-3045.
Do you need to attend the Children First Program
before you can finalize your divorce? There are upcoming classes in Sparta, Illinois at the Human Service Center, 104 Northtown Drive, Sparta.
The upcoming classes are offered on the following dates:
****02/17/2015 and 02/18/2015
****03/17/2015 and 03/18/2015
****04/21/2015 and 04/22/2015
Contact the Human Service Center at 618-443-3045 for more information.
Illinois Eavesdropping Law--An Update
January 2015, vol. 58, no. 7
Eavesdropping in Illinois: An update
By Matthew A. Kirsh
In the May 2014 edition of the Family Law Section Newsletter, I wrote about the Illinois Supreme Court case of People v. Clark, 2014 IL 115776. In Clark, the Supreme Court declared parts of the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute (720 ILCS5/14-1, et.seq.) unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. The legislature was quick to respond and on December 30, 2014 Governor Quinn signed SB 1342 which contains the new Illinois Eavesdropping Act (“new statute”). This article will summarize the revisions to the Eavesdropping Statute contained in the new statute as they pertain to the practice of family law.
The Clark decision was a real “Back To The Future” moment. Clark held that the Eavesdropping Statute, as then written, was overbroad and unconstitutionally infringed on protected speech. Clark required that before the recording of a conversation can be considered a crime, there must be a realistic expectation of privacy surrounding that conversation. Clark essentially reaffirmed the Court’s prior holdings in People v. Beardsley, 115 Ill.2d 47 (1986), and People v. Herrington, 163 Ill.2d 507 (1994). After the Herrington decision, the legislature amended the statute and specifically removed the expectation of privacy requirement of a protected conversation.
According to the new statute, a party to a conversation commits the offense of eavesdropping as follows:
(720 ILCS5/14-2) (a) A person commits eavesdropping when he or she knowingly and intentionally:
(2) Uses an eavesdropping device, in a surreptitious manner, for the purpose of transmitting or recording all or any part of any private conversation to which he or she is a party unless he or she does so with the consent of all other parties to the private conversation.
At first blush, the language of the new statute seems no different than the statute found unconstitutional in Clark. However, the difference between the new statute and its predecessor is found in the definitions. In this case the key is the legislature’s definition of the new term “private conversation”. “Private conversation” is defined in the new statute, 720 ILCS 5/14-1(d), as:
any oral communication between 2 or more persons , whether in person or transmitted between the parties by other means, when one or more of the parties intended the communication to be of a private nature under circumstances reasonably justifying that expectation. A reasonable expectation of privacy shall include any expectation recognized by law, including, but not limited to, an expectation derived from a privilege, immunity, or right established by common law, Supreme Court rule, or the Illinois or United States Constitution.
The Court in Clark, Herrington, and Beardsley specifically found that there can be no expectation of privacy by the declarant where the individual recording the conversation is a party to that conversation. Until the Supreme Court reverses itself on this issue and changes the common law, a party to a conversation has no expectation of privacy under the new statute.
The new statute states that “Surreptitious” means “obtained or made by stealth or deception, or executed through secrecy or concealment.” A cell phone in your client’s pocket would probably be considered surreptitious. A cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter may be an entirely different kettle of fish. If a party can show that the recording of a conversation was not “surreptitious”, the question of “expectation of privacy” becomes moot. However, since most conversations carry no expectation of privacy, the question of surreptitious or non-surreptitious seems irrelevant.
The new statute returns us to the state of the law prior to the 1994 amendments to the Eavesdropping Act. As I stated in my May 2014 article, we are in a new world of “speaker beware.” As lawyers, we must advise our clients that anything they say to their spouse, or someone they do not trust absolutely, may resurface at an inopportune moment in their divorce case. As a lawyer on the other side of the case, an obstacle to the admission of relevant information has been lifted. All family law practitioners need to be familiar with the provisions of the new statute as it has a potentially significant impact on our practices. ■
It is required in the State of Illinois that parties arguing about custody and visitation participate in mediation. Ultimately, the success of mediation depends upon the willingness of both parties to cooperate and put the child first.
Prior to mediation, please think about what issues you might be willing to come to compromise on with the other party. You should consider legal and residential custody and visitation schedule. Consider what type of legal and residential custody situation you are in currently. If you currently have sole custody, you will want to think about whether or not you are willing to give up sole custody. Sole custody means that parent makes all of the decisions and does not need permission or agreement from the other parent. The parents are encouraged to discuss matters with each other, but agreement regarding the major decisions is not required.
Joint legal custody to both parents with residential custody to one parent essentially means that the two of you must be able to communicate and cooperate while raising the child. You both have the ability and the right to make decisions for the child. Major decisions regarding healthcare, school, and religion must be agreed upon by both of you or you could end up back in court. Each parent makes the day to day decisions on his/her own when the child is in that parent’s custody.
Consider both of these types of custody carefully before you make any agreements at mediation. It is important that you not take this lightly because custody decisions are final for at least two years. After that time period, a parent is able to bring a petition to modify. However, within that two year time frame, a parent is only able to ask for a modification if the child is seriously endangered or there is a substantial change in circumstances. This is a very high standard and it is a difficult position to win.
It is important to understand the mediation process so it can be used successfully. Listed below are some warnings, suggestions, and information:
The mediation process creates pressure and fatigue. In one sense, this is good because it simulates the pressure and fatigue that arise at trial, so it facilitates settlement. On the other hand, your agreement must be knowingly and intelligently done, and of your own free will. So, if you find yourself getting to the point of feeling unwanted pressure or fatigue, let the mediator know. She will arrange for a break, something to eat or drink, or an end to the session.
Above all else, remain open minded prior to and during the mediation. Be creative regarding solutions to the problems. Feel free to call your lawyer prior to (or even during) the mediation if you would like to discuss further any ideas, questions, or thoughts you may have regarding the mediation.
Best of luck during your mediation and, remember, this is your chance to settle matters to your satisfaction--without the Judge and lawyers--just you and the other parent. It's in you and your child's best interest to make the most of this chance.
I've been having a hard time updating the blog frequently. So, here is a brief post to get me back into the swing of things.
At this point we've made it through the entire holiday season. I really hope everyone was able to get through the holidays and cooperate in regards to the kids. The most important thing is to do what is best for the kids and make them feel as though almost nothing has changed. The easiest way to do this is to be willing to change your plans and be flexible so the kids benefit. For example--is it really that important that you celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day? Or, Christmas on Christmas Day? Isn't it more important that you spend time with your child? I've discovered through my own experiences that the kids don't seem to care what day the holiday is on....especially when you act like it's no big deal.
It seems like everyone waits until the last minute to plan for visitation--be it during the holidays or a long weekend, etc. Communication is key here, folks. You should start planning your holiday visitation arrangements AT LEAST by the beginning of October. You may not like talking to the other party, but it is so much easier to get the plans laid out. Then, it's done and it's one less thing to worry about.
I've posted about DCFS before and my feelings haven't changed on that front. I'm mentioning them again because I want to emphasize how important it is for people to have a lawyer during the process of dealing with DCFS. Whether actual charges are filed or you just have to deal with DCFS and an indicated finding, you need a lawyer on your side. The lawyer is able to guide you and help keep DCFS in line and prevent DCFS from rolling over you and your rights.
Another issue I'd like to cover briefly is that of paying your lawyer. I don't want to preach, but people...pay your lawyer. You go to work and do your job and expect to collect a paycheck. A lawyer is the same way. I feel that you are primarily paying your lawyer for our knowledge base and our service to you. We have to eat and put a roof over our heads as well. I don't expect you to work for free and you shouldn't expect your lawyer to work for free. That's all I'll say. I don't want to be all preachy.
Remember, the only real answer we can give you regarding your case is "it depends." We can talk about best case scenario and worst case scenario. Some judges are predictable enough that we can even predict what they will do. However, there is never a guarantee. If someone is making you a guarantee as to how your case will turn out, be very wary and ask more questions. You might want to consult with another attorney as well, just to be sure. You want to hire someone who will be honest with you and who wants to help you resolve your problems in a way that is most cost effective for you. You don't want someone who will just run up the bill with no consideration to your financial situation.
That's it for today. I will try to post at least once a week and begin to address some of the most commonly asked questions that I receive. If you have specific questions, feel free to email them to me and I will address them in a post.
It's been quite a long time since I've posted anything and I apologize for that. Since the last post, I've moved the office across the street. It is a bigger space and more cost efficient. That, of course, means savings for my clients as well.
There is a lot going on in the legal world and I will start by sharing a very informative article from the Illinois State Bar Association regarding the new Illinois Conceal Carry requirements. Check it out and then feel free to contact me with any questions!
I can imagine that an encounter with DCFS is every parent's nightmare. I mean, sure, when I was young, I would get smart with my mom and threaten to call DCFS. She was so
horrible! She was punishing me for crazy things like telling a lie or not doing as I was told...the horror! Her comeback always was go ahead, they can have you! Of course, we all
knew that I would never make that call and, even if I did, my parents would not have wanted DCFS to take me away. But, it all made good fodder for the fights during the teenage
DCFS is an organization that, I believe, could really make positive differences in this world. The problem is, at this point, it seems that they rarely do. I have yet to meet an attorney who has anything positive to say about DCFS. We want to avoid them like the plague. We don't want our clients involved with them at all. We don't want our clients calling DCFS on the other parent. It's not good when DCFS is involved and, chances are, they will stay involved for a year or more.
What many parents don't realize is that they have rights. Typically, DCFS shows up and the parents panic. The parents are scared to death that DCFS has shown up to take away the children. Because of this fear, most parents are willing to invite DCFS into the home, sit down, and spill their guts to the investigator. The investigator will act like he has the power to do this anyway even if the parents don't want to talk to him.
It's the investigator's job to find the truth. In order to do this, the investigator needs to talk to everyone. I understand that. I know, from handling divorces and custody cases, it is terribly difficult to figure out who is telling the truth. However, there are too many times that I've seen pictures of a child with bruises and the investigator settles the case as unfounded (essentially, not guilty). Then, when I know a tip was called in to the hotline simply out of spite, the investigator settles that case as indicated (guilty). There doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason to how the investigator calls the case.
I've seen an investigator question parents and children who are the subject of the hotline tip. Sometimes, there is another child in a different household, who is not involved at all but is the child of one of the involved parents. The investigator will tell the other parent to not allow the child any kind of visitation with the parent who is under investigation. Often those are emotional cases and the other parent is happy to comply. So, now, not just one, but two families are being torn apart.
My question here is where does that investigator get his power? Does that investigator actually have the power to discontinue a court order? I think not. I've had this very conversation with an investigator and I reminded her that she does not have the power to go against a court order. She was well aware of that fact, yet still carried on with trying to stop the visitation. End result was that the investigator left a mess for the attorneys to deal with for months which costs the clients time, money and energy.
Parents in these situations are scared and that is completely understandable. However, parents have rights and those rights need to be protected as well. DCFS, in general, needs to revisit the law and rules that govern the organization and remember that all parties involved have rights.
If I have client that is involved with DCFS, I manage that relationship very closely. I introduce myself to the investigator (or case worker, depending upon when I'm hired) and I let them know I am here to help facilitate the process. I advise my clients to be cooperative and I explain the process. I've had situations where I've refused to allow DCFS to speak with my client unless I'm there. I've had other situations where I've allowed DCFS to speak with my client anytime. How I approach this is dependent upon how well I already know the investigator or caseworker.
Bottom line.....lawyers are expensive and people typically don't want to spend the money. BUT, if DCFS shows up at your door with allegations against you, you would be well advised to seek experienced counsel immediately. Don't let DCFS trample your rights. Keep them in check. Make them follow the rules.
If you are interested in learning more on this subject, a very good book regarding the parties' rights is Child Welfare Law and Practice which can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Child-Welfare-Practice-Donald-Duquette/dp/1932779965/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380844186&sr=8-1&keywords=Child+Welfare+Law+and+Practice. If you click the link it will take you to Amazon. I'm not trying to sell the book. I just thought it would be convenient for everyone if I linked it.
Most of my cases are divorce and, as you might imagine, involve lots of emotion. What I see a lot of is two people who are barely handling things and getting themselves through the
process when in comes someone to stir the pot. Often, a parent or friend or some other person, pokes his or her nose in where it doesn't belong and then one of the people involved in the
divorce loses his or her cool.
This is bad. Very bad.
Honestly, the key to divorce is cooperation. I know it seems insane to think about cooperating with your spouse when you are divorcing. But, it really is for the best. It is easier to cooperate and get things done, than it is to argue, fight, let others influence the process, and just prolong the divorce. I'm not saying you have to agree on everything. Obviously, that's not going to happen. If it were that easy, you probably wouldn't be getting divorced. But, I don't think it's asking too much for both parties to be reasonable in their demands.
The best thing for you to do is hire a lawyer you can trust, one that is honest with you about the process, and let that lawyer explain your legal rights. Then, start working within that arena. A divorce settlement and a joint parenting agreement can be anything you want it to be if the parties can come to agreement. Think outside of the box sometimes. That might be what gets you what you need. Don't allow a family member or friend attempt to negotiate on your behalf. I will tell you right now that person doesn't have your best interests in mind. That person likely has a score of his or her own that he or she is looking to settle.
Divorce is a terrible time. But, it's an extremely important time. A time when you need to have your wits about you and know your rights. This is a time when you need to be calm and think logically. Whatever you do, don't allow yourself to be pushed around and frightened into doing anything. Hopefully, you are able to hire an attorney that you trust and is honest with you about everything. That attorney is there to assist you with your legal needs and make sure the problem is approached calmly.
One other thing, communication is key. Communicate with your attorney and make note of whether your attorney is communicating with you. If you find yourself in a situation where your lawyer rarely returns your calls, it is probable that your lawyer is not returning opposing counsels calls either. Not communicating prolongs the process. AND, it just upsets everyone involved. In this world of texting and emails, there really is no excuse for not communicating basic information to your lawyer or your soon to be ex-spouse. Leave off the commentary. Just a simple text "I'm running 15 minutes late" is sufficient. If the other party responds with a nasty text, just ignore it....take the high road....it's worth it in the long run.
Good luck everyone and, please, have a happy and safe 4th of July!!!
Now accepting forclosure defense cases as well as taking on estate planning/asset protection and social security disability clients.
Sounds strange, doesn't it? But, do you have one? You should. I came across this idea one day when I was surfing the internet and it's great.
Typically, everyone tries to keep all of their important documents organized in some fashion. But, does everyone in your family know where your important documents are located? For instance, say you're in an accident and can't make healthcare decisions for yourself. Does your appointed agent already have a copy of your healthcare power of attorney? If not, does your agent know where you keep that document? The document won't do any good if it's filed away where no one can locate it.
That's where the death book comes into play. Pull all of your important documents such as copies of your will, trusts, powers of attorney, car titles, life insurance policies, car insurance policies, investment accounts, essentially anything important that someone would need if the worst happened to you. Organize everything in a three ring binder and note where the original of each document is located. Include a sheet that lists all of your important contact information such as doctors, attorney, accountant, etc.
Lastly, label this book in some way that indicates how important it is....call it death book or in case of emergency book....just call it something that makes it obvious that this thing is important. Then, make sure your family and/or agent knows about the book and it's location.
Doing this will help everyone in the event there is an accident or something happens to you. Now...go do this before you forget!
Be happy everyone and stay safe!!!
Letisha Luecking Orlet
Who handles the finances in your marriage? If you don't, do you know what's happening with the money? Do you know what kind of bills you have? Do you know what your spouse
makes each pay period? Do you know what type of investments you have?
Whether you are divorcing or not, you should know the financial situation of your household. I think it's a great idea for one person to handle the money. Frequently, that just makes life easier. However, it's also very important for the person not handling the money to know what's out there. Obviously, in the case of divorce, it is extremely important to know the financial situation. You need to know what assets and liabilities will need to be split between the parties.
However, what a lot seem to forget, it is also important in the event of an emergency. If the spouse that handles all of the money is hit by a bus and either dies or is critically injured, how will the other spouse survive? Everyone should be fully aware of what money is kept where, the existence of investments and life insurance policies, what type of debt exists....as well as how all of these things are titled. The surviving spouse will need to access these things in order to keep the household afloat while the injured spouse is recovering or, in the event of death, move on with life.
If you take care of your finances online, make sure there is always a current list of login ids and passwords for the other spouse--remember to include the answers to security questions. This does go against conventional wisdom of never write these things down, but you have to do something! I believe there are computer programs that allow for storage of passwords, etc. and it is secured. That might be a better way. Remember to include the website addresses as well. It's also a good idea to keep a simple list of assets and liabilities. This way your spouse always knows what it "out there" for the household.
I, honestly, didn't think this was an issue anymore and I've been surprised by how many people give all of this to the spouse to handle and then simply forget about it themselves. It really is so much easier to do it this way. And, you really can do it this way....just make sure there is some sort of document for the other person and that person knows where it is. That way, you're covered....just in case.
I'm very excited to start spreading the news about a presentation I am helping put together. A friend of mine, who is a nurse, and I are going to start presenting a program on end of
life decisions. She will discuss with the group the decisions that will need to be made and how those decisions affect everyone involved. She is experienced in this area of health care
and feels strongly that it is important for people to plan for these unexpected events.
I will be there to offer information on Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Property and Living Wills/Final Directives. I will also be able to provide these basic forms free of charge and assist in completing them.
Right now, we are putting the program together and looking for groups to present the program to. This is generally a subject that no one really wants to talk or think about. Many people likely consider this an issue to be dealt with by older people. However, it's important for everyone to think about these issues and plan for them.
For one moment, stop and think what would happen if you were in a catastrophic accident on your way to work this morning. I know, I know....not what you want to be thinking about at all. But, consider what would happen if you were alive but in a vegetative state. Do your loved ones know your wishes? What if you had a massive heart attack and ended up on life support in the hospital? Does your spouse know how to access all of the financial information? Does your spouse know what bills need to be paid and when?
These are the things you need to consider. It would be stressful enough if a loved one was in the hospital fighting for his or her life and then you realize that power bill wasn't paid, but you don't know where it is or how to even access the money to pay it. You want to make sure that your loved ones are able to survive until you get better or until they are able to recover from losing you. Plus, you want to make sure that your wishes are known to everyone and that those wishes are carried out.
I will definitely keep you posted about this project. If anyone has suggestions of groups we should meet with, please leave a comment.
Have a great day!
The first Valentine's Day after divorce will likely be difficult....whether you asked for the divorce or not. It is likely to be an emotion filled day. Try to get out ahead of this and plan something for yourself so you don't end up sitting at home having your own personal pity party. Here are some suggestions for you:
So, the life of a small town lawyer is often very interesting. It does take some time to get to know people. But, as my practice grows, I get to know more and more people.
I am finding this to be a very small world and I love it more and more each day.
For over 10 years, I worked in Clayton, Missouri and I always had a commute of at least 30 minutes one way. More recently, my commute was a solid hour on a perfect weather day one way. Now, I work closer to home and my commute is only 15 to 20 minutes. That is so wonderful. There are no traffic jams and when it rains, no big deal, everyone keeps driving! So much of my life was spent wasted commuting to a job that I hated. My commute alone is enough to make me blissfully happy now.
I feel that I am very lucky to be able to start my own practice and that I have my husband to support me through this...and by support, I mean financial and emotional. I am trying to make this a success so that someday, he can quit his awful one hour commute each way and find something closer to home. It's amazing how much your outlook on life changes when you are doing something you enjoy AND it is close to home. Life becomes so much easier and you have so much more time. I now have more time to do anything I choose....whether it be working late, playing with the dogs, spending time with family, getting household chores done in the middle of the week, doing volunteer work....anything.
Sometimes, you have to weigh doing something you enjoy (or, at least, don't hate) closer to home and making a smaller salary against all of the negatives of working at that high paying job in the big city. Consider your quality of life. Cut down on material things. Take the time to enjoy your life instead of being constantly focused on the almighty dollar and material possessions. I firmly believe that if you do this, your life will improve in so many ways.
Starting and maintaining a law practice is stressful. But, I try to remember all of the positives to this small town practice and all of the reasons I wanted to have this type of practice. It warms my heart every day that I'm able to help someone through a difficult time. I love working in a small town where I'm able to walk not only to the courthouse, but also to the post office, the hairdresser, the flower shop, the post office, the bank and many other stores. People are friendly and nice. It's refreshing. I love it.
Sometimes, when I think about it, it does seem a little odd to me...I love my job, where I work, the people around me...I guess I'm still adjusting to it since I spent so long disliking all of those very same things. This is such an improvement and I encourage everyone who has the chance to make a positive change such a this to just do it. You won't regret it!