Legal Question in Constitutional Law in Illinois

My divorce decree held no provisions for post high school education foor my 3 children. There were provisions that barred and forever foreclosed either party from making any claims against the other for support, court cost, property, etc. not covered in said agreement. Also there was a provision for ownership and management of property giving each of us the right to dispose of our property as if we were unmarried. My ex-wife filed a petition for contributions for college expenses for my adult daughter. My lawyer filed a motion to strike her petition citing the divorce decree and the judge denied it forcing my current wife and I to sign an agreed order that was not in our best interests. The court is bound by the parties agreement under the Illinios Dissolution of Marriage Act. The court assigned me property and the right to manage that property the way I see fit and then totally disregarded State Law and forced me( I did not have the financial means to go to trial) into disposing of that property. The Judge had told my Attorney that she would rule in favor of me on two other petitions but would rule in favor of my ex on the college contributions. I had proved that I was not financially capable of contributing because of medical bills( my wife had cancer and was undergoing treatment), Legal bills etc. but because I had cashed in my 401k, and sold my house during this time that she would rule that I contribute.

I think that she violated my rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This prohibits State and Local Governments from depriving me of Life, Liberty, and Property without ensuring Fairness. The Divorce Decree in one Paragraph states: The court finds this Agreement to be Fair and reasonable.

This has all but exhausted my resources and I am trying to find out if I have a case before I persue this any further.

Asked on 6/04/12, 11:51 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Your question really belongs under family law, not constitutional law. Your constitutional argument is badly flawed, but you may have better arguments under various family law statutes and cases.

The Fourteenth Amendment does not forbid the government from depriving you of property "without ensuring fairness". Instead, it says the government may not do so without "due process of law". A hearing in open court, conducted under fair rules by an unbiased judge, generally constitutes due process.

Besides, the provision you cite refers to actions taken by the government, not by individuals like your ex-wife. It prevents the government from arbitrarily jailing you or taking away your home, but the government can still put you in jail if it follows proper criminal procedures and it can still take your property if it pays you just compensation.

Your ex does not have the government's authority and could not take your money on her own, but she is allowed to ask the court to award it to her. That's what she did. Even if the result might have been wrong, the procedure does not strike me as unconstitutional.

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Answered on 6/04/12, 3:24 pm

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