Jeffery M. Leving

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Jeffery M. Leving
photograph of Jeffery M. Leving and Barack Obama
Jeffery M. Leving (right) with Barack Obama
Jeffery M. Leving

July 2, 1951[1]
Alma mater
OccupationFamily law attorney
Known forAttorney, author

Jeffery M. Leving (born July 2, 1951) is an American divorce attorney and author who specializes in matrimonial and family law. He is known primarily for his vocal advocacy of fathers' rights and hosts two radio shows. His television and radio commercials are well known in the Chicago area.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Leving was born in Chicago and raised on its South Side. His father worked as a bartender and tailor while pursuing success as an artist.[2] Leving was deeply affected by the divorce of his parents in 1967, when he was 16.[5]

Leving attended Senn High School[5] on Chicago's North Side then graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Radio and Television.[3] He received his Juris Doctor from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1979.[3][4]

Legal career[edit]

Leving is licensed to practice in Illinois, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.[3]

Leving helped pioneer the Fathers' Rights Movement when he discovered a gap in the judicial system. He started seeking equality and due process for fathers everywhere.[6] In 1979, Leving became a staff attorney for the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation,[4][5] and in 1981 joined a firm that allowed him to use their offices to start his own practice during his spare hours,[5] "focusing on family law, divorce, paternity, and child custody".[3] Leving's accomplishments include the co-authorship of the Illinois Joint Custody Law, Illinois Virtual Visitation, Right to DNA Testing Notice, and Unlawful Visitation or Parenting time Interference Laws.[7][8] He also delivered testimony before both branches of the Illinois Legislature on Joint Custody, Grandparent's Visitation and Child Support Accountability bills.[5]

Leving and father's rights activist Glenn Sacks have argued that parenting time interference can result from the custodial parent's relocation beyond a practical distance from the noncustodial parent, and have campaigned for a rebuttable presumption prohibiting such relocations.[9] In 1985, Leving helped draft the Illinois Joint Custody Law, allowing judges to assign divorcing parents equal responsibility for raising their children.[5] Leving worked for its passage in the Illinois General Assembly, and "is credited with generating much of the pressure that got the bill passed".[5][4] By 1991, Leving was described as "one of the most recognizable names among Chicago lawyers".[4]

In 2000, Leving was a lawyer in the case of 6-year-old Elián González,[2] who was rescued after being found tied to an inner tube off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Gonzalez's mother drowned in her attempt to flee Cuba to the United States, and the child's presence in the U.S. involved contentious court proceedings. When the case was considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, Leving had previously spearheaded the amicus brief, which set the foundation of the custody case to reunite Elian Gonzalez with his father, Juan Miguel, in Cuba.[10] Manuel Gonzalez, Elian Gonzalez’s great uncle, later retained Leving to reunite Elian with his father.[1][11][12] Leving appeared as an expert on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox National News and Court TV to analyze the Elian Gonzalez case.[1]

In 2011 Leving represented 20-year-old Mariah Yeater in a paternity claim against singer Justin Bieber, accused by Yeater of impregnating her following a reported brief sexual encounter after one of his Los Angeles concerts. Leving actively pushed for Bieber's legal team to arrange a DNA test.[13]

Leving has frequently espoused legal reforms on radio and television shows, such as the Oprah Winfrey Show.[5]

Writing and artistry[edit]

Leving is the author of three books:

  • Fathers' Rights (Basic Books, 1997) presents advice for fathers involved in a custody dispute.[14][15][3]
  • Divorce Wars: A Field Guide to Winning Tactics, Preemptive Strikes, and Top Maneuvers When Divorce Gets Ugly (Harper Collins, 1998), provides a step-by-step guide for people going through a difficult divorce.[3][16]
  • How to Be a Good Divorced Dad (Jossey-Bass, 2012), advises fathers who were either divorced or going through a divorce, and included real-life anecdotes from dads who successfully navigated their way through a divorce while maintaining strong, loving relationships with their children.[17][3] The book "received an endorsement from Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago and garnered praise from President Barack Obama".[3]

Leving is also the publisher of Leving's Divorce Magazine,[3] a new magazine for divorced men that focuses on parenting and men's legal issues.[citation needed]

In addition to his writing, Leving is a painter, and showcases his artwork in an online gallery. In 2013, Leving sold an abstract piece memorializing the Elián González case.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Martindale-Hubbell, The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory - Volume 7 (2001), p. 1893.
  2. ^ a b c d Kapos, Shia (November 5, 2013). "Elian Gonzalez case comes full circle for Jeffery Leving". Crain's Chicago Business.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "2012 Professional Achievement Award, Jeffery Leving (JD '79)". Illinois Institute of Technology. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Vicke Quade, "Our Court Systems Are Biased Against Men", Barrister (1991-1992), vol. 18, p. 23.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h McClory, Robert (February 22, 1990). "The Rights of Men: As Declared by Divorce Lawyer Jeffery Leving". Chicago Reader.
  6. ^ Leving, Jeffery M.; Sacks, Glenn (August 9, 2006). "Respect a Man's Choice, Too". National Ledger. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  7. ^ Thompson, D; Sacks, G (2002-09-26). "Equal Parents Week Highlights Need for Family Court Reform". GlennSacks.Com. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  8. ^ Jump up to: a b Buchanan, KS (2007). "Lawrence v. Geduldig: Regulating Women's Sexuality" (pdf). Emory Law Journal 56: 1235–1290. (parental and reproductive rights).
  9. ^ Leving, Jeffery; Sacks, Glenn (2005-06-17). "AB 400 Will Help Wisconsin's Children of Divorce". Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
  10. ^ The Group Who Filed Elian Gonzalez Brief, Supports INS Decision, PR Newswire, January 7, 2000. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  11. ^ Jeffery Leving, attorney for Elian's great uncle Manuel Gonzalez, discusses the Elian Gonzalez custody hearing, CNN, May 11, 2000. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  12. ^ Intervenor Applicant’s Resp. to Pls.’ and Defs.’ Opp’n to Mot. to Intervene and Mot. for Relief Under Rule 17(c) at 1, 14., Gonzalez v. Reno, 86 F. Supp. 2d (S.D. Fla. 2000) (No. 00-0206).
  13. ^ "Justin Bieber paternity suit dropped, but fight is just beginning". The Oregonian. November 18, 2011.
  14. ^ Subercaseaux, Bernardo (2004). Mis queridos hijos. LOM Ediciones. p. 10. ISBN 978-956-282-452-1. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  15. ^ Valrie Chambers, "Rules Clarified for Claiming the Exemption (and Related Tax Breaks) for Children of Divorced Parents", Journal of Accountancy (2008).
  16. ^ Khepri Rising, The Family Court Industrial Complex and Post Traumatic Family Court Disorder (2012), p. 244.
  17. ^ Hoey, Kim (May 4, 2015). "15 ways to be a good divorced dad". The News Journal.

External links[edit]