Chicago Sun-Times

Lemaks may receive divorce within weeks

September 24, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times

A judge cleared the way Thursday for Marilyn Lemak, the Naperville woman accused of killing her three children, and her estranged husband, Dr. David Lemak, to be divorced within two weeks.

DuPage County Judge John Elsner agreed to grant the divorce even before a financial settlement is reached.

Marilyn Lemak is in DuPage County Jail, awaiting trial on charges she killed her children in March by using drugs to put them to sleep and then suffocating them.

Her attorney had wanted to lock in Marilyn Lemak's share of the marital assets--including proceeds from the sale of their million-dollar Naperville home, which is scheduled for closing Monday--at the same time the divorce was granted.

But David Lemak's attorney, Anita Donath, successfully urged the judge to set aside the money issues until Marilyn Lemak's criminal case is resolved. "If she would be given capital punishment, she would have no need of the assets," Donath said.

For now, all of David Lemak's earnings go into a marital-assets pot. Marilyn Lemak also remains eligible for David Lemak's half-million-dollar life insurance policy should he die before the divorce goes through, Donath said.

"Dr. Lemak is suffering from mental anguish as a result of having to remain married to the woman who killed his three children," Donath told Elsner, pleading with the judge not to hold off on the divorce decree.

David Lemak looked on earnestly from his seat. At one point in the proceedings Thursday--when Donath again mentioned the children's deaths--he briefly wiped his eyes.

Naperville police have said Marilyn Lemak killed her children and attempted to kill herself after she and David separated, saying she and the children were no longer "a priority" for him.

Marilyn Lemak's attorney, Daniel Kuhn, argued that she was innocent until proven guilty and said state law prohibited considering a spouse's conduct in deciding the distribution of marital assets.

The judge agreed that the question of whether any crime had been committed was not before him. But he granted Donath's motion to separate the issues of support and maintenance and let the divorce proceed.

Both David and Marilyn Lemak want the divorce, and Kuhn said he expects it will be granted at the hearing Oct. 7.

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