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DuPage County family law attorneys, best interest of the childHave you ever wondered how family court judges make decisions on behalf of children? Illinois, and most other states, uses a standard of the “best interest of a child.” Though the specifics differ between states, the best interest of the child, or BIOC for short, is usually a statutory list that is part of the state’s code that governs family law. Judges must refer to this list as guidance when considering the factors of the situation to decide the BIOC.

Changes to Illinois Family Law

January 1, 2016 brought several changes to Illinois family law, including changes to the list of factors considered for BIOC. One change was that Illinois now has separate—though very similar—BIOC factors depending on whether parenting time or decision-making responsibility for the child is being allocated. Illinois also added some factors that were not previously included. 

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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneys, supervised visitationReasons Supervision May be Ordered

There are several circumstances in which a judge may order supervised parenting time. Sometimes a judge will order supervised parenting time based on the facts of a case. Other times one parent may feel that a child is at risk when in the care of the other parent and will ask the judge for visits to be supervised. Or, there may be certain situations that require supervision or no contact, such as when one parent drops off the child to the other parent. However, the reason is always the same: the best interests of the child.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act lays out the factors that a judge will consider in order to find what is in the best interests of the child. Some factors that are taken into account are the wishes of the child, the mental and physical health of the parties involved, the child’s health, and a history of abuse.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, social media and divorceA study has found that high levels of Facebook use are associated with poorer relationship outcomes. Hence, it is not surprising that social media has become part of many family law cases. Therefore, it is important that you are mindful about what you post on social media, especially if you are in the middle of or preparing for a divorce or custody case.

Even if you do not have a family law case on the horizon, however, you should always be aware of what you are posting and the ways it may be used in litigation—it is impossible to truly delete content after it has been on the Internet.

There are common ways that social media is used to influence cases. Yet, as new precedents are being set all the time related to technology and applications, caution when posting is always warranted.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, marriage licenseIf you are planning on getting married, you will need to obtain a marriage license in order for it to be legally recognized. Different states have different laws and rules regarding who, how, and when marriage licenses can be obtained and signed. It is important to fully understand some of the rules in DuPage County, Illinois regarding getting married. Before you get married you may also want to talk to an attorney about how marriage will impact your rights and obligations.

Where?

To get a marriage license in DuPage County, both of the future spouses must appear at the County Clerk’s office. The DuPage County Clerk’s office is located at 421 North County Farm Road, in Wheaton. The clerk’s office is open from 8-4:30 Monday through Friday. If you get your license in DuPage County then you must be married there. You cannot use this license to get married in other locations. If you do plan to get married somewhere else you will need to find out the marriage license laws of that locale.

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Posted on in Visitation

DuPage County family law attorneys, grandparents rightsThe relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can be mutually beneficial and rewarding. However, sometimes family relationships can be complicated and grandparents can be left out in the cold and are unable to visit their grandchildren. Conversely, there may also be times where a parent does not want their child to be around a grandparent who is seeking visitation.

What Rights Do Parents Have?

Parents have extensive rights when it comes to decisions made for or on behalf of their kids. It is up to each parent to decide the parameters of the relationship between his or her parents and the child, and generally the courts do not want to interfere with that relationship.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, postnuptial agreementsMost people have heard of prenuptial agreements—legal documents that a couple draws up before the wedding regarding division of assets in the case of divorce. What many people do not know is that there are also postnuptial agreements. These are similar to prenuptial agreements except they are drafted and signed after the couple is married. Postnuptial agreements are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Why Would I Want a Postnuptial Agreement?

Couples have several different reasons for deciding to enter into a postnup. Some couples decide to draft a post-nup when they are going through a rocky time in their marriage and want to figure out property division beforehand to get a sense of what divorce might look like. Other couples may agree that a postnup is the way to go if one of them wants to try a new business venture. Finally, some may regret not signing a prenup and therefore choose a postnup as plan B. Whatever the reason, it is important to make sure you go into the postnup with your eyes open so that you understand the legal consequences of signing one.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, legal aspects of marriageWhen a couple finally makes the decision to get married, they can get caught up in the romantic idea of living happily ever after. While this is normal, the couple should also think about the legal aspects of getting married.

There is an important legal process that must be followed and couples may want to think about other legal issues such as a prenuptial agreement. Thinking about these practical aspects of marriage is not very romantic, but it can help a couple talk through important issues that could result in divorce before the couple gets married.

The Marriage Process

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DuPage County family law attorneys, emancipation in IllinoisWhen a minor is emancipated, there is no turning back. Emancipation makes a minor a legal adult. This means that a minor is not entitled to support from his or her parents. However, there are some cases where a court may order parents to support a partially emancipated minor. Minors and their parents should make sure they have considered the full impact of emancipation on their family, as emancipation will have important effects on a minor’s future decisions.

What Does Emancipation Allow?

Emancipation gives a minor the right to make decision that would normally be granted to an adult. Once a minor is emancipated, the minor will be able to:

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Posted on in Mediation

DuPage County family law attorneys, using a mediatorDivorce is most often an emotionally charged process for everyone involved. Former spouses may get caught in disputes and arguments during a divorce that can prolong divorce proceedings and make the process difficult for both parties. When this happens, it may be useful for a trained mediator to help the parties come to an agreement about their divorce.

If you and your spouse seem to be stuck at an impasse in your divorce, you may wish to consider mediation as a possibility to assist you in separating from one another.

What is Mediation?

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DuPage County family law attorneys, modifying a custody agreementAfter a couple has separated and decided upon parenting and custody agreements, it is possible that the custodial parent may want to move out of state. The parent seeking to move out of state will need to follow a process before relocating with his or her child or children. Illinois has set up a specific statute that lays out the process for a parent seeking to move out of state with a child.

Filing a Out of State Removal Petition

In Illinois, a parent seeing to temporarily or permanently move a child out of state must ask the court for permission before doing so. The court will consider the best interests of the child and make a decision about permitting the parent to move out of state with the child. 

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DuPage County family law attorneys, long term supportParents who have a disabled or special needs child understand the complexity of ensuring adequate care for their child. A divorce adds to the complexity of this issue both financially and emotionally. Whenever possible, divorcing parents should seek to develop a parenting plan and come to an agreement on long-term care for their special needs child.

Generally, child support is calculated using a formula. The court uses the net income of the non-custodial parent and the number of children supported to determine the total amount of support. In most cases, child support terminates when a child is 18. However, when a child is disabled and has special needs that require long-term care, then the court may extend child support. This is particularly true if a child has a severe disability. In these extreme cases, it is possible that the court may order child support to extend for the child’s entire life. 

Court May Order Lifelong Child Support

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Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

DuPage County family law attorneys, ending spousal support

There are several forms of spousal support, or alimony, under Illinois law. Alimony can be periodic or permanent. Alimony may also take the form of a lump-sum payment or a transfer of property. Most alimony, however, is periodic. A supporting spouse will usually make regular payments to the supported spouse for a specific period of time. If the supported spouse decides to remarry or cohabitate, alimony payments will be impacted.

Remarrying and Alimony Awards

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Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County family law attorneys, bifurcated divorce judgmentIn an overwhelming majority of cases, divorces are handled in one long proceeding. However, there are rare circumstances in which a case may be settled in parts. Bifurcated judgments are handed down by a court when there are obstacles to a single judgment that may not be resolved in the time available. Illinois courts do consider them, but the stakes must be high.

When is Bifurcation Appropriate?

Bifurcation is permitted under 750 ILCS 401(b), and is generally granted when “appropriate circumstances” exist. While this is, understandably, a nebulous term, it has somewhat been clarified by Illinois case law. Several different court cases have created non-exhaustive lists, but the general rule of thumb is that bifurcation is on the proverbial table when one spouse has a reason to want proceedings concluded quickly, and the reason does not unduly inconvenience or prejudice their soon-to-be ex-spouse.

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Posted on in Adoption

DuPage County family law attorneys, types of adoption in IllinoisAdoption can be a wonderful experience for everyone involved, and the process provides numerous benefits for the child and adoptive parents. Illinois law has several different types of adoption, with different guidelines and procedures for each. It is important to understand which type of adoption you are choosing in order to ensure that every step of the process is completed correctly.

Illinois Adoption Law

Illinois adoption laws can be found in 750 ILCS 50/, entitled the Adoption Act. It dictates who may adopt, who may be adopted, what makes a potential parent fit for adoption, and the procedures for each type of adoption allowed under the state law. The Act also covers how to contest an adoption if one of the biological parents does not agree with the proceedings.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, income withholding support actIf your former spouse is not paying his or her child support ordered by the court, the law provides several options for restitution. One of these options comes from the Income Withholding Support Act, which allows for an employer to withhold some of a parent’s paycheck and allocate it towards child support. This act is used primarily in situations where a parent is in arrears and not as an original source of payment for child support.

Illinois Income Withholding Law

The Illinois Income Withholding Support Act is found in 750 ILCS 28/ and was originally written to consolidate many provisions of child support law found throughout the Illinois state code. This act defines the policies and procedures of income withholding in Illinois for child support and insurance purposes.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, juvenile and adult courtWhen a minor is accused of committing a crime, he or she can be tried in juvenile court as opposed to adult court. However, the need for skilled legal representation remains the same regardless of what court the child is tried in, and the consequences of a juvenile court conviction can be impactful on the child. Therefore, it is important to know the similarities and differences between juvenile and adult court in Illinois. 

Common Types of Juvenile Crimes 

What many people consider to be minor crimes can be tried in juvenile court if a child is still a minor; however, convictions can create serious consequences for his or her education, employment, housing, and other opportunities.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, alimony in IllinoisIn Illinois, when a couple divorces and one spouse is left economically disadvantaged, a judge may award that spouse maintenance, otherwise known as alimony. The length and amount of alimony depends on a number of factors dictated by law, and depending on the facts of the marriage, a judge can award different types of alimony to a spouse.

Illinois Alimony Law

Under 750 ILCS 5/ the Illinois legislature defined what types of alimony payments are available during and after a divorce. The law provides for temporary maintenance during the course of the divorce proceedings. In addition, a judge can award rehabilitative alimony, reviewable maintenance, or permanent alimony to a spouse after the divorce is finalized.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, out-of-state adoptionsIllinois has become the next state to take part in a program that works to facilitate the process for families that are adopting children from out of state. Called the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise project (NEICE), this program is designed to minimize the period of time that children are in foster care and assist them to seek out families that want them in other states. Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was the latest organization across the country to join the project.

The NEICE program works by using an online system to build on the existing processes of another adoption project, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The ICPC is a state by state compact that regulates adoption and foster care placements when a minor is put in the care of a family in a different state. For any family that is interested in utilizing the new project to adopt a child out-of-state, you can contact your local DCFS office. 

The acting director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has stated that the process in use now can slow the child's final move for a significant period of time. Often they are slowed by out-of-date technologies. When discussing the implementation of NEICE, the director mentioned that utilizing an electric system to automatically transfer information from one agency to a separate one, instead of the current outdated methods, will lower barriers and expedite placements for kids when their new family is out of state.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, orders of protectionDomestic violence against family members or a loved one is one of the most difficult issues to handle in family law. However, if you are a victim of this type of abuse the law provides protection from your offender in the form of an “Order of Protection.” This court order prohibits an attacker from coming near or making any type of contact with you for as long as the order stands.

Illinois Domestic Violence

Under Illinois law, 750 ILCS 60/103 describes domestic violence as abuse of a family or household member. To fall under this category, a family or household member includes: 

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Posted on in Guardianship

DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois guardianship typesThe need for a guardian typically arises when the parents of a child have died or are no longer able to provide proper care. Guardianship appointments for minors are handled by the state probate court, and the rules regarding guardianship are defined within the Illinois Probate Act. The law provides for different types of guardianship appointments, each with its own set of guidelines, restrictions and terms.

Types of Guardianship 

Found in Illinois law under 755 ILCS 5/11, the Probate Act recognizes that there are situations where another person besides a parent should be appointed to make decisions that are in the best interest of a child. The Probate Act of Illinois separates guardianship appointments into three different types: permanent guardians, standby guardians, and short-term guardians. Each type of guardian is appointed in their own way, with their own set of responsibilities, and all are appointed for different reasons.

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