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DuPage County family law attorneys, sole custodyJoint custody and sole custody are two terms that are commonly discussed during a divorce case when a child is involved. However, many parents are unaware of what each term entails and how each can impact visitation, decision making ability, and support following a divorce.

Joint Custody

The language within 750 ILCS 5/602.1 defines the terms of joint custody in Illinois. Joint custody means that both parents will share custody of the child, but it does not mean that the time spent with each parent must be equal.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, terminating parental rightsDespite court and family efforts, there are times when it is in the best interests of a child to terminate a parent’s rights. This means that a parent will no longer be legally responsible for a child, does not have to pay child support, and cannot make any decisions regarding a child’s welfare. However, Illinois has a fairly unique and strict set of rules regarding when one parent is allowed to petition for the termination of the other parent’s rights. 

Parental Right Termination Law 

In Illinois, one parent is not allowed to simply petition for the termination of another parent’s rights. Under Illinois law 750 ILCS 50/1, a parent’s rights can only be terminated in conjunction with the Adoption Act or in a juvenile case. State legislators determined that it is in the best interests of a child that both parents retain their rights, except in extreme circumstances—a negligent parent still has an obligation to pay child support, even if he or she is absentee.

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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneys, removal of a childChildren of divorce cannot freely travel between states like the children of married parents. Custodial parents who wish to move their child outside of the state, or even remove them temporarily, must get permission from the court first. In addition, the parent must demonstrate to the court that the removal is in the best interests of the child or provide some type of guarantee that the child will return.

Illinois Removal Law

Under 750 ILCS 5/609 of Illinois law, the court may allow any custodial party to remove their child or children from the state of Illinois if it is in the best interests of the child or children. In order to be granted approval, the party seeking removal must show that this is, in fact, in the best interests of the child or children. 

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Posted on in Mediation

DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois divorce mediationVery few divorce cases are uncontested, where the divorcing couple agrees on all aspects of the split. In a contested divorce, the spouses have a couple of options when deciding how to resolve their issues. One option is to litigate the matters, but another viable option for divorcing spouses is through mediation

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process where a neutral third party handles all of the issues in your divorce. You and your divorcing spouse sit down with a mediator and discuss the contentious issues in a private forum. Then, the mediator helps to craft a solution in which both parties are satisfied.

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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneys, DCFS case timelineThe Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) handles all cases involving allegations of child abuse or neglect in the home. Any person can report suspected abuse or neglect to the DCFS, and they have the right to investigate the case in addition to removing a child from a home. Every child protection case in the state follows the same timeline, so you can know what to expect as the case moves forward. 

Within 48 Hours of Removal 

On the first day of a child protection case, emergency removal is used to take the child from the home by DCFS for his or her safety. Excluding weekends and holidays, within 48 hours of the removal a temporary custody hearing is held. The court decides whether there is probable cause, urgent and immediate necessity, and in the best interests of the child to place him or her in the custody of DCFS. 

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Posted on in Child Support

DuPage County family law attorneys, failure to pay child supportAlong with the division of assets and spousal support, if children are involved, a final divorce decree also includes a child custody agreement and an order for child support. The purpose of child support is to protect the best interests of a child and provide support to the parent with primary custody.

However, sometimes a parent will fail to pay their child support obligation, and it can have negative consequences for everyone involved.

Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support

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establishing paternity in Illinois, DuPage County family law attorneys Paternity refers to the relationship between a child and his or her legal father. A father, mother, and child can all benefit from establishing paternity, which gives a legal father rights and responsibilities regarding a child. It is important to note that the legal father of a child does not need to be the biological father, and Illinois law provides for many different ways that a mother or potential father can establish paternity.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity 

There are several benefits to establishing paternity for both parents involved and the child. From a father’s perspective, he can create and nurture a relationship with his child. He can also pass on his family name, culture, and anything else that is important to him. The mother of a child also benefits from establishing paternity. She can apply for support from the father if they are not married and have another adult present to support the emotional development of the child.

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Posted on in Visitation

Illinois visitation abuse, DuPage County family law attorneysAs part of any divorce settlement where children are involved, a child visitation schedule details when a child should spend time with each parent. However, sometimes one parent does not wish for their child to see the other parent and will deny him or her the right to see the child. Known as visitation abuse, a parent cannot be legally kept from their child when a custody schedule is set by the court, and there are legal remedies available to help. 

Illinois Visitation Abuse Law 

Visitation abuse is considered a civil concept in Illinois. Defined in 750 ILCS 5.607.1, visitation abuse occurs when a parent denies another parent visitation as decided by the court or exercises his or her visitation rights in a manner that is harmful to a child or a child's custodian. 

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DuPage County family law attorneys, misconduct during pregnancyIn our society, parental rights are fundamental rights, meaning they are the type of rights that are guaranteed to citizens of the United States by virtue of the Constitution. Because of this fact, to terminate parental rights, the government needs to prove that there has been some behavior or misconduct so bad that it causes harm or a threat of harm to the well-being of a child, and therefore the government has the right to intervene on the child(ren)’s behalf.

Misconduct, Neglect, and Abuse of Children

When we think about misconduct or behavior that is considered neglectful or abusive, generally we think about actions taken by parents to injure or hurt a child from infancy until the child is no longer a minor. However, Illinois law (among other jurisdictions in the United States) has found that misconduct while a fetus is still in utero may trigger termination of parental rights once the child has left the womb. Under our law, how can the government enforce the termination of parental rights for neonatal abuse?

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DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois premarital agreementsReasons for Premarital Agreements 

premarital agreement is a contract made between two potential spouses regarding any and all aspects of a marriage. There are several different reasons why couples agree to sign a premarital agreement before marriage. One person may be wealthier than the other and may want to protect that wealth in the case of a divorce. Additionally, if one party comes into a marriage with an existing business, a premarital agreement can protect those interests.

A prenuptial agreement can also be made to ensure predictability, to plan for the future, and to provide security for both parties involved. It can guarantee future life insurance, pension, or military benefits even in the case of divorce. It can also limit future support, to an extent, so that in the case of divorce both people feel like they are exiting the marriage with some level of support.

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DuPage County family law attorneys, entitled to spousal supportSpousal support is one of the biggest issues in a divorce. Also referred to as alimony or maintenance, spousal support requires that one former spouse continues to financially support the other former spouse for a period of time or permanently. There are several different types of maintenance that can be agreed upon or ordered by court. However, it must first be determined whether either spouse is entitled to receive support from the other.

Temporary Spousal Support 

During the course of divorce proceedings, one spouse can receive temporary maintenance from the other. This temporary alimony has no effect on whether permanent spousal support will be awarded at the end of the divorce, but it can serve to help provide for the lesser earning spouse while the divorce is ongoing. Typically, temporary alimony begins when one spouse files for divorce and it ends when the divorce is finalized. 

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In Illinois, the state adoption agency is required to notify fathers if their children are being placed for adoption. All putative fathers, or men who might be a child’s father but were not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth, are encouraged to register in the Putative Father Registry in order to have a say in a potential adoption of their child.

The Putative Father Registry is also designed to serve families who want to adopt, for social workers and other professionals working on an adoption case, and for any other party who has an interest in finding out whether a child is ‘legally free’ for adoption. Moreover, the Registry is ultimately there to help children be placed with adoptive parents.

Asserting Your Rights as a Father

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NOTE: As of July 2017, the law governing child support in Illinois has changed. Please see our Child Support page for more information.

If you have an order for child support from a previous marriage, it can create complications for a second marriage. Child support orders do not get combined or averaged. Instead, they are stacked on top of one another. If you are currently paying child support for your first family, and you have children from a later relationship, you may be concerned about the potential for being doubly obligated for child support purposes. Therefore, it is wise to consult a family lawyer to get a handle on your legal responsibilities and rights.

One avenue that is often open to parents who have child support obligations to more than one family is modification of a child support order. A change may be approved by a family law judge if there has been a substantial shift in circumstances. Changes that can lead to reduction in child support often include reduced earnings.

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Illinois family law relating to marriage, divorce, child custody, alimony, and other related matters, is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The Act, which was passed in 1977, is now slated for a big restructuring. For the first time in 40 years, Illinois lawmakers are considering sweeping changes to the patchwork of laws that govern close family relationships. Changes could impact many people who are currently involved in the process of divorce, or who are thinking about beginning the process.

The Illinois legislature has asked an advisory group, the Illinois Family Law Study Committee, to make recommendations for updating the marriage law. They have been collecting information and perspectives of judges, lawyers, and families impacted by the law for several years, and have crafted a set of changes. The changes are intended to reflect more modern cultural values and norms relating to divorce and custody of children. Although the advisory committee agrees that even if the changes were implemented, the law would still not be perfect, they believe that these changes would vastly improve the law as it stands today.

The changes have been set out in Illinois Senate Bill 57, which failed to reach a vote last year. However, the bill was given new life and in February, it passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which serves as a forum for social issues before sending them to be considered by the entire Senate.

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Posted on in Visitation

visitation orderThere are many reasons why a parent might wish to change the conditions of his or her visitation order. Some of the most common include a change of schedule, preventing the parent from taking advantage of the originally scheduled visitation times; a move to another location, further or closer to the place where the other parent lives; failure of a parent to follow the schedule; or a choice to not visit the child.

Under Illinois law, existing visitation orders can be changed at any time. The primary consideration for a judge, who will review your request for a modification, is whether the change is in the best interests of the child. A child’s best interests can be determined based on the desires of the child, the preferences of one or both parents, the strength of the parent-child relationship, the mental and physical health of the parents and child, and countless other factors.

Before Going to Court

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spousal separation billIf you and your husband or wife have separated, and your ex is claiming that you need to help pay his or her bills, beware. Under Illinois law, you are liable for any family expenses incurred by your spouse before you separated. On the other hand, once you are divorced, you cannot be held legally responsible for new expenses that your ex-husband or ex-wife incurs. However, if you are separated but not divorced, any bills that your spouse owes could become your responsibility.

Types of Bills you Could be Liable For

The Illinois Rights of Married Persons Act makes spouses liable for “the expenses of the family and of the education of the children.” Even if you did not agree to an expense, authorize it, or even know about it, you can be held accountable for it, as long as it was incurred for the benefit of the family.

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Posted on in Family Law

annulment in IllinoisThere is more than one way to end a marriage in the state of Illinois. Although the legal process of divorce may be the most common form of dissolving a marriage, some couples who wish to end their marriage may also be able to obtain an annulment. An annulment also involves a legal proceeding, but differs from divorce in that a party seeking an annulment is attempting to have their marriage declared invalid. Unlike divorce, if an annulment is granted, it erases the marriage and it is as if it never happened in the eyes of the law.

Grounds for an Annulment

According to the applicable law in the state of Illinois, the reasons one can file for an annulment of a marriage are limited. The following are considered recognized grounds for an annulment in the state:

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Posted on in Divorce

family time, divorce, child custody, lawyer, attorney, family tips, Illinois family lawyerEvery parent is probably aware of the constant struggle between home life and career. Each aspect of a parent’s life demands time, effort, and attention. With so much energy required, many parents may feel they are not spending an adequate amount of time on a specific area of their life. This situation likely affects many married parents, but may be felt even more acutely by those single or divorced parents who are attempting to maintain a home and a relationship with their children without support from a partner.

Work-Life Balance

A recent article offered several suggestions for ways to increase the amount of time mothers can spend with their children, but surely parents of both genders can heed the advice.

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Posted on in Divorce

Filing for divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. In some cases, ending a marriage can cause psychological damage. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to make the process easier and healthier for everyone involved. divorce IMAGEMany respond to the end of a marriage with grief and anger, or feelings of fear and anxiety. These feelings often catch you off guard. As you proceed through your divorce, it is important to be compassionate and kind to yourself. Try to avoid thinking of your divorce as a battle. Write down details and questions to ask your divorce attorney when you’re calm so that you will remember them later. It may also be helpful to develop a script of sorts for face-to-face communications with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. This can make things easier when you have to meet to discuss details, whether in court, or an alternative dispute resolution meeting. If there are children involved in the relationship, it is important that you do your best to keep conflict away from them. You need to come up with a plan for talking to your children, and talk to them together with spouse. Be honest and open with them in order to keep the lines of communication open, and give them plenty of notice before big changes like moving, or your spouse moving out. Following the divorce, try to minimize large changes for at least a year, and allow them to maintain close contact with their other parent. It is important to remind young children that the divorce is not their fault, and that both parents still love them. Finally, take care of yourself. It can be easy to let your personal needs slide during the stressful time, but it is imperative that you do not do so. If necessary, enlist the help of your family and friends. You may also consider seeing a therapist, or enrolling in a support group. Divorce isn’t something that anyone looks forward to, but it is possible to have a healthy divorce. Contacting a qualified Illinois divorce attorney can help. We can ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

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