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DuPage County family law attorneys, parental responsibilitiesPartners to a civil union often deal with the same marital issues as any couple, so there can be many questions when the relationship comes to an end. One of the most important aspects to dissolution of a civil union is what happens to minor children, and Illinois law does specifically address parental responsibilities in the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. You should discuss the details of your situation with a DuPage County parental responsibilities lawyer, but the following includes answers to some common questions.

How Does the Civil Union Act Apply to Divorcing Couples?

In general, the Act establishes a status that offers all the rights, interests, and benefits of marriage to individuals without regard to their gender. The “civil union” became the legal equivalent of marriage for same-sex couples on Jun 1, 2011.

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prenuptial agreement, DuPage County prenuptial agreement attorneyA prenuptial agreement is probably the last thing you want to think about when you are planning a romantic wedding, but it is a smart approach for many couples starting a life together. A prenup is a way for couples to decide certain issues for themselves, rather than relying on divorce laws that may result in an unbalanced situation.

The common presumption is that prenuptial agreements are intended to protect the “richer” spouse, but there are a number of reasons why these agreements benefit both parties. Consult with a DuPage County prenuptial lawyer about how a prenup would work for you and your partner.

Bring Everything to the Table 

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DuPage County parenting responsibilities attorneys, parental responsibilityAt the beginning of the year, Illinois family law made several changes to the way it divides up parenting time, formerly known as visitation, and parenting responsibilities, formerly known as custody. While parenting time is somewhat straightforward—it has to do with when each parent has time with the children—parental responsibility can be a little more tricky.

If you are in the process of a divorce or are trying to figure out a new parenting plan, you should contact knowledgeable child custody attorneys to help you understand all the options you have for sharing or dividing up these responsibilities.

Parenting Responsibilities

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Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County child representation lawyers, legal representation for childrenWhile children are not often named parties in family law litigation, they are frequently greatly affected by the outcome of family court matters such as parenting time and visitation.

Illinois family law has three different ways that the interests of children can be represented. The three types of attorneys are: attorney for the child, child representative, and guardian ad litem. While each may sound similar, there are important differences between these roles and the nuances should be understood.

Attorney for the Child 

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DuPage County prenuptial agreement attorneys, prenuptial agreementCouples sign prenuptial agreements before marriage so they are able to determine, in advance, how assets will be divided if there is a divorce. The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs prenuptial agreements. Couples enter into prenuptial agreements assuming that the court will enforce them if there is a divorce. However, there are situations that make a prenuptial agreement, or some of the provisions in a prenup, invalid.

When preparing and signing a prenuptial agreement, it is important to have a knowledgeable prenuptial agreement attorney to ensure that you do not accidentally have your agreement invalidated in whole or in part. 

Duress

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DuPage County child custody attorneys, allocation of parental responsibilitiesOn January 1, 2016, Illinois family law went through a major overhaul, and changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act went into effect. One major change was the way child custody was divided. Prior to the change, there was child custody and visitation; however, now the law discusses parental responsibility and parenting time.

What is Parental Responsibility? 

In the past, custody was divided into two concepts: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody referred to with whom the child lived. Legal custody referred to the individual who made the important decisions for the child. Examples of decisions included extracurricular activities, health decisions, and religious observance. Now, the term parental responsibility is used and is similar to legal custody—it defines who gets to make the decisions for the child. 

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DuPage County child support attorneys, child support paymentsDuring the lifetime of a child, circumstances can change greatly that may mean that the amount you pay or receive in child support should be altered to take these changes into account. This is called a “modification” of child support.

Illinois law provides circumstances that may allow parties to go to court for a change. However, keep in mind that because family law is centered on the best interests of the child, judges are generally able to find outside of what the statute says if it is in the child’s best interest. A qualified family law attorney can help you with the specifics of your case.

Getting into Court

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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorney, parenting planIllinois law now requires divorcing couples with children to submit a “parenting plan” to the court in order to be granted a divorce. This is part of the changes made by the new Illinois family laws that went into effect January 1, 2016. There are several important rules and considerations surrounding parenting plans and it is advisable to work with a skilled family law attorney to make sure that the plan that gets approved will be one that is best for you and your children.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a document that lays out the rights and obligations of both parents in relation to the children. A parenting plan specifically allocates parenting time (formerly known as custody and visitation) and other matters that need to be worked out in order to parent separately.

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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 Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorneys, Affordable Care Act and divorceBefore the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare”, came into effect, many couples would put off divorce because employer provided health insurance would no longer cover one of the spouses. One study found that before the Affordable Care Act was enacted, about 65,000 women would lose health insurance coverage after a divorce each year.

Now, many people are able to access health care even after a divorce when their spouse’s employer provided coverage during the marriage. In Illinois, like many other states, a state marketplace provides Affordable Care Act coverage.

Preexisting Conditions

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Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County family lawyers, marriage invalidThere may be circumstance that lead a couple to request that a court declare their marriage invalid. Invalidity of marriage, commonly known as annulment, is a different process than divorce. A court will only declare a marriage invalid under the specific circumstances; it is important to speak to a skilled attorney if you are interested in pursuing this option.

When is a Marriage Invalid?

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a court may find a marriage invalid if it was entered into under one of the circumstances below:

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DuPage County child custody attorneys, reuniting with your childWhen your child has been removed from your care, it can be difficult to determine what steps to take next. It can also be difficult to regain child custody and have your child returned to you. If your child has been removed from your home, then you may feel powerless and angry. While these feelings are normal, you should also be aware of your legal rights.

What Can I Do to Help Get My Child Back?

First, you need to make sure that you give the court all of the information it needs. This can be hard when you are worrying about your child. Also, you should begin working on every aspect of your life that will help you get your child back. Additionally, if you want to have your child back, then start coordinating with the court, your case worker, and your lawyer to begin working towards getting your child home.  

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DuPage County family law lawyer, order of removalMoving to a new city or state for a new job, or just to be closer to family is a decision many people make without a second thought. However, if you have a custody order, then you may not be able to simply pick up and move. You may first have to get the permission of the court.

Order of Removal

Under the law, prior to January 1, 2016, a parent with primary custody of a child could not move out of state without first getting an order of removal from the court authorizing the move. A parent could, however, move anywhere in Illinois without court approval.

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DuPage county divorce attorneys, legal separationThe Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows for legal separation. Legal separations are not very common, since the expense of a legal separation is similar to a divorce. However, it is possible that a couple may prefer legal separation over divorce.

If you and your spouse are considering a legal separation, then there are a few factors you may want to consider as you begin the separation process.

What Are the Requirements for a Legal Separation?

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DuPage County adoption lawyers, stepparent adoptionThrough a stepparent adoption, the natural child of one spouse becomes the legal child of the other spouse. Once a child is adopted, there are no legal differences between the natural children and children from another marriage. If you are considering adopting your stepchild, there are a few factors to consider to help your family through the process.

Consent is Key to Stepparent Adoption

A stepparent adoption is a form of related adoption. However, in this type of related adoption, the other parent must provide consent for the adoption. Sometimes, the other birth parent may agree that stepparent adoption is in the best interests of the child. In these cases, it may not be difficult to obtain consent. The adoption will be more complex if the child’s other biological parent does not provide consent.

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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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child support, income withholding, parenting, life after divorce, children of divorce, Illinois child support lawFor many, it may be hard to believe that any parent would not do all they can for the well-being of their child. However, the fact remains that in many child support cases, particularly contentious matters that involved a bitter divorce or a relationship gone sour, a parent who owes child support may pull whatever strings possible to get out of the obligation.

This may be because of the payor parent’s feelings of ill will toward the custodial parent, but no matter the reason, the one who is hurt most in cases like this is the child or children involved. Luckily, with the help of an experienced attorney in child support matters, these situations can be avoided when possible and addressed when they occur.

Income Withholding

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prenuptial agreement, lawyer, attorney, divorce, marriage, prenupOften times, when two people in love are engaged and planning a wedding, planning for a possible divorce is the last thing on their minds. Even if the possibility of a future divorce has crossed their minds, they will likely avoid taking the step of suggesting a prenuptial agreement as doing so may result in not only hurt feelings, but potentially a broken engagement.

 Many people simply do not want to consider the possibility of a divorce down the road when they should be focused on planning for a lifetime together. However, those in the legal field or people who have gone through a divorce may try to convince them otherwise.  Why Agree to a Prenup? Essentially, a prenup is a contract by which two parties set out the terms of a possible divorce before getting married. And, as a recent article states, doing so makes a future divorce much simpler by clarifying the terms in advance. Prenups can clearly set out property division between the parties to a divorce, the length of spousal support and maintenance, and support for any children that may have been born outside of the marriage. Likewise, if any children born prior to the marriage are named as beneficiaries of retirement accounts, a spouse can later challenge the designation unless they agree in a prenup to sign a waiver after the marriage. Prenups may also be considered as a back-up to a will, or as evidence of your intentions in the event that your will is challenged. If your prenup represents an agreement of terms to which your spouse has consented in advance, it makes the success of any future challenge to your will less likely.  Prime Customers Often, it is not young couples marrying for the first time who are concerned with securing a prenup. Rather, it is typically older couples who may have already gone through a divorce and are remarrying who make sure they have a prenuptial agreement this time around. Not only have many older people experienced the complications of divorce first-hand and lived through the emotional and financial burdens associated with the process, but later in life people usually have more to protect. There are situations in which one party has amassed great wealth over their adult years and the other is not as financially stable. A prenup is essentially for guaranteeing that those assets will be protected in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also protect one partner from the debt of the other, or they can protect children from a previous marriage.  Preparing a Prenup There are important requirements for preparing a prenuptial agreement that must be followed in order to avoid the agreement later being challenged by one of the parties in court. The following are some notable requirements that must be followed for a valid prenup:
  • Full disclosure of assets and debts possessed at the time of the agreement;
  • Presentation of the document well in advance of the wedding date, and free of any strict deadlines. The party signing cannot feel pressured into signing the document. Both parties should have ample time to study the terms; and
  • The terms contained within the agreement must not be unconscionable, or too one-sided, in light of the circumstances at the time it is signed.
If you are considering obtaining a prenuptial agreement, an experienced family law attorney in Illinois can help ensure your agreement will be upheld in court. Contact the attorneys at Davi Law Group today for a consultation.

grandparent rights, Illinois custody laws, Illinois visitation laws, grandparent visitation, Illinois child custody law, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois family lawIn child custody matters, the child’s parents are not the only members of the family whose relationship with the child will be affected. Often times, there are extended family members on both sides who may be interested in securing time and solidifying their relationship with the child. However, under the law, only certain family members are able to petition the court to do so. Additionally, those who are eligible to petition the court will likely only get their requests granted under certain situations.

Illinois Law for Grandparent Visitation

In Illinois, grandparents have the right to seek visitation of a minor grandchild, provided that certain circumstances exist. Not only is the burden of proof for the petitioner to fulfill greater in a grandparent visitation case than in a parent visitation case, but there are also specific factors that the grandparent petitioner must meet in order for the court to award visitation with the minor grandchild.

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