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DuPage County family law attorneysAt Davi Law Group, our blog serves as a resource to answer questions and provide information and updates about family and divorce law in Illinois. We address issues related to child custody, parental rights, and adoption to help our readers understand the legal processes involved. Here, we look back at 10 blogs that our readers found most useful in 2020:

  1. How Does a Sex Offender Conviction Impact My Parental Rights? - We discuss possible restrictions on parenting time and decision-making due to a parent’s criminal sex offense conviction.
  2. DCFS Investigations in Illinois - What Are Your Rights And How Can You Protect Them? - We help parents understand the process of an investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and how they can protect their parental rights.
  3. Illinois Divorce Basics: How Long Will You Receive Alimony Payments? - We explain how the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support are calculated according to Illinois law.
  4. Emancipation of Minors in Illinois - We look at situations in which a child under the age of 18 can pursue independence from their parents.
  5. Terminating Parental Rights in Illinois - We discuss the criteria for declaring a parent unfit and terminating their rights, particularly during the adoption process.
  6. 5 Things to Get “Right” When a Guardian Ad Litem Has Been Appointed to Your Child Custody Case - We outline the role of a Guardian Ad Litem or child representative in family court and discuss how parents should handle interactions with them.
  7. A Guide to Adult Adoptions in Illinois - We walk through the process and requirements for legally adopting a person over the age of 18 in Illinois.
  8. Who Has Custody Over Your Child If There Is No Court Order? - We answer the complicated question of how custody rights are handled in cases of child abduction when parents are unmarried and have not established a custody order in court.
  9. Marriage Basics: How to Get a Marriage License in DuPage County Illinois - We provide information for DuPage County couples regarding how, when, and where they can obtain a license to marry.
  10. What Are Grandparent Rights in Illinois? - We look at cases in which a child’s grandparents and certain other relatives can petition for custody and visitation rights.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney

We hope you benefit from the information found in our blogs, and we are available for a free initial consultation when you are looking for qualified legal advice specific to your case and an attorney who can advocate strongly on your behalf. Contact our Wheaton family lawyers today by calling 630-580-6373.

Wheaton adoption lawyersAdopting a child is one of the most generous things that a person can do, as it often provides a child in need with a stable home and a loving family. However, the adoption process is not always easy, especially if one or both of the biological parents still have parental rights. This is often the case in a step-parent adoption or related adoption when the potential adopter or adopters are seeking to give the child a better life than the current legal parents are able or willing to provide. In these cases, it is necessary to terminate the current parents’ rights, either voluntarily or by court order, for the adoption to be able to proceed.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights in Illinois

Terminating parental rights is typically much easier if the biological parents are willing to consent to the adoption. This may be the case if a parent is uninterested in being part of the child’s life, or if he or she recognizes that the adoption would be in the child’s best interest. A person who cedes parental rights loses standing to pursue parenting time or decision-making authority regarding the child, and also is no longer obligated to provide financial support for the child. There may sometimes be a challenge in locating an absent parent to obtain consent, but if this is the case, there may be other options for terminating parental rights.

Proving That a Parent is Unfit

If a parent does not willingly consent to the adoption, the potential adopters will likely need to petition the court for the termination of the biological parent’s rights and demonstrate that the parent is unfit. There are a number of reasons that a parent can be declared unfit according to Illinois law, including:

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Wheaton paternity lawyersWhen a baby’s parents are married at the time of birth, both are presumed to be biologically related to the child, and each parent automatically reaps the benefits of parentage. Such is not the case when the baby’s parents are unwed at the time of birth. In this situation, the child’s biological tie to the mother is assumed, but their biological tie to the father must be legally established. 

Why go through this extra trouble, especially if you are living together and plan for it to remain that way? What if you are no longer together but have an amicable co-parenting relationship and a standing co-parenting agreement in place? Even in these situations (and others), the legal establishment of paternity is highly recommended. Learn more about the benefits of completing this process, and discover how a seasoned family law attorney can assist you while trying to navigate your way through it. 

How Paternity is Established in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, paternity is legally established in one of three ways: 

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DuPage County family law attorneys, Illinois guardianship casesA legal battle stretching from Illinois to Indonesia found its way into a Cook County courtroom in March 2017, as a judge ruled against granting guardianship and custody to a baby’s grandmother. According to an ABC 7 Chicago News report, the infant’s parents are serving a prison sentence in a Bali murder case, having been convicted just before the child’s birth. The girl had been allowed to stay in jail with her mother until her second birthday, and her mother entrusted an Australian woman with her care on that date.

The basis of the judge’s ruling was that the child’s parents must give written consent before a decision on the grandmother’s guardianship petition would be proper. There are complicated issues involved in any Illinois guardianship case, as an experienced attorney can explain.

Illinois Probate Act

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DuPage County family law attorneys, parental rightsIf you are currently going through divorce proceedings, you are probably aware that the court will address the needs of minor children. There are many considerations that will factor into a judge’s decision on parental rights and obligations, all of which focus on an arrangement that accounts for the best interests of the child. You should consult with a DuPage County parental responsibilities lawyer about your situation; however, some general information is a good start.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities 

There are two primary considerations involved with a parent’s legal obligations and rights in Illinois:

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Illinois Custody Relinquishment Prevention Act,  DuPage County DCFS defense attorneysThe Illinois Custody Relinquishment Prevention Act went into effect in 2015 to help curb a problem that many families were facing. The issue was called “custody for care”—families who needed intensive mental health support for their children would feel forced into giving up custody to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

The Problem the Act Addresses 

Children with severe mental health issues often need intensive and expensive psychiatric treatment. Yet even with health insurance, many plans do not cover this kind of treatment. Therefore, parents were not able to access this treatment on their own.

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DuPage county child custody, parental rights, sex offender convictionA sexual offense criminal conviction may have significant consequences on a parent’s visitation and custody rights. This is true even if the offense did not involve a child. A court may consider a parent's sex offense conviction during the divorce. If the conviction happens after the divorce, the other parent may request a modification to visitation or custody rights.

A Court May Limit Parental Rights

A court may decide to limit the parental rights of a parent who had been convicted of a sexual offense. This mean the parent may have less decision making ability and limited parenting time, and may face supervised visitation. Circumstances will influence what the court decides; however, the court will make decisions considering the best interests of the child.

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Posted on in Adoption

DuPage County adoption attorneys, consenting to adoptionEvery parent has the right to decide how their children are raised. Parental rights are fiercely protected by the law. Parental rights also come with parental responsibilities. If a birth parent has decided to place a child up for adoption, then both parents must give up these rights. Giving up parental rights, or consenting to an adoption, is an important and critical legal step for biological parents. If you are making the difficult decision to place your child up for adoption, you will need to understand the full impact of consenting to your child’s adoption.

Requirement for Consenting to Adoption

When parents consent to an adoption, the parents give up both their rights and responsibilities. Illinois provides two different ways for parents to consent to an adoption:

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DuPage County family law lawyers, name changesBlended families, ones that unite a couple in a second marriage after a divorce, are not uncommon. And, in many cases, stepparents and stepchildren will not share the same surname. A biological mother or father retains the right to seek permission from the court to alter a child’s last name to match the last name of the biological parent and the stepparent. Under Illinois law, parents seeking a change of name for their child must demonstrate that the modification will benefit the child.

Steps to Changing Your Stepchild’s Name

A stepparent may not petition a court to alter a child’s last name. The child's biological mother or father must file a request to a court on behalf of their child before the court. Before requesting a name change, the parent must place a notice in a local newspaper for 21 days alerting the public of his or her plans to change his or her child’s surname. This notice in the paper serves as notification in the state for anyone, including the child’s other parent, who may not agree to the child’s name change. Once the notice has run and the petition for the name change is filed, a court will choose a time to decide whether to grant the name change.

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DuPage County child custody attorneys, guardianship for non-parentsToday, it is very common for children to live with grandparents, aunts, uncles, or even adult siblings. This often happens when a child’s biological parents are not present in his or her life. Most times, these circumstances start as a temporary option; however, they often grow into permanent arrangements. In situations like this, the biological parents maintain their parental right unless legal action is taken to gain custody of the child.

Establishing a Legal Arrangement as a Non-Parent

When a living arrangement moves from being temporary to permanent, a caretaker would be wise to begin to consider options for legalizing the relationship. Establishing a legal relationship will allow the caretaker to be able to provide health insurance, enroll the child in school, and have authority to make decisions for the child in the absence of a parent. Before moving forward to legalize the relationship, it is important to remember that the law strongly protects the rights of the biological parents. However, there are certain conditions under which a non-parent would be able to establish a permanent legal relationship with a child.

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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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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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Posted on in Child Custody

adoption, Illinois family lawyer, DuPage County adoption attorney, childrenThere are many people who dream their entire lives of becoming parents. For those who are not able to have their own biological children, this dream might never become a reality if it was not for the option to adopt. Others may choose to adopt outright and provide a loving home to a child in need. Whatever the motivation, adoption is a noble cause that can prove to be a fulfilling life decision for all of those involved.

Questions About Adoption

Many who consider adoption likely have a variety of questions and concerns about the adoption process. While it is advisable to discuss specific situations with a licensed attorney, here are some common questions asked by many prospective adoptive parents, taken from the National Adoption Center website:

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child of divorce, best interests of the child, Illinois child custody lawyer, child custody, DuPage County IllinoisThere are few challenges in life more difficult than divorce. It is certainly a hassle to gain a legal end to your marriage and determine how to divide important family assets, such as the family home. Often the biggest challenge in a divorce though is figuring out the custody arrangements of children. Such a process can be fraught with complications and emotions.

The Standard in Illinois According to Illinois law, when determining the custody of a child during a divorce proceeding, Illinois courts use a “best interests of the child” standard. This requires courts to try to determine the child’s best interests (as opposed to the interests of parents or family members) when determining which party will have custody over the child. Judges will follow this standard regardless of any agreement you and your divorcing spouse may have reached. Determining the Best Interests of the Child To figure out what the best interests of the child are, courts will look at a number of factors. No factor will carry more or less weight than another factor. Some of these factors include:
  • Who is the Primary Caregiver? - The court will look to see who is the primary caregiver of the child. This is the person who provides the child with food, takes them to school, purchases their clothes, and performs other necessary duties.

  • What is the Fitness of Parties Involved?  - The court will examine the physical and psychological well being of the parties seeking custody. In addition, courts will look at others associated with the parties, such as a party’s spouse or other children residing with that party. The courts will also consider evidence of abuse by a party against that party’s spouse or other children.

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