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West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
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b2ap3_thumbnail_barrington-related-adoption-attorney.jpgMany situations can place young children in need of care from a loving adult who is not their parent. Addiction, abandonment, mental illness, sickness, and death can preclude parents from properly caring for their children. When a parent dies or has their parenting rights temporarily or permanently removed, a child may face entering the foster care system. But if an adult sibling is available and willing to adopt the child, a related adoption may be an alternative course of action instead. 

When Can a Related Adoption Happen? 

Not just anyone can adopt a younger sibling; either the child’s biological parent(s) must give consent, or an Illinois judge must find them unfit for reasons like abandonment, incarceration, abuse, or neglect. When a relative of a child seeks to adopt a child, it is called a “related adoption” and does not require the help of a private adoption agency.  

The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for ensuring the welfare of children in Illinois. Parents often encounter DCFS for the first time when somebody makes a report of child abuse and a DCFS agent must investigate. When a child’s home situation is bad enough, DCFS has the authority to remove the child from the parents’ custody and get them to a safer place. In certain circumstances, the parents’ behavior may be so bad that they lose custody of the child forever. 


illinois divorce lawyerAs the major winter holidays come and go, many divorcing or recently divorced parents are bracing themselves for the challenges of reshaping their meaning and tradition. Spending time at home alone without children can feel lonely, especially when your extended family does not live nearby. 

People who have had many years after divorce to get used to the emotional and logistical challenges of dealing with the holidays have some advice for parents who are doing it for the first time. If you are getting a divorce this holiday season, read on. 

Consider the Holidays As You Create a Parenting Plan

Although many parents are tempted to use divorce as a cudgel to get revenge or rehash old complaints, the divorce will eventually end and life must go on. Divorcing couples who are unable to work with a long-term perspective will likely find it even more difficult to cooperate during the coming years as they continue to manage child-related issues together. During the divorce, consider what you want your relationship with your ex and your children to be like, and prioritize the fact that your children will be much better off with a parenting plan that allows for the maximum time spent with both parents - especially during the holidays. 


st. charles divorce lawyerDivorce is never easy, but it can be especially difficult for young children. However, difficult does not necessarily mean catastrophic - especially when parents are committed to protecting their children from the harmful fallout of divorce. If you are a parent considering divorce, know that children are more resilient than we give them credit for. With the appropriate precautions, children can bounce back from the challenges of divorce and go on to be happy, healthy, and successful. 

Five Tips for Protecting Children During an Illinois Divorce

Divorce is one of the most studied, talked about, and written about topics in human psychology. Its effects on children are well-documented, and everybody knows a horror story or two about a family who never recovered after divorce. However, child psychological experts believe that committed parents can protect their kids. Here’s how: 

  1. Pay attention to the details - Children often show subtle signs of distress after learning about their parents’ divorce. Parents can expect children to behave in unpredictable ways during the divorce and for a long time after hearing the news of the split. But by spending quality time with children and staying attuned to their emotional needs, parents can mitigate problems before they worsen. 


Same-Sex Divorce in IllinoisAlthough gay and lesbian couples in Illinois may face discrimination elsewhere in their lives, as far as Illinois divorce law is concerned, they are treated the same as heterosexual couples. This does not mean, however, that there are not any special considerations that gay couples may need to address. If you are in a same-sex marriage in Illinois and are considering divorce, it is important to know what to expect from the overall divorce process. 

Filing For Divorce

A same-sex couple files for divorce just like everyone else. One partner chooses a county - generally the county where the couple lives - and files for divorce with the circuit court, citing the only legally acceptable grounds for divorce in Illinois: irreconcilable differences. Divorce papers are then “served,” or delivered, to the other partner, and that partner must respond. Note that the spouse filing for divorce must have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days. 

Property Division

Dividing marital assets and debt is an important part of getting divorced for all couples in Illinois. Because marriage was not available to same-sex couples before 2014, many couples lived together before that time, acquiring assets and savings. Unfortunately, until a couple is officially married, assets owned before the marriage are generally not considered marital and may not be subject to division. This can become quite contentious if a home or vehicle is only in one spouse’s name. 


Common Law Marriage in IllinoisAlthough many couples in Illinois want to get married, some are content to live together and share their lives without going through the expense and formality of a wedding. Unfortunately for couples who choose to simply cohabitate, even if it may seem unfair, Illinois law favors married couples over cohabitating couples in terms of the benefits afforded to them. This is true in marriage and in divorce

A few states do still recognize couples that have lived together for many years as being in a common law marriage, but Illinois has not done so for over 100 years. Because some of the states that recognize common law marriage are close to Illinois, and Illinois recognizes common law marriage from these states, it may be useful for unmarried couples in Illinois to understand what is and is not legally permissible if they separate or get divorced. 

When Does Illinois Recognize Common Law Marriages From Another State? 

When a couple has entered into a recognized common law marriage in another state and have not already been divorced there, Illinois will generally treat their relationship as though it were a marriage for the purposes of separation. Common law marriages from other states must not violate any of Illinois’ marriage laws, including laws about bigamy or the legal age of marriage. The couple must also have presented their relationship as though it were a marriage through typical marital behaviors, such as the use of wedding rings, sharing finances, or publicly presenting themselves as a married couple. 


Posted on in Family Law

West Dundee Divorce Law Attorneys

People get married with high hopes for a bright future with their partner. Unfortunately, sometimes unforeseen problems arise during the first stages of marriage that make continuing the marriage impossible. Certain problems can be grounds for a special kind of termination known as “annulment.” 

Understanding whether an annulment is a good option requires an understanding of the difference between an annulment and a divorce. In this blog post, we will discuss annulments and the circumstances under which they are possible. Keep in mind that a qualified Illinois family law attorney is the best source for answers to your questions. 


West Dundee Divorce Lawyers

Spouses must resolve many issues when they get divorced, no matter how difficult it is for them to get along. In the worst case, spouses must litigate their differences in a divorce court in front of a judge. A contested divorce can be a long, expensive process, often taking multiple years to complete. 

However, fewer divorces than ever go to trial. When couples are able to separate with a recognition that they and their children will be better off without hostile negotiations, it is possible to have an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are generally easier and faster than contested divorce because a couple can create a divorce agreement together that is agreeable to both spouses. Although a judge will still need to approve the plan to ensure it follows the law, an uncontested divorce can be a great option for couples who can manage it. 


Posted on in Divorce

St. Charles Divorce Lawyers

Getting divorced is, almost by definition, a contentious process. Spouses have different perspectives, different priorities, and different optimal outcomes, and they are no longer working cooperatively as a couple to resolve these issues. Certain problems, like infidelity or secretly spending money, can heighten the emotional intensity of divorce proceedings and make it very difficult to avoid conflict. 

However, there are proven strategies for reducing hostility during a divorce. Attempting to calm things down and work peaceably together is good for everyone, especially if there are children involved. An experienced Illinois divorce attorney with training in conflict resolution can help everyone pursue their goals while minimizing anger and friction. 


West Dundee Divorce Lawyers

Nearly 43 million Americans hold federal student loan debt, amounting to $1.59 trillion. Private student loans, although they account for a much smaller measure of overall student loan debt, add to the enormous sum of educational borrowing. 

Many young couples get married after one spouse has already taken on a substantial amount in student loans. Other couples take on the risk of student loan debt together, hoping for a brighter financial future for their family. Naturally, therefore, when people get divorced and student loans are involved, it can pose a complex financial dilemma. 


West Dundee Divorce Attorneys

Individuals seeking to divorce a spendthrift spouse often fear being stuck with excessive credit card debt that they never wanted. Because married couples often share credit card debt that one spouse is responsible for accumulating, Illinois has rules for determining which spouse is responsible for credit card debt during divorce. Dividing marital assets and debt is one of the most complex and challenging parts of many divorces, but understanding how this process works is essential to negotiating an acceptable divorce decree. 

Do I Have to Pay My Spouse’s Credit Card Debt? 

Even if your spouse exclusively made the purchases on a credit card, you may still have to help pay off the balance. Generally, debt that is incurred once the marriage begins is considered marital debt and must be divided as part of the asset division process. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, so assets and debt are split according to what is fair rather than equal. If paying down all of the credit card debt would create a substantial burden to your spouse but not to you, you may end up stuck paying off some of the balance.


st. charles asset division lawyer

When marriages begin to break down and spouses are in a period of high conflict, some people react by becoming destructive. Sometimes this is done out of frustration and a lack of effective anger management, and sometimes it is done in an effort to control or manipulate the other spouse during the divorce process. Whatever the reason, destruction and damage of marital assets can be frightening and concerning. 

Fortunately, Illinois law provides serious consequences for the destruction of marital assets. Formally known as “dissipation of marital assets,” destroying shared property prior to a divorce is against the law. It is important to understand what counts as dissipation of marital assets, and what remedies you may have if you have been a victim of this behavior. 


st. charles divorce lawyerAfter months of negotiation and deliberation, the divorce is finally over. You no longer live with your spouse and life begins to feel normal again. If you share children, however, your spouse is still in your life - and is likely to be for many years to come. 

Co-parenting after a divorce can be stressful, but there are strategies parents can use to make the process much easier for everyone. After all, minimizing conflict benefits parents and children and will help parents prioritize the children’s best interests over their personal disagreements. Here are some of the things parents can do to make working together easier following a divorce. 

Keep Past Arguments in the Past

It can be tempting to stray back into old patterns, even after partners are no longer together. However, making accusations that one partner is never on time or fails to appreciate the other partner will not help transition children smoothly from house to house. Stay focused on whatever needs to be done to address the needs of the children, and stay away from personal issues. 


 geneva tax lawyerEverybody knows that divorce is expensive. Separating a couple’s finances, often after many years together, is a complex endeavor that results in both parties owning less than what they shared together. Many divorcing couples are so focused on the asset division process that they forget to protect themselves in the future and not just in the present. 

The long-term financial consequences can often have a greater impact on a divorced individual than the temporary circumstances they find themselves in immediately after the divorce is over. The potential tax implications of divorce are one of the most important parts of an individual’s finances. Understanding how divorce can affect your taxes is important for future financial success. 

Marital Home Ownership 

The asset division process can significantly impact a person’s taxes in the present and the future, especially if a parent feels strongly about keeping the marital home. They may be willing to give up other assets, including savings and investment accounts, only to discover that the expense of the house is too much for them to bear. Property taxes in Illinois are notoriously high, and this can place an additional expense on a homeowner to the tune of many thousands of dollars. 


st charles divorce lawyerIn divorces where one or both spouses has a high net worth, the divorce process can become very complicated. Illinois divorce courts conduct the asset division process with the goal of an “equitable distribution” - meaning that the worth of a couple’s assets are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. Assets that cannot be literally divided present additional complications. Property division may also be resolved through a mutual agreement between the spouses. 

Before an asset can be divided or used in negotiations, the value of the asset must be determined. This can be made even more challenging by disagreement over which assets are considered marital and are therefore subject to division. 

Is an Asset Marital or Nonmarital? 

Courts generally hold that assets acquired during the marriage are marital assets. However, in cases where assets are acquired through inheritance, gift, or legacy, courts usually view these assets as non-marital. But an inherited asset that starts as non-marital property does not always end that way; the way the asset is used can make it potential marital property. 


St. Charles divorce attorneyCollege is an expensive investment and one that seems likely to only continue getting more expensive. As students around the world say goodbye to summer and get ready to return to their studies, parents in Illinois may be wondering whether their parenting plan has anything to say about college expenses, either now or in the future. 

Couples often create separate savings accounts for their children to be used someday towards college tuition. However, divorce can complicate the ability to effectively plan for the future. If you are a divorced parent with questions about paying for your child’s college, read on. 

Can I Be Required to Pay for My Child’s College? 

All states require parents to financially support children, but Illinois is one of the states that allows for non-minor support orders in which parents may be ordered to pay their child’s college expenses, even after they reach the legal age of adulthood. The educational expenses that divorced parents may be required to help their children with include: 


st. charles divorce lawyerIn a perfect world, divorcing spouses in Illinois could reach an amicable settlement using the help of skilled mediators or collaborative divorce experts. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Court trials can be very time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally taxing, but when spouses cannot negotiate a settlement, this may be the only option. 

If you can accurately assess your situation and recognize that a divorce trial is likely in your future, a divorce attorney with experience in litigation can help you better prepare yourself to resolve important issues like property division, parental responsibilities, spousal support, and child support

When is Divorce Litigation Inevitable?

There are several possible signs that your divorce may need to be resolved through litigation. These signs include: 


 st. charles adoption lawyerWhen parents with children from previous marriages get married to a new partner, that new partner often plays an active role in raising children that are not biologically their own. Over time, a stepparent can create a relationship with a child that is as close as that of a biological parent and child. 

When this happens, a stepparent may wish to adopt their stepchild. In Illinois, this is known as a related adoption. Other types of related adoption include older siblings adopting younger siblings, grandparents adopting their grandchildren, or parents adopting the infant of their own teen child. 

This article discusses the process of related adoption for stepparents and stepchildren, as well as some of the pros and cons of this type of adoption. As always, an experienced Illinois adoption attorney is the person best qualified to answer any questions you may have about the adoption process. 


st. charles child custody lawyerParents getting divorced in Illinois face a wide range of complex and emotional challenges. Arranging for the shared care of a child in two separate households is often one of the most contested divorce issues couples confront. 

In an attempt to better serve the child’s interests, Illinois stopped using the terms “custody” and “visitation” and instead has two distinct categories to address matters regarding the parent-child relationship: Parenting time and parental responsibilities.

Parenting Time 

Parenting time, formerly known as “visitation,” is exercised by one or both parents and involves spending time with and caring for a child. Among other things, a parent with parenting time will need to:


kane county custody lawyerSharing parenting responsibilities and parenting time for your child can be complicated, especially when parents have different opinions on where the child should live. People in America today are also exceptionally mobile, and moving out of state is common. However, after a divorce in Illinois, moving out of state - or even outside of a certain distance - when you share parental responsibilities for your child may require approval from a court.

How Far Can I Move in Illinois with My Child? 

If you have parental responsibilities and parenting time for at least half the time, you may ask the court’s permission to move and take your child with you. However, the distance you can move depends on a few factors. 

If you live in Kane, Cook, DuPage, McHenry, or Will County, you can move up to 25 miles away from where you lived previously without asking permission from the court, even if the move is across the Illinois border to a city in a neighboring state. If you live in any other county in Illinois, you may move up to 50 miles away. Any farther than this, and you must file a notice for approval with your local court. 


kane county divorce lawyerIf a divorcing couple is able to communicate effectively, they can resolve many issues together and save themselves the headache of going to trial. In a contested divorce, this may not be possible. Hostile spouses may need to go to a divorce court trial, during which a judge will evaluate the circumstances of each spouse and then issue a judgment. 

If you have already gone to court, received a divorce decree, and feel the judgment is unfair or incorrect, you may be able to appeal the judgment. However, this is only possible under certain circumstances. 

What Does a Divorce Decree Decide?

Divorce decrees can greatly influence your life, both now and in the future. Monetary issues such as asset division, change in homeownership, and spousal maintenance can have a tremendous impact on your overall financial stability. Moreover, a decree can impact your relationship with your children by determining when you can see them and whether you can share in parental responsibilities.

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