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Evening and Weekend Hours by Appointment
West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
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elgin family law attorneyAdoption is an essential way that a child can become legally integrated into the family they need. Children who are adopted often come from challenging circumstances, so the love and support of a family member who wants to care for a child can make a major difference in the quality of a child’s current and future life. When a family member of a child who is not biologically their offspring wishes to adopt the child, Illinois uses a process called “related adoption.” Related adoption differs from traditional domestic and international adoptions, so potential parents who are considering a related adoption should learn as much as they can before beginning the process. 

Which Relatives Can Adopt a Child in a Related Adoption? 

Related and stepparent adoptions are usually fast-tracked through Illinois courts because the child already has a relationship with the adoptive parent. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, first cousins, siblings, and stepparents may adopt a child in a related adoption. Stepparents must be legally married to a child’s biological parent. 

Background Checks Are Not Necessary

While most prospective parents wishing to adopt must undergo background checks, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will usually not require home investigations or background checks for related adoptions. But that does not mean that a serious criminal history will not influence a court’s decision about whether to approve an adoption. When such crimes do exist, potentially parents usually cannot adopt unless they can convince a court through clear and convincing evidence that they do not pose a threat to the child. 


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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. 


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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. 


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When is Annulment an Option in Illinois?

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. 


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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: 


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