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Algonquin family law attorneysThere is an old saying that no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. This adage applies to many marriages, where outward appearances can be deceiving. A couple who seems to have it all -- healthy kids, big house, fancy cars -- may in reality be dysfunctional and miserable. Domestic abuse is a serious problem that often leads to divorce and the breakup of a family. Under Illinois law, domestic violence is considered a crime. However, it does not just occur between married couples. 

Anyone who hits, kicks, chokes, threatens, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of a family or household member has broken the Illinois Domestic Violence law. These members include married spouses, blood relatives, romantic partners, roommates who share or shared a common dwelling, and even disabled individuals and their caretakers. Luckily, victims of domestic abuse and other forms of financial abuse can petition the court for special protections, known as orders of protection.    

Reasons for Seeking Protective Orders

Sometimes called a restraining order, an order of protection is a court-issued directive that can be entered against an alleged abuser. The court may enter this kind of protective order when an individual fears for his or her own safety (or that of his or her children’s) because of actual or threatened abuse by a family or household member. This type of order generally restricts what the abuser can do, such as coming into physical contact with the victim, and harassing or stalking the victim electronically. 

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Kane County family law attorneysA divorce under the best circumstances still has its challenges. When parents split up and are no longer married, they are still responsible for supporting their children, both emotionally and financially. This is why child support orders are included in a final divorce decree. In Illinois, basic support payments are calculated according to the Income Shares model. This approach takes the combined net income of both parents into consideration when determining the amount each spouse is obligated to pay. However, what happens when a parent remarries, has more children, and gets divorced for a second time? Will the child support order for a second divorce be the same as the first divorce? It is helpful to seek professional legal counsel to find out how multiple marriages and children affect this type of financial support. 

Income Shares Model 

Once a couple has finalized their divorce, it is common for one spouse to pay child support, spousal maintenance, or both in some cases. Illinois law provides guidelines for determining this financial support. Remarriage can have an effect on the duration and amount of child support payments made to the custodial parent, which is the parent with the majority of the parental responsibilities

In 2017, Illinois changed its child support law to use the Income Shares model when calculating payment amounts. Previously, the number of children involved and only the obligor parent’s income were taken into consideration when determining a support order. 

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St. Charles complex divorce lawyerEven under the best circumstances, divorce can be a challenging process. Many marital issues are sensitive in nature and difficult to resolve. These matters may include allocation of parental responsibilities, child support, parenting time (visitation), as well as spousal support or maintenance (alimony). They can also involve valuables or high net-worth assets that need to be divided. Complex divorce proceedings can seem intimidating at first, but they can be managed with professional legal guidance.    

Child-Related Issues 

Many of the disputes in a complex divorce involve a couple’s children. These arguments can include how much time each parent will spend with the child or how much support will be paid by one of the parents, among other issues. A parenting plan is a legal document that establishes the legal rights and obligations of both parents as relating to their child. This plan outlines a schedule for when each parent will see their child. Creating this timeline can be difficult since most parents do not want to give up time with their kids or relinquish control to the other parent, especially if there are bitter feelings.  

Some of the child-related issues that may need to be addressed in a divorce settlement include:

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Geneva family law attorneyParenting time (visitation) can be a sensitive topic in a divorce, since both parents typically want to spend the most time that they can with their child. However, the court determines what is in the best interest of the child when making decisions during the divorce proceedings. In some cases, one parent may have a history of drug or alcohol addiction or domestic abuse. This could impact his or her allocation of parental responsibilities, as well as parenting time. Illinois law gives the court permission to restrict parenting time as much as necessary in order to protect a minor child, including requiring all visits to be supervised. If supervised visitation is considered necessary, the court will order it and it will be part of the parenting plan. 

What Does Supervision Look Like?

Supervision is defined as “the presence of a third party during a parent’s exercise of parenting time.” Supervision may be ordered by the court if there is enough evidence that proves a parent engaged in conduct that endangered the child’s mental or physical health, or that impaired the child’s emotional development. These orders are meant to protect the child and may include any of the following requirements:

  • A modification or elimination of the parent’s decision-making responsibilities and/or parenting time
  • Supervision by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) 
  • Having an intermediary present during the exchange between parent and child, or taking place in a protected setting
  • Restricting a parent’s communication with or proximity to the other parent or the child
  • Ordering a parent to refrain from possessing or consuming alcohol or drugs during (or right before) parenting time with the child
  • Restricting the presence of certain persons when a parent is spending time with the child
  • Posting a bond to secure the return of the child following the parent’s visit 
  • Completing a treatment program for abuse or for any other behavior that is detrimental to the child

The “supervisor” can be a trained therapist, social worker, or even a relative or friend. Even if the parents agree on a supervisor, the court must approve the nominee. When considering who should be a supervisor, it is important to note that professionals typically cost money, and friends and family members do not.

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County divorce attorneysThere are many reasons for a divorce. In some cases, it is because a couple grows apart and comes to the mutual decision to part ways. An amicable divorce typically means both partners agree on all or most of the marital issues. This makes the divorce process simple, fast, and less expensive than a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce is not always possible, especially if one spouse does not want the divorce in the first place. If a divorce is contested, it could also mean that the spouses do not agree on issues such as child support, spousal support, and the division of property. This animosity can carry over into the divorce proceedings, so if you are contesting any issues in your divorce, it is imperative to have legal counsel to protect your rights. 

Illinois Divorce Laws

In the state of Illinois, the only legal grounds for divorce is irreconcilable differences, which, defined by the law, “have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” Also, it must be determined by the court that attempts to reconcile failed or that future attempts at reconciliation would not in the best interests of the family. Any divorce, whether contested or uncontested, begins with one spouse filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and “serving” the other spouse with the papers. 

Reasons for Contesting the Divorce

The spouse who did not file can still try to contest the divorce by stating that there are no irreconcilable differences. However, under Illinois law, if the parties have lived apart in separate residences for at least six months right before one spouse files the petition, there is an “irrebuttable presumption” of irreconcilable differences between the pair. 

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Kane County family law attorneysAdoption is a wonderful way to expand a family and give a child a loving home. The road to achieving this dream can be a long process, but well worth it. In certain situations, a couple may wish to adopt a relative if the child’s biological parents die or are unable to care for the child. In other cases, a person may want to adopt a stepchild after getting remarried. The procedures for related adoptions are different than traditional domestic or international adoptions, so it is important to learn the requirements before embarking on this journey.   

How Are Related Adoptions Different From Other Adoptions?

Unlike domestic or international adoptions, related (also called “kinship”) and stepparent adoptions are typically handled in a more streamlined process in the courts. In the majority of cases, background checks, family investigations, and home visits by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are not required. To initiate a relative or stepparent adoption, all of the following must be true:

  • The stepparent relationship must be legally established (the stepparent’s marriage to the child’s birth parent is valid);
  • The child consents to the adoption, if he or she is at least 14 years old; and
  • The child’s other parent consents to the adoption and termination of his or her parental rights, or such rights are terminated by a judge.

In a relative or stepparent adoption, the other biological parent’s rights must be terminated before the stepparent can legally adopt his/her spouse’s child. If the other parent contests the adoption, grounds for terminating the other’s parental rights must be proven. Possible grounds can include the following:

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St. Charles family law attorneyWhen a couple decides to end their marriage, they may be able to get an annulment. It is important to know an annulment is different from a divorce. A divorce is the legal dissolution of a valid marriage by a court or other governing body. An annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void within secular and religious systems. Unlike divorce, it is typically considered retroactive, meaning an annulled marriage is considered to be invalid from the start like it had never even happened. In Illinois, annulment is called a Declaration of Invalidity, and marriages can only be annulled if they were considered illegal from the start.

Grounds for an Annulment in Illinois

An annulment is only used to end an “invalid” marriage, or one that should never have happened in the first place. Annulments are rare in Illinois because it is somewhat difficult to prove grounds for annulment. There are certain legal guidelines for annulments, as well as possible time restrictions depending on the circumstances of the case. One of the following legal grounds must be met for an annulment to be granted:

  • Fraud or misrepresentation: One spouse did not tell the truth, such as already being married;
  • Impotency or incest: One spouse is impotent (and did not disclose this information to his or her partner prior to the marriage), or the spouses are too close in relation to marry legally; or
  • Lack of consent: One spouse did not have mental capacity for consent or was forced to get married.

Grounds for a Divorce in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a spouse can file for divorce based on “no-fault” grounds, commonly referred to as “irreconcilable differences,” which requires proof that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the couple must be separated for an amount of time. For many years, it was also possible to seek a divorce on “fault-based” grounds such as adultery, abandonment, or repeated abuse. Today, however, all Illinois divorce petitions must indicate that the marriage has irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences.

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Kane County adoption lawyerMany couples choose adoption as a way to expand their family if they cannot have biological children of their own. On the other side of the subject, some parents choose to give up their child for adoption if they cannot adequately provide for the child’s needs.

Regardless of the reasons for an adoption, it is one of the biggest decisions that anyone will make in their lifetime. In some situations, an adoption can be contested. In the majority of cases, this happens when the biological father does not know about the child until the adoption process already started, or in which a biological father changes his mind about the adoption while it is in progress. 

Consent and Best Interest Hearings 

In cases where an adoption is contested, all involved parties must attend a consent hearing in court at which time a judge will listen to evidence presented by both sides. For instances when the biological father contests an adoption, he does not give consent to the adoption and he declares that he is willing and able to assume legal responsibility of the child. During the hearing, the father can show examples of his actions throughout the pregnancy, as well as after the child’s birth. For example, pictures or documentation of him going to doctor appointments or at the hospital after the birth, etc. However, if the biological father does not provide child support or contact the child for more than a year, he may lose his right to contest the adoption on the grounds of abandonment.

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Algonquin Family Law AttorneysDivorce can be really difficult for everyone involved, but especially for a young child whose parents are splitting up. Parents often fight over the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly called “child custody”) or parenting time (formerly called “visitation”). Their child might feel torn between trying to be loyal to both parents. In Illinois (and every state), a person under 18 years old is considered a minor and in most cases, unable to make legal decisions. Illinois courts consider the age of the children and the children’s wishes as well as family circumstances in deciding child-related issues.     

Best Interest of the Child 

Some people think there is a certain age at which a child can choose which parent with whom he or she wants to live, but that is a misconception. In Illinois, 14 years old is generally age at which a child’s opinion starts to be considered more by the court regarding under whose roof he or she will live. However, this is also based on the level of maturity of the child in question. For example, a mature 11-year-old boy may prefer to live with one parent because he attends a private school in the town where that parent lives. A 15-year-old girl may state she wants to live in the house where the parent does not enforce many rules or where there are no step-siblings if a spouse remarries. Ultimately, the court’s decision is based on which living situation or environment is in the best interest of the child.

In general, Illinois courts recognize “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Legal custody gives a parent or guardian the right to make important decisions, such as where a child will attend school or go to church. The term physical custody refers to which parent with whom the child will live. Like in other states, sometimes one parent (sole custody) or both (joint custody) parents can have legal and/or physical custody in Illinois.
A judge will take into consideration many factors regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities (custody), including but not limited to:

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