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Palatine family law attorney, domestic violenceLeaving a marriage with domestic violence requires planning and support to ensure the victim and his or her children are safe. Usually, a victimized spouse must leave in secret and must also leave most possessions behind, so the abusive spouse does not discover the plan in advance. The law recognizes that domestic violence is an all-too-common issue in marriages, and therefore seeks to make keeping an abuser away easier for victims and their families.

In 2014, Illinois law enforcement received more than 65,000 calls related to domestic violence. Hence, knowing how to get retain legal protection against an abusive spouse, as well as how the Court views this issue in divorce/child custody cases, is crucial.

Orders of Protection

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Palatine family law attorney, prenuptial agreementIn the days leading up to engagement and marriage, thinking about the negative possibility of divorce is not a topic most couples want to contemplate. Visions of growing old and all the things they hope to accomplish together usually overtake any concerns about the relationship not lasting.

While expecting a marriage to last a lifetime is the reasonable way to approach a new relationship, no one knows the future. Hammering out how to handle property division and payment of support in the event of divorce through the use of a prenuptial agreement may not be romantic or optimistic, but sometimes pragmatism is more important in the long-term. These conversations are especially important if a couple is older and/or is bringing a lot of assets and other financial resources into the marriage.

Figuring out these issues before divorce is on the table will make the process of dissolving the marriage easier by reducing the likelihood of disputes and the time needed to negotiate a settlement. The terms of these agreements must be memorialized in writing and executed prior to marriage. Further, Illinois regulates the formation and types of provisions these agreements can legally contain.

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Posted on in Paternity

Palatine family law attorney, establish paternityThe birth of a child brings joy and excitement to parents, family and friends. This event also marks the beginning of the time a parent has to shape the child into the type of person he or she will develop into as an adult. People commonly assume that all parents have the full bevy of legal rights typically held upon birth. This is correct for mothers and married couples. However, unwed fathers have no right to custody or visitation with a child until paternity is legally established.

Paternity is the legal recognition that a man is the father of a child. The establishment of paternity is necessary for unwed fathers who wish to assume the all the rights and obligations parents have over a child. Illinois offers several options to confirm paternity; however, not every legal procedure has the same effect. Therefore, understanding the consequences of each alternative is important when determining which to choose.

DNA testing is the gold standard for proving the paternity of a child, and is used today to unravel mysteries around unknown parentage. People are now even submitting DNA samples to online ancestry websites to find lost relatives and identify absent parents. Just a few years ago, this type of search would have been impossible, but advances in technology continually make connecting with others easier. Unmarried men wishing to remain an active presence in their children's lives need to understand the legal requirements to gain their parental rights.

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Palatine divorce attorney, file for divorceFor better or worse, divorce is an event and concept that is firmly rooted in modern life. Yet while divorce is not a recent invention, divorce does not hold the stigma of previous generations.

A recent article looked at the history of divorce in America and noted that Americans have looked to this legal remedy to end untenable marriages as early as the American Revolution. In fact, Americans connected the right to dissolve union with England with the analogous right to end unions as couples. However, divorce is never an easy decision, now or 200 years ago.

Struggling couples may spend tremendous amounts of time and effort trying to save their relationships, but sometimes remaining together is not a viable option. Once the decision to divorce is made, the practical consequences of untangling two lives come into focus. Who will keep the family car? Should the house be sold? Where will everyone live? These are all questions that must be answered in a relatively short period of time, perhaps even before filing for divorce. At some point, though, addressing the mechanics of asking a Court to end a marriage is necessary, and consequently, understanding what the law requires from a party seeking a divorce is important to the process.

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parenting plan, Palatine family law attorneyRecent revisions to Illinois law require that parents submit a parenting plan to the Court whenever there is a dispute about the allocation of parental responsibilities, or what was previously known as custody and visitation. Parents can also agree to modify their parenting plan and simply submit the plan to the Court for approval. Whatever the case may be, your parenting plan must address certain concerns that involve your children. Essentially, your plan must contain not only the elements required by Illinois law, but also any provisions that may be unique to your family or important to you.

Parenting Plan Basics

A parenting plan is a written document that sets forth each parent’s legal rights and obligations with respect to the children. The plan addresses the same types of issues that a custody agreement or parenting agreement previously addressed. Rather than referring to custody and visitation, however, Illinois law now only refers to the allocation of parental responsibilities, or how parents will effectively parent their child together. Basic elements of a parenting plan include the following:

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Palatine family law attorney, debt division, Illinois divorcesWhen a couple dissolves their marriage, all marital property, including both assets and liabilities, must be allocated between the spouses. Dividing marital debt is a similar process to dividing assets; however, there are unique issues that come with apportioning debt in a divorce.

Equitable Distribution

The best and simplest solutions are when spouses are able to either pay off their debt or collectively divide their debt before filing for divorce. However, these options are not always possible, and the Court may need to split the marital debt.

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Palatine family law attorney, social media, family law caseSocial media is a useful tool with widespread use. However, social media use means that privacy has changed as well. We often do not fully consider the implications of what we post online and may expose too much information to the outside world.

Social media use can create tension in a marriage and may additionally affect family law issues such as divorce, custody proceedings and spousal or child support issues.

Social Media Evidence

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Posted on in Child Custody

Palatine family law attorney, visitation interferenceUnder the changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the consequences of one parent’s interference with the other parent’s allocated visitation time are more severe and rigidly enforced than previously. The violation of a parenting agreement can result in a variety of civil and criminal penalties and range from fines and driver’s license suspensions to probation and jail time. Moreover, a negative impact on a child's well-being is extremely likely to occur with regard to scheduled visitation interference.

Petitions

The new law, which went into effect this year, requires Courts to provide expedited procedures for handling the enforcement of parenting time. In order to bring an action for enforcement of visitation rights, a parent or guardian must file a petition with the Court. The following information must be included:

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Posted on in Divorce

Palatine family law attorney, pet visitation rightsMost divorces require a division of assets and perhaps a determination of parental responsibility, if the couple has any children. However, another increasingly contentious issue is how to decide who will retain ownership of any shared pets. A recently published opinion from an Illinois Appellate Court helps resolve the issue of what role Courts have in post-divorce pet visitation decision making.

The Trial

In August 2012, Kimberly Enders filed a petition to dissolve her marriage to Michael Baker, which was followed, a few months later, by Mr. Baker’s motion seeking visitation of the couple’s two dogs. Mr. Baker argued that when the couple separated they agreed that the two would share joint custody of the dogs, although Ms. Enders had refused to hold up her end of the agreement. The Trial Court granted Mr. Baker temporary visitation rights on alternate weekends. In July 2014, the Trial Court awarded sole “custody” of the dogs to Ms. Enders and denied Mr. Baker any right to visitation.

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Posted on in Adoption

Palatine family law attorney, gestational surrogacyTechnological advances over the last decade have made conceiving a biological child possible for many individuals, despite being unable to reproduce naturally. Couples can utilize the process of gestational surrogacy, in which a woman agrees to carry and give birth to a child created through in-vitro fertilization. After the birth of the child, the surrogate gives up all parental rights.

Gestational Surrogacy Act

In order to be a gestational surrogate in Illinois, a woman must:

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Palatine family law attorney, foster children’s bill of rightsThis year, House Bill 3684, which creates a Foster Children’s Bill of Rights, went into effect in Illinois. The law’s aim is to ensure that all children and adults who are in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services, and are placed in foster homes, have access to the same rights as all other citizens.

Rights and Privileges

The basic rights afforded to foster children include the ability to:

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Palatine collaborative law attorney, birth grandparent rightsOn January 1, last year’s changes to the Illinois Adoption Act were implemented across the state. The changes include amendments concerning who is allowed to seek access to personal information about adults who were previously adopted or surrendered to the state. Sometimes, years after an adoption takes place, one or both parties involved are interested in making contact with the other. This can be a difficult and emotional process. Therefore, if you are considering making contact with an adopted biological relative, then contacting an experienced family law attorney who will handle the issue with skill and sensitivity is essential.

Amendments

The Illinois Adoption Act authorizes the Department of Public Health to establish a registry that allows mutually consenting members of birth and adoptive families to exchange identifying information. Previously, biological grandparents were not permitted to file applications requesting such an exchange. The recent amendments change that and allow birth grandparents to file requests if a birth parent has died. The birth grandparent may file a Registration Identification Form or an Information Exchange Authorization if he or she submits:

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Palatine family law attorney, orders of protection, domestic violenceDomestic violence is a serious problem — a problem which can have a devastating effect on children and families. Victims of domestic violence may seek protective orders to help them avoid contact with their abusers. Additionally, domestic violence can have an effect on child custody proceedings and can mean the loss of parenting time, visitation, and even, in extreme circumstances, parental rights.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence, under Illinois law, is abuse against a family or household member. Abuse does not mean just physical abuse. Abuse also includes mental cruelty, harassment, intimidation, threats and controlling behaviors. A parent’s reasonable direction of a child, however, does not constitute domestic violence.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Palatine family law attorney, parenting plansIn any divorce with minor children, or in any case involving time-sharing with a minor, Illinois law requires that the parents implement a parenting plan. Parenting plans are documents outlining parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Moreover, parenting plans are designed to ensure that both parents have the opportunity to foster relationships with their children and share in childrearing.

What Do Parenting Plans Include?

Parenting plans deal with parenting time and decision-making. At a minimum, parenting plans in Illinois must include provisions addressing the following:

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Posted on in Adoption

Palatine family law attorney, adoption and paternitySometimes, birth fathers are ignored when it comes to adoption proceedings. However, in Illinois, they have important rights with legal protections. Depending on the father’s legal status, a father may be required to give consent to an adoption for the adoption to proceed.

Legal Fathers

There are several ways to become a legal father in Illinois. If a child’s father was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or conception, then he will automatically become the child’s legal father. He may also establish paternity by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form, through a Department of Public Aid administrative order if the mother is receiving public assistance, or through filing a petition with the Court.

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Posted on in Children of Divorce

parental alienation, Palatine Family Law Attorney

Thinking about a divorce or separation? If children are involved, one of the most important considerations is protecting the children from the stress and turmoil of the divorce and ensuring that their interests are represented. Generally, children benefit from both parents involvement in their lives and good relationships with both parents. However, sometimes in a custody dispute, one parent harms the children’s relationship with the other parent.

Alienation

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Posted on in Family Law

Illinois Safe Haven Law, Palatine Family Law AttorneyA newborn baby girl was recently found on the steps of the Nazareth Family Center in Chicago. A cleaning person allegedly found the child wrapped in a blanket around 3 a.m. How long the child was on the steps is not clear. She was treated at St. Mary’s and was then taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital. The child is reported to be in good condition. The Department of Child and Family Services is now the child’s guardian and, along with the police, is investigating the situation.

Abandonment

New parents who are unable to provide adequate care for their newborn children may abandon their infants in unsafe circumstances where they may be vulnerable to the weather or other dangerous conditions. Under Illinois law, parents who abandon their children face civil liability and criminal prosecution. To provide a safe alternative for parents who cannot care for their babies, Illinois has a Safe Haven law.

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Posted on in Family Law

modifying alimony, divorce, Palatine Family Law AttorneyAfter a divorce, alimony is important to the economic well-being of many spouses. However, sometimes, a spouse's circumstances change and an alimony award is no longer appropriate. Fortunately, Illinois law provides that an alimony award may be modified or terminated in certain cases.

Modification

To modify an alimony award in Illinois, a spouse must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances that warrants modification. In determining whether a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, the Court must review the factors initially considered in making the award, along with additional factors, including:

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Hague Convention’s Mandatory Return Rule, Palatine Family Law AttorneyThe Hague Convention is an international law which regulates child custody. One key requirement of the Convention is that a child who is taken across international borders by one parent must be returned. In a recent decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of an Illinois District Court that stated that evidence of sexual abuse falls within the “grave risk” exception to the Hague Convention’s requirement.

Ortiz v. Martinez

In 2011, a mother of two children, Zulima Martinez, refused to return with her children to the family’s home in Mexico City after a family vacation in Illinois. Julio Ortiz, the father of the children who had returned ahead of the family, alleged to the Court that Ms. Martinez’s action constituted an infringement of the Hague Convention, which makes it illegal for parents to abscond with their children across international borders.

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Posted on in Family Law

guardianship laws, Palatine Family Law AttorneyIn Illinois, the Probate Act regulates the guardianship of minors and disabled adults. The statute creates three types of guardianship under the Act: guardian of the estate, guardian of the person and guardian of both the estate and the person. The type of guardianship sought will largely dictate what is required in the process of petitioning for guardianship.

Establishing Guardianship of a Minor

The amendments to the Probate Act create a rebuttable presumption in favor of short-term guardians who are initially appointed by a minor’s parent or guardian. The petitioner seeking guardianship then has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that remaining with the appointed short-term guardian is not in the child’s best interest. While this presumption cannot be rebutted, the appointment of a short-term guardian does not represent the Court’s consent for a Court appointment of a guardian.

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