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Northwest Cook County family law attorney child custody

In Illinois, child custody is now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities. Regardless if a married couple with children was married and decided to divorce or they never tied the knot, they must determine who is going to care for their kids in the future. Typically, Illinois courts favor both parents staying involved in their child’s life after a divorce or a breakup if they were unmarried. However, there are situations where one parent may be abusive or neglects to properly care for his or her children. In these cases, a parent may be deemed unfit by a judge and his or her custody terminated involuntarily.

Terminating Parental Rights

Unless there is convincing evidence, rarely will an Illinois court terminate a parent’s rights completely. The court needs actual proof that the other parent’s actions (or inactions) are negatively affecting the kids. Proof of unfitness may include photographs or videos showing abuse, medical records illustrating injuries due to an unsafe environment, police reports, and electronic communication such as text or email messages and social media posts. Even if a parent is deemed unfit, he or she is usually given certain parental rights, albeit very limited. 

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Palatine family lawyer, step-parent adoptionThe traditional definition of a family, comprised of a mother, father and children, has evolved into a much more fluid notion in modern society. As society becomes more accepting of different gender identities and lifestyles, the concept and content of a family must progress as well.

A longstanding method of expanding a family beyond conventional reproduction was through the adoption of children, including adoption by step-parents. Adoption offers blended families a greater ability to find cohesion, and gives a step-parent legal authority and rights over the life of a child likely viewed as equivalent to his/her own. Step-parent adoptions may appear as somewhat perfunctory and require minimal paperwork because the child is not from an outside source. However, adoptions of children are always treated with a high degree of formality because of the nature of the rights being granted and the necessity of terminating one parent’s rights in favor of the step-parent.

Hiring a Lawyer in a Step-Parent Adoption

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Posted on in Annulments

annulment, divorce, matrimonial lawyer, Illinois family lawyer, Palatine family law attorneyprevious post on this blog discussed the concept of legal separation and why some people may consider it a more desirable option than divorce. For some people, however, neither option is desirable; instead, they may want an annulment.

What is Annulment?

When most people think of an annulment (now legally called a Declaration of Invalidity in Illinois), they think of it in a religious context. Some churches, such as the Catholic Church, prohibit divorcees from getting remarried until their ex-spouse dies (thus severing the marriage in the eyes of the church, thanks to the vow of “’til death do us part” literally coming true) or the marriage is annulled by the church. In these instances, the marriage is deemed null and void in the eyes of the church, as though it never happened.

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divorce, estate plan, lawyer, attorney, family law, Palatine divorce attorneyThe divorce has been finalized; the property divided, and you and your ex-spouse have moved on to the next phase of your lives. There may be one thing you forgot though, something neither of you will remember until it is too late: updating the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

Most people designate their spouse as the beneficiary of retirement benefits and life insurance proceeds, and then promptly forget about it. Or they may think that the divorce automatically revoked the now ex-spouse’s right to receive these assets at death. In Illinois, this could be a costly mistake. Failure to update your beneficiary designations following a divorce, or failure to include specific waiver of these rights in the divorce decree, can result in your ex-spouse getting the assets at your death.

Automatic Revocation of Estate Plan After Illinois Divorce

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retirement account, asset valuation, asset division, divorce, division of property, Illinois family lawyerFor many couples, retirement accounts, whether 401ks, IRAs or pensions, make up the bulk of their assets. Even if only one spouse contributed to each account during the marriage, the assets are marital property and subject to division in a divorce. If the divorce occurs before the first distribution is made though, how can the accounts be divided without being subject to early withdrawal penalties? A skilled divorce attorney can help you navigate through this process.

Dividing Retirement Accounts

One way to divide retirement accounts is with a qualified domestic relations order, or a QDRO. A QDRO is a special order that requires the retirement plan administrator to either divide the account now, or make distributions to both spouses when they reach retirement age. There are certain requirements the QDRO must contain in order for the plan administrator to make the division, so it is important to meet with an experienced attorney who understands these very specific requirements.

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domestic violence child custodyDespite implementation of tougher domestic violence laws in the past two decades, each year thousands of Illinois residents are victimized. In 2013, Illinois domestic violence programs served 44,318 adults and 8,168 children. Illinois child custody laws consider the presence of domestic violence when making an award of custody. Unfortunately, this means that some parents will make false allegations of abuse in an attempt to gain custody.

If you are in the midst of a child custody case that involves domestic violence allegations (whether you are the victim or the victim of false allegations), you need an experienced Palatine child custody attorney who understands the dynamics of domestic violence and the potential implications on your case.

Domestic Violence as Best Interest of the Child Factor

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property division, property distribution, division of assets, division of property, Illinois divorce lawyerYou struggled with the decision, but you finally concluded that divorcing your spouse will be the best course of action. You are a stickler for detail, and before you contact an experienced Illinois divorce attorney, you want to secure all personal documentation that may later be requested.

According to About.com's Divorce Support, having documents readily available to your attorney will ultimately alleviate any confusion and make the negotiation stage of the divorce run more smoothly. It is also suggested that presenting your attorney, and later the courts, an organized and complete document file provides you with more support of your case.

It is further recommended that you construct your divorce document checklist in this order:

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