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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, parent decision making,No parent wants to tell his or her child the news of an impending divorce, especially if the child is young. There is no adequate way to explain why a divorce is happening, or to fully help the child understand what divorce actually means. In the best situations, parents try to make the process as stress-free as possible by making an effort to work together and actively attempt to minimize conflict.

Completely eliminating the disruption of the child's life is not realistic; however, taking steps to keep the child in the loop about changes in daily life, if age appropriate, will go a long way to mitigating some of the negative impacts of this decision. Deciding which parent will handle the bulk of the childcare responsibilities and who will make the major decisions related to the child's welfare, are key aspects of any divorce case. Typically, these obligations are shared by the parents. Still, situations exist that justify giving one parent full rights over a child.

Generally, people lump all child-related family law decisions under child custody, but Illinois no longer uses this phrase. Instead, the law divides these issues into two aspects of parental responsibilities: parenting time and decision-making authority. Much of the focus around the responsibilities of parents is on parenting time, which is certainly important. However, which parent has decision-making authority for the child is equally important.

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Palatine family law attorney, rights of grandparentsChildren of divorced parents must deal with losing the stability of a two-parent home, potentially moving away from friends and family, and adjusting to living in multiple households. Losing friends and family is often the most difficult part of the divorce process. One family member that would be particularly hard to lose is a grandparent.

Grandparents commonly play a large role in a child's life, and have a large impact on a child's development. In fact, some grandparents find themselves raising their grandchildren. More commonly, though, is the grandparent trying to stay in the good graces of both parents in hopes of avoiding a reduction or termination of contact with his/her grandchild.

Parents may choose to cut ties with an ex-spouse's family, particularly if there are issues of domestic abuse or protracted, high-conflict custody disputes. However, the end result is the grandparent and child losing this relationship. Legally, parents are given broad latitude in deciding who is permitted to see their children, and this authority extends to grandparents. Thus, if a parent decides to block communication between a grandparent and grandchild, there is typically little the grandparent can do. However, many states, Illinois included, are starting to recognize the value a grandparent brings to a child by passing laws that grant grandparents some visitation rights following a divorce.

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Palatine divorce attorney, parenting timeFew people walk away from a divorce happy. Children are especially affected when their parents sever ties — children often feel alone and isolated. In response to these emotions, children tend to withdrawal or act out.

Many states, Illinois included, require parents who are involved in active visitation cases to attend parenting classes. These classes aim to teach parents effective communication skills to help their children better adapt to the changing family situation. Additionally, the classes can help to reduce litigation and conflict between the parents.

As more parents become attuned to the long-term impact of divorce on child development, new parenting time arrangements are becoming more popular.

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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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Palatine divorce attorney, marital propertyDivorce is a word with big meaning but even greater implications. At its most basic, divorce means the end of a marriage and the accompanying legal rights and obligations carried by married couples. However, when a couple initiates a divorce, they also unlock a series of legal issues that must be addressed before their divorce can be finalized.

Among these issues is the division of marital property — a considerable point of contention, given the importance of financial resources and contributions each spouse made to the marriage. Amassing assets requires hard work, time and sacrifice. Consequently, when divorce threatens to dismantle this hard-won structure, parties tend to push back against giving more than is absolutely necessary.

As a reflection of being a no-fault divorce state, Illinois divides property according to what is equitable or just. Only marital property is subject to distribution. Therefore, determining what exactly is marital property in a divorce case is a key issue.

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Palatine divorce attorney, educational support orders, college expensesAs children grow, their financial needs tend to increase. College tuition is no exception. In today’s world, student loan debts are staggering for new graduates, and many families struggle to financially help their children to go to college. When parents are divorced, the situation can be even trickier, especially when parents do not see eye to eye on the subject.

However, recent revisions to Illinois law have clarified the guidelines for educational support orders, allowing parents to better understand their future potential obligations.

Limits on Payment of College Expenses

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Palatine divorce lawyer, dissipation of marital assetsIllinois law requires Courts in divorce proceedings to divide any marital property between the parties in an appropriate and fair manner. Moreover, all relevant factors in the case must be considered. One of those factors for the Judge to consider is the dissipation of marital assets by one or both spouses.

Dissipation is the legal term for when a spouse wastes or misuses assets for his or her own benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage, as the marriage is experiencing an irreconcilable breakdown.

Common Types of Dissipation of Marital Assets

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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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child support order, Palatine child support attorney, child support paymentsEither parent has the right to ask for a change in his or her Illinois child support payments if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the last order. There are certain types of changes that might qualify as a substantial change in circumstances. Depending on the situation, the Court can decrease or increase the amount of the child support payments.

What Qualifies as a Substantial Change in Circumstances?

There are a number of different situations that might constitute a substantial change in circumstances for the purposes of a modifying a child support order. Sometimes, these situations might result in a decrease in a child support obligation:

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Palatine family law attorney, International Child Support ConventionPresident Obama recently signed the instrument of ratification for the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. The purpose of this Convention is to establish uniform, simplified, cost-free rules and procedures for processing child support cases on an international level. Ratification of this Convention is groundbreaking; prior to the Convention, there were no standardized and efficient procedures for international child support cases, and each country had different costly and time-consuming procedures to follow. This Convention represents the first global child support treaty ratified by the United States. Now, American children who have a parent living in a foreign country who is party to the Convention will have additional recourse to collect the financial support that they need in a much more timely manner.

Application of the Convention

There are an estimated 15 million child support cases in the United States, with about 150,000 international child support cases. The newly ratified Convention addresses financial obligations that arise from a relationship between parent and his or her child who is under 21 years of age. In addition to child support, the Convention also contains enforcement procedures for spousal support.

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Posted on in Divorce

Palatine divorce lawyer, gray divorcesWhile experts and researchers tend to disagree on the exact rate of divorce in the United States today, they are in agreement on one issue: the rate of divorce for couples over the age of 50 is on the rise. According to a recent Forbes article, the rate of “gray divorces” has actually doubled over the 20-year period from 1990 to 2010. These divorces tend to involve couples who have been married for many years, which can create huge financial changes for both parties. However, women, in these divorces, tend to suffer most.

How Your Age Impacts Your Divorce

The reality is that when divorce occurs later in life, the impact on your finances is larger. Once you reach retirement age, you are likely to be living on a fixed income, perhaps from Social Security benefits and pension or other retirement benefits. When you abruptly go from two sources of income to one, your budget and expenses will necessarily change. This is usually not a positive change, especially for the woman, who statistically is likely to have had less income over her lifetime than the man. This can cause the woman’s retirement benefits to be substantially less than her husband’s benefits. Women may be able to draw Social Security benefits from their spouses’ earning records, even following divorce, in some situations. However, that source of income is not a guarantee and is not available to all women at the time that they may need it the most.

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Palatine domestic violence lawyer, orders of protection domestic abuseWhile lawmakers and advocates alike have mounted massive public awareness campaigns and strengthened existing state laws concerning domestic violence, this issue remains problematic today. Domestic violence is an issue that often appears in divorces, child custody cases and other types of family law proceedings. Furthermore, false allegations of domestic violence, which are not uncommon in bitter family law or divorce cases, can damage one’s reputation and livelihood. Fortunately, for cases of true domestic abuse, there are several avenues of relief on both the criminal and civil sides of the law. One of the most common tools used to combat domestic abuse is the order of protection.

What is an Order of Protection?

An order of protection is a legal court order that requires an individual stay away from you and/or your children. In emergency cases, a court can issue a temporary order of protection the same day that you request it. A temporary order can remain effective for up to 21 days. In order to obtain a more permanent order of protection, however, you must attend a hearing, at which both you and the other individual can present evidence to the judge. After hearing evidence from both sides, the judge can issue an order of protection that lasts for up to two years. Violation of either a temporary or regular order of protection is extremely serious, and can result in criminal charges against the individual who violates the order.

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Palatine divorce attorney, foreign spouseWhile many foreign nationals marry U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens solely for love, some see this type of marriage as a way to bypass the typically lengthy immigration laws and enter the U.S. quickly. In fact, some immigration officials estimate that fraudulent marriages may occur in anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of these types of marriages. While immigration authorities may never discover some fraudulent marriages, those that they do discover can result in serious consequences for the parties involved.

Obtaining a Temporary Green Card Through Marriage

In order to marry a foreign national, a U.S. citizen (or a permanent resident alien) must file an immigration application to sponsor a foreign spouse and grant him or her legal status to remain in the U.S. For a marriage that is less than two years old, immigration officials will grant the foreign spouse conditional permanent residence, or a temporary green card, which permits him or her to live in the U.S. on a temporary basis.

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Posted on in Divorce

divorce tax consequences, Palatine divorce lawyersMany couples who are facing divorce often question what to do with the marital residence, which often is the parties' most valuable asset and an asset that neither spouse may be able to maintain on his or her own. As a result, many individuals in this situation opt to sell the marital home, either during or just after their divorce. A recent online article highlights the potential benefits of the federal gains tax exclusion that divorcing couples can receive if they decide to sell the marital residence. These benefits may allow you and your spouse to receive proceeds from the sale of the home free of federal income taxes, which can give you the money to downsize into a more affordable home.

How the Gains Tax Exclusion Works

If a couple decides to sell their home, they potentially may be able to receive gains from the sale of up to $500,000 without any federal income tax being assessed on those gains. Even if the couple is separated, they may still be eligible for the joint exclusion if they were still legally married at the end of the year in which the home is sold. If the couple is already divorced, however, and the spouse who receives the home through the divorce proceedings wishes to sell it, he or she can still receive tax-free gains of up to $250,000. If the parties still co-own the home and they are newly divorced, they potentially can each have gains of up to $250,000 free of federal income taxes, assuming that they meet the additional eligibility requirements described below.

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Posted on in Child Custody

child relocation in illinois, palatine child custody lawyerIn the past, a parent typically could relocate with his or her child anywhere within the state of Illinois. If the parent wanted to move outside of Illinois, he or she would have to obtain permission from the Court in order to do so. Changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that took effect on January 1, 2016, however, dramatically changed the rules for a parent who wants to relocate with his or her child where the parents are divorced or otherwise separated and draws a sharp distinction between the requirements for a parent moving with a child and relocating with a child.

Moving With Your Child

If the parent with which a child spends most of his or her time wants to move, he or she is generally able to do so without the permission of the Court. Under Illinois law, “moving” refers to a parent living in a new home that is no more than 25 miles away from the original home that is located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake or Will Counties. Moving also includes moving to a new home that is no more than 50 miles away from the parent's original home if it is located in a county other than those previously mentioned. Despite this ability to move without Court involvement, however, a parent still should provide the child's other parent with his or her new address and telephone number.

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Illinois spousal maintenance, Palatine divorce attorneysWhen a judge issues a spousal maintenance or spousal support order, one spouse must pay a certain amount of money on a regular basis to the other spouse. You only receive maintenance if the judge decides that you need it and your spouse has the ability to pay it. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains uniform guidelines for spousal maintenance orders in Illinois divorce proceedings. The goal of the guidelines is to make spousal maintenance awards in divorce more consistent and to let you know what to expect if you get spousal maintenance in your Illinois divorce.

Application of the Spousal Maintenance Guidelines

The spousal maintenance guidelines apply only when the judge already decided that maintenance is appropriate. To determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in your case, the judge must consider several factors, including the following for both parties:

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Posted on in Child Custody

right of first refusal, Palatine parenting time lawyerIn Illinois, before agreeing to a custody arrangement, divorcing couples are required to consider including a right of first refusal provision in their parenting plans. This means that before a parenting plan can be approved, parents must consider including a guarantee that anytime the custodial parent needs someone to care for the children, he or she must ask the other parent first before engaging the services of a babysitter or other family member.

Current Law

According to Illinois law, if a Family Court awards parenting time to both parents, it must consider whether one or both parties should be awarded the right of first refusal, which would give the non-custodial parent the first opportunity to care for the child if the custodial parent intends to leave for a significant period of time.

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Posted on in Child Support

enforcing child support in Illinois, Palatine family law attorneyChild support is important for parents’ and children’s financial stability, but sometimes, the payor parent fails to make payments. In Illinois, the custodial parent has several enforcement options. The parent may garnish the nonpaying parent’s wages, seek contempt charges in court or seek driver’s license suspension. Parents also have other options for enforcement through the courts or by reporting the nonpayment to Child Support Services.

Liens

Since a child support order is a Court Order, unpaid child support judgments may be enforced by the same methods as any other judgment. The Court may place a lien on the delinquent parent’s bank accounts; real estate; cars; lawsuit settlements, including workers’ compensation claims or other assets. If the parent does not pay the child support amount, the sheriff may seize the parent’s property, sell it and pay the custodial parent out of the proceeds.

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Posted on in Child Support

enforcing child support, Illinois divorce lawyersEvery child in Illinois has the legal right to receive financial support from both parents. This responsibility does not end simply because parents divorce or separate. The payment of child support can be extremely important for a child's or parent's financial stability, but sometimes, the payor parent fails to make payments. In Illinois, the custodial parent has several enforcement options.

Garnishing Wages

If a parent wants to enforce a child support order without going to court, he or she may send a Notice to Withhold Income for Support both to the parent and to the parent’s employer. The parent’s wages will be garnished, and the child support will be paid directly out of the parent’s paycheck. Sometimes, however, the parents have previously agreed not to pursue income withholding, and this option is not available. Fortunately, several other enforcement methods are possible in Illinois.

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