Recent blog posts

wrongful death, Palatine IL child support lawyersCalculating child support is one of the most important aspects of a custody case, as the result has the significant likelihood of affecting a child’s life for years to come. Often, a change in one of the parents’ financial circumstances, such as a new employment opportunity, requires courts to reevaluate that person’s monetary contribution. In a recently issued opinion, an Illinois Court of Appeals clarified what constitutes a material change in circumstances such that child support must be modified.

In re Marriage of Fortner

In 2002, Rob Fortner and Shelley S. Scanlan were married and subsequently had a child. In 2003, the couple separated, and an Illinois court ordered that Mr. Fortner pay $313.11 a month in child support. In 2014, Mr. Fortner successfully brought a wrongful death claim against the hospital that treated his father during a fatal heart attack. After deductions for attorney’s fees and other costs of litigation, Mr. Fortner received $169,725.48. Ms. Scanlan then filed a motion to modify child support based on Mr. Fortner’s changed circumstances, although Mr. Fortner argued that the settlement did not constitute increased income for purposes of child support allocation.

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contested divorce, uncontested divorce, Palatine family lawyersDivorces can be contentious. The end of a marriage means separating two lives and involves many major decisions, from spousal and child support to property division. There are plenty of issues on which spouses can disagree, but when a divorcing couple can reach a compromise on as much as possible, they can save significant amounts of time and money.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce means that the spouses reached an agreement on all the issues before beginning the divorce process, including property division, alimony, child support, child custody and parenting time. Uncontested divorces are both simpler and faster than contested divorces.

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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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Posted on in Child Custody

Palatine family law attorney, terminating parental rightsSometimes, terminating a parent's rights is in a child’s best interest. Most often, this occurs in the case of an adoption proceeding. However, in the case of abuse, neglect or abandonment, a Court may terminate a person’s parental rights without an adoptive parent stepping in to take the abusive parent’s place.

Termination

In Illinois, there are two ways to terminate parental rights:

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Posted on in Child Support

Palatine family law attorney, child support, imputed incomeChild support determinations can be filled with tension, and the amount of support is often hotly contested. Child support calculations in Illinois are based on each parent’s earnings, and sometimes, one parent tries to evade responsibility for support payments by hiding income.

Imputing Income

If the judge in a child support proceeding suspects that one parent is trying to avoid paying child support, Illinois law has a mechanism to ensure fairness — imputing income. When a Court imputes income, a parent is assigned a higher income for purposes of calculating child support. This action is appropriate when there is doubt as to the accuracy of the parent’s reported income and evidence shows that the parent is or could be earning more than reported.

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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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Palatine family law attorney, fraudulent financial affidavitsUnfortunately, in some divorces, one or both parties may attempt to hide or misrepresent their assets from the other. However, the recently passed Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act now makes the attempt to provide false information on a financial affidavit punishable by financial sanctions and attorney’s fee awards.

Financial Affidavits

During a divorce, either party is permitted to submit a petition for temporary maintenance or temporary child support. Maintenance is a set payment that may be paid in one or more installments and is intended to help the petitioning party pay necessary expenses and living costs.

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Palatine family law attorney, military child custody proceedingsThe stresses of military deployments can lead struggling couples to begin the process of divorce and custody proceedings while one party is still overseas. However, a federal law, the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), provides some protection to members of the military who are at a disadvantage in asserting custody rights due to physical distance.

SCRA

Under the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act, judges are permitted to grant a stay of custody when a military member’s participation in the proceedings is materially affected by his or her service. In fact, stays are mandatory for 90 days after deployment if certain conditions are met, including the submission of:

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scholarship winnersFour area students receive the 3rd Annual Scholarships for College-Bound Chicagoland Powered by the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C.

This month, the 3rd Annual Scholarships for College-Bound Chicagoland Powered by the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., were awarded to four area high school students. Applicants highlighted one issue facing today’s society and outlined a possible solution.

Congrats to the winners listed below, along with the issue highlighted:

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Palatine family law attorney, DCFS reporting requirementsBetween 2011 and 2013, residential Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) facilities reported 29,425 incidents of children who had gone missing while in DCFS custody. Tragically, many facilities did not immediately report runaways or missing children, making it much more difficult, if not impossible, for local law enforcement to locate them. However, a new law, known as the Safeguard Our Children Act, went into effect in Illinois this year and is aimed at addressing these practices. The law places a series of requirements on DCFS employees in regards to reporting incidences where children of any age, who are under their care, have been missing for more than 12 hours.

Senate Bill 1775

The new law, introduced last year by Senator Bill Cunningham, requires DCFS to consider a child under its care, who is living in a residential facility under contract with the Department, missing if he or she:

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Palatine family law attorney, non-minor children with disabilitiesIn many states, parents are not legally required to provide child support for their disabled, non-minor children. In Illinois, however, a recent amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) enabled Courts to allocate funds from the income or property of either or both parties to a divorce, for the maintenance of any adult children with mental or physical disabilities.

Disability

Under the amended law, a disabled person is an individual who:

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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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Palatine family law attorney, allocation of parenting timeIn a recently issued opinion, an Illinois Court of Appeals clarified how much weight should be given to a child’s opinion when determining the allocation of parenting time in post-divorce proceedings.

In re Marriage of Adamson

In October 2007, a Court issued a judgment for the dissolution of the marriage of James Adamson and Jennifer Adamson. According to the judgment, both parties were granted joint legal and physical custody of their two minor children, aged seven years and two years.

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Palatine family law attorney, single mothers and parentageRecently, a new Bill that would have amended the Vital Records Act, sponsored by Representatives John D. Cavaletto and Keith Wheeler, was filed in Springfield, Illinois. If passed, the new law would have placed significant restrictions on a single mother’s ability to obtain financial assistance from the government if she could not establish the paternity of her child at the time of his or her birth. However, resulting public outcry led to the hasty tabling of the Bill and the loss of support from both sponsors.

While support has been withdrawn for the time being, the Bill's introduction still raises concerns about the future of public assistance for single mothers in Illinois.

House Bill 6064

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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, family services advisor council, child care facilities​After disturbing reports hit the media discussing the abuse and neglect of numerous children who had been taken out of their parents’ custody and placed in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the state legislature quickly devised a series of new laws meant to improve the monitoring of child care facilities across the state.

Senate Bill 13 revised the duties and membership requirements of the Family Service’s Advisory Council, a group previously put in place to oversee DCFS licensed child care facilities, in efforts to increase accountability and prevent incidences of abuse from going unreported.

Advisory Council Membership

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Posted on in Family Law

Palatine collaborative law attorney, child placementIllinois law provides guidelines that the Department of Children and Family Services must follow when placing children in either temporary or permanent homes. The most important qualification is that the placement be in the best interests of each child. However, a new law ensures that family members retain certain rights concerning foster care arrangements.

Current Law

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is given discretion in determining what type of environment is in each child’s best interest and making a placement based on that information; however, DCFS is still required to place a child, when appropriate, in the custody of certain individuals, including:

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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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