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Kane County divorce attorneysThere are almost countless reasons why a married couple gets divorced. Sometimes, both spouses agree that it is time to end the marriage while other times only one spouse wants the divorce. Traditionally, married couples who wanted a divorce had to give a reason, or “grounds,” for why they wanted to end their marriage. However, major updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) took effect in 2016 which significantly altered the need for proving any grounds for divorce in Illinois.

Divorcing Couples No Longer Need to Assign Fault for the Dissolution of Their Marriage

In the past, Illinois had specific reasons that a married couple could dissolve their marriage. These reasons included the assignment of blame or “fault” to a spouse. Grounds for divorce in Illinois prior to 2016 included:

  • Adultery;
  • Impotence;
  • Bigamy;
  • Abandonment;
  • Drug or alcohol abuse;
  • Physical or mental cruelty;
  • Attempted murder of a spouse by the other;
  • Spouse was convicted of a felony crime; and
  • Spouse infected the other with a sexually transmitted disease.

Since the mid-1980s, however, couples were not forced to choose one of these grounds for divorce in Illinois. A married couple could get divorced even if no major breech in trust or other dramatic wrongdoing occurred, but doing so was often difficult and time-consuming.

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Kane County child support attorneysChild support payments help unmarried or divorced parents share the costs of raising a child. If you are a parent considering divorce or you have already decided to end your marriage, you probably have questions about how child support will work. Major changes to the way in which support payments are calculated in Illinois took effect in July of 2017. If you are wondering how much child support you will be required to pay or you want to estimate the child support you will receive, read on to learn more.

Which Parent Pays Child Support?

If you are like many parents, you may assume that child support is reserved for situations in which one parent has all or almost all legal custody of a child and the other parent is uninvolved in the child’s life. However, you or your spouse will be required to pay child support even if you decide to have joint custody of your children. Illinois law uses the word “parental responsibility” to refer to what we commonly think of as custody and “parenting time” to mean visitation. One parent will have the majority of parental responsibility and parenting time. This parent will be the recipient of child support while the parent with less parenting time will be the payor.

What Factors Influence Child Support Amounts?

There are many different factors which will determine the amount of child support that a parent pays. Illinois uses the income shares model of child support calculation. Both of the parent’s net income is taken into consideration in order to determine the amount of child support each parent is responsible for. Extra costs such as childcare and health insurance expenses are also considered. If a parent already has a child support obligation from a previous relationship, the amount of support he or she already pays is taken into account for purposes of the child support calculation. If each parent has the child at least 146 overnights a year, the time that each parent spends with the child is factored into the child support calculation as well.

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Kane County family lawyersFamilies come in all shapes and sizes. Many children are currently being raised by adoptive parents, single mothers or fathers, siblings, grandparents, or other people who are not their biological parents. If you are a grandparent who wishes to obtain guardianship of your grandchild, you probably have many questions about this legal process. There are a few different ways that grandparents can be granted legal guardianship of their grandchild. In many cases, help from a qualified family law attorney can be a valuable asset for grandparents who are unsure of how to start pursuing guardianship of their grandchild. 

Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights

There are many reasons that a grandparent may want to obtain guardianship of their child’s child. Sometimes, the biological parents are struggling with personal issues which make them unable to care for their child. Other times, biological parents choose to let grandparents raise their child because they had the child at a very young age. One way that grandparents can take guardianship of a child is if the biological parents voluntarily give up their parental rights. Once the biological parents have relinquished their legal rights to the child, grandparents have an opportunity to adopt the child.

Parents Who Are Abusive or Neglectful of Their Children

Sadly, some children end up living with their grandparents because their own parents were guilty of child abuse or neglect. If you know that a child is being abused or neglected, contact the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). This agency will investigate the situation and will make sure that a child who is in danger is taken to a safe environment as soon as possible. The DCFS is also responsible for making long term plans to protect the child’s safety and find the child a safe place to live.

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Kane County family law attorneysWhen a woman gives birth to a child, there is obviously no question as to the biological relationship between the baby and the mother. However, this is not always the case with the father of the baby. When a woman is married, her husband is assumed to be the biological father of a child she gives birth to. In such a case, the father does not need to do anything to establish the legal rights and responsibilities that come with being a parent. However, the same is not true for unmarried fathers. You will need to first establish paternity.

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity 

If a couple who is not married has a child together, they have several options for establishing paternity. The easiest way to establish paternity is by signing a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (VAP) document. These forms are often available at the hospital and can be signed by both parents shortly after their baby is born. VAP forms are also available at your local county clerk, the Department of Health and Family Services, and at Child Support Services. A VAP form should only be used when the parents are certain as to the paternity of the child. If you are not certain as to the biological relationship between your child and his or her possible father, you should not sign a VAP form.

When the Father is Unknown or Does Not Admit His Paternity

You will need to get a court order or administrative order through the Department of Health and Family Services (DFHS) if you cannot sign a VAP. The court and, in some cases, the DHFS have the ability to compel the potential father to submit to DNA testing in order to determine if he is the father of the child. If the DNA test results show that the potential father is indeed the biological father of the child, he becomes the child’s legal father and will likely be required to pay child support. If he chooses to, he will also be able to pursue parental responsibilities and parenting time with the child.

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Kane County divorce mediation lawyersUnderstandably, divorcing couples rarely see eye-to-eye on every subject. They may agree about who should have the majority of parental responsibility but disagree about whether or not to sell the house. Alternatively, they may agree on issues of property division and spousal support but disagree on how they will share custody of their children. Some couples disagree about nearly every aspect of their divorce. When divorcing spouses need help coming to an agreement about divorce issues, mediation can be a valuable tool. Through family mediation, divorcing spouses have a chance to make their thoughts and concerns heard while working toward a solution on divorce issues. Read on to learn about the mediation process in Illinois and how you may benefit from mediation.

Identifying Divorce Issues and Deciding on Mediation Objectives

While every mediator is different, the mediation process generally begins with the mediator organizing a joint meeting with both spouses and explains his or her role in the mediation process, goes over the general procedures for mediation, and reminds the parties that what is said during mediation is confidential. The spouses will then have an opportunity to voice their concerns related to the divorce and discuss their goals for mediation. The mediator will help facilitate a productive discussion between the spouses in order to identify potential solutions.

Working to Find Solutions Both Spouses Agree To

A mediator may meet with the spouses separately after the initial joint meeting. During this individual meeting, the mediator can clarify each spouse’s concerns and hear their proposed solutions to these issues. After this, a series of cooperative joint discussions and individual meetings will take place during which the spouses will work to find resolutions to their divorce issues which both parties can agree to. These meetings will continue until the issues are adequately resolved or until the mediator and spouses decide that mediation is not producing the desired results. If the spouses are able to reach an agreement on divorce issues, the mediator will provide a Memorandum of Understanding describing the agreements the spouses have come to and identifying any issues which remain unresolved. The mediator will file a report with the court and the spouses’ attorneys will then prepare a final settlement agreement based on the information included in the mediator’s Memorandum of Understanding.

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1737 South Naperville Road, Suite 100
Wheaton, IL 60189
630-549-0960
Evening and weekend hours by appointment.

We serve clients throughout Kane County, Illinois including St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Elgin, Algonquin, Aurora, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, Big Rock, Burlington, Campton Hills, Carpentersville, East Dundee, Elburn, Hampshire, Huntley, Kaneville, Maple Park, Sleepy Hollow, Wayne, West Dundee as well as throughout DuPage County.

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