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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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Kane County family law attorneySharing parental responsibilities and parenting time of children with an ex-wife or ex-husband can be difficult, but it is worth the effort. Multiple studies show that children thrive when they have love and attention from both of their parents. If you are recently divorced or soon will be, you may have concerns about how you and your child’s other parent will manage sharing parental responsibilities. While there is no right or wrong way to share parenting responsibilities, there are certain things you can do to help minimize disagreements and misunderstandings between you and your ex. 

Consistent Rules for Both Households Can Minimize Confusion and Tension

Understandably, you and the other parent probably do not share the exact same philosophies and methods regarding parenting. One parent may be much stricter when it comes to the household rules while the other parent allows children to do whatever they want more often than not. Perhaps you want your children to be responsible for certain chores like cleaning up the dinner dishes or folding laundry while your ex does not expect the children to help with any household responsibilities.

Having two separate sets of rules to follow can be confusing for children and can lead to unnecessary friction between the adults. Many experts suggest that divorced parents try to keep consistent rules between the two homes. While this is not always possible, sitting down with your ex and deciding on the house rules, bedtime, and homework procedure your child should follow can make co-parenting go much more smoothly. Even more importantly, this helps the child feel more secure and less confused about what is expected of him or her at each house.

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Kane County family law attorneysChild support is designed, in part, to help children with unmarried or divorced parents to enjoy the same quality of life that they would have if their parents were married. Once issued, child support orders are not optional. If a parent fails to pay court-ordered child support, he or she can face serious punitive consequences. Child support orders in Illinois are customarily enforced through state courts, but they can also be enforced by federal law. If your child’s other parent has been ordered to pay child support and is not making payments, read on to learn about your options.

Consequences of Child Support Nonpayment

If a parent fails to pay child support, Illinois courts can garnish his or her wages, intercept tax returns, impose steep fines, place a lien against property, require the parent to perform community service, and, in some cases, even send the parent to jail. Parents who deliberately fail to pay more than six months’ or $10,000 worth of payments can also face criminal consequences. If you are a parent who cannot afford your current child support order, never simply stop payments. Instead, seek a child support order modification through the county court.

How to Collect Child Support from a Non-Paying Parent

If you are not receiving child support as you are supposed to, there are a few steps you will need to take to enforce the child support order. First, contact your local child support agency. If you live in the same county as the other parent, you can contact the Illinois Department of Child Support Services for help enforcing a child support order. If you need assistance in enforcing an order in another county or state, you may need to contact the State’s Attorney or Office of the Attorney General.

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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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