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Kane County family law attorneysSince the 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, states can no longer legally ban gay couples from marrying. Since this landmark decision, same-sex couples across the country are marrying and beginning their lives as legal spouses. Many same-sex couples also wish to start a family of their own. Same-sex couples can sometimes face complicated legal obstacles when children are involved. Fortunately, there are several legal avenues that Illinois residents can use to obtain parental rights. One of these is second parent adoption, also called co-parent adoption. Second parent adoption can allow same-sex couples to legally adopt a child into their family.

Second Parent Adoption Differs from Other Types of Adoptions

When most people think of adoption, they imagine a situation in which a parent gives up his or her parental rights and another individual takes on those parental rights. In a same-sex situation, things are often much different. It is not uncommon, for example, for one of the partners to be the only legal parent that the child has. That parent may have adopted the child originally or had the child without another parent involved, such as through a sperm bank or surrogacy. Through a second-parent adoption, the parent’s partner can become the child’s other legal parent.

Benefits of Second Parent Adoption

There are many reasons an individual would want to adopt their same-sex partner’s child. One benefit is the legal right to make healthcare decisions for the child. For example, if an injury or illness leaves a parent or child incapacitated in some way, only legally-recognized parents will have full authority over health care decisions. Even if someone has been acting as a parent in a child’s life for a long time, without a legally-recognized relationship, they may not have any legal rights to the child. This means that if the legal parent passes away or becomes incapacitated, the child may not be able to stay with the parent’s spouse. In the past, children have been actually removed from their home in circumstances like these due to the lack of the other spouse’s legal parentage.

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If you are considering ending your marriage, you probably have a myriad of questions. You may be unsure of what to expect during the divorce process or whether or not you will need to hire a lawyer. You may also wonder how cooperative or uncooperative your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will be during the divorce process. Unfortunately, you cannot control how accommodating your spouse will be during the divorce. Fortunately, you can control your own actions.

One of the best ways to help your divorce go as smoothly as possible is to educate yourself about your options moving forward. One option which is available to Illinois residents getting a divorce is mediation. Mediation can be a valuable tool for couples who wish to figure out divorce issues outside of litigation. However, mediation is not for everyone.

What Does Divorce Mediation Involve?

During divorce mediation, a divorcing couple meets with a specially-trained mediator who acts as a neutral third-party during discussions about divorce issues. A mediator does not make decisions for the couple but instead helps facilitate respectful, effective communication about these issues so that the couple can reach an agreement. A mediator can help couples decide how their property should be divided and make plans for child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance.

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Kane County family lawyersThere are two ways a couple can legally terminate their marriage: divorce and annulment. Annulment differs significantly from divorce in that it not only ends the marriage, but declares it invalid. After a marriage has been annulled, in the eyes of the law, it’s as if the marriage never occurred. Illinois law refers to an annulment of marriage as a “judgment of invalidity.” Judgments of invalidity are granted only under very specific circumstances in Illinois. Not just any marriage is eligible for invalidation under this law.

Grounds for Invalidating a Marriage in Illinois

Many people seeking a divorce or separation may wish their marriage never happened. However, invalidity of marriage is not avavible for couples who simply regret getting married. An Illinois judge may only grant a judgment of invalidity if certain grounds, or reasons, exist. In order to request a judgment of invalidity, one or more of the following grounds must be present:

  • A party to the marriage lacked the ability to consent to marriage due to mental incapacitation or the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • A party entered the marriage through fraud or duress (coercion). It is important to note that only fraud that affects the "essentials of the marriage," is a viable ground for annulment. For example, if one party only got married to avoid deportation, the other spouse may be able to file for an annulment. A spouse simply lying about their personal accomplishments or another fabrication which does not influence the essence of the marriage would probably not be considered grounds for a judgement of invalidity;
  • A party is unable to physically consummate the marriage and the other party did not know of this inability before the marriage;
  • The marriage is bigamous (one party is already legally married to another living person) or incestuous; and
  • One or both of the spouses were underage at the time of the marriage and failed to get the required approval of a parent, guardian, or Illinois judge.

Civil Annulments Versus Religious Annulments

Many churches and religious organizations offer their patrons an option to annul or invalidate their marriage in the eyes of the church. It is important to note that religious annulments are not recognized under Illinois law. The only way to legally void your marriage in Illinois is to meet the requirements listed in the Illinois Compiled Statutes and be granted a judgment of invalidity from a judge. If you do not meet the requirements, a divorce is your only option for legally ending the marriage.

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Kane County family law attorneysIf you are an unmarried parent or a parent who is getting divorced, you probably have many questions about how parental responsibilities and allocation of parenting time of your child or children will be handled by Illinois courts. If you can come to an agreement on parental responsibilities and allocation of parenting time with the child’s other parent, you and the other parent will be asked to create a parenting plan or parenting agreement. A parenting agreement is a document which you and your child’s other parent use to outline parental responsibilities and allocation of parenting time and other decisions about the child’s upbringing.

Parents have 120 days after filing a parentage action or divorce petition to file a parenting plan. This initial plan is a temporary placeholder for the more permanent parenting arrangement. This initial plan may be filed jointly or separately. Eventually, parents will be asked to agree on all of the parental duties including who will make decisions about the child as well as how the parenting time will be shared. Parents who do not reach an agreement about these issues before the “status date” will most likely be sent to mediation. Parents can be granted an extension for one of three reasons:

  • To continue working on the agreement in mediation;
  • To continue working on the agreement outside of mediation; and
  • For a good cause such as when parents’ schedules have not allowed enough time in mediation.

In Illinois, a parenting plan must include, but is not limited to, directions about:

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Kane County family law attorneyJeff Bezos is the founder, chairman, CEO, and president of Amazon. Many people consider him to be the world’s richest person. Just recently, the business tycoon announced that he will be divorcing his wife of 25 years. Bezos and his wife have four children and have spent the better part of three decades building a life together. Like many high net worth divorces, their split will likely be complicated. If you are considering divorcing your spouse and you have significant assets or wealth, you should be talking with a qualified family law attorney.

Bezos’s Wife Could Receive Half of His Wealth

Jeff Bezos’s estimated net worth is over $90 billion. He and his family live in Washington which has its own laws governing property distribution during divorce. Most states, including Illinois, make a distinction between marital property and separate property. Separate property refers to assets accumulated before the marriage and certain gifts and inheritances. Marital property includes wealth and property accumulated during the marriage as well as any commingled funds. Washington state divides marital property according to what is equitable and just. This property division method is called equitable distribution and is the same method that is used in Illinois. Property divided according to equitable distribution laws will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally.

Important Considerations During High Net Worth Divorces

Put plainly, couples with greater assets have more to lose during divorce. Complex assets like family businesses, business holdings, pensions, retirement accounts, stocks, stock options, commissions, deferred income, trust funds, and real estate investments can add complications to a divorce. If you or your spouse own a family business, a professional valuation will probably be necessary. It is vital that high net worth couples consider the tax implications of property division during divorce as well. Child support and spousal maintenance can also be complex issues during a high net worth divorce. Illinois uses the “income-shares model” when deciding child support orders. The court studies the combined income of both parents and uses that number and other information to arrive at a child support order which is reasonable and in the child’s best interest.

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Wheaton, IL 60189
630-549-0960
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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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