Tag Archives: family law Kane County

Kane County family law attorneyDisputes over child-related matters can often be quite contentious. The resulting bitterness and resentment can affect the relationship between the parents for years to come. Issues involving child custody—now called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois—parenting time, child support, and any other concern related to children are complicated, and when parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will need to step in and make long-term decisions for the family. In some cases, the court will appoint an independent attorney called a guardian ad litem to assist in the decision-making process, and it is important for you to understand why he or she may have been appointed.

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do?

To appreciate the reasons behind the court's appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL), you must first understand the role that the GAL will play in your proceedings. The GAL does not represent either parent or the child; instead, he or she works essentially as an extension of the court and an expert witness. He or she has the power to investigate the family's situation by conducting interviews, reviewing documents, and examining any other relevant information. Based on the results of the investigation, the GAL provides a recommendation to the court of what the ideal outcome should be in the case. Because eligible GALs undergo specific training required by the county, their recommendations are given significant weight by the court.

Reasons to Appoint a GAL

Some family court judges prefer to appoint a GAL in nearly every child-related case while others may wait until a need becomes evident. If the court can see that reasonable progress is being made between the parents, the services of a GAL may not be necessary. If, on the other hand, the parents refuse to compromise or continue to make accusations against one another, a GAL is likely to be appointed.

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Kane County divorce lawyer pregnancy paternityCountless issues can complicate the already complex legal process of ending a marriage. One of these complicating factors is pregnancy. If you or your soon-to-be ex-spouse is pregnant, and you plan to divorce, you probably have many questions and concerns. You may wonder how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be determined, or you may have worries about child support. Getting a divorce while a spouse is pregnant is possible under Illinois law, but it can be challenging both personally and legally.

Establishing Paternity of Your New Child

Paternity refers to the legal relationship between a father and a child. Illinois law presumes that when a married woman has a child, her husband is the child’s biological and legal father. The father does not need to take any additional steps to establish paternity. This is also true if the baby was conceived while the couple was married but is born after their marriage is dissolved. A father who has established paternity has the right to parenting time and may also have certain obligations, such as child support payments. 

If a woman conceives a child during her marriage, but her husband is not the child’s biological father, the situation becomes more complicated. The presumed father may need to terminate his parental rights so that the biological father can establish his own parental rights. In some cases, a DNA paternity test may be needed to verify the biological relationship between the child and the father.

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Kane County adoption lawyersAdopting a child is one of the most worthwhile legal pursuits a person can undergo. Unfortunately, the Illinois adoption process can, at times, be complicated and tedious. One step in the adoption process that many adoptive families worry about is the home study. The purpose of an adoption home study is to ensure that the adoptive home is a safe, loving environment for the child to live in. Many adoptive parents are intimidated at the thought of someone coming to evaluate them and their home. They may worry that they will be deemed “not good enough” and denied the adoption. One of the best ways to prepare for your home study and gain peace of mind is to thoroughly educate yourself about what the adoption home study process entails.  

Common Elements of a Home Study

The steps that you must take in order to be granted an adoption will depend on whether you are pursuing an international adoption, private adoption, agency adoption, relative adoption, or adoption through the foster care system. Although the adoption process varies significantly, most home studies involve the same basic steps. The agent, social worker, or other individual conducting the home study is seeking to understand two main things:

  • Whether or not you and the other adoptive parent are capable of adequately caring for the child; and
  • Whether or not your home is a safe, healthy place for a child to live

In most agency adoptions, potential adoptive parents are first invited to an informational session that outlines the adoption process and what to expect. If the potential adoptive parents choose to continue with the adoption, a home study will typically follow at some point.

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Kane County family law attorneysThere is absolutely no question that domestic violence continues to be a major problem in today’s society. In fact, there are a number of studies that suggest that the issue may be even more serious than previously acknowledged, including many under-reported cases involving male domestic abuse victims. The physical, psychological, and emotional damage caused by violence against an intimate partner or family member can rise to tragic levels, often requiring years of recovery if and when a victim can escape an abusive situation. It is for exactly these reasons that intentionally false allegations of domestic violence are so disturbing, and such allegations can substantially affect the outcome of family-related legal concerns.

Impact to the Falsely Accused

Under Illinois law, an emergency order of protection can be issued by a judge based solely on the testimony of a victim. In a situation where there is actual violence or the threat of violence, this is entirely necessary. However, when a parent or spouse brings false allegations of violence before the court, an emergency order of protection can affect a completely innocent person. Depending upon the details included in the claim, the order can potentially prevent the accused from remaining in his or her home, seeing his or her children, or even going about the normal business of daily living. An emergency order of protection can remain in effect for up to 21 days, or until a re-hearing on the matter can be scheduled, whichever comes first.

Potentially Long-Lasting Effects

Sadly, many individuals who file false reports of domestic violence do so to gain a perceived advantage in a divorce or parental responsibilities proceeding. Virtually all child-related legal matters require the court to take into account the existence of violence or the threat of violence in the household and toward the children. An unscrupulous party may be tempted to create false allegations as “proof” that the other parent should not be granted specific rights or responsibilities related to the child. While the court should be able to determine the actual truth, the allegations can still create an unhealthy level of contentiousness that could negatively affect the child, regardless of the court’s decision.

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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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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree