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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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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 attorneysIf you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, holidays can present a number of rather unique challenges. In most families, holidays are a time for getting together with loved ones, many of whom have not seen one another in some time—possibly since the same holiday last year. Of course, parents want their children to be part of the festivities and to visit with family members who may have traveled a great distance for the occasion. If you are subject to a court-approved parenting plan, however, it may take some negotiation to figure out where your children will be spending the holidays.

Do Not Wait

While it may not seem possible, Thanksgiving is just a few short days away. This means that you and your child’s other parent should not delay in making plans regarding your holiday parenting time. The first thing you should do, however, is to check your parenting plan document, as many such plans contain a holiday parenting time schedule created years in advance to reduce confusion. If your plan does not include a holiday schedule or provides that you will negotiate a reasonable agreement each year, it is time to start preparing for winter holidays.

Prioritize and Compromise

While many families will get together quite often, including on commonly-celebrated holidays, certain holidays are more “important”—for lack of a better word—than others to some families. For example, your family may prioritize your Christmas or Hanukkah traditions while the other parent’s family traditionally places a greater emphasis on Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day. If your respective priorities allow you, develop a plan that provides your child to be a part of each of the important celebrations.

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Kane County family law attorneysSharing parental responsibilities can be quite complicated for divorced, separated, or unmarried parents. Each parent may have an idea of how he or she thinks the child should be raised, and such ideas often differ—even between reasonable, well-meaning parents. Conflicting ideas about parenting can create confusion for the child, which is why it is so important for parents to work together to develop a parenting plan that clearly determines what role each parent will play in making significant decisions about the child’s life. 

What Are Significant Decisions?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines “significant decision-making” as “deciding issues of long-term importance in the life of a child.” The law also provides several considerations that are always considered significant decisions, such as:

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Kane County family law attorneyAn estimated 676,000 American children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2015. Every year, thousands of children suffer emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of loved ones. Even more astounding, roughly 3.4 million families were investigated by child protective services agencies in 2016. While many of the reports made to child protective services end up being legitimate instances of abuse or neglect, many are not. If you are getting divorced, there are many ways that allegations of child abuse can affect your case.

If You Have Been Accused of Child Abuse

If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse has accused you of abusing a child, there are many ways this can affect the outcome of your divorce. When courts make decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, (formerly child custody and visitation, respectively) they always put the best interest of the child first and foremost. Allegations of child abuse can lead to the limitation of your time with your children. If your ex has made unfounded accusations against you, it is imperative that you hire an attorney to represent you and protect your rights. An attorney can help you disprove any false allegations of wrongdoing and prevent you from losing parental responsibilities and parenting time of your child.

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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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