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Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

DuPage County family law attorney parental rights

When a mother gives birth to a child, she automatically receives legal privileges and responsibilities referred to as “parental rights.” If the mother is married, her husband is presumed to be the baby’s father and therefore he gains parental rights as well. Unmarried fathers can establish paternity and obtain parental rights by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). However, there are some circumstances in which a parent may wish to give up his or her parental rights. Often, a parent seeks to terminate his or her parental rights so the child can be adopted.  

Voluntarily Giving Up Your Parenting Rights

Parental rights include the right to parenting time, the right to object to the child being placed for adoption, and much more. However, being a child’s legal parent may also incur certain responsibilities such as a child support obligation. Children can only have two legal parents. If a stepparent wishes to adopt his or her stepchild, the other parent may need to terminate his or her parental rights. The court also has the authority to terminate a parent’s rights against his or her will in situations involving abandonment, abuse, or other issues that endanger the child. 

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Wheaton family law attorney for parenting plan enforcementIn Illinois, divorcing couples with children and unmarried parents who do not live together are asked to create a “parenting plan” that addresses the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and other issues related to the couple’s children. This plan will describe each parent’s rights and responsibilities and include information about how parenting time, sometimes referred to as visitation, will be divided between the two parents. The parents may decide on the terms of their parenting plan through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law. If parents cannot reach an agreement about one or more terms, the court will order a plan that is based on the child’s best interests. Whether a parenting plan is the result of an agreement between the spouses or an allocation judgment handed down by the court, parents are expected to follow the plan.

Parents Must Comply With the Terms of the Parenting Plan

Parenting plans typically involve a number of different provisions, including those describing each parent’s responsibilities and the time that each parent will spend with the child. The plan may also include information about the child’s education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, religious or cultural upbringing, and how the child will be transported between the parents’ homes. 

One of the most common ways that parents may violate the terms of their parenting plan is by deviating from the parenting time schedule. Understandably, parents may sometimes need to make minor changes to their schedules to account for illnesses, unexpected work obligations, or other special circumstances. However, if a parent consistently fails to fulfill his or her parenting time obligations or refuses to allow the other parent to enjoy his or her parenting time, legal action may be necessary to enforce the terms of the parenting plan.

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DuPage County adoption lawyer termination of parental rightsDeciding to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding decisions a person ever makes. Unfortunately, the legal process of adopting a child can often be very complicated. Even if the adoptive parents take every step possible to help the adoption proceed smoothly, it is possible that the adoption may be contested or disputed by another party. If you are planning to adopt a child, and you are concerned that the child’s biological parent or another party may contest the adoption, contact a lawyer experienced in adoption issues as soon as possible.

Common Issues That Lead to Contested Adoptions

There are several reasons that an adoption may be contested. In some cases, a biological parent may contest an adoption because they do not want to give up their parental rights. For example, if the child’s biological mother never told the father that she had a child, it is possible that the father may not have even known about the child’s existence. If a biological father can show that he is willing and able to assume parental responsibilities, it is possible that the adoption process will be terminated. However, if a father knew that he had a child but chose to remain completely uninvolved in the child’s life, he may not be granted any parental rights, and the adoption may continue. A father may also lose the right to contest an adoption if he does not contact the child for more than one year or provide child support to address the child’s needs. An adoption may also be contested if a biological parent disagrees with a stepparent adoption or if a birth father disagrees with a mother’s decision to place an infant up for adoption.

Contested Adoption Hearings

If an adoption is contested, the parties seeking the adoption and the party contesting the adoption must attend a consent hearing. During the hearing, a judge will evaluate evidence and hear arguments from both sides. A parent who is contesting an adoption may use receipts, documents, emails, text messages, or other evidence to argue that he or she was in fact involved in the child’s upbringing and should be granted parental rights. The outcome of the hearing may result in the contesting party gaining parental rights and halting the adoption, or the contesting party may be denied parental rights, and the adoption process may be permitted to continue. In other cases, the judge may order a “best interests” hearing to determine what parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interests.

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Wheaton family law attorney for prenupsPrenuptial agreements are legally binding documents that establish and protect spouses’ property rights, and they may also address spousal maintenance and other matters. Because many of the provisions in a prenuptial agreement only become effective if a couple divorces, prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” are somewhat controversial. However, research shows that the popularity of prenups has been rising, especially among the millennial generation. Prenuptial agreements offer a range of benefits, but they may not be right for every engaged couple.

Rights and Responsibilities Addressed by Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that lists each party’s property and specifies the parties’ property rights in the event that the marriage ends. When a couple sits down to draft a prenuptial agreement, they will need to list all of the assets and debts that they currently own. Many couples find that this inventory process is beneficial in itself because it starts the marriage off with a degree of financial transparency and honesty that is absent in many relationships. 

A prenuptial agreement can be used to differentiate between marital and nonmarital property, identify how certain assets should be divided if the marriage ends in divorce, establish which debts belong to which party, address inheritance rights, make decisions about spousal maintenance, and more. By discussing these issues before getting married, engaged couples ensure that they are on the same page with regard to their finances and property. Furthermore, if the couple ends up divorcing, many of the divorce issues that will need to be resolved will already have been decided.

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Wheaton, IL Child Support LawyerChild support may be ordered to ensure that unmarried or divorcing parents share in the costs of raising their children. Typically, the parent with the majority of parenting time is the recipient of child support paid by the parent with less parenting time. Child support can be an essential resource for providing for children’s needs, but it can also be a heavy financial burden on the paying parent. This may be especially true if the paying parent has more than one child support obligation. If you share children with your current spouse and are planning to get a divorce, you may wonder how previous child support obligations will influence any additional child support determinations.

How Much Will My Child Support Payment Be?

Along with many other family law modifications, substantial changes to the way Illinois courts calculate child support were instituted in 2017. Child support is no longer simply a percentage of the obligor, or paying parent’s, income. Child support orders entered under the updated law are calculated using the Income Shares Model, which takes both parents’ income and other factors into account. Child support payments are now calculated using the following steps:

  • Both parents’ net income is combined in order to establish the overall financial resources available to the child.

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