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Wheaton family law attorney for termination of parental rightsIllinois courts presume that it is in a child’s best interests to have both parents involved in their life. However, it takes a great deal of responsibility and attention to adequately care for a child. If a parent cannot satisfactorily provide for a child’s needs, or if spending time with the parent may put the child in danger, the parent may be considered “unfit.” When a parent is declared unfit, the courts no longer presume that it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with that parent. When addressing family law issues, the parties involved will want to understand how parental fitness laws may affect the outcome of their case.

Illinois Law Regarding Parental Fitness

The issue of parental fitness is often explored during adoption. Typically, consent from both biological parents is required for an adoption to occur. However, if a parent is found to be unfit by “clear and convincing evidence,” the parent’s parental rights may be terminated. The adoption may then be permitted even without that parent’s consent. An unfit parent is typically defined as a parent who does not have the child’s best interests at heart. In Illinois, parental rights can only be terminated through a juvenile case initiated by the state or in conjunction with the Adoption Act. During a parental fitness hearing, the burden of proof is on the party claiming that the parent is unfit.

The following issues are often used as grounds to establish that a parent is unfit in Illinois:

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DuPage County family law attorney for grandparent visitationGrandparents can be some of the most important figures in a child’s life. If a child’s parents get divorced, grandparents may worry whether they will get to see their grandchildren as often. Divorcing parents have the right to reasonable amounts of parenting time, sometimes referred to as visitation, with their child. However, parents can lose this right if they are not fit to care for their child properly. In Illinois, grandparents will not always have the right to visitation with their grandchildren, although they may be able to petition for visitation if there are special circumstances. 

When Can Grandparents Be Granted Visitation?

If you are a grandparent, and you want to ensure that you will be allowed to spend time with your grandchild, you may wonder if the court can require a parent to allow their child to spend time with you. Illinois courts may grant visitation to grandparents if one or more of the following circumstances are present:

  • The parents are divorced, and at least one parent agrees to grandparent visitation

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DuPage County family law attorney for adoptionsAdoption gives a child without a family the wonderful gift of loving parents. Adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding decisions a person can make. There are many different avenues that a potential parent can take to adopt a child. If you are considering adoption, read on to learn about the four main types of adoption available in Illinois and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Often, the adoption process can be very complicated, so it is important to work with a family law attorney who has experience helping families make their dream of adopting a child a reality.

International Adoption

When a family adopts a child who was born outside of the United States, this is called an international adoption. Internationally adopted children are typically orphans who do not have a family to call their own. This means that you would be giving a child in desperate need of parents the love and attention all children deserve. It also means that the birth mother cannot change her mind, which can happen with other types of adoption. The international adoption process can be expensive and time-consuming. There may also be difficulties caused by the distance and possible language barrier associated with international adoption.

Agency Adoptions

An agency adoption is enabled by a public or private adoption organization. Some parents adopt a child after providing him or her with a home as a foster parent. This can be a great way for a family and child to get to know each other before adoption. In Illinois, the adoption of foster children is managed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). It is important to note that some individuals pursuing adoption through a private adoption agency have been the victims of corruption and fraud. If you are planning to adopt a child through a private agency, retain a lawyer to ensure that no unlawful acts are taking place.

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Wheaton asset division attorneyWhen you and your spouse got married, you might have moved into a house that one of you owned already, or you might have found a new home together. Since your wedding, it is also possible that you and your spouse have upgraded and bought a house big enough to accommodate your growing family. If you find yourself facing the prospect of a divorce, however, how and when you and your spouse bought your current home could affect its status as a marital asset.

Equitable Distribution in Illinois

According to Illinois law, a divorcing couple’s marital property is to be divided equitably, or fairly, between the spouses. The law also defines marital property as assets or debts acquired by either party during the marriage, with limited exceptions for inheritances or gifts to one spouse. Property that was acquired before the marriage is considered to be non-marital and is not subject to being divided during the divorce. This includes the home where you and your spouse were living when the marriage ended.

How and When the Home Was Purchased

If the home in question was purchased and fully paid off by either you or your spouse before you got married, it is not likely to be considered a marital asset by the court. It would more likely be considered a non-marital asset and awarded to the spouse who bought it originally. However, if you bought the home together at any point during your marriage, the home would probably be considered marital property.

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DuPage County divorce parenting plan attorneyBeing a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Cooperatively raising a child with an ex-spouse or former partner can be even harder. If you are a divorcing or unmarried parent who plans on sharing parental responsibility with your ex, you probably have many concerns about how a joint custody arrangement will work out. Effective co-parenting takes patience, perseverance, and planning. One of the best ways to prevent disagreements and problems in a co-parenting scenario is to have a solid strategy for how you plan to share parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Illinois Requires Parents to Create a Parenting Plan

If you are getting divorced in Illinois and wish to share parenting time with your spouse, you are required to submit a parenting plan to the court. Ideally, you and your spouse can agree to a plan, but if you cannot agree, the court will intervene and decide what should be included in the official parenting agreement. This plan will assign important decision-making responsibilities (formerly called child custody) and parenting time (formerly called visitation) to each parent. Additionally, the parenting plan must contain provisions which address:

  • The child’s official residential address

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