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DuPage County legal separation attorneyAs any married individual can attest to, it is not always easy to know when a marriage is truly over. You may be unhappy in your relationship, but you may still have a glimmer of hope that you and your spouse can resolve your differences. However, even if you are not yet ready to pursue a divorce, you will likely still need to address key issues related to your finances and your children. In situations like these, a legal separation may be the right choice. Read on to learn about the purpose of legal separation in Illinois as well as the differences between legal separation and divorce.

Understanding The Process of Getting Legally Separated in Illinois

There are many misunderstandings about what it means to be legally separated. A legal separation does not simply mean that you and your spouse are living separately; instead, it is an official legal status. During a legal separation, you and your spouse can establish arrangements about the same issues that you would need to address during a divorce. You may then submit your agreements to the court, and these agreements will become legally-binding court orders. During a legal separation, you can formally address:

DuPage County grandparent visitation lawyerAs any grandparent can tell you, the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild is special. Grandparents offer guidance, wisdom, and support to grandchildren that is informed by decades of life experience. When a married couple with children divorces, grandparents are often worried about whether they will get to see their grandchildren as often as they would like. If you have found yourself in this situation, you may wonder if grandparents have a legal right to spend time with their grandchildren or may be granted “grandparent visitation.” As with many Illinois family law concerns, the answer to this question is complex.

Under What Circumstances Are Grandparents Granted Visitation?

Family dynamics can be very complicated – especially when divorce is involved. If you are a grandparent who wants to ensure that you still get to spend time with your grandchild, you may wonder if you can petition the court for visitation. Typically, court-ordered parenting time only involves the child’s two biological parents. However, the court may grant grandparent visitation in certain circumstances. You may have a legal right to visitation if:

  • Your grandchild’s parents are divorced, and one or both of the parents approves of grandparent visitation

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Wheaton grandparent visitation lawyerIf you are a grandparent, you know just how special the relationship with your grandchildren can be. However, when a grandparent’s relationship with their adult child is complicated, they may worry about how this will affect their relationship with their grandchild. Illinois law recognizes the positive impact many grandparents have on their grandchildren’s lives. Because of this, there are certain situations in which grandparents may be granted legal visitation with their grandchild.  

Illinois Law Regarding Grandparent Visitation

Grandparents often question what their rights are when it comes to seeing their grandchild. Typically, parents have the right to restrict a non-parent’s access to their child. There is a presumption that a child’s parents are “fit” or capable of making sound decisions about their child - including decisions about who the child spends time with. However, a grandparent may petition the court to request mandatory visitation with their grandchild under certain circumstances.

The court may grant you visitation with your grandchild if you can demonstrate that:

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DuPage County domestic abuse attorney order of protection

Domestic abuse or intimate partner violence affects millions of people across the country, including in the state of Illinois. According to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in seven men are victims of domestic violence. Physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, or stalking can make a person feel as if his or her own home is a prison. If you have been the victim of domestic violence, one option you may want to consider is an emergency order of protection (EOP). Sometimes called restraining orders, EOPs are legally enforceable court orders that require an alleged abuser to cease abusive and harassing behaviors. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you through the legal process of obtaining this important document. 

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is abuse involving a past or current family member, household member, romantic partner, spouse or ex-spouse, or someone who is the parent of the alleged victim’s child. Many alleged abusers use manipulation, intimidation, threats, and physical violence to control their alleged victims. This may include pushing, hitting, strangling, and other physical violence as well as harassment such as repeatedly following the victim. An abuser may attempt to weaken the victim’s independence and convince the victim that the abuse is somehow his or her fault. No one should have to tolerate this type of treatment. Fortunately, there are legal remedies available in Illinois that can help protect victims of domestic violence.

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DuPage County child custody attorneyIn Illinois family law cases, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” are not referred to as “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” When divorcing parents cannot agree on an arrangement for dividing parental responsibilities and parenting time, the court may need to intervene. Custody-related legal proceedings can be stressful for both the parents and the children. If you are in a legal dispute with your child’s other parent, you may have concerns about your child’s involvement in the case. Child testimonies are sometimes, but not always, used in Illinois child custody disputes. Fortunately, Illinois courts have several methods for conducting child interviews in a way that minimizes the stress on the child.

Will My Child Be Put on the Witness Stand?

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree upon a parenting arrangement, a judge will be tasked with making a custody determination that serves the child’s best interests. You may wonder whether this means that your child will be forced to testify in court. Typically, children are not required to testify in court; however, the judge may use a child interview to gather information regarding a custody case. 

Because court hearings can be very overwhelming and frightening for children, Illinois courts do everything possible to gather children’s testimonies in a child-friendly way. Rarely are children placed on the witness stand. If the judge wishes to hear the child’s testimony in a custody case, he or she will most likely speak to the child privately in the judge's chambers. The judge may ask the child questions about his or her thoughts, feelings, and preferences. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the parents’ respective attorneys will typically be present for the child interview. A court reporter will transcribe the child’s testimony word-for-word so that this testimony can be used in future child custody hearings.

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