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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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After a divorce or separation, couples begin their own, unique journey. In many cases, the new path is a positive thing, but sometimes it can take a person further from the people they love most. If that person you are leaving is your child, but you must move to secure housing or employment, it can feel as though you are severing one limb to save another. In such situations, virtual visitation may be an option.

Using Virtual Visitation to Fill the Gap

Some parents live just an hour or two away from their children and can still visit their child on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Others live in completely different states or countries and might be lucky to see their child in person once or twice a year. Virtual visitation can fill the gap when in-person visits are not reasonable by giving children and parents a way to connect. True, it is not the same as an in-person visit, but it still fosters a healthy and consistent relationship between both parent and child. For the most favorable results, video camera visits - either through webcam or phone application - are recommended.

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Parents tend to believe that they have a "right" to see and spend time with their child, but this is not always true. In fact, there are situations in which a parent can lose their parenting time or have it restricted. If you are in the midst of a child-related issue and believe that your child needs protecting, or are facing potential restriction of your parenting time, the following information can help you better understand when and why parenting time might be restricted.

Two Parents Are Typically Considered Beneficial

In most divorces and child-related cases, the presence of both parents is considered optimal. This does not mean that each parent receives equal parenting time, but it does mean that the courts tend to acknowledge that each parent has something unique to contribute to the life of the child. Further, children are typically better adjusted when they have two loving and involved parents. Yet there are situations in which a parent may pose a risk to a child. In these situations, two regularly and unrestricted parents may be considered a less favorable option.

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In every family law case involving children, the judge is required to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. The phrase "best interests of the child" can seem vague and difficult to understand. However, when judges are evaluating parenting time and allocation of parental rights options, there are many factors that are always considered.

Factors Judges Consider

The law requires judges examine all the relevant factors when deciding what is in a child's best interest. This gives judges the power to consider almost anything related to the child. Major factors that judges consider when deciding what is in the best interest of the child include:

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While most people have heard about the major changes to the Illinois family law system set to take effect January 1, 2016, many are not aware that family court procedures also changing. The process can be just as important as the substance of the law in determining the best way to handle your case.

New Law and New Process

The new law has eliminated references to child custody in favor of setting out parental responsibilities and parenting time. While the old process relied on temporary custody and visitation orders and mandatory mediation for custody issues to try and foster stability for children and bring the parties to a resolution of child issues as quickly as possible, the new law takes a different approach.

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