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Recent blog posts

If you have recently been laid off, furloughed or terminated from your employment and you have a child support or maintenance obligation, you may want to consider the filing of a petition to modify those payments. Section 510 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that child support and maintenance may be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. However, the modification can only be made retroactive to the date of filing and notice.

No one is certain of the long-term ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The length of a furlough, or layoff, or time between jobs may be longer than initially expected. Complying with court orders is required and regardless of the circumstances, the court can do nothing to reduce the amount that you will ultimately owe until you have a petition on file. Loss of employment under current conditions will most likely be considered a substantial change in circumstances. However, no relief can be granted unless it is asked for.  If circumstances do not improve, addressing the issue early may prevent financial catastrophe later. If all improve, the petition can be withdrawn. Do the best you can but protect yourself long-term.

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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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Wheaton, IL divorce mediation attorneyWhen parents get divorced, determining child custody arrangements is often their top priority. It can be extremely difficult for parents who are used to seeing their children every day to transition to a parenting time schedule in which they only see their children part of the time. In Illinois child custody disputes, parents will need to make decisions about the “allocation of parental responsibilities” as well as the amount of time the child spends with each parent, called “parenting time.” Disagreements about these issues can quickly become antagonistic and unproductive. Mediation is one option for parents who are struggling to reach an agreement about child custody concerns. This method of alternative dispute resolution may help you and your child’s other parent reach an agreement about child custody and other child-related disputes. There are a number of good reasons to consider mediation, including:

Mediation Does Not Take Place in the Courtroom

Litigation is typically much more expensive than mediation. Furthermore, the formal courtroom setting can make some parents focus on “winning” instead of trying to find a solution that is in their child’s best interests. By working to reach agreements outside of the antagonistic format of court proceedings, parents may be able to resolve disputes much more quickly and easily. In addition, mediation is also a confidential process, as opposed to the public setting of a courtroom.

Parents Are More Likely to Comply With the Parenting Plan

During mediation, parents negotiate a mutually-agreeable child custody arrangement with guidance from a trained mediator. The mediator helps facilitate productive discussion, but he or she does not tell parents what to do. Ultimately, any parenting arrangement that results from mediation will be the product of the parents’ negotiations, and in some cases, parents may also consider input from experts such as child development specialists. When parents have a hand in creating their own parenting plan, they are much more likely to abide by the decisions contained in that plan.

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