630-462-9500

After Hour New Client Telephone Number 630-690-6077

1776 S. Naperville Road, Building B, Suite 202,
Wheaton, IL 60189
The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.

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DuPage County private adoption attorneyChoosing to adopt a child can be a wonderful, life-changing decision. However, the adoption process can be full of legal complications and potential pitfalls. If you are considering adoption, it is important to educate yourself about the obstacles that you may encounter. It is also important to work with an adoption attorney who has experience successfully addressing these issues.

Relative Adoptions

One of the most common types of adoption in Illinois is relative adoption. Adopting a stepchild or other relative is often more straightforward than other types of adoption, but it can also involve many legal challenges. A child can only have two parents, so in some cases, the child’s biological parent or parents may need to relinquish their parental rights before the adoption can occur. However, many parents are unwilling to do so, or they may choose to contest the adoption in court. If parents do not voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, they may lose their parental rights after being deemed “unfit” by the court. Neglect, abuse, abandonment, severe drug addiction, and other issues that may lead a court to terminate a parent’s parental rights.

Private Adoptions

In a private adoption, the adoptive parents adopt a child directly from the biological parents. In most cases, no adoption agencies or outside organizations are involved. Unfortunately, private adoption scams and fraud are not uncommon. Birth mothers may misrepresent themselves, take money from adoptive parents with no intention of ever following through with the adoption, or even pretend to be pregnant for financial gain. Birth mothers may also change their minds about the adoption after giving birth. It is absolutely essential to work with an adoption attorney if you plan to pursue a private adoption.

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Wheaton property divison attorney for pet custodyWhether you have a dog, cat, horse, bird, or other type of animal, you probably love and cherish your pet as if he or she was part of the family. One concern many divorcing spouses have is who will keep the family pet after their marriage ends. Arguments about “pet custody” can often become heated. One spouse may even try to maintain ownership of the pet simply to spite the other spouse. If you are planning to end your marriage, make sure to educate yourself about how Illinois’ property division laws address pet ownership after divorce.

Pet Custody Laws in Illinois

Although you most likely do not think of your pet as simply another piece of property, pets are treated similarly to other assets during divorce. There are not proceedings for “pet custody” the way there are for child custody. The pet is considered a marital asset if it was acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. If the pet was acquired by a spouse before the marriage, that spouse will typically remain the owner after divorce. However, there are some exceptions to this.

Providing for the Pet’s Well-Being

Fortunately, a new law went into effect in 2018 that differentiates pets from property like vehicles and jewelry. If the pet is a marital asset, the court now considers the well-being of the pet when deciding how to allocate ownership. If one spouse has traditionally been responsible for feeding, exercising, grooming, and caring for the pet’s health needs, the court will be much more likely to award ownership to that spouse. If you wish to maintain ownership of your pet after the divorce, start collecting evidence that proves your involvement in the pet’s life, such as photos, videos, receipts, and veterinary bills. 

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DuPage County child support attorney for college expensesThe average cost of a 4-year public college education is just over $45,000. If the student attends a private or out-of-state school, that number can rise to $100,000-$150,000, or even more. Understandably, paying for children’s college tuition and fees is a major concern for many parents. The question of how to finance a child’s college education becomes even more pressing if the parents are unmarried or divorced. If you plan to end your marriage or were never married to your child’s other parent, it is essential that you understand your rights and obligations regarding non-minor support for college expenses.

How Much Money Are Parents Required to Contribute to Their Child’s College Education?

Illinois courts have the authority to require parents who are unmarried or divorced to contribute toward their children’s college expenses. These expenses may include tuition, housing, textbooks and fees, living expenses, medical insurance, and medical expenses. Courts may order parents’ financial contributions to be paid to the child, the university or college, or to either parent. 

There is no statutory formula for calculating the amount that each parent must pay toward the child’s education. However, there is a cap on the amount of money that a parent can be ordered to contribute. According to Illinois law, the amount that a parent is required to contribute cannot surpass the current cost of in-state tuition and fees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Parents’ obligations end if the student fails to maintain a “C” average, turns 23, receives his or her bachelor’s degree, or gets married. Parents are not typically ordered to contribute to their child’s master’s degree or other advanced education. In special circumstances, a court may make an exception to these rules.  

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorney for appealsMost divorcing spouses hope to avoid going to trial. They may attempt to reach an agreement about unresolved divorce issues through their attorneys, with help from a third-party mediator, or through the collaborative law process. Unfortunately, not every couple is able to reach a settlement outside of court. During divorce litigation, a judge hears arguments and evidence from both sides and then issues a judgment. If your divorce judgment did not turn out the way you had hoped, you may wonder what your options are for appealing the court’s decision.

When Should I Seek an Appeal?

Many people assume that they can file an appeal if they disagree with the terms of their divorce judgment. However, successfully appealing a divorce judgment is a complex legal pursuit that is only possible under certain conditions. A person cannot appeal a divorce simply because he or she is unhappy with the outcome of the case. Circuit court decisions, including divorce judgments, may only be appealed if there is a possibility that the decision resulted from errors of law. Examples of situations in which an appeal may be justified include:

  • The judge made his or her decision based on incomplete or false information
  • There was a procedural mistake that influenced the outcome of the case
  • The decision was based on the judge’s incorrect interpretation or application of the law
  • Evidence was used which was inadmissible or insufficient

What Does the Appeals Process Involve?

If there are reasons to warrant an appeal of your divorce judgment, it is important to act quickly. Appeals must be filed with the Illinois appellate court within 30 days of the final judgment. The appealing party must explain the grounds for the appeal and what the alleged mistakes are. The appellate court’s function is to examine what happened during the trial court proceedings and determine whether legal errors occurred. Illinois appeals are heard by three judges. They will evaluate the evidence, hear arguments, and then make their decisions. The judges may uphold the circuit court’s original decision, amend the divorce judgment to correct the mistake, or vacate the judgment and send the case back to the circuit court.

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DuPage County child support and parenting time attorneyThe average cost of raising a child from birth until age 18 is almost $300,000. If you are a single parent, you know just how quickly child-related expenses can add up. Child support is a vital source of financial assistance that many single parents come to depend on. When an obligor parent is not paying his or her court-ordered child support, the recipient parent may wonder what he or she can do to make the other parent pay. In some cases, the parent who is owed child support may decide to withhold visitation, technically called parenting time, from the other parent until he or she becomes current on his or her child support payments. However, withholding visitation can have significant civil and criminal consequences.

Parenting Time and Child Support Are Two Separate Issues Under Illinois Law

Illinois law considers child support and parenting time to be two distinct concerns. A court will not limit a parent’s access to his or her children because he or she falls behind on child support. The only time that a parent should be denied parenting time is if there is proof that allowing court-ordered parenting time would present a danger to the well-being of the child. If your child’s other parent is not paying child support, this does not negate his or her legal right to parenting time. In fact, by withholding your child from the non-paying parent, you may be violating your parenting plan, and you could face serious consequences as a result. You may face fines, the suspension of your driver’s license, probation, mandated parenting classes, and even jail time. Even more importantly, refusing to let your child see the other parent may punish your child more than it punishes the non-paying parent.

How to Enforce an Illinois Child Support Order

If your child’s other parent has stopped making child support payments, you do have several options for enforcing payments. You can file a petition with the court to enforce child support obligations, and different methods may be used to collect the support that is owed, including but not limited to:

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