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Posted on in Child Support

Lombard family law attorneysUntil just a few months ago, Illinois courts calculated child support as a percentage of the income of the parent with fewer parental responsibilities—referred to in the past as the non-custodial parent. Since July 1, 2017, however, a new law has brought child support guidelines in Illinois up to date with modern trends and started improving the lives of all parties involved.

The Old Child Support Law

The previous law in Illinois has long been criticized for being inequitable, with not enough potential exemptions taken into account, and an alleged unfair burden on the non-custodial parent. Under the old guidelines, there were two primary factors in determining the amount of support to be paid: the income of the non-custodial parent and the number of children to be supported.

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Posted on in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyersEstate planning can be a difficult task for many individuals. Rare is the person who is excited about confronting his or her own mortality. The reality is that none of us will live forever, and estate planning affords us the opportunity to provide for our family members and loved ones well beyond our lifetime. Some elements of estate planning, however, are intended to take effect, if necessary, while you are still living so that your affairs can be properly managed, no matter what happens to you. Powers of Attorney are among the most important estate planning instruments, but they are often overlooked by those who are unfamiliar with their application.

Two Types

There are two different kinds of Powers of Attorney (POA): Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Health Care. The two categories refer to the subject matter covered by the document, but both types give a trusted friend or family member the authority to make decisions for you in the event you are not able to make them for yourself. As their names imply, a POA for Property gives your chosen individual or entity—known as an agent—the power to make decisions regarding your finances, assets, and debts while a POA for Health Care appoints an agent to make medical and health-related decisions. By using POAs properly, you can help protect your family from uncertainty and unnecessary costs associated with guardianship proceedings.

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Posted on in Adoption

Lombard family law attorneySame-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, with all the attendant rights and responsibilities that marriage entails. Parenting for same-sex couples can be tricky, however, as certain legal issues are likely to arise. Fortunately, the state of Illinois has measures in place to help same-sex parents obtain and exercise parental rights in variety of situations. One such option is a second parent adoption, or SPA.

SPA Defined

Second parent adoption is defined as an adoption in which a second parent may adopt a child without the first losing any parental rights. Normally, adoptions require a parent to renounce his or her parental rights—or to have them terminated—in favor of another caregiver, but SPA allows both caregivers to have legal rights regarding the child.

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Posted on in Divorce

Lombard divorce lawyerMost of the time, when two people want to get divorced, they simply inform the other person by having a copy of the papers served upon them, usually by hand delivery. However, there are some very rare situations when the spouse cannot be located. When that happens, a suitable alternative must be found. The answer in Illinois and many other states is called divorce by publication.

A “Good Faith Search”

In all cases, your soon-to-be-ex-spouse must be informed of your desire and intention to file for divorce. However, if they have moved or are trying to avoid you and have left no forwarding address, the normal methods of mail or hand delivery are impossible. Yet it is contradictory to public policy to demand that two people remain married when they are not even living together and all communication has broken down. Publication is generally the best possible chance for your information to reach your absent spouse.

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Posted on in Adoption

DuPage County adoption attorneysDespite the occasional controversy on the subject, U.S. citizens adopt foreign-born children fairly regularly. The regulations differ when negotiating depending on the country, as one might expect; however, the requirements that must be met upon reentry to the U.S. are the same. It is sadly common for a foreign-born adoptee to experience citizenship-related issues, though many can be solved by going through what is referred to as a readoption. It is usually not required to do so by law in Illinois, but it can prevent future issues for you and your adopted child.

Was the Adoption Completed?

Illinois does not require any further adoption proceedings if you completed the process abroad and abide by all immigration regulations. Yet, a readoption is the easiest way to quiet any potential citizenship issues before they even happen. It is sometimes referred to as an official recognition of a foreign judgment, which gives a clue to its purpose. If you travel to a foreign country and adopt a child, completing the process overseas, that is usually good enough for U.S. government to consider that child a citizen. However, if you are able and choose to bring the child to the U.S. for the purpose of completing the process (and, obviously, coming to live), recognition of the foreign judgment is usually required, because the process has not yet been completed to the satisfaction of the U.S. government.

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DuPage County family law attorneysIndividuals and couples who are interested in adopting children obviously are advised to take the time to familiarize themselves with the Illinois Adoption Act (IAA) However, there are other areas of law in which the IAA can provide valuable input. One of the most common is when a parent or couple’s parental rights are at issue, especially when deciding whether or not a parent or parents should keep their parental rights. The IAA can provide guidance on such issues.

The Concept of Unfitness

Normally, Illinois courts prefer that if one or both of a child’s birth parents is to lose their parental rights, there should be another person able to step into the parental role. The state works very diligently to ensure that children have two parents as often as possible. The one rare occasion in which this does not always happen is when a parent is declared unfit under the Adoption Act. In these unusual instances, it is deemed more important to remove a child from a potentially dangerous situation. Sometimes, however, even if a parent is found unfit, their parental rights will not be terminated unless someone else is willing to adopt the child.

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Lombard family law attorneyIn the overwhelming majority of cases, when your or your spouse’s parental rights are terminated, there is no getting them back. Normally, if parental rights are involuntarily taken away, it means that evidence of abuse or neglect has been discovered, after which it is considered too dangerous to allow the child to remain in your home. However, if there are other reasons for termination, such as a parent’s abrupt deportation, it may be possible to have the determination reversed, dependent on several different factors.

Illinois Law

Illinois is one of only a handful of states to even countenance the possibility of reinstatement of parental rights after their termination. The law holds that if filed by the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) or by the minor child themselves, parental rights may be reinstated if certain conditions are met, namely that the motion is supported by “clear and convincing evidence.” This is not subjective; it is a specific burden of proof that a court will insist upon before granting the motion.

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Lombard family law attorneysWhen you share parenting responsibilities for your child with your former partner, things are not always going to be easy. You will almost certainly experience disagreements with the other parent over a variety of concerns including the child’s activities, your relationship with the child, and your ability to properly exercise your parenting time. Regardless of the difficulties, however, it is very important for you to continue following any orders entered by the court so that you do not put your parental rights in jeopardy.

Components of a Parenting Plan

Following a divorce or breakup of unmarried parents, arrangements must be made for the couple’s child or children. To facilitate the process, the law requires the parents to submit a proposed plan regarding each parent’s responsibilities for the child. Each parent may submit a separate proposal or they may develop one together. A parenting plan must contain a number of other elements, but the most important considerations include the allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities and a parenting time schedule. Once a parenting plan has been approved by the court and entered as an order, both parents must abide by its terms.

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Lombard family law attorneyIf you are parent facing a divorce—or breakup if you are not married—you probably understand that a child support order may be in your future. In most separated parent situations, one parent is required to make payments to the other parent to assist with the costs of raising their child. Usually, the parent with fewer responsibilities and less parenting time is the one who must provide the support, but the law allows a court to order support payments from either or both parents as appropriate.

Currently in Illinois, child support calculations are based on two primary factors: the net income of the supporting parent and the number of children that require support. Other considerations may be taken into account, but generally have less impact on the final order.

Need for Change

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Lombard child support lawyersIt seems that just a few short weeks ago, students around the country were preparing to go back to school. Retail outlets were full of pencils and notebooks, as well as dorm room furniture for those heading off to college. Suddenly, the fall semester is just about over, and most college students are looking forward to a couple weeks off before the spring semester begins. Others, however, may have rather unsatisfactory experiences at school this term along with poor grades. If you as a parent have been ordered to contribute to your child’s college expenses, his or her report card could be a sign that your obligation needs to be reevaluated.

Non-Minor Support for College Expenses

According to Illinois law, divorced parents can be required to contribute to the educational expenses of their children, even after the child has reached age 18 and started college. In ordering non-minor support, a court must take into account a number of factors, including the family’s financial situation before the divorce and each parent’s income and resources since the split. Other considerations include the child’s income and resources, such as his or her eligibility for grants, scholarships, and assistance programs. The child’s academic performance must also be factored into the decision.

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Lombard family law attorneyIf you are receiving child support payments from your child’s other parent, you may have come to rely on such payments. The payments you receive are intended to help you provide for your child’s basic needs, including housing, food, clothes, and other necessities of daily living. There is a good chance that you child support order also included considerations for your child’s educational and medical expenses, such as the cost of tuition, health insurance, non-covered care and other concerns. As your child grows and his or her needs change, however, you may need to revisit your child support order to see if a modification is needed.

Basic Child Support Calculations

Under Illinois law, a baseline determination for child support is done by taking into account the number of children to be supported and the supporting parent’s income. By law, either or both parent could be required to pay child support, but, in practice, such obligations are typically assigned to the parent with fewer parental responsibilities and/or less parenting time. If the parents share parental responsibilities and parenting time equally, the higher-earning spouse is likely to be required to make payments.

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Lombard family law attorneysIf you are planning on filing for divorce and either you or your spouse are at a distinct financial disadvantage, the lower- or non-earning spouse may be entitled to spousal support. What exactly does this mean for your case? The following can help you understand the basics of spousal support (alimony).

When Is Spousal Support Awarded?

Spousal support is known in Illinois law as maintenance and can be awarded to any financially disadvantaged spouse. It may be needed because the wife worked as the sole or primary income earner and the husband stayed home with the children, which puts him at a disadvantage after the divorce. Alternatively, it may be awarded to a wife who has sacrificed her own education or career to advance the high-powered career of her husband. It may even be needed if one spouse became unable to work because of health issues. Whatever the situation may be, the purpose of spousal support is always the same: it is meant to temporarily or permanently offset the financial disadvantage of the lesser- or non-earning spouse may experience after divorce.

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DuPage County estate planning lawyerIn the process of preparing your estate plan, you have probably given a great deal of thought to which of your children, grandchildren, or other loved ones will receive certain assets or a portion of your estate. For example, if you only have one soon-to-be teenage grandchild, you may decide that he or she should inherit your paid-off car. With all of these considerations to be made, it can be relatively easy to forget about the companion animals with whom you share you home. Can your estate plan include provisions for caring for your dog or cat after your death?

Understanding Pet Trusts

The short answer is yes. There are ways that you can provide for the protection and well-being of domestic animals in your estate plan. Illinois law allows you to establish a trust with the sole purpose of providing care for “one or more designated domestic or pet animals.” The law itself is not very specific as to what types of animals may be covered, but case law precedents have been set to allow for the care of dogs, cats, horses, and a variety of others.

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Posted on in Family Law

Lombard family law attorneysIn today’s world, more and more couples are drafting and executing prenuptial agreements before they walk the down the aisle. While each couple may have their own reasons for doing so, there are certain cultural trends that have made such agreements more necessary now than perhaps ever before. Research shows that young people are waiting longer to get married, which means that each partner is likely to have accumulated wealth or property prior to marriage, creating the need for financial discussion ahead of time.

Similarly, those who are considering getting married for the second or third time are well served by a prenuptial agreement. In these situations, a prenuptial agreement can be used to secure financial matters and to protect the inheritance rights of children from previous relationships.

Keeping It Reasonable

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Posted on in Visitation

Lombard family law attorneyAs a parent, there is nothing more important to you than the safety and well-being of your child. If you share parenting responsibilities or even just parenting time with your former partner, you can only hope that he or she shares your focus on your child’s best interests. But, what if he or she does not? What if he or she is not able to separate his or her own wants and needs from those of your child? Can you do anything about it? The answer—as with most aspects of divorce and family law—is that it depends on the specifics of your situation and whether your child is in serious danger.

Be Objective

Illinois law provides a court with the authority to limit a parent’s time with his or her child if such parenting time presents a serious danger to the child’s physical, emotional, mental, or moral health. What constitutes a serious danger is left to the interpretation of the court. You, as a parent, are very close to the situation, and you may find it difficult to determine what is a serious danger and what is simply parenting in a different manner than yours.

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Lombard family law attorneysIn 2016, changes were made to divorce and parenting laws to better reflect the modern family and ensure the best interest of children were more accurately considered. But, even in light of these changes, there is still much work to be done to protect the rights of fathers. Though studies show they are an integral part in the development and upbringing of children, many fathers still struggle to receive fair consideration in front of a judge. To bring awareness to this problem, single dads recently rallied outside Lake County Courthouse.

One in Three Children Do Not Live With Their Father

According to statistics, approximately one in three American children do not reside with their fathers. Of course, in divorce or in other situations where a parental allocation of responsibilities is necessary, the goal is not necessarily to have the children reside with one parent or the other, but to ensure each parent receives a fair and reasonable amount of time with their child. Fathers, although given more consideration in courts, still often feel as if the scales are not appropriately balanced.

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Lombard family law attorneyIn today’s uncertain economy, many consider themselves fortunate to be gainfully employed. The possibility of a layoff or other dramatic change, however, always seems to be looming. While the thought of losing your job may be frightening under the best of circumstances, it can be downright devastating if you are already subject to a child support order. A sudden decrease in income may make it impossible for you to meet your obligations, so it is important to know what to do if the worst should happen.

Document Everything

Losing a job through no fault of your own most commonly occurs in situations involving layoffs or a failing business. The family court system, in general, takes a much different view of a layoff than it would of you being fired for absenteeism or gross misconduct. It may not be possible, but if it seems that a layoff could possibly lie ahead, begin documenting any and all available information. Keep notes about potential closing dates, severance packages being offered, or even substantiated rumors. These type of records could prove important if you are eventually laid off and need to prove to the court that you were not fired.

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Lombard family law attorneyOnce your divorce is finalized, you and your family embark on new journeys and a brand new way of life. When you and your ex-spouse share children, arrangements for visitation (parenting time) and the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) are made, resulting in new routines and a lifestyle that you and your children were not previously accustomed to before the divorce. While these new arrangements can take some getting used to, they often result in happier, healthier homes and habits for the whole family.

Non-Parent Involvement

During the divorce process, and often through mediation, you are expected create a parenting plan for how you will continue to raise your children and make decisions for your children based on their best interest. Outside influences must also be taken into consideration, such as grandparents, mentors, and close family friends.

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first refusal, DuPage County family law attorneysIf you hope to share parental responsibilities for your child following a divorce or break-up, you and the other parent will need to develop an agreement for doing so. Known in Illinois as a parenting plan, this agreement is intended to allocate responsibilities to each of you, so that you both fully understand your rights and attendant obligations. The law provides a number of elements that must be covered in a parenting plan, but one, in particular, can be a major sticking point for many couples. You and your spouse will need to determine how the right of first refusal will apply to your unique situation.

Understanding First Refusal

The right of first refusal is a concept that stems from the understanding that, during your assigned parenting time, you may occasionally be required to find an alternative source of care for your child. Put simply, sometimes you need a babysitter. Whether you want a social night out with friends or you need to travel out of town for a week on business, the occasional need for a sitter is understandable.

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spousal support, Lombard family law attorneyWhen a couple with children gets divorced, there is a presumption that one parent—usually the one with few parental responsibilities—will be expected to pay child support. There is no such presumption in Illinois regarding spousal support, sometimes known as spousal maintenance or alimony. Instead, spousal support is awarded on a case-by-case basis, upon establishment by the court of a spouse’s need. Once the need has been determined and spousal maintenance has been deemed appropriate, the court is then tasked with determining how much the supporting spouse is required to pay and for how long.

Statutory Standards

Prior to 2015, the court was granted full discretion to set the amount and duration of spousal support orders. As one might expect, this led to vast disparities between orders issued by different judges, who were guided by their principles of what seemed fair and constituted meeting a spouse’s needs. Beginning in 2015, however, a new law was enacted that provided a standard calculation formula to be used in the majority of divorce cases in Illinois. The statutory formula will apply in your case if you and your spouse together do not make more than $250,000 per year, and you, as the payor, are not currently supporting children or a spouse from a previous relationship.

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