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DuPage County family law attorney child custody

During a divorce, one or both spouses may seek counseling or therapy. Due to the universal Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Agreement, patients are reassured that the sessions are private. However, it is possible your therapy records could end up in the courtroom during your divorce proceeding. When this occurs, it is important to hire a family law attorney to protect your rights. 

Record Contents

Typically, if you are attending therapy or seeking the help of a professional counselor, you may have overwhelming issues that affect you psychologically and hinder your daily activities. Discussing them with an unbiased individual can be comforting and allow you to process your emotions. Problems may involve alcohol/drug addiction, a tragic event, or mental health issues. Within a divorce proceeding, these issues may negatively affect spousal support, and/or the allocation of parental responsibilities.  

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Lombard, IL family law attorney parental rights

Millions of parents in the United States suffer from emotional, physical, and intellectual disabilities. Within the state of Illinois, over 3 million people have children under the age of 18. Of those 3 million or so parents, 177,500 suffer from a disability. Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established in 1990, parents are still experiencing discrimination within their parental rights due to their disability. If you or your spouse is seeking a divorce, and you are worried about the future of your parental responsibilities because of your disability, it is important to consult with a family law attorney to protect your rights.

The Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA forbids discrimination and promises that those with disabilities are allowed the same rights as everyone else, including equal employment opportunities, participation in state and local government programs and services, and fair legal settlements. Although parents with disabilities may be able to provide exceptional care for their children, the court always considers the best interest of the child when making a final decision. To determine this, a judge will look at factors such as the relationship between the child and each parent, and the age and health of the child. 

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Wheaton divorce attorney child custody

According to the Addiction Center, more than 90 percent of people who have an addiction started to use drugs or drink alcohol before they were 18 years old. Problems with drugs or alcohol may impact a person’s professional and personal life. Substance abuse is one of the most common reasons for divorce. Since substance abuse can affect many different aspects of a divorce proceeding, it is important to consult with a skilled family law attorney to ensure that parental rights and responsibilities are protected. In some cases, a spouse’s addiction may influence the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody). 

A Child’s Best Interest

Within the state of Illinois, the allocation of parental responsibilities is heavily based on a child’s best interest. Typically, both parents will split time with the child. However, if substance abuse plays a role in the child custody battle, the judge may determine that an arrangement of that nature would not be suitable for the child’s well-being. 

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DuPage County family law attorney parental rights

Although Illinois family law prefers a child to have two parents actively involved in his or her life, there are times when it is in the best interests of the child to terminate one of the parent’s parental rights. Once an individual’s parental rights have been terminated, he or she is no longer responsible for the child, meaning he or she does not have to pay monthly child support payments and cannot make decisions on the child’s behalf. Illinois has strict and specific rules regarding the termination of parental rights, so it is important to understand them if you are ever involved in a legal dispute regarding your or your former partner's rights regarding your child. 

The Illinois Adoption Act and Parental Rights

Typically, a parent is not allowed to give up his or her rights in order to avoid parental responsibilities or paying child support. In addition, one parent is not allowed to petition to revoke the other parent’s rights as part of a child custody dispute. Typically, parental rights will typically only be terminated if the child is being adopted by a step-parent or another party. Under the Illinois Adoption Act, parental rights can be only involuntarily terminated if:

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Wheaton spousal support attorney

Since November 2013, same-sex couples have had equal access to marriage and divorce rights under federal law. In Illinois, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) marriage is similar to opposite-sex marriage. Not only do same-sex couples have the right to get married, but they can also share property and assets, file joint tax returns, receive retirement and veterans’ benefits, and many other rights and responsibilities that opposite-sex couples receive following marriage. Since same-sex marriage is still relatively new, couples may not fully understand how the law applies to them when it comes to divorce. Therefore, if you are considering a divorce, it is critical that an experienced attorney guides you through the process. 

Illinois Divorce Laws

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not need to give the court a reason why you and your spouse wish to end your marriage. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, in order to be granted a divorce, a couple must only prove:

  1. Irreconcilable differences have initiated the failure of the marriage.

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Lombard, IL child support attorney

Child support refers to the money paid by one parent to the other parent to help financially support their child after the parents get a divorce. However, these types of payments may also be appropriate for couples who never married but had a child together. Typically, child support is paid to the parent who was allocated the majority of the parenting time with the couple's child. In Illinois, child support is based on both parents' net incomes, and an “income shares model” is used to calculate the amount of the payments. Child support arrangements must be approved by the court. Payments are typically made on a monthly basis, and a parent can face penalties if the support payments are late or if support is unpaid.

Child Support Uses

Overall, child support is intended to maintain the child’s well-being and guarantee all of his or her basic needs are met. The basic child support obligation determined using the income shares method is meant to cover the following types of expenses:

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Wheaton divorce attorney parenting time

If you are a parent who is divorced or legally separated, you are likely familiar with the court-approved parental responsibilities you and your ex may have spent hours trying to resolve. A parenting plan is a legal document that outlines child-related issues such as with whom your child will live, who has decision-making authority regarding issues such as children's education and medical care, and more. Unfortunately, your child may not be too happy about the decisions made during your divorce, and they may state that they do not wish to spend parenting time (visitation) with your ex-spouse. However, even if your child is reluctant to spend time with his or her other parent, you will be required to follow the parenting time schedule set down in the parenting plan, and you may face penalties for failing to fulfill the court's orders.

The Reasons Behind the Refusal

Understanding why your child does not want to visit the other parent is the first step in addressing the issue. During this time, it is important to keep these tips in mind:

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DuPage County child custody attorney

The coronavirus pandemic is not just impacting grocery stores and group gatherings. It may also be affecting parental responsibilities (child custody) among divorced parents. On March 16, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker declared a state-of-emergency decree in response to COVID-19. As a result of the declaration, all schools in Illinois are closed until further notice, leaving parents unsure of what they need to do to provide care for their children. Most divorce orders outline when children will stay with each parent if schools are not in session. However, those orders are based on pre-arranged off-days and holiday schedules, not unplanned notices based on a national health crisis. To ensure that your parental rights are protected while addressing your children's health and safety, you should consult with a family law attorney to determine how to proceed.

Top Priorities Amidst the Crisis

Although it is easy to panic at a time like this, parents will want to do their best to protect their children's best interests. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

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Lombard parenting time attorney Even when a separating couple has the best intentions to part ways and co-parent peacefully, the end of a relationship can create tense and stressful situations. Unlike spouses who are divorcing, a couple who is not married can separate without the need to legally dissolve their relationship. However, if a couple has a child together, the end of a relationship requires more planning and decision-making. This process can become contentious, especially if the parties disagree on parenting matters such as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. If you are facing a child custody dispute, a family law attorney can help you explore your options and advise you of the steps you can take to achieve a favorable outcome.

Establishing Paternity

For a married couple, there is usually no need to establish parental rights. According to Illinois law, when a child is born to a married couple, the spouses are assumed to be the child's legal parents. However, if a child is born to an unmarried couple, the father may not automatically be considered the child's legal parent. In these cases, paternity may need to be established either through a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form, through an Administrative Paternity Order, or through an Order of Paternity issued through the courts. After the father's parental rights have been established, the parents may determine how to address custody of the child.

How Child Custody Is Determined

The allocation of parenting responsibilities, formerly called child custody, is decided on an individual, case-by-case basis, which means there is no universal arrangement that is followed for divorcing or unmarried parents. When a non-married couple breaks up, they will typically use one of two methods to create a parenting plan:

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DuPage County child custody attorney psychological expert

Even when spouses have the best intentions to end their marriage peacefully, divorces have the potential to be filled with contention. Throughout the divorce process, a couple must make many life-altering decisions, including how assets are divided, the details of a parenting plan, and decisions regarding spousal support. In many cases, the decisions regarding children can be the most difficult. When determining the allocation of parenting responsibilities, it may be beneficial to seek the professional opinion of a psychological expert. If you are facing a custody case, your family law attorney can help you explore your options and provide you with advice on when to use a psychological expert. Below are three important factors to consider during your custody case:

Can Psychological Experts Impact the Outcome of a Custody Case?

When parenting plans are determined, the most important factor is the well-being of the child. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a parent (or both parents) to undergo a mental health evaluation per Illinois Supreme Court Rule 215. For example, a judge may order a mental health evaluation if there is any doubt regarding mental illness, addiction problems, or other psychological conditions that could impact the life of the child. During the exam, a psychological expert, who may be either a psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker, will determine:

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Mistakes to Avoid in Your Parenting HearingWhether the allocation of parental responsibilities determinations are done by negotiating with your spouse or become a “battle” in front of a court, this portion of divorce is often the most difficult. Every parent wants the best for their children, and it can be difficult to figure out what is “best” when you and your spouse are accustomed to co-parenting under one roof. Parenting cases can get ugly even when divorcing couples are on amicable terms.

Common Errors

The determination of your parenting plan is an important part of the divorce process to prepare for. An experienced attorney should warn you of the following mistakes:

  1. Talking About the Case with Others: While it may be an instinct to confide in friends, this can lead to your demise in the end. You and your spouse probably still have mutual friends or friends that know each other, and gossip spreads fast. It is important to keep the details of your case confidential to avoid accidentally informing your ex about your defense tactics.
  2. Letting Your Emotions Make Your Decisions: The purpose of the allocation of parental responsibilities is to put your child’s best interests forward regardless of your relationship with your spouse. The reason for your divorce does not necessarily reflect on their parenting ability or style. Friends or family members will frequently take your side and provide you with a multitude of reasons to fight for sole responsibility. However, it is important to remember that what is best for you may not be best for your child.
  3. Using Your Children: Many parents can fall into the trap of hearing their ex’s business through their child or using their child as a messenger between parents. Placing your child in the middle of your divorce is an easy way to lose their respect and damage your relationship. This will be seen as bad parenting by a judge and can land you in hot water with your parenting arrangements.
  4. Social Media As an Outlet: In the digital age, many people turn to social media for comfort or for a sense of validation from friends. The worst time and place to talk about your new life or vent about your old one is on social media. Your account can be used against you in multiple areas of your divorce proceedings.  

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

The errors listed and explained above can hurt you in your divorce case, but the biggest mistake of all is failing to hire an experienced attorney for the allocation of parental responsibilities. No matter how many tips and tricks you follow, having a professional on your side is the best way to fight for your child.  At A. Traub & Associates, we will provide you with the legal advice you need while fighting for you throughout your divorce proceedings. If you are searching for help in your parenting case, contact our Arlington Heights family law attorneys at 630-426-0196.

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What Is Child Relocation in Illinois and How Can I Get It Approved?Many people decide to relocate after a divorce in order to have a fresh start. Seeing their former spouse in town or going to places that you used to frequent throughout your marriage can make it difficult to move on and start over. While this does not require court approval for all divorcees, those with children will need to get this legally approved. This is mandated in Illinois in order to prevent the custodial parent from intentionally keeping their children away from their other biological parent. This can occur if the marriage did not end amicably; however, a bad marriage does not make someone a bad parent. Despite the cases where one parent is attempting to control the other, relocation can be done with the child’s best interests in mind.

What Is Considered Relocation in Illinois?

Moving and relocating are not one and the same. Relocating is moving a residence on a much larger scale. According to Illinois law 750 ILCS 5/600, there are a few specific parameters required to be classified as “relocation”:

  • A child living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will county moves to a new residence that is 25 miles from the child’s current residence;
  • A child living in an Illinois county that is not listed above moves to a new residence within the state that is 50 miles from their current residence; or
  • A child moves to a new residence that is outside of Illinois and is more than 25 miles from their current residence.

What Does the Court Consider When Evaluating My Request?

There are various factors that the court will look at to ensure that the intentions for the move have the child’s best interests in mind. A judge will typically speak to the child depending on their age and maturity level. Although the child’s opinion may not be the determining factor in the court’s decision, facial expressions and body language can sometimes reveal more information than words. The judge will also look at the potential change in the quality of life. This includes the child’s educational, physical, and emotional development. The reputation and level of education of the child’s current school are often compared to the new school to ensure that they will have equal opportunities if the relocation is approved. Another area that the court will focus on is the child’s relationship with each parent. If the child has a strong relationship with the non-custodial parent and moving would disrupt that, the judge will probably not allow them to move. At the end of the day, the court’s priority is the child’s happiness and well-being.

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Lombard family law attorneysMost of us are familiar with at least the basic concept of child custody. In most instances, we realize that the phrase refers to making arrangements for raising a child or children following a divorce or breakup between the parents. While it is possible for non-parents to gain custody of a child, the vast majority of child custody disputes are between a child’s biological parents.

In 2016, sweeping reforms to the family law statutes in Illinois eliminated the official use of the phrase “child custody.” The amendments introduced new terminology that was intended to be less divisive and more cooperative. For many years, parents sought to “win” custody of their children, rather than working together to find the best possible parenting arrangement. Today, the legal concept of child custody in Illinois is known as the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Two Primary Components

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DuPage County family law attorneyDuring a proceeding for child custody—now known in Illinois as the allocation of parental responsibilities—your child may have strong opinions as to where they would like to live or how much time they want to spend with each parent. The amount that a child’s opinion affects custody decisions can vary from case to case and often depends on the judge’s discretion. There are several factors that a judge will take into consideration with regard to determining parenting arrangements, and the child’s wishes are often among of these factors.

The Child’s Reasoning and Decision-Making Abilities

Judges generally have some basic criteria they look for when deciding how much weight to give a child’s wishes during a custody proceeding.  These criteria can include but are not limited to:

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paternity, Lombard family law attorneysWhen you are not married to the mother of your child, it may be very difficult for you to exercise your rights as a father. In fact, if you have not established legal paternity, you may not even have any such rights under the law. Your relationship with your child is extremely important, but may be non-existent unless you take action, which begins with establishing paternity.

How Paternity May Be Established

Thanks to the newly enacted Illinois Parentage Act of 2015, you are presumed to be the father of a child if you are or were married to the child’s mother when the child was born or got married after the birth and you are listed as the father on the birth certificate. If the child was born within 300 days of your divorce, you would also be the presumed father. Assuming the presumption of your parentage is not rebutted, you would be considered your child’s legal father, with all of the accompanying rights and responsibilities.

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parenting plan, cooperation, Lombard family law attorneyFor the last several months, posts on this blog have discussed at length a number of changes being effected in the state of Illinois, particularly as they relate to divorce and family law concerns. Most of the updates are intended to facilitate and encourage a more amicable divorce process, which is beneficial not only to the spouses themselves, but to any others who may be affected, most especially children. A divorce or separation in which contentiousness and acrimony can be minimized often allows for a much more stable future, free from most divorce-related grudges and hurt feelings. While encouraging reasonable negotiation between divorcing couples of all types, the new law expects active cooperation from parents, in particular, requiring them to be more a part of the decision-making process than ever before.

New Year, New Outlook

Prior to the new laws taking effect at the beginning of 2016, parents going through a divorce were often left to fight over who would provide what for their children. Too often, the battle over sole or joint custody could turn ugly, leaving the child caught directly in the middle. Going forward, however, the law explicitly requires the parties to a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities—the new name for child custody in Illinois—to submit to the court a proposed parenting plan within 120 days. Such a plan, which may be developed separately by each parent or negotiated jointly, must include a number of elements necessary to ensure the child’s best interests are being met.

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