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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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Posted on in Divorce

college savings plans, Arlington Heights child support lawyerIf you are going through a divorce or anticipating one, it is no secret that the financial considerations can be the most difficult to make, after emotional fallout and childcare arrangements. There are several different financial aspects that a couple must take into consideration when considering divorce, and they are not always things that are in the immediate forefront of your attention. The idea of selling a family home and splitting assets such as retirement funds and 401k plans may be obvious, but there are other financial concerns that must be addressed as well, even if they will not immediately affect either spouse. One of these is what to do about a child’s college education plan.

Save Up for Your Child&s College Fund

If you began saving for your child’s college education as early as birth, this could be even more difficult to begin to sort out. It is not only the money that you had already put away that is in question either, but also who will bear the brunt of the financial burden in the future even that your child goes to school, whether you had put away savings for it or not. Who will save for a child’s college education can and should be considered at the onset of divorce. It is not impossible, just as it is not impossible to co-parent, to co-share money toward a common goal.

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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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DCFS, investigation, Illinois family law attorneysOne of the most frightening things a parent can experience is learning that the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is investigating them for child abuse or neglect. If you have received a notice from DCFS you need to understand the process and how to protect your family.

DCFS Investigations

DCFS investigations are not criminal investigations, but a case may be referred to law enforcement depending on the circumstances. An investigation starts when someone makes a report through the hotline. If the report is credible and meets all the agency guidelines, a formal investigation is opened.

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domestic violence, orders of protection, Lombard family law attorneyWhen you or your child is the victim of domestic violence, it is easy to feel alone and completely helpless. You want to escape the situation and get your child to safety, buy you may not know how or where to go. In many such cases, the most important first step is to place a legal barrier between yourself and your abuser by petitioning the court for an emergency order of protection.

How to Get an Emergency Order

The process of requesting an emergency order of protection is quite simple. You may file your petition for an order of protection with the court of the county in which are living or where you are currently located due to safety concerns. Your petition may alternatively be filed in the county where your abuser lives or where the abuse took place. In the event that your circumstances require an emergency order at a time when the appropriate court is closed—such as a weekend or holiday—you may file your petition with any available circuit court judge or associate judge.

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intellectual property, Illinois law, Lombard divorce attorneysDuring a divorce most people think about how things like the cars, real estate, and retirement accounts will be divided between the spouses. But, as our society becomes increasingly information driven, another major category of property to be split is intellectual property. This can include everything from copyrights and trademarks to patents and trade secrets.

When Is Intellectual Property Considered Marital Property?

Illinois law has a broad scope of what is considered marital property. The presumption is that all property acquired during the marriage, that was not an individual gift or inheritance, is marital property. This includes typical types of personal property and real estate as well as intellectual property.

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safe haven, child concerns, Lombard adoption attorneysIn a scene that is all too familiar in the Chicago area, a newborn baby girl was found in critical condition earlier this week, abandoned just a few hundred feet from a North Side hospital, a designated Safe Haven under Illinois law. Police officials indicate that the infant was alive when she was found but, despite being rushed to the hospital, did not survive. What makes the story even more heartbreaking is that the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office found that the girl was severely beaten and that her death has been ruled a homicide by "multiple blunt force trauma."

So Close to Available Help

According to reports, the baby was discovered by man walking toward a nearby apartment complex. He picked up the child and alerted security guards, who notified the police. When responders arrived, the child was alive but in critical condition. A source close to the investigation said the girl was in a patch of grass near a dumpster, with evidence of "embryonic" fluid close by. The patch of grass is situated between Weiss Memorial Hospital and Uplift High School. A few steps more, and the child could have been left safely and legally with hospital staff, rather than being left to suffer and die in the cold.

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selfie, divorce, Illinois family law attorneyEarlier this summer, a snapshot quickly made the rounds on social media that raised a few eyebrows but created some very interesting discussions on the state of marriage and divorce in North America. It also has started a sort of copycat trend, with hundreds of similar images having been posted to Facebook and Instagram in the weeks since.

Photographic Commitment

The viral photo was of a Canadian couple who stopped for a smiling selfie—a self-shot photograph taken with a cellphone camera—in front of the sign on the Calgary, Alberta, municipal court building. Their happy faces and comfort together suggested that they just made a life commitment to one another. In fact, they had, but not the one you might think. The couple had just filed for divorce, but took the photo as a symbol that they had made the right decision and that they would continue to work closely together in raising their children.

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baby before marriage, divorce, Illinois divorce attorneyConsider a common scenario: a young couple, dating but not engaged, suddenly discovers that they are going to have a baby. They certainly have options, but depending upon their age, maturity level and decision-making skills, they may not be able clearly think through the various possibilities. So, they inform their families.  Just a few generations ago, and to an extent, probably even now, the families were likely to respond with some variation of "I assume you are going to do the right thing," heavily implying that marriage should obviously be the plan. This type of social pressure and the stigma of having a baby before marriage has, for many years, led to an increase the risk of divorce for such couples. Recent studies suggest, however, that this is not the case anymore.

Long-Term Research

Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, researchers at Cornell University and the University of Michigan conducted a study published last month in the journal Demography. Led by Kelly Musick, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, the team closely examined child-bearing couples in two separate periods, from 1985 to 1995 and from 1997 to 2010. What they found was that the landscape of marriage, relationships, and childbirth has drastically changed in a relative short span of time.

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social media, divorce, Illinois Family Law AttorneysNever before in human history have people been as connected as they are in the Digital Age. While sociologists will argue for decades over the perceived depth or superficiality of relationships facilitated by social media, there is little question that society has changed as a result. In most situations, liking or sharing photos and posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter may be relatively harmless, but it is absolutely critical to understand the power of social media in the midst of legal disputes and divorce, in particular.

Before You Click Send…

…remember that you cannot take back what you are about to post. Anything you share to a social media site, or really, even most internet-based applications, have the potential to remain permanent. Yes, you may be able to delete a post or a picture, and certain apps like Snapchat purport to only keep your information for a few seconds at time. However, all it takes is for a single person to capture a screenshot of your post and your control over its permanence is totally lost.

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guardian ad litem, Illinois law, Arlington Heights family law attorneyIf the court presiding over your child custody or visitation dispute has appointed a guardian ad litem to your case, it is important to recognize the significance of such an appointment. It is also helpful to understand the guardian ad litem’s role so that you can be prepared to work closely with him or her in the fulfillment of the assigned duties. When utilized properly, a guardian ad litem can be a valuable resource in finding a workable, healthy resolution to any child-related legal matter.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Under Illinois law, only a qualified attorney can be appointed as a guardian ad litem (GAL) in family law cases. The attorney must also be properly trained and certified to serve in such a capacity, as required by the county or jurisdiction. Once appointed, the GAL works as an extension of the court and not as legal counsel for any party to the case. He or she is expected to determine a recommended outcome that will serve the best interests of the child and then to present that information to the court as, essentially, an expert witness.

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divorce, separation, Illinois Family Law AttorneyFor many couples, separating is the first step to divorcing. In fact, Illinois law requires a separation period of no less than six months for a no-fault divorce. Separating gives the couple time to work out their issues without the pressure of having to comply with the court&s deadlines or having to pay for lawyer meetings, hearings, and other divorce-related fees. During the separation period, couples can save money and stress by working together to develop a plan before officially filing for their divorce.

There are a few steps that a couple should take after separating that can make their divorce quicker and easier. A quick divorce is almost always less expensive than a long, drawn-out divorce. If you are currently separated from your spouse, some of the following may help you more efficiently end your marriage.

Prepare the Necessary Documents

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communication, custody, visitation, Illinois family law attorneyIf you are subject to child custody or visitation order, you have undoubtedly faced challenges related to dealing with the other parent. They may have been minor issues, if you are lucky, or they may be larger problems, including a complete lack of consistency on the part of the non-custodial parent. You may feel obligated to continue to push the other parent to comply with the arrangements you have in place, but it is important for you to realize where your responsibility to do so ends.

Moral Obligations

Like any responsible parent, you want what is best for your child. Studies continue to show that active participation of both parents in a child’s life can lead to a more positive outcome for the child, regardless of the parents’ marital status. It is totally understandable that you would want your child to have every possible opportunity to grow up healthy and well-adjusted, even if it means continuing to encourage the other parent to uphold their responsibilities. If he or she continues to act with inconsistency, you may wish to consult a pediatric health professional to help you understand where you should draw the line with the other parent.

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genetics, cheating, Lombard family law attorneyMaybe he swears it meant nothing to him. Maybe she promises it will never happen again. Whatever the situation, many couples will find themselves facing a situation in which one partner has been been unfaithful.  They will have to decide either to forgive the indiscretion and move on together, or to end the relationship. Obviously, for married couples ending the relationship typically means divorce, and infidelity continues to be among the most common reasons for ending a marriage. For those that decide to work out their relationship, questions inevitably remain about what caused the cheating partner to stray.

Part of the answer may lie in the human genetic code, as scientists continue to research links between genetics and human behavior. New studies are emerging on a regular basis relating the effect a specific gene or gene variant may have on the choices an individual makes. Several projects in the last few years have identified a number a genes, in fact, that may have a direct impact on a person&s self-control over inclinations toward thrill-seeking behavior, including infidelity.

One such study from Binghamton University, State University of New York, examined the impact of a variant of the dopamine receptor polymorphism, or DRD4, gene. Commonly associated with pleasure-seeking behaviors such as gambling and alcohol use, the DRD4 variation also demonstrated connection to uncommitted sexual activity, including one-night stands and infidelity. While the researchers did not claim the genetic variant necessarily caused such behavior, it was certainly more common in subjects with the variation.

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Posted on in Divorce

Kane County Family Law Attorneys, Reasons to Hire a Lawyer, Lombard Divorce LawyerThe process of divorce can be daunting one. Depending on a couple’s circumstances, the proceedings can time-consuming and wrought with complexities at every turn. When added to the emotional stress and contentiousness common in a failing relationship, divorce can be nearly overwhelming. Despite the potential pitfalls, many people still attempt to complete their divorce without the help of a qualified divorce attorney.

Of those choosing to do so, divorcing individuals typically forego hiring a lawyer for  two simple reasons. First and foremost, they are looking to save money and believe that an attorney’s services are too expensive. Additionally, they do not believe their situation is complicated enough to require representation, or at least not complicated enough to justify such a cost. However, despite these common misgivings, there are a number of reasons you may wish to retain an attorney to assist with your divorce.

Improved Communication

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Shared Custody, Custody Orders, Illinois Child Custody, Arlington Heights family law attorneyFrom the time children are very young, they begin to learn about the concept of fairness. They are taught to wait their turn, share their toys, and to be generally respectful of other people’s property and time. Consequently, children grow into adults who equate fairness with equality, a concept which may hold true for many aspects of life. When establishing a shared custody arrangement after divorce, however, at least one parenting expert suggests that equal time may not actually prove fair to the child.

Noted author and family psychologist John Rosemond addresses the issue of shared custody in his nationally syndicated newspaper column this week. "Domestic court judges," he writes, "often regard two divorcing parent who are equally responsible as deserving of equal time with their kids." A ruling based on that idea would seem equitable and fair to both parents. While Rosemond does not dispute such an order would appear fair to the parents, he raises the concern that fairness to the parents should not necessarily be the goal. He contends that the needs and best interests of the child should take precedence over whether or not a custody order seems fair to both parents.

Rosemond’s reasoning is based on the idea that children fare best after a divorce when their lives are disrupted as little as possible. Many equal shared custody rulings require a child to transition between parents’ homes every few days, which, to most children, is at least somewhat disruptive. In addition to an inevitable adjustment period after each transition, such arrangements are often wrought with inconsistencies between homes, especially regarding rules, responsibilities, or expectations. In some cases, the lack of consistency can cause confusion and stress for the child, while in others, the child may learn to work both parents against each other and manipulate the situation to his or her perceived advantage.

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Posted on in Children

Adoption in Illinois, Lombard Family Law Attorney, Safe Haven LawIt is easy to understand how an expectant mother may feel overwhelmed by her circumstances. Social, family, and financial pressures as well as internal insecurities can all certainly contribute to her feeling that she may be unprepared and unable to properly care for a child. Since 2001, more than 70 infants have been illegally abandoned in Illinois, many presumably by mothers struggling to deal with the challenges of raising a baby. However, in the same time period more than 100 infants have been legally relinquished at designated Illinois locations, allowing them the opportunity to be placed with foster families or couples seeking adoption.

The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act was enacted in 2001 to provide a safe and legal alternative for parents who may feel they have no other options. Commonly known as a Safe Haven Law, the legislation identifies hospitals, emergency facilities, police stations, and staffed fire stations as "safe havens" at which an infant under 30 days old may be relinquished without the threat of abandonment charges. The relinquishing parents are encouraged but not required to provide medical and family information, or they may choose to do so at a later time or by mail in order to maintain a level of anonymity. The baby is then taken to an appropriate medical facility for an exam and any needed care, and, in most cases, placed with or adopted by a loving family almost immediately.

Although the Safe Haven Law has been in place for more than 13 years, many residents seem to be unaware of its existence. Dawn Geras, creator of the Chicago-based Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, was instrumental in the creation of the law and remains active in her efforts to educate the general public. In addition to notification signs at legally designated safe haven buildings, the organization offers posters, brochures, and school based educational materials so that those most likely to need the protection offered by the law have the information they need.

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mental healthThere are many reasons which cause people to make the decision to file for divorce. Sadly, one of those reasons is when the other spouse suffers from mental illness. Studies have shown that people who suffer from mental illness have a higher rate of divorce. One study that was conducted in 2011 actually put that divorce rate increase at between 20 to 80 percent.

The multi-national study was conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The researchers found 18 different mental disorders which not only had an effect on whether or not a person dealing with one or more of those disorders stayed married, but also affected whether or not they married in the first place.

The mental disorders which had the largest impact on divorce rates were alcohol abuse, major depression, and specific phobia, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

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hidden assetsWhen a couple divorces, there are a number of issues to be considered. Spousal maintenance, child support, custody/visitation, and division of assets must all be negotiated to an extent by the court presiding over the proceedings. Many of these subjects can often turn contentious, as the relationship between divorcing partners deteriorates. This, unfortunately, can lead to one party to manipulate the circumstances in such a way that the divorce agreement disproportionately benefits that person. One way in which this might be attempted is by hiding financial or other assets from the other spouse.

Hiding assets can be serious problem, as many determinations in a divorce agreement are dependent on the financial situation of each spouse. Often including cash, bonds, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds, assets which are not disclosed to the court may affect resulting orders related to alimony (called spousal maintenance in Illinois) and child support. As such, a spouse intentionally hiding or disguising financial resources not only commits a serious crime, but also can negatively the impact the well-being the couple’s children.

In many marriages, one partner maintains the majority of the household finances. That partner, often the husband, keeps a household budget, pays the bills, and may even make financial decisions about purchases and investments. While the other partner may not feel the need to get deeply involved, a situation can be created in which it can be easy and tempting for the partner with monetary control to be deceptive and hide assets.

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financially threatened spouseWhen a couple is going through the divorce process, emotions are usually more intense for both the husband and wife. Even the slightest remark or action by one spouse can seem amplified to the other, causing a strong reaction.

Often, anger becomes the driving force and all kinds of threats are made. This can be especially true if one spouse was the predominant breadwinner in the family and feels they have the upper hand in divorce negotiations. Threats of taking away the children or leaving the other spouse broke and homeless are common themes in acrimonious divorces. And whether or not the spouse making the threats could actually follow through with them does not always matter. Threats like these can leave the other spouse feeling stressed out and intimidated, or even frightened.

There are steps that a financially threatened spouse should take to ensure that they are protected emotionally and financially. These steps include:

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