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DuPage County adoption lawyers Adoption provides a child in need with a safe and permanent home. The Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) is a government agency that responds to reports of child abuse or neglect. DCFS also protects minors by placing them in foster homes. In many cases, the foster parents wish to legally adopt their foster kids. Children who need adopting can come from all over, and they are all ages and from different backgrounds. Many have siblings who also need a loving home life. DCFS also offers support to help families adopt children with medical conditions or other special needs.

Who Can Adopt?

In Illinois, the first step in adopting a child through DCFS is becoming a licensed foster parent so that children can be placed in your home. An initial screening will involve a visit to your home. The process of receiving a license usually takes one to two months. DCFS works as quickly as possible to match a child (and possibly siblings) to an appropriate family. Those people who wish to adopt can participate in a 27-hour training to become fully licensed foster families. After the placement, a family can request to adopt the child. The request is generally approved by the department and the court after a six-month period.

The state does not have specific qualifications to adopt, but people who can provide an adequate and loving home are typically eligible to adopt. A few of the characteristics of an adoptive parent include: 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysThere is no doubt the price of a college education has skyrocketed in the past decade. Tuition at public and private universities can be a huge expense for a family. When parents decide to divorce, their financial situation changes. The thought of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for even one child’s post-high school education can be daunting. This is especially true for a spouse who was a stay-at-home parent and did not work outside the home during the marriage.

Most states allow parents who are divorcing to work out an agreement for college costs and payment details. According to Illinois divorce law, in some cases, the cost for child-related expenses such as college can be determined by a judge if a couple cannot come to an arrangement. Illinois is one of the few states where payment for college or vocational expenses can be ordered without an agreement between the parents.     

Who Can Be Ordered to Pay?

In Illinois, child support usually ends when a son or daughter turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. It generally stops at age 19 even if the child is still in high school. The support issues that were originally addressed under the child support law then fall under the “college expenses” portion of the law. The college cost law applies to “non-minor children” or those who are over 18 years old. 

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Wheaton order of protection attorneysOctober is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The harmful effects of domestic violence are significant, sabotaging the safety of many men, women, and children regardless of social class. Once considered a private issue between two partners, domestic violence issues slowly gained the public’s attention and are now at the forefront of national campaigns. According to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV), one in three women, and one in seven men have been or will be victims of domestic violence. However, there are instances where a person can be unfairly accused of such behavior. If you have been wrongly accused of domestic abuse and served with an order of protection (OOP), it is important to understand the best way to address these false accusations.  

Handling False Accusations 

Domestic abuse refers to violent acts committed by a family or household member against another. The consequences of domestic violence accusations can result in protective orders being issued against the alleged abuser. In cases where the accused is a parent, these orders can impact child-related issues, such as allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time by limiting contact with a child.

Unfortunately, a vengeful spouse may file abuse charges against the other spouse to obtain a restraining order. This is sometimes used as a tactic in disagreements related to child custody, parenting time, or other disputed issues in the divorce. In many cases, there are no witnesses of the so-called offense other than the victim and the alleged perpetrator. When there is no evidence such as a bruise or laceration, it can be very difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that domestic violence actually occurred. Photographs and medical records simply show that an injury occurred, not who did it. In addition, an attorney can discredit the accuser’s testimony by pointing out inconsistencies in his or her story.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersIn divorce law, the term “dissipation” is used to describe property which is wasted during the end of a marriage. With help from a qualified family law attorney, you may be able to be compensated for assets which your spouse dissipated before your marital property was formally divided during divorce. However, not all wasteful spending is considered dissipation. Only situations which meet certain criteria are considered dissipation, and it is important to understand what these criteria are. 

What Types of Spending Are Considered Dissipative?

Many individuals who are in the process of getting divorced have questions about their soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s financial responsibility. However, dissipation refers to a specific situation in which a spouse wastes, misuses, or destroys marital property. The Illinois Supreme Court has specified that dissipation is the “use of marital property for the sole benefit of one of the spouses for a purpose unrelated to the marriage.”

Dissipated assets include any money or property that was used for the benefit of one of the spouses but did not benefit the other spouse or the marriage in any way. Examples of dissipation may include:

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Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County divorce attorneysThe realization that your marriage is coming to an end can oftentimes be very difficult to cope with. While this can be true for some cases, a divorce can occasionally result in the individuals coming out much happier based on the promise of a fresh start. When a couple can work together and make compromises on divisions of assets, debt, property and other marital concerns, stress and anxiety can be relieved. It is critical to remember that if children are involved, their needs are more important than anything else, which should be reflected in the agreed upon parenting plan. The divorce process can all depend on how everything is managed, and an amicable outcome can be achieved if the spouses involved can follow these tips:

Tip #1: Do Not Act Inappropriately

Understanding that a divorce affects other people can help with perspective. The actions and emotions you display can have a lasting outcome on friends, family members, children, and the opposing spouse. Saying something that you might regret later could result in your peaceful separation falling apart. 

Coinciding with this, social media may seem like a good platform to vent your frustrations and anger, however this is not recommended. Taking into account all of the relevant factors, an inappropriate post could have severe consequences. It is not uncommon for social media posts to be presented as evidence in divorce cases, often to the detriment of the spouse who posted them.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysA divorce is typically a last resort for a couple who may have tried marriage counseling or therapy in an effort to solve their problems. Illinois recognizes “irreconcilable differences” as the only grounds for divorce, meaning that the marriage is considered beyond repair. While there is no longer a requirement in Illinois for divorcing spouses to live apart, a six-month period of living separately will be taken by the court as proof that there are irreconcilable differences between the parties.

Once the decision to end a matrimonial union has been made, there are legal steps that need to be taken in order to complete the divorce process. Even if a couple works together to come to agreements on financial or child-related issues, there are still obligations each party must meet for the final divorce decree to be issued.  

Divorce Proceedings

Illinois requires residency for a minimum of 90 days before a person can file for divorce. The proceedings are initiated when one spouse (petitioner) files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in his or her county’s court. After the filing, the other spouse (respondent) is served with the petition. The respondent has 30 days to file a response to the petition. If this is not done within the appropriate time period, a judge can enter a default judgment against that spouse. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysThe prevalence of social media cannot be denied in today’s society. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are some of the most popular social media websites for people of all ages. While a lot of users like these sites as a way to communicate and share pictures with friends or family members, the use of social media can prove detrimental when going through a divorce. If one spouse is posting photos of extravagant spending, for example, this can be spun as evidence against the other spouse if the couple is disputing spousal support/maintenance, child support, or child custody issues. It is imperative to err on the side of caution when contemplating social media activity during a divorce. 

Online Evidence Can Be Used Against You

It is important to know that text messages and emails are admissible in court. If a spouse uses social media, text messages, or email to announce a new job or an upcoming bonus that has not been disclosed to the other spouse or in court, this can be used as evidence that the person is not being honest regarding his or her finances. This can affect settlements for division of property and assets. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state so marital property will be split fairly, not necessarily equally. However, a judge will take several factors into consideration when determining how to divide everything. 

On Facebook, friends might post pictures and “tag” someone else in them, which includes his or her name. Therefore, people must be careful about their actions and behavior depending on their privacy settings for social media accounts. For example, if an individual takes an expensive vacation with friends and someone in the group posts pictures of it, that might lessen his or her chances of receiving spousal support or maintenance payments after the divorce.

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Wheaton divorce lawyersMaking adjustments after a divorce is a scary scenario that far too many couples encounter today; your entire life as you know it is coming to a change very quickly. While one half of the couple may seem to move on with limited issues, the other companion might not be that lucky. Stay-at-home parents are very common in our society, as many couples have taken the option of putting one spouse's career on hold in an effort to focus on the aspects of life at home, such as raising children and maintaining the property. Stay-at-home parents may feel at a disadvantage in many categories going into and coming out of a divorce.  

Planning for the Future 

Once a divorce is introduced into the conversation, each partner will have to consider how their life will be without the other involved. Finding a new place to live and possibly searching for a new job are two major hurdles that are not easily overcome. The entire process of a divorce and its outcomes rely heavily on financial matters. How can spouses be on a level field if one of them has not worked for a significant time?

Looking ahead to what will need to be accomplished is a good task to keep in mind. Some recommended things you should do include taking the time to:

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Wheaton divorce attorneysIf you are a parent and are considering ending your marriage, you probably have many concerns about how the divorce will affect your children. The good news is that children with divorced parents can lead just as contented a life as those whose parents are together. In fact, some studies show that children are better off with divorced parents than with parents who are miserable being married. One of the hardest parts of getting a divorce as a parent is telling the children the news. There is no perfect way to tell children that their parents will no longer be living together, but experts do have a few tips to help make the conversation less upsetting for everyone involved.

Try to Tell the Children Together With Your Spouse

While this is not always possible, many child psychology experts say that telling the children about divorce as a couple is the best way to break the news. Sitting with your spouse when you tell the children about the divorce provides a united front. The children are less likely to think that they need to choose sides or put the blame on one of the parents. If you have multiple children, it may be a good idea to tell all of them at once. When parents tell some of the children before the others, it can force them to keep a secret which they are too young to handle.

Make the Conversations Age-Appropriate

After the initial conversation breaking the news of divorce, you will probably need to answer additional questions and address concerns later on. This is the time where you can make conversations more personalized. Younger children will want to be reassured that their parents will still love and care for them, while older children may have more specific questions.

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Wheaton family law attorneyUnder Illinois divorce law, visitation is now referred to as “parenting time.” Virtual visitation is a non-custodial parent’s right to interact with his or her child using a form of electronic technology. Also known as “e-visitation,” this form of communication typically means using a webcam or real-time video such as “FaceTime” for visitation. This is especially useful if a parent and child live in separate states.

Virtual visitation can also encompass the use of additional electronic devices, such as a computer or tablet for e-mailing, sending text or instant messages, etc. This is starting to be regarded as an appropriate form of visitation. It is important to note that it is designed to supplement instead of replace physical custody of the child. 

Advantages to Virtual Parenting Time

In Illinois divorces, parental responsibility is now allocated between each parent, and a reasonable parenting time schedule is determined by the court. The ultimate goal is to allow both parents to be involved in their child’s life as much as possible. 

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Wheaton cohabitation agreement attorneysMany people might be apprehensive about getting married if their parents were divorced while others simply might not care about signing a marriage license. Therefore, many of today’s couples choose to live together or “cohabitate” without entering into a legal union. In 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that unmarried couples do not have any legal rights to each other’s property if they separate. The end of a long-term relationship can be contentious, regardless if the couple had children together or not. Deciding who gets what when they split can be complicated, especially if the couple acquired a significant amount of property or assets during the relationship. This is why some couples consider drafting a cohabitation agreement.

What Does the Agreement Protect?

A cohabitation agreement can be drafted before or after two people decide to live together. This type of document typically addresses such issues as:

  • Each party’s contribution to household expenses;
  • Division of property in the case of a breakup;
  • Payment of mutual debts;
  • Health insurance coverage; and
  • Parental responsibilities if children are involved.

A cohabitation agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement in some ways. It is basically a contract between two consenting adults that addresses how to commingle their finances and distribute their assets if the relationship ends. This can prevent conflict in the future, especially if they cannot agree on how to divide the property or debt fairly. Property can include a house, furniture, artwork, vehicles, and more. It is important to know that a cohabitation agreement cannot order child support or parenting time. Those issues must be determined by a court.

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Wheaton adoption and guardianship lawyersIn some family situations, the biological parents may be unable to care for their child. The parents may be deceased, in prison, out of the country on military duty, incapacitated due to illness, or simply absent or unfit. In these cases, other adults or family members may offer to provide care. Elderly adults or those who are mentally or physically disabled may also require the care of friends or relatives. In some scenarios, the person doing the caretaking may wish to seek legal guardianship. This offers all parties certain legal protections, allowing them to make decisions related to finances, living arrangements, education, and healthcare. 

What Are the Requirements for Guardianship?

According to Illinois law, a person must meet several requirements to be considered for guardianship. It is important to note the guardian does not have to be related to the child. The conditions that need to be met include all of the following: 

  • Be 18 years old or older;
  • Be a resident of the United States (courts may appoint immigrants who are undocumented in some cases);
  • Be of sound mind;
  • Not disabled by legal definition; and
  • Not convicted of a felony that involved harm or threat to a child.

What Are the Types of Guardianship for a Child?

Legal guardianship allows a person who is not a parent make important decisions for a child, just as a parent normally would. There are several types of guardianship:

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Wheaton Spousal Maintenance AttorneysIn a large number of marriages, one spouse is the sole income earner and the other spouse is a stay-at-home parent. In many more cases, one spouse earns far more money than the other does, even if they both work outside the home. If these unions end in divorce, it can be difficult financially for the partner who did not work or who earned substantially less to move on. However, Illinois divorce law states an ex-spouse may be entitled to financial support.

Alimony or what is now called “spousal maintenance” refers to payments made to an ex-spouse who does not have sufficient income to self-support after a divorce. The amount and duration of this support depends on several factors, including each party’s income, the length of the marriage, and standard of living. But, what happens to that maintenance if one or both of the ex-spouses remarries?   

What Constitutes the End of Spousal Support? 

In Illinois, alimony ends automatically when the supported ex-spouse remarries (unless the couple decided otherwise in their divorce agreement, which is rare). The paying ex-spouse can stop making alimony payments starting on the date of the supported ex-spouse’s remarriage. The paying ex-spouse does not have to ask the court for a termination of support.

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Wheaton divorce attorneysMost people do not go into a marriage thinking it will end. However, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), approximately 40 to 50 percent of matrimonial unions do not last “until death do us part.” Once a couple decides to separate, the divorce process can be intimidating. Mediation and collaborative law are two forms of alternate dispute resolution for dealing with the divorce process. One option might be better depending on the circumstances of the divorce, but both can be beneficial and help achieve the best outcome for everyone involved. 

Benefits to Mediation 

Divorce mediation involves spouses meeting with a neutral third party called a mediator to help them resolve any issues within the divorce. The majority of mediations end in a settlement if all parties are agreeable to the terms. It is important to know the mediator does not make decisions for either spouse. The mediator serves as a facilitator to help the spouses work out the best solution on their own regarding property division, spousal support, or child-related issues.

Mediation can provide many benefits including: 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysAfter a divorce, one spouse—usually the lower-earning spouse—may be entitled to financial support, which is commonly referred to as “alimony” or “spousal maintenance.” Illinois courts consider different factors to determine whether spousal support is warranted. If maintenance is found to be appropriate, the court typically uses a specific formula to determine the amount and the duration of the payments. In some cases, a spouse may refuse to pay or become delinquent on support payments, but there are laws governing this area of divorce.  

What If a Former Spouse Does Not Pay?  

When an ex-spouse does not make court-ordred maintenance payments, the former couple will likely have to go back to divorce or family court. The person not receiving payment must show the court evidence that his or her ex-spouse has not made any payments, has not made full payments, or has not made timely payments. Hard copy documentation of late or partial payments can be proof in explaining how this has caused financial difficulty. 

If the non-paying spouse continues to disregard the court’s order to pay, the judge may implement a charge of contempt of court against the former spouse, requiring him or her to go before another judge. A second judge may order the non-compliant spouse to pay the support to the ex-spouse in addition to court costs for the contempt case. If this second order is not obeyed, a person can face fines and jail time. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhen a couple divorces, they are separating in more ways than one. All of the assets that were acquired during the marriage have to be divided up. The “marital estate” can include monetary funds, as well as property such as a house, vehicles, plus personal possessions and gifts. Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, which means property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. Gifts given between spouses or received from a third party can cause conflict when it comes to dividing assets during a divorce, especially in a contentious break-up. 

Marital Property Versus Non-Marital Property

Under Illinois law, marital property is property that was acquired during the marriage, and non-marital property is typically property a spouse had before the marriage or acquired during the marriage by inheritance or gift. Non-marital property is considered “separate property” of each spouse and marital property will be divided between the couple if they split up. In most scenarios, an asset given to one spouse by any third party is considered non-marital property. Gifts such as these can include jewelry, clothing, furniture, cash, vehicles, artwork, almost anything. However, the spouse claiming a gift as non-marital property may be required to prove in court that it was indeed a gift.

Gifts given between spouses throughout the marriage and before the couple parts ways are considered marital property that must be accounted for, valued, and distributed as part of the marital estate. The only exception to this rule is if someone claims it to be separate property of the recipient spouse. The spouse who claims that property acquired during the marriage is separate property must prove at least one of the following: 

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Wheaton family law attorneyOne of the main services of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Illinois is to investigate cases of child abuse and neglect. It is important to understand a DCFS investigation is not a criminal investigation. However, DCFS and police personnel often work together to investigate the same claims. A thorough DCFS investigation must be conducted in order to provide credible evidence that a child was abused or neglected.

An indicated finding can have a significant and lasting impact on someone’s life, including limited parental responsibilities and/or restricted parenting time with children; job loss, and more. If a person has been indicated for abuse and/or neglect of a child, he or she is entitled to certain rights, including an appeal.

DCFS Appeals Process

There could be many reasons for a DCFS finding of child abuse and/or neglect. Some of these acts are intentional, but others can be unintentional accidents, or simply due to reckless behavior. Unfortunately, children can also lie about abuse allegations if another adult tells them to do so. If someone receives notice of a finding of child abuse and/or neglect, he or she has certain legal rights, including:

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Wheaton business lawyerA divorce is an emotional undertaking, but it can become even more complicated if it involves business ownership. One spouse could be the owner of a company, or both spouses could own a business together. The matter of business valuation comes into play when deciding how the marital assets will be divided.

A business valuation is a set of processes and procedures for determining the economic value of a person’s interest in a business. This type of valuation is helpful since divorcing couples may not agree on a company’s worth or how it should be divided. It is important to note if the business began prior to the marriage and its profits have been kept separate and from the marital assets, then the business is normally not considered marital property.

Why a Business Valuation Is Important

One of the most time-consuming and stressful parts of a divorce is the division of marital assets since it requires an accurate inventory of everything that is within the marital estate or property. Determining the value of specific assets, such as household items like furniture, cars, or savings accounts, may be easy if a couple kept receipts or bank statements. On the other hand, estimating the value of the marital home, investment properties, and businesses is typically much more complex and may require the help of professionals.

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Posted on in Family Law

Wheaton adoption lawyersThere are various types of adoption offered to parents across the world, typically domestic and international. Within those two categories, there are open and closed adoptions. In a closed adoption, no contact information is shared between the birth parents and the child. In other words, the child does not know who their parents are or where they are located. Only about one out of 10 adoptions are closed, which is a much smaller number than it was in the past.

Open adoptions allow for connections between the child and their biological parents. This is done on a sliding scale, meaning that the level of communication between child and parents varies with every adoption. Both types of adoption have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to discuss adoption laws with a compassionate adoption lawyer so everyone involved can make an informed decision.

Pros and Cons of Closed Adoption

Closed adoption can be a good idea to avoid blurred parenting lines. The child will grow up with the adoptive parents raising him or her, avoiding any confusion about who is his or her “real family.” Closed adoption is also a good idea if the child comes from a dangerous or unstable background. This can be seen as taking protective measures in advance.

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Wheaton family law attorney

Couples who are experiencing problems may choose to separate for a period of time to see if that improves their relationship. Sometimes, living apart is a better option than divorcing. In Illinois, spouses may choose to create a legal separation agreement approved by the court, allowing them to live independently of each other in both physical and financial terms. However, this legal process does not end the marriage. A legal separation can sometimes be a simpler and less costly process than a divorce, as long as a couple agrees on the terms.

Reasons for Separating

A couple who has been married for a long time may be unsure about getting a divorce, and they may decide to do a “trial separation,” which often means living apart for a certain amount of time. This trial period can lead to a legal separation if both parties are not ready for a more permanent decision such as divorce.

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