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Wheaton family law attorneysThese days, it is not uncommon for couples to live together without getting married. Depending on the circumstances, they may not be ready for the long-term legal commitment of marriage. Some romantic partners may also want to “test the waters” to see how they get along under the same roof before legalizing their union. However, there are legal steps a couple can take to protect their rights in case they break up. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement is a contract that can outline how specific issues will be handled similar to when a married couple gets a divorce.   

Who Needs a Cohabitation Agreement? 

“Common law” marriages are not legally recognized in the state of Illinois. This means that an unmarried couple is not entitled to the same rights as their married counterparts. When these couples buy property, vehicles, and furniture together, it can become a complex task to divide these assets in the event of a breakup. 

Although it would be nice, no one knows what the future holds. A couple may live together blissfully for many years, but then find they have grown apart or one act of infidelity causes one partner to leave. Those who might  benefit from drafting a prenuptial agreement as a way of protecting themselves and their interests or investments include but are not limited to:  

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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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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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Wheaton family law attorney

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, there has been an increase in unmarried but cohabiting parents over the last two decades. Since 1997, the number of cohabiting parents has risen to 35 percent. The practice of cohabitation prior to, or rather than, marriage has become a practice popular with the millennial generation. The reasons for the rise are primarily economic, plus the desire to avoid the constraints of a legally binding marriage. The practice of cohabitation has some similarity to the old tradition of common law marriage. This was the practice of two individuals cohabiting together and, in some cases, enjoying the rights and benefits of marriage, but without official recognition from the state.

Does a common law marriage, or a cohabiting couple, get the same rights as a legal marriage, and what rights does a cohabiting parent have if a separation occurs?

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