Archive for the ‘Illinois Laws’ Category

Family Law Updates 2016: Illinois’ “Modern Family” Bill

April 30th, 2015 at 6:36 pm

bill 57, modern family bill, Illinois Family LawyerCurrently, all issues related to marriage and divorce, including child custody, child support, and the division of a couple’s property are addressed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This Act, though comprehensive, dates to the 1970s and many feel it is insufficient for the challenges and cultural trends that twenty-first century families face. To address these issues, lawmakers drafted Bill 57 to amend the state’s existing divorce laws. The bill passed in the Illinois House, but then died in Senate with no vote in 2014. In 2015, however, the proposed law was passed by both parts of government and was officially enacted on January 1, 2016.

The main goal of the bill was to avoid creating feelings of “winners” and “losers” in child custody agreements. Rather than establishing parental roles in terms of custody, the bill allows for the “allocation of parental responsibilities” in relationship to the child. Similar to the procedures currently in place for determining child custody, responsibility for decision-making and other parental obligations would be divided between the parents according to the best interest of the child

Changes in Senate Bill 57

The most significant change to Illinois’ current custody law in Bill 57 is the elimination of the delineation between joint vs. sole custody. Under this bill, each parent is assigned specific parenting tasks. This is intended to encourage both parents to remain involved in their children’s lives and limit litigation over minor disputes between parents

Critics have pointed out that the changes included in Bill 57 do not sufficiently address the realities that dual-income families face. Although in theory, parents affected by Bill 57 will share childcare duties, the Bill still allows one parent to be given the majority of parenting time while the other pays child support to him or her. This can not only create skewed parenting schedules for children, but fail to require parents to make equal financial contributions to their child’s well being.

Another important change included in Bill 57 is the removal of the requirement that divorcing couples prove grounds for their divorce. This portion is meant to acknowledge that in many cases, marriages fail simply because of differences in personality and goals. It also eliminates the right of an individual to sue his or her former spouse or the former spouse’s lover for committing adultery and destroying the marriage.

Divorce and Family Attorneys in the Chicago Area

If you are considering divorce, you should know how the laws regarding child custody and support affect your situation. Contact Anderson & Associates, P.C. at 312-345-9999 to discuss these changes with one of the experienced Illinois family law attorneys at our firm. We proudly serve Illinois families in our five office locations in Schaumburg, Northbrook, Orland Park, Wheaton, and downtown Chicago.

Voluntary and Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

February 12th, 2015 at 10:11 am

parental rights in Illinois, Chicago IL child custody attorneyBeing a parent is both a responsibility and a privilege. The basic responsibilities– contributing to your child’s care and support–are fairly straightforward. Parental privileges are a little more obscure and vary by family. Legally, however, parenting is a privilege because parental status comes attached with certain rights, such as the right to make decisions regarding the child.  It also comes with responsibilities, such as contributing to the child’s financial support.

Note that parental rights can be terminated and the legal parent-child relationship destroyed. Under these circumstances, the parent relinquishes the responsibilities and the privileges, including the right to be part of the child’s life. The child also loses any legal obligations toward the parent.

Parental rights can be terminated voluntarily, or involuntarily, if:

  • The parent surrenders the child to an authorized agency for adoption;
  • The parent consents to the child’s adoption;
  • The parent waives his parental rights as pursuant to putative father laws; or
  • A court determines that the parent is unfit and then appoints a guardian ad litem who is authorized to consent to adoption.

Parental unfitness must be established by clear and convincing evidence and does not turn on the best interests of the child. Common grounds for unfitness are:

  • Child abandonment;
  • Substantial neglect;
  • Failure to maintain interest, concern or responsibility for the child’s welfare;
  • Deserting the child for a three-month period prior to the adoption;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Depravity (i.e., conviction for certain serious crimes, including murder);
  • Failure to protect the child from dangerous conditions; or
  • Failure to contribute to the support the child despite having the physical and financial ability to do so.

Once the court rules on the termination of parental rights, it must next consider the best interests of the child. For example, should the child be placed in a foster home or adopted by a family member? The court will decide; the former parent does not have a say.

Reestablishing Parental Rights by Petitioning for Adoption

Former parents may sometimes reestablish their parental rights by petitioning for adoption. The child is eligible for adoption if:

  • The child was a ward of the state when the parental rights were terminated; and
  • The child was adopted by blood relatives who have since died without appointing a standby guardian or adoptive parent; or
  • The adoptive parent has a physical or mental impairment rendering him unable to care for the child, and he consents to the adoption petition.

Adoption eligibility is not the only criteria. The parent must also prove that the adoption is in the child’s best interest and that the former parent is willing and able to care for the child. The petition will likely hinge on the initial basis for terminating parental rights, as well as the steps the parent has since taken to resolve the issues existing at the time of the termination.

If you are a parent facing involuntary termination–or seeking voluntary termination–of parental rights, contact one of our Chicago family law attorneys today. We will help you understand your legal rights and the legal consequences of termination. Contact us today for a consultation. Anderson & Associates, P.C. has offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

New Illinois Laws in 2015: Part 2

January 28th, 2015 at 11:57 am

new Illinois laws in 2015. Chicago family law attorneyThere are other changes going into effect in 2015 that will have an impact on Illinois family law in addition to the recent amendments to the Children and Family Services Act and the Child Care Act. These changes address probate, children’s advocacy, the rights of birth parents, foster care services and juvenile delinquency.

Guardianship Law

The Illinois Probate Act regulates the guardianship of both minors and disabled adults. There are three types of guardianship under the Act: guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, and guardian of the person and the estate. The requirements for requesting a guardianship depend on the nature of the petition.

Recent amendments to the Probate Act have made it more onerous to petition for guardianship of a disabled adult. For example, the petition must include an evaluation of the adult’s disabilities and this accompanying report must now contain additional information about the professionals who performed the evaluation to ensure that their assessment is credible.

Investigating Child Maltreatment

The Children’s Advocacy Center Act authorizes accredited centers to investigate reports of child sexual abuse throughout the state. That authority has been extended to “child maltreatment cases,” which include specific criminal offenses committed against children or witnessed by a child.

The Rights of an Adult Adopted Person’s Birth Parents

Under the Adoption Act , an adult adopted person’s birth parent may request a non-certified copy of the adoptee’s birth certificate if he or she is named on the original copy and certain procedural requirements are met. For example, the non-certified copy cannot reflect the state file number that is on the original certificate, and the petitioner cannot be charged a fee.

Foster Youth to Advise DCFS

A new Illinois law requires the Department of Children and Family Services to convene a Statewide Youth Advisory Board and regional youth advisory boards to work with the agency on foster care services. The boards will be comprised of former and current foster youth between the ages of 14 and 21 years old. DCFS will appoint the boards’ members.

The boards will provide DCFS with a foster youth’s perspective on the services provided by the agency and make suggestions for improvements to these services. Additionally, the boards will advise DCFS on proposed or pending legislation in the General Assembly that will affect the state’s foster care system.

Custody of Juvenile Delinquents

In certain situations, the Department of Children and Family Services has the authority to take juvenile delinquents into custody without an independent basis for abuse or neglect. Recent amendments raised the age threshold from 15 to 16 years old.  Minors over 16 but less than 18 may still be placed in DCFS custody if there is an independent basis of abuse or neglect.

If you have questions regarding your rights and responsibilities under any family-related law–including guardianship, children’s advocacy, adoption, foster care and temporary custody–contact one of our experienced family law attorneys in Chicago today at (312) 345-9999. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists those in the Chicago area from offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown.

Read Part 1: New Illinois Laws in 2015