Top Child Issues That Same-Sex Couples Should Consider

April 9th, 2015 at 7:30 pm

same-sex couples, same-sex rights, Illinois Family Lawyer

Before becoming a parent, it is important that you understand all potential legal issues  that could affect your family in the future. This is true for individuals in same- and opposite-sex relationships. For individuals in same-sex relationships, though, there are certain additional issues to consider.

Because both partners in a same-sex relationship cannot be their child’s biological parents, many of the potential issues for same-sex parents are related to the legal status of the child’s non-biological parent. When an individual gives birth to or fathers a child, he or she is typically presumed to be the child’s legal parent. His or her partner, however, must petition the court to formally adopt the child in order to have the same legal rights to the child as the biological parent.

Consult with an experienced family attorney before you and your partner adopt or conceive a child. He or she will be able to guide you through the process of establishing yourselves as your child’s legal parents and protecting your rights in the future, should your relationship end through divorce or death.

Adoption

Many individuals in same-sex relationships become parents through adoption, either through an agency or private adoption, the use of a surrogate, or through a second-parent adoption. A second-parent adoption means that one partner legally adopts his or her partner’s biological child, which officially provides the adoptive parent the same legal rights as the biological parent

In Illinois, same-sex couples are permitted to jointly adopt children from agencies and through private adoptions. An individual may petition to adopt his or her partner’s child or a child conceived during the couple’s relationship with help from a sperm donor or a surrogate. Individuals of all sexual orientations are also permitted to adopt children as single parents.

Second Parent’s Rights after a Divorce

If one of the partners in a relationship is not the child’s legal parent, he or she may face difficulties when trying to establish a custody agreement or visitation rights after a divorce or a break up. This is why it is so important for the non-biological parent in a same-sex couple to legally adopt the couple’s child. If he or she does not do this, it may be impossible for him or her to create a functional custody or support agreement.

For an individual who is not a child’s parent to seek and receive custody of him or her, the child must not be living with either of his or her actual parents. Both parents, if the child has two legal parents, must also have voluntarily ceased to care for the child and the individual who is seeking custody must have a significant history of caring for this child. These requirements are known as “standing,” which is the legal right an individual has to pursue a court case.

If a same-sex couple was married, he or she may have standing to seek custody as a stepparent. However, this is only permitted under very specific circumstances.  Specifically, if the child’s former custodial parent dies or becomes disabled and can not care for the child, the child’s stepparent may seek custody of the child if the following conditions exist:

  • The child is 12 years old or older;
  • The stepparent and the child’s parent were married for at least five years;
  • The stepparent played a considerable role in caring for the child prior to filing his or her petition;
  • The child wants to live with the stepparent; and
  • The court determines that visitation is in the child’s best interest.

Family Attorneys in the Chicago Area

As a prospective or current parent in a same-sex relationship, it is important that you understand all the legal issues that could affect your family. Contact Anderson & Associates, P.C. at 312-345-9999 or on the web to discuss any pertinent issues with one of the experienced Chicago family attorneys at our firm. We proudly serve and advocate for parents and families throughout the Chicago area, with offices in downtown Chicago, Orland Park, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Schaumburg.

How Spousal Support Can Help You After a Divorce

April 8th, 2015 at 2:49 pm

spousal support, spousal maintenance, Chicago family law attorneySpousal support, known as spousal maintenance in Illinois, is when one spouse pays the other spouse a set amount of money after a divorce for his or support. The length of time a spouse is required to make payments varies from case to case and may change based on the parties’ future circumstances, such as the spouse remarrying. One thing that does not change is that spousal support payments can help a spouse who has earned less or stayed at home during the marriage to improve his or her quality of life after divorce.

Become Self Supportive

If you have skills, but have not worked due to staying at home or the nature of your ex-spouse’s job, you may receive short-term or long-term spousal payments. You can use the payments to support yourself while you start your own business, find a job, or find another way to support yourself. Having the maintenance payments can enable you to follow your dream of owning your own store or doing something you love. It can also allow you time to find a job you want, or go back to school.

Finish or Obtain an Education

Rehabilitative support can allow the spouse receiving maintenance payments to receive them long enough to complete a degree so they are able to support themselves. Often times, the payments will cover living expenses while they attend college or a vocational program to better their skills and obtain a job.

Maintain Your Standard of Living

If a certain standard of living was maintained during the marriage, spousal support payments can help you maintain a lifestyle as close as possible to that standard. When couples divorce, sometimes one spouse has stayed at home or worked less than the other spouse. Suddenly eliminating the standard that has been set during the marriage can be shocking for some people and spousal support can help you maintain the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed.

Spousal support is not considered necessary in every divorce. Multiple factors will be taken into account, such as standard of living during the marriage, income of both spouses, financial needs of each spouse, earning capability, age, and length of the marriage. You deserve a qualified divorce attorney on your side to help ensure you get the best results for your spousal support.

Filing for divorce is not an easy decision and litigating spousal support issues can be complex. Speaking with an experienced Chicago family law attorney can help alleviate any confusion or stress about the divorce process or spousal support payments. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Ways to Make a Divorce Less Stressful

April 7th, 2015 at 2:47 pm

less stressful, divorce, Chicago divorce attorneyMany people think going through a divorce is stressful and all about fighting to get what you want from your soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, this does not necessarily need to be the case. There are many couples who have gone through the divorce process without excessive stress or contentiousness. Some ways to make a divorce less stressful are:

Be Willing to Talk

When a petition for a divorce is filed, one party may feel betrayed and become hurt or angry. Completing a divorce, however, often requires negotiation and communication regarding a number of relevant issues. If you are not able to speak with your spouse, you can have your divorce attorney communicate with your spouse or his or her attorney to try to reach agreements during the divorce process.

Remain Civil

Especially if you have children, staying polite with your spouse can make the process considerably less stressful. It can also help during negotiations and while speaking in front of the court. Avoiding negativity and angry or harsh words with your soon-to-be ex-spouse may help you keep a better relationship with your children. It also demonstrates to your children that you do not wish for them to be caught in the middle.

Consider Mediation or Collaborative Law

If you are able to negotiate with your spouse, speaking with a certified mediator or collaborative law attorney may be the way to save some time and money in your divorce process. Mediation takes place with help of a neutral third party mediator, with lawyers present only if necessary or appropriate. Collaborative law generally requires parties to have an attorney, but is a lower stress alternative to courtroom litigation. Both options look to save the parties time and money while helping them to reach agreements with each other. It also allows both parties more control over the eventual divorce agreement rather than leaving it up to a judge.

Know What You Have and Its Worth

Whether it is real estate, physical property, or other assets, be aware of what you have and its value. It is also helpful to know exactly what debts you owe individually and with your spouse. In some cases, one party may have hidden assets, not necessarily because one party did not inform the other of the purchase, but because some assets are undervalued. You will want to make a list of all assets you had before the marriage and what was acquired during the marriage. This will make the division of property, assets, and debt much easier. Illinois is an “equitable-distribution” state, meaning that marital property, assets, and debt are not divided equally, but rather fairly as determined by the court. Staying organized and knowing what you own,how much it is worth, and how much debt you have will help make this process less stressful.

Help In Making Your Divorce Less Stressful

An estimated 33,000 marriages come to an end in Illinois every year,  and not all of the couples went through a long, stressful divorce. Many people were able to keep the divorce-related stress to a minimum by speaking with an experienced divorce attorney they trusted to work in their best interest.

If you are considering filing for divorce or your spouse has already filed for divorce, you should contact a skilled Chicago family law attorney. The lawyers at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you understand the divorce process, help you understand your divorce options, and will work with you to achieve your goals. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Which Party Pays for Day Care Expenses in an Illinois Divorce?

April 3rd, 2015 at 5:49 pm

day care expenses, child care costs, Illinois Family Law AttorneyAre you going through a divorce and have young children in day care? Day care expenses are the largest household expense for most parents, according to CNN Money. With the growing number of children in day care, an important topic to discuss with your child support attorney is the responsibility for day care expenses.

Are Child Care Expenses included in Child Support?

report issued by Child Care Aware of America stated average expenses for day care can rival expenses for housing, transportation, and even tuition and fees for college. With the number of children in day care growing, so are the prices of day care. After a divorce, the thought of the expense of day care can be overwhelming, but equally overwhelming can be the idea of having to quit or cut back hours at your job to avoid the expense.

Quitting or cutting back hours at your job is not an option for most parents, especially when you are going through a divorce and your income is being divided. In Illinois, the court will determine what is in the best interest of your child or children. This will include child support, visitation rights, and custody. Day care expenses are awarded above and beyond basic child support. Child support is intended to be used for food, clothing, and the other basic needs of the child.

Who Pays Day Care Expenses?

The judge will determine how much each parent will pay of the day care costs. In most cases, the court will take into account the  cost of the day care, child support, income and financial circumstances of each parent, and if one or both parents are attending school. Costs beyond child support may be split in any proportion depending on the judge’s findings after consideration of the specific facts of the case.

Both parents are typically responsible for paying for day care expenses, but sometimes circumstances change. If you are going through a divorce or want to modify your divorce decree, you need to speak with a Chicago family law attorney. At Anderson & Associates, P.C. our family law attorneys specialize in both divorce and post decree modifications. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Understanding Illinois Visitation Rights

April 2nd, 2015 at 2:59 pm

visitation, visitation rights, Illinois Family Law Attorneys

Every custody arrangement is unique. In some cases, the court elects to award joint custody to both parents. This means that both parents are expected to cooperatively make decisions related to the child’s upbringing, including his or her education, religious training, and other considerations. The court may require parents with joint custody to draft a joint parenting agreement outlining each of their respective responsibilities and establishing an arrangement regarding the child’s time with each parent.

In other cases, the court recognizes that granting one parent sole custody is in the child’s best interest. The custodial parent is responsible for making the important decisions related to the child, and retains primary physical custody. Under Illinois law, the non-custodial parent is granted the reasonable right to visitation with the child.

In some cases, a relative other than a child’s parent may receive visitation rights. This can include the child’s grandparent or sibling if the court determines that such a visitation agreement is in the child’s best interest. Otherwise, this right is generally reserved for the child’s parents. Another relative will be granted visitation rights with a child only if the parents are unreasonable in denying visitation and specific familial circumstances exists, such as where one of the child’s parents is deceased or missing for at least three months.

Restrictions on Visitation Rights

If necessary, the court may impose restrictions on a parent’s visitation rights with his or her child in order to ensure the child’s safety. These restrictions may include:

  • Prohibiting the parent from using drugs or alcohol while in the child’s presence;
  • Requiring that the visits occur in the custodial parent’s home;
  • Prohibiting the visits from occurring in the non-custodial parent’s home;
  • Prohibiting overnight visits; and
  • Requiring that the visits be supervised by a third party.

These restrictions are put in place to protect the child. If a parent violates these restrictions, the court may modify or suspend his or her visitation rights entirely. Examples of reasons why a parent’s visitation rights may be suspended include:

  • If the parent has a history of harming the child. This can be physical harm, emotional harm, neglect, or psychological harm;
  • If the parent is found guilty of a crime against a child; and
  • If the parent is currently suffering from any type of substance addiction.

Chicago Family Attorneys

Call 312-345-9999 to speak with one of the experienced family attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. about your child custody case. We are here to serve you in one of our five convenient office locations in the Chicago area: Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, downtown Chicago, and Schaumburg. Child custody cases can be sensitive and create friction within families. Contact our firm for expert legal advice and representation on this and other difficult family law matters. We will give your case the dedication and attention to detail it deserves.

 

Cohabitation and Your Rights to Your Home and Your Children Following a Break Up

April 1st, 2015 at 5:22 pm

property rights, cohabitation agreements, Illinois Family Law AttorneyToday, it is not uncommon for unmarried couples to live together, purchase real estate and other property together, and have children. Many individuals live with their partners for decades without marrying. However, choosing cohabitation comes with unique challenges. When a couple gets married, they get certain legal protections. These protections include the right to share property such as their home and their bank accounts and the assumption that any children born to the couple are biologically related to their father, allowing him to seek custody and child support without having to prove his paternity if the relationship deteriorates.

If you are not married, you will need to sign certain documents to assert your rights to your home and your child. Talk to your attorney about your obligations as an unmarried parent or homeowner and how to protect yourself in the event your relationship ends.

Child Support and Custody for Unmarried Parents

If a child’s parents are not married when he or she was born, paternity must be established through a Voluntary Acknowledgement  of Paternity or through an order from the court . This is required by the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984.

Once a child’s paternity is established, either parent may seek child support from the other. This also entitles the father to add his name to the child’s birth certificate and seek custody or visitation rights with the child. Until paternity is established, the father is considered to be the child’s “alleged father.”

Tenancy Options for Unmarried Homeowners

When an unmarried couple decides to buy a house together, they need to establish an agreement regarding the type of shared tenancy they will have. There are two options available for unmarried homeowners: joint tenancy, and tenants-in-common.

With a joint tenancy agreement, the couple has an equal right to use and enjoy the home. If they break up and decide to sell the house, each partner is entitled to half of its value. If one partner dies, the other is entitled to take over full ownership of the home.

In a tenants-in-common agreement, the partners can have different percentages worth of ownership of their home. This may be based on the amount of money each contributed to purchasing it or the amount of maintenance each partner puts into the household. With this type of agreement, an individual’s share of the house becomes part of his or her estate, not his or her partner’s property, upon his or her death.

Regardles of type of ownership you choose, it will also be wise to an agreement about how the household expenses will be paid. Which agreement you choose depends on your relationship and your resources. Talk to both your partner and your attorney about your choices regarding shared ownership of your home to determine which is best for you.

Chicago Family Law Attorneys

To learn more about your rights following a break up, call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with Anderson & Associates, P.C. Our experienced Chicago family law attorneys focus on divorce and family topics and will advocate for you through every step of the legal process. We proudly serve our clients with offices in five convenient locations: Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.

Seeking Unpaid Child Support

March 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

unpaid child support, child support order, Chicago Family Law AttorneysAfter a child’s parents end their relationship, the court may order that the noncustodial parent make child support payments to the custodial parent. It does not matter if the parents are divorcing or if they were never married – any parent may seek payment of child support from the child’s other legal parent. Under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, if a child’s parents are not married when he or she is born, the father must officially establish his paternity in order to seek or receive child support payments and for the child’s mother to seek such support from him.

When a child support order is in place, both parents are required to comply with it. If the supporting parent fails to meet his or her obligation, the parent receiving the support may take legal action against him or her to collect unpaid child support.

Taking Legal Action Against a Delinquent Parent

If your former partner consistently fails to make his or her child support payments and has not sought a modification for the order, you may initiate contempt proceedings before the court. With the help of an attorney, you can request that the court take any of the following steps to procure the money that your former partner owes:

  • Suspending his or her driver’s license;
  • Suspending of any vocational or professional licenses that he or she holds;
  • Obtaining a judgment which would create a lien, a public document that states he or she owes money, against his or her property; or
  • Garnishing of his or her wages.

Your former partner may also face penalties for his or her delinquency, including fines or jail time, as outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. These penalties depend on how much is owed and how long he or she has failed to make child support payments.

Child Support Attorneys in Chicago

If you have a child support order in place and your child’s other parent has missed a significant number of payments, call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with an experienced Chicago family law attorney. At Anderson & Associates, P.C., our dedicated team proudly serves parents and families in the Chicago area with offices in five convenient locations: Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago. We can help you determine the best way for you to seek the money your child needs.

 

How to Talk to Your Child about Your Divorce

March 26th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

 divorce, talk to your child, Illinois Family Law AttorneyDivorce is a difficult topic to discuss with anybody, let alone your child. But if you are considering filing for divorce or you have already done so, you need to be clear with your child about the big changes that are going to occur in his or her life. Your child needs your guidance and support now more than ever, and it is your job as a parent to be truthful with him or her without overwhelming your child with unnecessary or inappropriate details.

The following guidelines can help make these discussions easier for you and your child. It is important that you take your child’s age and maturity level into consideration when you speak with him or her about your upcoming divorce – a detail that may be crucial to tell a 14-year-old might be best left out in a talk with a four-year-old, for example.

Do Not Speak Badly About Your Spouse to Your Child

It does not matter why you are divorcing or which partner is to blame. Under no circumstances should you ever insult, degrade, or otherwise speak poorly of the other parent to him or her. This extends to other adults involved as well – do not speak badly of your spouse’s new partner if one enters the picture or of any other individuals, such as your spouse’s attorney or the judge who decides your case.

Present a Unified Front

If possible, it is always best for you and your spouse to have the initial conversation with your child together about your divorce. Back up each other’s statements and allow your child to direct any specific questions he or she has to the intended parent.

Discuss Appropriate Means of Expressing Emotions

Your child may feel angry, sad, anxious, or frustrated about your divorce. He or she might not realize the depth of these feelings and lash out inappropriately. It is important that you tell your child what is and is not appropriate behavior and encourage him or her to express these emotions in healthy ways, such as talking about them with you or keeping a journal.

Take Initiative

Tell your child that you are always available to talk with him or her, and make it a point to live up to your promise. Although your child might not want to talk to you about your divorce right away, it is important that he or she knows the option is always there. Be patient with your child and assure him or her that he or she is not responsible for your divorce.

Chicago Divorce Attorneys

If you are considering filing for divorce and you are unsure about how to approach the topic with your child or want to learn more about your options, call 312-345-9999 to schedule your free legal consultation with the skilled Chicago divorce attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. We proudly advocate for parents and families throughout the Chicago area, with offices in five convenient locations: Wheaton, Orland Park, Northbrook, Schaumburg, and downtown Chicago.

Child Removal: Moving Out of Illinois with a Child Custody Agreement

March 25th, 2015 at 3:02 pm

child custody, moving out of state, Illinois Family Law AttorneyIf you are thinking of moving out of state due to an improvement in employment, marriage, or to be near family, and have a custody agreement with the other parent of your child, you will need to get permission before moving. If you and the other parent do not agree to you moving out of state, you will need to file a petition with the court to remove the child out of Illinois before you are actually able to move. This is not intended to limit your ability to improve your living, but rather to ensure the best interest of the child is being kept the highest priority.

Petitioning to Move

 The court will consider many different factors during the process to determine whether the move is in the child’s best interest. These factors may include, but are not limited to:

  • The specific improvement in living arrangements offered by the change;
  • Reasons why the petitioning parent wants to move;
  • Current visitation and custody agreements;
  • The effect the move will have on the child; and
  • How the relationship with the other parent will be affected.

Similar to filing a petition to modify your custody agreement, as the petitioner, you will bear the burden of proof to show that the move is beneficial and in the best interest of the child. If you are the one requesting the move, you should be prepared to state the reason for the move, why the child should stay with you, and how your child will maintain a relationship with the non-custodial parent.

Ignoring the requirement to file a petition can have dire consequences. If the non-custodial parent contests the move, they may file to have the child returned to Illinois. This does not mean you are necessarily required to move back, just your child. Such a situation can be very costly, in addition to the expenses already incurred in making the move. Even if the move truly is in the best interest of the child, failure to have the move legally approved could have a negative impact on your case.

Successful Petition to Move

A successful petition to move out of Illinois with your child will involve demonstrating that the move is not due to malice or retaliation against the non-custodial parent, but rather that it will improve your child’s quality of life and health. You must also prove that you will cooperate to ensure your child maintains a relationship with the other parent.

If you have custody of your child and intend to move outside of Illinois, you need to speak with an experienced attorney who has handled removal court cases. Contact a qualified Chicago child removal attorney to discuss the best course of action. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients throughout the region from any of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

Repairing Your Credit Score after a Divorce

March 24th, 2015 at 6:20 pm

credit score, divorce finances, Chicago Family Law AttorneysA divorce can certainly take a toll on a person emotionally, but it can also wreak havoc on a person’s finances. For instance, your household income may be going from two people working to just a single income. It is also often the case, especially in contentious breakups, that one spouse refuses to pay their share of the bills while the divorce is ongoing. This can result not only in your bank account taking a hit, but your credit score may also be greatly affected. Even in a “friendly” divorce, many people find their credit rating has taken a nose dive. Financial advisors say there are steps you can take which will help repair and rebuild your credit after divorce.

When it comes to repairing your credit after a divorce, the first step one should take is finding out exactly where their credit score stands. This can be done by pulling credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus. Federal law entitles you to receive a free report every year. Carefully examine the reports to find any and all accounts that are in your name, either solely or jointly. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one spouse to take out credit cards in their spouse’s name without their knowledge – especially in a troubled marriage –  and these accounts can have a negative effect on one’s credit score.

Close out accounts held jointly with your ex-spouse, and open accounts in your name only. The closing of accounts may cause your credit score to dip initially, but it will go back up again once you begin reestablishing credit in your name alone. You should also contact your current credit card companies and let them know you are now divorced. Inquire whether or not they will issue you a new credit card account in your name only. It is also important to have your name removed from accounts where you are listed as an authorized user.

When it comes to paying bills which are in your name alone, as you are trying to rebuild your credit, financial advisors recommend that you prioritize payment of your bills in the following order:

  1. Mortgage, car loans, and other installment loan debts and credit cards;
  2. Rental payments for apartment or house; and
  3. Utilities.

For bills which are still in both your name and your ex-spouse’s name, the priority should be:

  1. Payment for the vehicle you use;
  2. Mortgage or rent for the place where you live;
  3. Utilities; and
  4. Installment loans and credit cards.

During the divorce process, it is important to keep your attorney informed of any issues that surface regarding martial finances as you are going through the divorce. If your spouse is supposed to pay a share of the bills and refuses, your attorney will know what legal options you have – such as requesting a hearing where the court can order your spouse to make the payments.

If you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Chicago divorce attorney to discuss your case.  Anderson & Associates, P.C. has offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.