Archive for the ‘Chicago child custody attorney’ tag

Establishing the Father-Child Relationship Under Illinois Law

February 14th, 2015 at 10:23 am

father-child relationship, Chicago family law attorneysIt is easy to establish the parent-child relationship between a birth mother and her baby. After all, the only legal requirement is proving that she gave birth to the child. Establishing paternity, however, is not always as simple.

Illinois law presumes paternity if:

  • The man and the child’s natural mother were married at the time of conception;
  • After the child’s birth, the man and the child’s natural mother marry and he is named (with his written consent) on the birth certificate as the father; or
  • The man and the child’s natural mother have signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or other acknowledgment of parentage approved by Illinois law.

If the presumption of paternity arises due to marriage, it can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence. If the presumption involves a signed acknowledgment of paternity or parentage then that presumption is conclusive unless the acknowledgment has been legally rescinded within a certain time period.

Acknowledging and Challenging Paternity

The easiest way to establish paternity when the man is not married to the child’s mother is by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity at the hospital when the child is born. Both parents must sign the form in front of a witness who is at least 18 years old, who also signs the form. If either parent wants to rescind this acknowledgment, he or she must submit a rescission form to the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services within 60 days of signing the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.

Once the 60-day period has passed, it is very difficult to disestablish paternity. An acknowledgment of paternity can be challenged in court, but only for fraud, duress or material mistake of fact. The challenging party has the burden of proof.

Paternity can be established voluntarily, or it can be established by a court. The law permits certain parties to bring a legal action to determine the father-child relationship, including:

  • The child;
  • The child’s mother, including when she is pregnant;
  • Any person or public agency with custody of, or providing financial support to, the child; or
  • A man presumed or alleging himself to be the child’s father.

These various parties will likely have different reasons for establishing paternity. Once paternity is established, a parent has certain legal rights and obligations, including custody, visitation, and contributing to the child’s financial support. If you want to bring a legal action establishing–or challenging–paternity, contact one of our Chicago, IL paternity lawyers today. From offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and Chicago, Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help you with your paternity matters throughout Illinois.

Illinois Recognizes the “Mature Minor Doctrine” in Some Cases

January 29th, 2015 at 12:22 pm

mature minor doctrine in Illinois, Chicago family law attorneyA 17-year-old Connecticut girl diagnosed with cancer was removed from her home after doctors reported her mother for medical neglect. The state’s Department of Children and Families took temporary custody of the teenager, who refused to undergo chemotherapy. The single mother supported her daughter’s wishes, arguing that the teen is mature enough to make her own decision. A unanimous Connecticut Supreme Court disagreed and ruled that the state can force the teen to receive medical treatment.

A similar case emerged in Illinois almost 30 years ago. In that case, a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness diagnosed with leukemia refused a medically necessary blood transfusion. A court found the mother guilty of medical neglect and appointed a temporary guardian to make decisions regarding the teen’s cancer treatment. However, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the teen could refuse life-saving medical treatment with court approval.

The Mature Minor Doctrine

The “mature minor doctrine” has been recognized by several states, including Illinois. In these states, the law gives minors an opportunity to prove they are mature enough to make medical decisions for themselves. Other states that recognize the mature minor doctrine include:

  • Maine – In 1990, the state Supreme Court held that doctors should respect a 17-year-old’s wishes (the teenager was in a vegetative state) about not being kept alive artificially;
  • Massachusetts – The state allows mature teenagers to refuse medical treatment for religious reasons;
  • Montana – Statutory law permits minors who have graduated from high school to make medical decisions for themselves;
  • Tennessee – The state follows the “Rule of Sevens“: Under the age of 7 there is no capacity; between the ages of 7 and 14, there is a rebuttable presumption that there is no capacity; and between the ages of 14 and 18, there is a rebuttable presumption of capacity; and
  • West Virginia – The state Supreme Court set forth seven factors that courts should consider when determining whether a minor is mature enough to make his own medical decisions. Those factors are age, ability, experience, education, exhibited judgment, conduct and appreciation of the relevant risks and consequences.

Medical Neglect

The “mature minor” line of cases is not the only scenario involving child medical neglect. For example, an Illinois judge recently considered a medical emergency custody case involving an out-of-state teenager. In that case, a Missouri teen hospitalized in Chicago became a ward of Illinois once the medical facility reported his mother for medical child abuse. Specifically, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services placed him under temporary protective custody, arguing that the mother had interfered with the medical treatment of her child.

Illinois parents can be found guilty of neglect if doctors determine that a child is not receiving necessary care or medical treatment. If you risk losing custody of your child due to allegations of medical neglect, contact one of our Illinois family law attorneys today at (312) 345-9999. Anderson & Associates, P.C. helps clients from our offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown.

Illinois Supreme Court Considering “Rules of the Road” in Child Custody Dispute

January 21st, 2015 at 5:46 pm

child custody dispute, Illinois divorce attorneysLast November, the Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a child custody dispute. While it might seem unusual for the state’s highest court to wade into such proceedings, this case was different. Here are the facts:

The husband filed for divorce in 2013 and sought joint custody of the couple’s three daughters. (Remember that when parents have joint custody they share the legal authority to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing.) The wife filed her own divorce petition. She also sought joint custody but asked for sole custody if they failed to agree on a joint arrangement.

Court Restricts Parents’ Behavior

The court appointed an attorney to represent the children’s interests. Note that Illinois adheres to the best interests standards, meaning that custody, visitation and similar decisions must be made according to the best interests of the child. To that end, the children’s attorney submitted what is known as a “rules of the road” order. The order laid out guidelines restricting the parents’ behavior while in their children’s presence. It included, for example, a non-disparagement clause to prevent the parents from making negative comments about one another.

The husband asked for minor changes to the order, but the wife objected to the order in its entirety and appealed it claiming it was an injunction (a judicial order that restricts a person’s behavior). The appellate court dismissed her appeal, holding that the order was not an injunction, and therefore the appellate court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. Specifically, the court reasoned that:

  • The order only controlled the parties’ behavior during the custody proceeding and would not apply once the court entered a final judgment;
  • Contrary to the wife’s assertions, the court order was not an injunction but rather a legitimate exercise of the court’s broad authority to protect the best interest of the children; and
  • The order did not have to be supported by an affidavit, which would have been required if the order was an injunction.

The Wife’s Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court

The wife has appealed the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court. She is arguing that the appellate court’s decision should be reversed because it would allow trial courts to restrict parental rights without subjecting such restrictions to appellate review. However, the fact that the divorce has been finalized presents an interesting procedural hurdle to the wife’s appeal. It is possible the court will rule that the case is moot. In other words, the court might not decide the substantive question (whether the “rules of the road” order was procedurally deficient) because the underlying case has already been resolved.

Our family law attorneys in Chicago stay up-to-date on the latest developments in Illinois family law. Contact Anderson & Associates, P.C. today if you have any questions regarding the current lay of the land in divorce or child custody. At Anderson & Associates, P.C., we have decades of experience helping clients from our five regional offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park, and downtown Chicago. Call 312-345-9999 to schedule a free consultation today.