Archive for the ‘Chicago family law attorney’ tag

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.


Child Support: Modifying an Order to Meet Evolving Needs

March 19th, 2015 at 3:00 pm

support order modification, child support, Chicago family lawyersFor many couples, and especially those with children, a divorce is more than a legal process used to finalize the dissolution of their marriage. Instead, it represents the starting point for a new family dynamic extending many years into the future. While many of the negotiations and arrangements inherent to divorce proceeding are permanent, such as the division of marital property, others must be drafted with the current situation in mind, and may be adjusted as the family’s circumstances change. A child support order represents a prime example of such an arrangement. 

Establishment of a Child Support Order

At the time of a divorce, or other appropriate point prescribed by law, if a support order is appropriate, the court is expected to follow established guidelines to determine the amount of support must be paid. The non-custodial parent is typically required to pay support based on his or her net income, the number of supported children, and relevant circumstantial factors. Once the order has been entered, the supporting party must continue to meet his or her obligations or risk enforcement action and prosecution.

Changes in Needs or Resources

An order for child support is expected to address the current and reasonably anticipated needs of the child, while taking into account the income and resources of the supporting parent. However, it is very likely that either or both will change over time, potentially resulting in a situation that it is not appropriately being matched by the existing support order. For this reason, the state of Illinois not only permits support orders to be modified, but encourages that they be kept as current as reasonably possible.

The court may consider the modification of a child support order in the following situations:

  • The needs of the child have significantly changed. In addition to normal growth and development, other considerations may impact the amount of financial support required by the child. Examples may include the diagnosis of a serious medical condition, the legal marriage of the child, and acceptance into an elite educational program. The impact to the support order could range from a substantial increase to the complete termination of support.
  • The supporting party experienced a significant change in income. Situations may arise in which the paying parent loses employment or suffers a debilitating injury which negatively affects his or her earning capacity. Conversely, a new position or increased business opportunities may drastically increase his or her income. Depending on the case, ordered support may be increased or decreased.

Recalculation of Support

Once the court determines that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, the modification of a child support order is handled by the court in the same manner as establishing the original order. The same considerations must be made, and with more current income and circumstantial information available, the modified order will be better suited to meet the family’s needs.

If you are subject to a child support order in Illinois and believe the order should be modified for any reason, contact an experienced Chicago family law attorney today. The qualified lawyers at Anderson & Associates, P.C., can help you understand your options and provide you the best in professional legal services. We have offices conveniently located in Wheaton, Schaumburg, Orland Park, Northbrook, and downtown Chicago.

Research Supports Millennials Prefer to Wait Out Marriage

February 26th, 2015 at 9:51 am

waiting on marriage, Illinois family law attorneyIt has been reported that the millennial generation is gaining ground as the emergent consumer demographic in the United States. However, this generation is also redefining societal views on marriage and divorce. With cross-checked data between the American Community Surveys and the 2000 U.S. Census report, millennials are waiting longer to tie the knot or opting to forgo matrimonial vows all together, adding credence to a changing marital tide.

A recent working paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), an American nonprofit research organization, presents data supporting the millennial non-marital movement. Although NBER research found that couples who opt for marriage generally are happier and face life-hardships together to avoid divorce, the research also supports the millennial train of thought in waiting for marriage.

It appears that research across the pond is also producing similar conclusions. NBER researchers reviewed similar data derived from over 1,000 British couples. The data, cross-checked with The United Kingdom’s Annual Population Survey, the British Household Panel Survey, and Gallop World, produced similar findings similar to the NBER review. In the British findings, however, another interesting trend emerged.

By opting to ward off marriage until a later age, or not at all, the British research concluded that if both partners consider their significant other as their best friend that they are happier. There is, in fact, no real rush to tie the knot and non-traditional living arrangements can reap the same benefits as a happy civil union.

In a divorce torn American society, perhaps millennials are on to something. NBER study co-author and University of British Columbia economics professor John Helliwell believes they are. As told to The New York Times, Helliwell suggests that perhaps it is time to rethink the importance placed upon the institution of marriage and rely more on friendship and compassion as the foundation for a successful relationship.

Additional surveys are also arriving at the same conclusion. A 2012 publication, Reexamining the Case for Marriage: Union Formation and Changes in Well-Being from the National Council on Family Relations®, supports that those couples opting to delay marriage evoked a higher level of self-esteem and were generally happier than their married counterparts. However, the study did also reveal that, married or unmarried, if both relationship statuses were based on a foundation of trust and friendship, their levels of a sense of well-being were raised.

If you are revisiting your marital situation because you or your spouse is considering moving on with life, or if you are in need of a cohabitation agreement to protect your assets with your unmarried partner, an experienced Chicago, IL family law attorney at Anderson & Associates, P.C. can help. Our lawyers can meet with you to personally address any legal questions you may have. We have five offices throughout the area: downtown Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, and Northbrook.

Consenting to Your Child’s Adoption

February 24th, 2015 at 9:35 am

adoption in Illinois, Chicago adoption and family law attorneyIn some circumstances, parents are not able to provide a financially stable home or give their children the life they want them to have. Illinois law allows for birth parents to put their children up for adoption in order to offer a better future. Here are a few things to know if you are a parent who feels this is the best option for your child or if you are a hopeful parent who wants to adopt.

A child is available for adoption when:

  • He has been surrendered for adoption to an agency, and the agency has consented to that adoption;
  • A person authorized by law, other than the child’s parents, consents to the adoption, or when no consent is necessary;
  • He is in the custody of persons who intend to adopt him through placement made by his parents;
  • A parent has signed a specific consent to adoption; or
  • He has been relinquished pursuant to the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act.

Consent, Surrender and Waiver

A consent or surrender is generally required before a child is available for adoption. However, neither is required if the court finds:

  • The person is an unfit parent by clear and convincing evidence;
  • The person is not the child’s biological or adoptive father;
  • The person waived his or her parental rights;
  • The person is the father as a result of criminal sexual abuse or assault;
  • The father is a family member of the mother, and the mother was under 18 years old when the child was conceived; or
  • The father is at least five years older than the mother, and the mother was under 17 years old when the child was conceived (unless the parents voluntarily acknowledge the father’s paternity).

If a waiver, consent or surrender is needed to complete the adoption, there are several timing requirements that must be followed:

  1. No consent or surrender can be signed within the 72-hour period immediately following the child’s birth.
  2. If the consent or surrender is signed 72 hours after the child’s birth, then it is generally irrevocable.
  3. The child’s father may sign a consent or surrender before birth. The father may revoke his consent or surrender if he notifies the agency or court representative who acknowledged the consent or surrender within 72 hours after the child’s birth. A consent/surrender that is not revoked within this time period is irrevocable.
  4. A parent may consent to a standby adoption that will become effective when the consenting parent dies or requests that the final judgment of adoption be entered.
  5. A putative father or legal father may sign a waiver of his parental rights at any time prior to or after the child’s birth. A waiver generally is irrevocable.

Contact one of our Chicago adoption attorneys at Anderson & Associates, P.C. if you have any questions about the adoption process in Illinois or about the consequences of signing a consent, surrender or waiver. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Certified Mediation in Illinois

February 21st, 2015 at 9:19 pm

certified mediator illinois, Chicago family law lawyerStaying married may not be for every couple, but neither is a court trial when the couple decides to divorce. Mediation is an alternative for divorcing couples who want to decide what the end results of their divorce will be, but need assistance from a neutral third-party. Certified mediators can help the parties reach an agreement outside of a courtroom.

Some couples may agree on many aspects of the divorce, but disagree over some areas and cannot reach a divorce settlement. “A mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between parties to assist them in reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute,” according to the Illinois Uniform Mediation Act. Mediators are neutral third-parties that help guide the couple to an agreement.

One reason some couples choose mediation over a court trial is that all communications related to the mediation, whether verbal or written, are confidential. Court trials are public records and many couples do not want their divorce proceedings to be available for anyone to see. Mediation through a certified mediator will keep your divorce proceedings and settlement private.

Certified mediators are required to attend a course through an accredited program. During the course, mediators-in-training:

  • Learn skills needed to assist parties reach a resolution;
  • Practice simulated mediations;
  • Work with currently certified mediators or conflict resolution coaches; and
  • Complete a minimum number of hours for certification.

In addition, each circuit court in Illinois has additional requirements to become a certified mediator in that jurisdiction. Parties may be assured that the mediator can confidently guide them through the mediation process and hopefully to reach a complete agreement.

Parties are able to state their view of the events, without having to follow the traditional formalities of a court trial. With the help of the mediator, they are able to discuss their perspective on the issues, what solutions they would like, and how they can reach an agreement. Mediators are also able to meet with parties individually to gain a better understanding of underlying issues to help in the discussion of the settlement.

Mediators can help parties come to an agreement on all aspects of a divorce, including:

  • Child custody;
  • Visitation;
  • Maintenance;
  • Parenting guidelines; and
  • Property and asset division.

In addition to saving costs of a court trial, mediation can save both parties time and may help them maintain a more amicable relationship. The certified mediators at Anderson & Associates, P.C. are experienced in both mediation and divorce and family law cases. They have helped clients avoid the stress, costs, and time a court trial could have cost them.

If you or your spouse has filed for divorce and want to attempt to settle it out of the courtroom, contact a Chicago certified mediation attorney today. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook and Orland Park.

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.

Petitioning for an Order of Protection

February 13th, 2015 at 10:47 am

Illinois order of protection, Chicago domestic violence lawyerIllinois does not tolerate physical assault, sexual abuse or domestic violence of any kind. If you or your children have been threatened or attacked, you can obtain an order of protection against the alleged abuser. There are three types of orders of protection available in Illinois: emergency, interim, and plenary orders.

An emergency order offers temporary protection. A person protected by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act may obtain an emergency order in court without giving notice to the alleged abuser (known as the “respondent”). Such orders can last up to 21 days. A plenary order extends that protection up to two years, but the respondent must first be provided with notice of the proceedings. A court will not issue a plenary order without a hearing in which both sides have the opportunity to present evidence. However, there is often a gap between an emergency order’s expiration and the hearing on a plenary order of protection. An interim order, which lasts up to 30 days, is designed to bridge this gap. However, the court will only issue an interim order if the respondent has appeared in court, has been formally notified about the proceedings, or the petitioner is making a diligent effort to serve the respondent with notice of the proceedings.

What Does an Order of Protection Do?

An order of protection places limits on the respondent’s behavior and can also afford the victims (known as “protected persons”) with certain rights. Examples include:

  • Prohibiting abuse, neglect, harassment, interference with personal liberty and stalking;
  • Prohibiting the respondent from entering any residence he or she shares with the  protected person(s);
  • Ordering the respondent to stay away from the  protected person(s;
  • Prohibiting the respondent from entering the protected person’s school, place of employment or other specified places when the protected person is present;
  • Requiring the respondent to attend counseling;
  • Awarding physical custody or temporary legal custody of any children to the petitioner;
  • Establishing the respondent’s visitation rights, if any; and
  • Granting the petitioner exclusive possession of any family pets.

Note that an order of protection is enforceable within Illinois as well as anywhere within the United States.

Who May File a Petition Seeking an Order of Protection?

The law only permits certain individuals to petition for an order of protection. Any person who has been abused by a family or household member may seek this legal protection.   If this person is a minor child or an adult who, due to age, health, disability or inaccessibility, cannot file the petition, then anyone may file on that person’s behalf. The law also permits anyone to file on behalf of a “high-risk” adult with disabilities who has been abused, neglected or exploited by a family or household member.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, remember that you are not alone. We can help you and your loved ones seek the protection that you need, both in the short-term and in the long-term. Contact one of our Chicago family law attorneys today for a consultation. Anderson & Associates, P.C. has five offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park 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.

Is a Cohabitation Agreement Right for You?

February 12th, 2015 at 9:44 am

cohabitation agreements in Illinois, Chicago family lawyerThere are over 7.5 million unmarried couples cohabiting in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For some people, marriage is not what they want, and for others, they have already been married and do not want to marry again. No matter what the reason, cohabiting couples in Illinois who decide to separate do not automatically have rights in court like married couples do under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. A cohabitation agreement can help you and your partner state what will happen while you are living together or after your relationship ends.

Illinois does not recognize rights for cohabitating couples, or common law marriages, as Costa v. Oliven demonstrates. In that case, the couple cohabitated for 24 years, building a family and business together, without getting married. They shared property, bank accounts, assets, and had a daughter. Oliven worked while her partner, Costa, stayed home to raise their daughter. When Oliven told Costa to move out of the home they shared, Costa filed a complaint with the court. His complaint and appeal were dismissed because the parties were not married and there was no cohabitation agreement in place.

While the idea of separation is not at the forefront of anyone’s mind when they move in together, you may still want to protect your assets or establish safeguards should anything happen to you or your partner. Without a cohabitation agreement or estate planning documents in place, you likely would not have any legal rights to the assets you have shared or to make decisions on behalf of the other.

You and your partner may want to consider a cohabitation agreement if you:

  • Own property before you start cohabiting;
  • Have children and want or need to define parenting roles;
  • Are considering co-mingling your accounts;
  • Want to name each other as guardian should something happen;
  • Want to clarify what happens to property and assets if you separate or one partner passes away; or
  • Want to state how expenses will be paid.

An experienced family law attorney can help you and your partner state exactly what you want to happen during and after your cohabitation. Should something happen to one of you, you want to ensure your wishes are carried out. They can help you understand what rights you have and how to protect yourself, your partner, and your assets in case of separation, incapacitation or death.

If you have taken the next step in your relationship with your partner and are cohabiting or you are not considering marriage but would like to commit to your partner by other means, contact one of our Chicago cohabitation agreement lawyers today. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from any of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

United States Supreme Court Will Hear Same Sex Marriage Case

February 2nd, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Supreme Court same sex marriage case, Chicago family lawyerOn January 16, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a case that will determine whether the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and recognize same sex marriages that were performed in other states.  Specifically, the Supreme Court will review the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld the states’ right to prohibit same sex marriages.  The Supreme Court has consolidated four cases, one from each state in the Circuit, each of which raise a different issue facing same sex couples who do not have the right to marry.

The Plaintiffs’ Challenges

One case was filed by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a lesbian couple who live in Michigan.  They are raising three children together, two of whom were adopted by Rowse and one who was adopted by DeBoer.  The couple cannot adopt the children together, as Michigan law prohibits joint adoptions by unmarried couples.  Among the couple’s concerns is what would happen to the children if one of them were to pass away as there is no guarantee that the children would remain with the other parent (and their siblings) unless a legal relationship is established.

Similarly, Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty are asking for Tennessee to recognize their marriage, which was performed in New York, in part to establish their parenting rights.  Tanco and Jesty are unique in that their daughter has Jesty listed as her “father” on her birth certificate.  Depending on the outcome of the case, the birth certificate may be voided and reissued without listing Jesty as a parent. The case was joined by three other couples who were also married in jurisdictions that recognize same sex marriage and are seeking legal recognition of the marriages in their home state.

Ohio’s case involves two couples seeking to have their out-of-state marriages recognized so they can enforce their rights upon the death of one of the partners.  James Obergefell and John Arthur were married in Maryland after Arthur was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The couple wanted to be buried next to each other in Arthur’s family plot, but the cemetery only allowed decedents and spouses.  Their suit was joined by David Michener and William Herbert Ives, a gay couple who wanted Michener to be listed as a spouse on Ives’ death certificate, and Robert Grunn, a funeral director looking to protect his right to recognize same sex marriages on death certificates.

Lastly, the challenge from Kentucky was brought by four couples that were married outside of Kentucky in jurisdictions where same sex marriage is legal. The couples are seeking to have Kentucky recognize their marriages and afford them the advantages that heterosexual married couples enjoy in Kentucky, such as tax benefits, intestate succession, and the ability to enroll jointly in health insurance along with their children. 

The Sixth Circuit’s Majority and Dissenting Opinions

Three Sixth Circuit Judges heard arguments regarding all four cases.  In a 2-1 decision, Judge Cook and Judge Sutton voted to overturn the lower court decisions, all of which ruled in favor of the same sex couples, while Judge Daughtery dissented.

The majority opinion notes that all four states passed constitutional amendments since 2004 that defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.  All of the amendments were approved by a majority of voters in the state, and the court believes that the voting electorate should be able to decide how marriage is defined.  In addition, the states were able to put forth a rational basis for limiting marriage to heterosexual couples: to create stable family units for planned and unplanned procreation and child rearing.  The majority explains that this idea is also supported by the “traditional” definition of marriage.  The majority concludes its opinion by cautioning against rash action by the courts and advocates for allowing the democratic process time to resolve the conflict between states that allow same sex marriage and states that do not.

Judge Daughtery’s opinion, on the other hand, asserts that marriage is a fundamental right and that the states have failed to present a reasonable justification for withholding that right from same sex couples.  The dissent explains that there are several issues that confront the plaintiffs and same sex couples across the country because they are denied access to marriage.  The dissent rejects the procreation and child rearing argument accepted by the majority, pointing out that it is not supported by the studies presented in the lower court.  Judge Daughtery also points out that judicial intervention was necessary to stop racial discrimination and therefore is also appropriate to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.  In her view, the court is responsible for protecting individuals’ fundamental rights, even if it is not supported by popular opinion.

How the Supreme Court’s Decision Could Affect Illinois

Unlike the states in the Sixth Circuit, in 2014 Illinois passed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act which provides same sex couples with equal access to marriage and all of the benefits that state law provides to married couples.  Even if Illinois had not passed the legislation, later in 2014 the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (the Circuit that includes Illinois) invalidated state prohibitions of same sex marriage.  In addition, the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor extended the benefits afforded to married couples under federal laws to same sex spouses.  Therefore, Illinois same sex couples are legally given the same treatment as heterosexual couples so long as they stay in Illinois.

However, if a same sex couple marries in Illinois, there is no guarantee that their marriage will be recognized in other states.  This can have an impact not only on where the couple decides to live, but also travels for work or vacation.  The Supreme Court’s upcoming decision will determine whether valid same sex marriages performed in Illinois (and other states that allow same sex marriage) must be recognized by all other states, whether or not that state allows same sex marriage.

If you have questions regarding your rights as a same sex couple in Illinois, contact an Chicago family law attorney at Anderson & Associates, P.C.  Our attorneys have the knowledge and compassion to represent your best interests.  Call us today at 312-345-9999 to set up a free initial consultation in our Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Orland Park, or Northbrook offices.

This article was written by attorney Christin A. Handa of Anderson & Associates, P.C. Ms. Handa is a licensed attorney focusing in the areas of Family Law in Cook County and surrounding collar counties. Her practice primarily includes Divorce, Custody, Child Support, Visitation, Alimony & Spousal Support, Paternity (Parentage), and Domestic Violence/Orders of Protection.