Archive for the ‘Chicago Family Law Attorneys’ tag

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.

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.

Post-Decree Modifications: Maintenance Obligations

March 5th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

post-decree modifications, support obligations, Illinois family law attorneysA divorce decree is not necessarily absolute. When either or both parties experience a substantial change in circumstances then they can seek a post-decree modification of spousal support obligations. (Note that property divisions generally will not be modified. However, the court may make an exception if marital property that was not known at the time of the divorce is later discovered.)

So what constitutes a “substantial change” in circumstances? Examples include winning the lottery, losing your job and being diagnosed with a serious illness and incurring hefty medical expenses. But what constitutes a “substantial change” for one family might not be substantial for another. Thus, there is no pre-determined set of circumstances that automatically trigger modification. Instead, when the court entertains a modification petition it will consider various factors, such as:

  • Changes in employment status and whether the change was made in good faith;
  • Efforts made by the party receiving maintenance to become self-supporting, and whether those efforts are reasonable;
  • Impairment of either party’s present and future earning capacity;
  • Any tax consequences that the maintenance payments have on either party’s economic circumstances;
  • How long the supporting party has been making maintenance payments and how many payments must still be paid, relative to the duration of the marriage;
  • The property awarded to each party in the original divorce decree and the present status of that property;
  • Whether either party’s income has increased or decreased since the divorce decree was entered;
  • The property acquired and currently owned by each party since the divorce decree was entered; and
  • Each party’s needs, including age and physical and emotional condition.

petition seeking modification must be filed in the same court where the original judgment was entered. If neither party resides there, either they or the court may move to transfer the case to a more appropriate venue (usually to the county or judicial circuit where either or both of the parties reside).

The obligation to make maintenance payments also terminates in certain situations by statute. The most obvious example is the death of either party. However, death of the party paying support does not terminate the survivor’s right to receive death benefits from a life insurance policy. The obligation also terminates if the receiving party remarries or cohabits with another person on a continuing conjugal basis.

If you are seeking modification of a divorce decree, contact one of our Chicago divorce attorneys today for a free consultation. We have offices in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago.

Proceeding with a Stepparent Adoption

March 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 am

adoption, divorce, Illinois family lawyerThere is no law that says families have to be related by blood or by marriage. In fact, Illinois adoption law says the exact opposite.

While adoption often involves a single- or two-parent household bringing a new child into the family, that is not the only type of adoption. When a parent divorces and later remarries, the new spouse becomes a stepparent. In some cases, stepparents might want to officially adopt their spouse’s children. Stepparent adoption is one of the most common types of adoption and is a fairly simple process in Illinois.

However, adoption is not always an option for stepparents. There are three things that are important to understand about stepparent adoption:

  1. Stepparents looking to adopt their spouse’s children must be married to the custodial parent. Put another way, if the child’s other parent has residential or sole custody of the child, adoption as a stepparent is not likely to occur.
  2. Illinois law does not permit a child to have three legal parents. For the stepparent to adopt the spouse’s child, the other parent must terminate his or her parental rights (thereby forgoing all custody, visitation, and other parental rights afforded by law). If the other parent is deceased, such consent is unnecessary.
  3. If the other parent does not consent, the stepparent adoption may still proceed if the other parent is proven to be unfit.

Establishing Parental Unfitness

Statutory grounds for parental unfitness include, but are not limited:

  • Abandoning the child;
  • Deserting the child for a three-month period before the process of adoption;
  • Failure to maintain interest in or responsibility for the child’s well-being;
  • Failure to show interest in a newborn in the first 30 days following the child’s birth;
  • Failure to pay child support or attempt to provide financial support, despite being able to do so;
  • Evidence of repeated physical abuse; or
  • Statutory neglect.

Seeking the Child’s Consent

Stepparents also have to seek written consent from the child if the child is at least 14 years old. Once all parties have given their consent, or a parent has been found unfit, then the adoption process can proceed. The entire process can be completed within 90 days. (If the stepparent must establish parental unfitness, then the process will take longer.)

Putative Fathers

Keep in mind that a child born out of wedlock can also be adopted by a stepparent. The biological father can still object to the adoption as long as he registered with the Putative Father Registry within 30 days of the child’s birth.

If you are interested in adopting your stepchildren, contact one of our Chicago adoption attorneys to discuss your case today. We will help facilitate the process of adoption and answer any questions you may have. With office locations in Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, Orland Park and downtown Chicago, we are well-suited to serve the needs of clients throughout the region.