Archive for the ‘child’ tag

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.

Petitioning for Sole or Joint Child Custody

March 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am

joint custody, sole custody, Illinois Family Law AttorneyIllinois recognizes two types of child custody agreements: sole and joint custody. If you are considering filing for divorce and you have children, deciding between sole and joint custody will be one of the most important choices you make during your case. The best interest of the child or children will be the first consideration with the judge, which is determined bsd on several factors set forth in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. In order to understand what these factors are and how they may apply to you and your family, you should speak with an experienced Chicago child custody and divorce lawyer.

Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

Sole and joint custody does not just refer to which parent will have the child more or less time than the other. More importantly, it involves the decision-making power of each parent. When you are filing for divorce and children are involved, the court will take several considerations into account, including, but not limited to:

  • Who is the primary caregiver;
  • Wishes of the parents and child or children in question;
  • The nature of the relationship each parent has with the child;
  • History or likelihood of abuse while under each parent’s care;
  • Living situation at each parent’s house; and
  • Likelihood of the custodial parent to foster a relationship between the child and non-custodial parent.

If a parent has sole custody, the child will live with the parent and the parent will have the legal rights to make all major decisions regarding the child. These decisions include education, religion, medical, and other major life-changing decisions. The custodial parent may ask the non-custodial parent for their opinion, but ultimately, the sole custodial parent makes the decisions. This does not mean the non-custodial parent will not see the child; they typically will have visitation rights as ordered by the court.

Parents with joint custody, on the other hand, must work together to make the major decisions for the child to further his or her best interest. They can work through their lawyers or a court appointed mediator to work out their differences when making decision about education, religion, medical procedures, and other important issues. In joint custody situation, one parent is usually designated as the residential parent, meaning the parent with whom the resides primarily, and the other parent will have a visitation schedule. Ultimately, a Joint Parenting Agreement that outlines each parent’s powers, rights, and responsibilities, will be signed by both parties and entered with the court.

Best Interest of the Child

Illinois courts may consider the wishes of both parents and the child, and typically will approve custody arrangements negotiated by the parties, but the judge is not required to do so. The judge must take the child’s best interest into account and make a decision based on the findings of his or her investigations into each parent, living situations, income, and any other relevant information. Using your children to hurt your spouse may end up hurting your case if the judge feels you are trying to petition for sole custody just to hurt your spouse’s relationship with your children or for tactical purposes in your divorce case.

If you are filing for divorce and have children, you will want to ensure that your divorce judgment furthers your children’s best interest. Contact a Chicago child custody attorney today to discuss your options regarding the custody agreement for your family’s situation. Anderson & Associates, P.C. assists clients in Illinois from one of our five offices, conveniently located in Chicago, Schaumburg, Wheaton, Northbrook, and Orland Park.

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.