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IL divorce lawyerIn an Illinois divorce or divorce decree modification, courts are primarily concerned with discovering one thing: What is in the best interests of the child? A judge’s decision regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as “custody”) will take many factors into consideration.

Understanding the things judges look for in potential custodial parents can help increase your chances of being given those responsibilities and spending valuable time with your child. Here, we will explore some of those factors in detail:

  • The Ability and Willingness to Work with Your Co-Parent – Research shows that children do best when both parents are involved in their lives. However, if one parent is particularly combative, a judge may limit the child’s time with that parent in order to minimize the child’s exposure to conflict.
  • Involvement in Your Child’s Education – Even if your child spends the school week in their other parent’s home, you can still be involved in their education. Attend parent-teacher conferences, encourage academic success, and expose your child to educational opportunities.
  • Appropriate Boundaries – When you do not get to see your child every day, it can be tempting to make your visits based on fun and excitement rather than a responsible, parent-child relationship. Ensure your child eats wells, sleeps well, and spends their time well during their time with you. If your child reports that you spend your weekend visits together eating only fast food and playing video games this will not reflect very well on your parenting capabilities.
  • A Child-Friendly Home – Your child’s needs are different from your own. Everything, from age-appropriate dishes to clean clothes and bedding, should reflect the fact that a child lives with you. Making sure your child has what they need and knows where to find it will go a long way toward making them feel comfortable in your home.
  • Consistent Conduct – Children need consistency and predictability. If you are late, cancel last-minute, or are otherwise unreliable, your child could feel unimportant, abandoned, or as though they cannot trust you. Give your child the respect they deserve and keep your promises and commitments to them.

Speak with an Arlington Heights Family Law Attorney

Your relationship with your child is one of the most important things in your life. Having an experienced Cook County, IL divorce attorney on your side during your divorce will help you understand your options and advocate for your and your child’s interests. To learn more about what the family law attorneys with A. Traub & Associates can do for you, call us at 847-749-4182 today and make an appointment for a confidential consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerMarried spouses and any children they have typically live in the same home. During and after divorce, spouses in Illinois are unlikely to want to remain under the same roof long-term but may feel uncertain about who, if anyone, will continue to live in the family home. Spouses can feel an emotional attachment to their home, especially if it has been inherited from cherished family members, and parents may have concerns about the destabilizing impact of moving to a new home on their children.

Determining Ownership

Whether one spouse owned the home before the marriage or whether the spouses bought a new home together will impact the way the marital home will be handled in the event of a divorce. Illinois law says that assets owned by either spouse prior to entering the marriage are usually considered individual property in the event of a divorce.

Large appliances and cars with your name on the title are fairly easy to distribute, as their ownership is clear. But homes are more complex, especially because spouses make mortgage payments and do not usually own them outright during the marriage.

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IL divorce lawyerNo matter how amicable your divorce may be, the process of getting divorced is unpleasant. Very few divorce cases are resolved quickly, and in the most complex or high-conflict cases, divorces can drag on for years. A protracted divorce in Illinois will take its toll on everyone and everything involved – spouses, children, relatives, bank accounts.

Some things are out of your control during divorce: You may have to wait longer than you want for a court appointment to be available, or for the discovery process to finish. Fortunately, you are not totally helpless when it comes to speeding up the process. Here are a few things you can do to make your divorce move more quickly.

Reach Agreement Before the Divorce Begins

Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that a couple only needs to cite irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce. But if one spouse denies that there are irreconcilable differences, or does not agree that a divorce is necessary, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period of living “separate and apart.” In order to bypass this six-month waiting period, both spouses must agree to get divorced. Try to talk to your partner and reach an agreement that divorce is in your best interests before either party begins divorce proceedings.

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IL family lawyerWhen a couple is growing their family, they often use an egg donor. Whether they are choosing an egg donor for an embryo to be carried by a gestational surrogate or the intended mother herself, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right donor.

Choosing an egg donor is an intimately personal experience, and only you can know all of the factors that will contribute towards finding the right fit. Here, we discuss some of the most common issues couples and individuals consider when choosing an egg donor.

Personal and Family Health History

Modern genetic testing shows that certain people are carriers for genetic diseases, or at higher risk of certain types of cancers. Some diseases are more common within populations for whom finding a matching donor is important.

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IL family lawyerIt is every parent’s worst nightmare: The person you hoped would share your responsibility in caring and providing for your child may actually be abusing them. It is far easier to recognize and prevent abuse from strangers than from an ex-spouse who has custody of a child, but all the more important to do so because of the important role a parent plays in a child’s development. If you believe your former spouse is abusing or neglecting your child, there are steps you can take to protect your child and ensure the abuse does not carry forward into the future. The strategy you use will depend on your living situation, your custody rights, and how urgent the need is for intervention.

In an Emergency, Call the Police

If you suspect your child of being in imminent harm or subject to immediate physical abuse, call the police and report the situation immediately. Likewise, if you are the custodial parent of the child and your former spouse has just committed an act of domestic violence against you, call the police and file a report right away.

Request an Order of Protection

In Illinois, an order of protection can serve the purpose of removing a child from the custody of an abusive parent while requiring that same parent to stay away from you, your home, and your children. An order of protection can require that an abusive parent may not leave the state with a child or hide that child from you.

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IL family lawyerContemporary medical practice provides couples and individuals in Illinois who are struggling with fertility challenges with several options for growing their families. Those in the midst of considering the various possibilities available to them have to consider several factors, such as the time, potential cost, and third parties that may be involved, like egg donors and gestational surrogates.

When you take these together with the emotional impact of making the life-changing decision of having a child, knowing which option to choose can seem difficult and overwhelming. Having a skilled lawyer who knows the intricacies of the law can simplify the process and give you peace of mind while making sure you are aware of your rights and responsibilities under Illinois family law.

Here, we discuss the difference between two of the most common methods of bringing a child into your loving family: In vitro fertilization and gestational surrogacy.

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IL family lawyerAlthough parents are typically understood as wanting the best for their children, individual interpretation of what is “best” varies, and parents often disagree. Unfortunately, sometimes parents are accused of being delinquent or neglectful in the care of their children. Illinois law provides a comprehensive listing of parental obligations in caring for children, setting the legal standard for what a child is able to expect of his or her custodial parents.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • A child’s immediate physical needs - This includes providing good nutrition, ensuring the child gets enough sleep, teaching and attending to the child’s hygiene, and caring for the child when he or she is ill or injured.
  • A child’s developmental needs - A child has many developmental milestones, and parents must be involved in helping their child achieve them. This includes things like learning to walk and other basic motor skill development, toilet training and table manners, and teaching the child to play well with others.
  • A child’s disciplinary needs - It is the responsibility of parents to help their children develop into functioning adults, and sometimes this requires discipline – within reason. This can include assigning and supervising chores, and ensuring children have the skills needed to behave with self-control and personal restraint.
  • A child’s social needs - Parents are also required to facilitate positive relationships with a child’s siblings, peers, extended family, and, unless there are extenuating circumstances, the other parent. Although Illinois law regarding parental alienation is complex, there can be serious consequences (beyond the negative impacts to the well-being of the child) when a parent attempts to alienate a child from his or her other parent.
  • A child’s educational needs - Parents must ensure a child attends school, including any remedial or extenuating special services that a child may need. Parents must also communicate with teachers and counselors, and supervise the child’s homework.
  • A child’s needs when the parent is not present - If a parent cannot be present with the child for any reason, it is their responsibility to secure an appropriate caregiver such as a babysitter or other family member.

Contact an Illinois Parenting Time Lawyer

It is normal for parents to have reasonable differences in their understanding and expectation of how each of these responsibilities should be carried out, and some compromise will be necessary. However, parents are always responsible under the law for ensuring the needs of a child are met.

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IL divorce lawyerAlimony or spousal maintenance refers to financial support that one spouse pays to the other spouse after divorce. “Temporary relief” spousal maintenance orders may also be ordered for the duration of the divorce proceedings. If you are getting divorced and you are concerned about the financial implications of the split, you may want to consider seeking financial assistance in the form of spousal maintenance. Read on to learn about when and how spouses may receive maintenance in an Illinois divorce.

Reaching a Spousal Maintenance Agreement with Your Spouse

Some spouses reach an alimony agreement long before they file for divorce. If you and your spouse already agreed on a maintenance arrangement in a valid prenuptial agreement or separation agreement, the terms of this agreement will likely be upheld by the court. However, if you have not already made these arrangements, you may need to negotiate a maintenance agreement as part of your divorce settlement. Your divorce lawyer may be able to help you reach an arrangement that you can both agree on. Divorce mediation may be another avenue for negotiating a spousal maintenance agreement.

Petitioning the Court for a Spousal Maintenance Award

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement about maintenance terms, the court may step in and decide for you. Illinois courts do not award maintenance in every divorce case. Maintenance is awarded when spouses’ financial, employment, and life circumstances justify these payments. The court will consider the duration of your marriage, the standard of living experienced during the marriage, your employability, your spouse’s ability to pay maintenance, and several other factors. If maintenance is deemed appropriate, the court will use a statutory formula to determine the amount of maintenance that you will receive.

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IL divorce lawyerTypically, when a couple gets married, very little emphasis is placed on the financial implications of the marriage relationship. We prefer to think of marriage as a romantic union rather than a legal or economic arrangement. However, the financial consequences of marriage and divorce can be profound. If you are getting divorced in Illinois, it is important to be aware of the various asset division issues you may encounter.

How Will You Divide Your Property?

When most people think of property division during a divorce, they imagine divvying up furniture and other physical property. However, property division includes much more than physical property such as this. You may also need to consider how to handle investments, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, cryptocurrency, real estate, businesses, and professional practices. Assets that are hard to value or have fluctuating value will be especially difficult to value and divide in divorce.

How Wil You Address Property with Sentimental Value

It is crucial to remember that some property is meaningful not because of its financial value but because of its sentimental value. Have you considered who will keep family heirlooms, keepsakes, collectibles, or other sentimental items? What about the family pets? Although Illinois law does distinguish pets from other types of property, family pets are still subject to property division laws during divorce. Because these are often highly emotional questions, dividing property with personal or sentimental significance can become contentious.

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IL family lawyerHousing, childcare, extracurricular activities, and other child-related costs can create a significant financial burden on a single parent. Child support payments can ease this burden substantially. Unfortunately, consistently getting the child support you need is not always easy – especially if the other parent is not consistently employed. Your financial needs and the financial needs of your child do not change simply because the paying parent or “obligor” loses his or her job.

Illinois Child Support and Unemployment

In Illinois, child support payments are based on a statutory formula that takes both parent’s income into account. The lower a parent’s income compared to the other parent’s income, the lower his or her child support obligation. The parent with the greater share of “parenting time,” or time spent with the child, is the child support recipient and the other parent is the obligor. If a parent’s income is zero because of a job loss, his or her child support payment may or may not be reduced.

Voluntary Unemployment or Involuntary Unemployment

Illinois law makes a distinction between voluntary unemployment and involuntary unemployment when it comes to child support payments. If a parent quits his or her job, the court will be less likely to grant him or her a reduced child support obligation. If a parent is laid off or fired, the court will consider the parent’s attempts to regain employment. If an unemployed parent makes genuine efforts to become suitably employed, the court may allow the parent to pay a lowered child support obligation until he or she regains employment. If a parent makes little effort to find another job, it is unlikely that the court will be sympathetic to the parent’s situation. The parent may be expected to continue paying child support at the rate he or she paid it before the job loss.

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IL family lawyerThe relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is very special. Unfortunately, divorce, family arguments, and other circumstances can sometimes get in the way of this relationship. If you have grandchildren, you may be curious about your legal right to see them. You may ask, “Can my child prevent me from seeing my grandchildren?” or “Can I get visitation rights?” In Illinois, grandparents may petition the court for court-ordered visitation in some circumstances.

When Are Grandparents Awarded Visitation?

The law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests to have each of his parents involved in his life. Consequently, parents have a right to visitation, technically called “parenting time,” unless there is a good reason to restrict a parent’s parenting time. The same presumption does not exist for grandparents. However, grandparents can petition the court for visitation under certain circumstances. Illinois courts only grant grandparent visitation if at least one of the following is true:

  • The parents are divorced, and at least one parent agrees to grandparent visitation
  • The parents are unmarried and do not live together
  • At least of the parents is deemed “unfit” due to neglect, abuse, addiction, or other concerns
  • At least one of the parents has been absent from the child’s life or in jail for three or more months

Illinois courts always make decisions about child custody or visitation based on what is in the child’s best interests.

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Arlington Heights family law mediation attorneyIn Illinois, child custody is now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parental responsibilities include decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, and other major issues. Parenting time, which used to be called “visitation,” is the time a parent spends with his or her child. Divorced, separated, and unmarried parents in Illinois describe how they intend to divide parenting time and parental responsibilities in their “parenting plan.” Family law mediation or child custody mediation is a means of reaching an agreement about the terms of the parenting plan with help from a mediator.

Mediation Can Help You Reach an Agreement About Your Parenting Plan

Many parents are surprised to learn just how detailed the Illinois parenting plan must be. Parents cannot simply decide that a child will spend time with one parent on the weekdays and the other parent on the weekends. Parents must also decide how parenting time will be handled on holidays, school vacations, and in other special circumstances. The parents will need to determine how they intend to handle any future proposed changes to the parenting plan, what happens if a parent moves, and several other issues.

Per Illinois law, there are more than a dozen provisions that must be included in a parenting plan, but some parents decide to add more. Understandably, many parents are overwhelmed by the number of decisions they need to make during the creation of their parenting plan. A mediator can help parents determine what issues they agree on and what issues still need to be resolved. The mediator can then guide parents through negotiations and discussions regarding the unresolved issues.

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Arlington Heights, IL family law attorney child support

For high school seniors, the beginning of spring means that graduation is just around the corner. Many high schoolers are already preparing for college next fall. If you are a parent of a school-aged child, you may have concerns about how you will finance your child’s college education. You may have questions such as, “Am I required to pay child support after my child turns 18?” or “Which parent pays for university costs?”

Paying for College as a Divorced or Unmarried Parent

If you are a divorced or unmarried parent in Illinois, it is important to know the law regarding college-related costs. Many parents assume that their child support obligation ends once their child turns 18 and graduates high school. This is generally the case. However, parents may be required to contribute to their child’s post-secondary education. Unlike typical child support, there is not a statutory formula for calculating the amount that a parent must contribute to post-secondary expenses. However, there is a cap on the amount that a parent may be required to contribute to college costs. Parents cannot be required to pay more than what it would cost for their child to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

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Arlington Heights, IL family law attorney divorce mediation

Ending a marriage is not as simple as signing on the dotted line and walking away. Most divorcing couples will need to resolve certain issues before they can finalize the divorce. The division of marital property and debt is often an especially complicated and tense aspect of a divorce. If you are a parent, you and your spouse will need to determine how to divide parenting responsibilities and parenting time. You and your spouse may also disagree about child support and/or spousal support. One way you may be able to reach an agreement about these issues is through family law mediation.

Mediation Is an Alternative to Divorce Litigation  

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement about the terms of your divorce, the court will be forced to determine the unresolved issues for you. This not only takes away your control over the outcome of your divorce but going through divorce litigation is often a very stressful process. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that aims to resolve divorce issues outside of court. During mediation, the spouses work with a skilled mediator to discuss the unresolved issues, explore possible solutions, and find common ground.

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Arlington Heights, IL family law attorney surrogacy

Surrogacy can allow an individual or couple to fulfill their dreams of becoming a parent. However, surrogacy is also a complicated process – legally, emotionally, and financially. If you want to use a surrogate to have a child, it is essential that you learn about surrogacy laws in Illinois and work with an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer can protect your rights and the rights of your unborn child, draft a comprehensive surrogacy contract, and ensure that your surrogacy plan meets the requirements set forth by Illinois law.

Understanding the Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act

The Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act (IGSA) establishes the requirements for a valid gestational surrogacy contract. If parents follow these requirements, the parents will be automatically named on the child’s birth certificate and will not need to take additional legal action to gain parental rights for their new baby. In a gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is not biologically related to the child. The egg and sperm are combined using in vitro fertilization and then the embryo is implanted in the surrogate’s uterus. The IGSA sets forth many requirements, including:

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Arlington Heights, IL family law attorney order of protection

Domestic violence affects the lives of millions of individuals in Illinois and across the country. If you, your child, or a disabled adult who you know have been abused or harassed, you may be interested in getting an order of protection. Called restraining orders in other states, an Illinois order of protection is a legal court order that prohibits someone from further harassment and abuse. It may require the abuser, called the respondent, from coming to your home, workplace, or school or contacting you. It may even require the respondent to move out of your shared home or surrender any firearms he or she owns.

Emergency Orders of Protection May Be Granted Based on Your Testimony

In Illinois, there are three main types of protection orders: emergency orders of protection, interim orders of protection, and plenary orders of protection. Emergency orders of protection (EOP) are often issued on the same day that they are requested. In most legal actions, the respondent must be served with notice of the action. However, an EOP may be granted “per se,” which means that the respondent is not present or notified of the court order. The EOP may be granted on your testimony alone.

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Arlington Heights, IL divorce attorney child custody

If you are a parent who is considering divorce or you are unmarried and about to become a parent, you probably have questions about child custody. In Illinois, child custody has been replaced by the more modern terms “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” Parental responsibilities refer to a parent’s authority to make major decisions about the child’s life such as where the child will attend school. Parenting time, formerly “visitation,” is the actual time that a parent spends caring for his or her child. Parents are asked to outline the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time in their “parenting plan.” Parents who cannot agree on parenting plan issues have several options.

Working Out an Agreement with Help from a Family Law Attorney

Understandably, parents often have strong feelings about child custody issues. This can make it hard for parents to discuss child-related issues rationally or to even consider compromising. If you find yourself in this situation, a family law attorney who has experience with child custody disputes can be a valuable resource. Your attorney can help you negotiate the elements of the parenting plan and may also have ideas that you had not considered.

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Arlington Heights, IL divorce attorney child custody

Drug and alcohol addiction is a huge concern throughout the United States, including in Illinois. Substance abuse problems such as alcoholism and opiate addiction have destroyed thousands of families. Other addictions such as gambling or shopping addictions can also have a devastating effect on a marriage or family. If you are thinking about legally ending your marriage, and your spouse suffers from an addiction, you may be worried about how your spouse’s addiction may affect your Illinois divorce.

Put Your Health and Well-Being First

If you are like many people who are married to a drug addict, alcoholic, or another type of addict, you have probably spent a great deal of time trying to help your spouse. You may have talked to your spouse about getting rehabilitative treatment, attending support groups, or going to counseling for his or her addiction. You likely spent months or years trying to help your spouse beat the addiction. Once you decide to end the marriage, you may need to learn to put yourself first. Divorcing someone with an addiction will likely be an emotionally exhausting experience involving a fair number of legal complications. That is why it is very important to make your mental health and well-being a priority during this difficult time.

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Arlington Heights, IL family law attorney prenuptial agreement

If you are engaged to be married, you may be interested in learning about prenuptial agreements. Although they are often the subject of misconceptions and misunderstandings, prenuptial agreements are valuable legal tools that can serve a variety of purposes. A prenuptial agreement or “prenup” is a legal contract that describes spouses’ property rights and responsibilities. Signing a prenup means entering into a legally binding contract so it is important to educate yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of prenuptial agreements before agreeing to one.  

How Can a Prenuptial Agreement Benefit Me?

Prenuptial agreements are often associated with celebrity weddings or last-minute marriages. People may even assume that a prenuptial agreement is only necessary if a couple believes that the marriage will fail. However, more and more people are starting to realize that these myths are untrue and that prenuptial agreements can benefit them in many ways. Prenuptial agreements are becoming especially popular among the millennial generation.

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Arlington Heights, IL family law attorney DCFS investigation

Child abuse and neglect are serious problems in the United States. Sadly, it is estimated that almost 700,000 children are abused every year in the United States. However, an allegation of child abuse is not true simply because someone accuses a parent of abuse. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is the governmental agency tasked with investigating claims of child abuse in Illinois. If you are being investigated by the DCFS after being accused of mentally, physically, or sexually abusing your child, there are several things you should do.

Keep Calm and Comply with the Investigation

If you have been accused of hurting your own child, you may be offended and dismayed. You may be furious with the accuser or shocked that he or she would make such an allegation. However, it is important to keep your emotions under control. Lashing out at the person who accused you or at the DCFS staff will only make your situation worse. Comply with the DCFS’s investigation. An investigator may visit your home, interview you, and speak with your child’s doctor, teacher, relatives, or other adults in the child’s life. The DCFS’s job is to investigate the allegations and determine if there is evidence that suggests that the allegations are true.

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