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Family Law

Kane County Divorce AttorneyThe winter holiday season is a special time of year for many of us. Families that celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, or other winter holidays will gather for special meals, the exchanging of presents, and reunions with old friends. As the holiday season continues, many hopeful romantics are making one the biggest decisions of their lives: getting engaged to be married. In fact, Christmas Day is one of the most popular days of the year for popping the big question. If you are planning to get engaged this holiday season, firstly – congratulations! As you plan for your wedding, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Prenuptial Agreements

As you plan for the big day, one decision you and your partner will need to make is if you will sign a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements are also called premarital agreements or "prenups.” The purpose of this legal document is to ensure the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event that the marriage ends in divorce. Obviously, planning for a possible divorce before a couple has even gotten married is not exactly romantic. The topic may be uncomfortable to talk about, but prenuptial agreements can be vital in protecting your financial interests and rights.

Even if your current relationship is strong and you believe that the marriage will last, it is important to plan for the worst-case scenario. Having a prenuptial agreement in place can be invaluable during a divorce. It can simplify property division and spousal support decisions, as well as save the couple from tedious negotiations.

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Kane County Child Custody LawyerHalloween has come and gone, which means that the winter holiday season is almost upon us. Over the next few weeks, there will be a number of holidays that you and your family may choose to celebrate.

If this is your first holiday season as a recently separated or divorced parent, you may understandably feel upset and disappointed. Holidays are simply not the same without the familiar sounds of children laughing and having fun. Parents may argue about which parent will spend which holiday with the children because they simply do not want to miss the experience. While there is no way to eliminate the pain of missing your children, there may be a way for you and your child’s other parent to work out a holiday parenting time schedule that works for both of you.

Put Holiday Arrangements in Your Parenting Plan

As a parent getting divorced in Illinois, you will be asked to create a parenting plan or parenting agreement. The agreement must include several provisions that detail how parental responsibilities and parenting time are divided between the parents. You will also want to include information about where the children will spend the major holidays. Some parents choose to split the holidays between them. For example, one parent may have the children on Thanksgiving and the other has the children on Christmas. Other parents decide to make a rotation schedule so that parents spend certain holidays with the children every other year. The most important thing is to decide on an arrangement as soon as possible so that you can avoid having the same argument about where the kids will spend holidays every year.

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Kane County child custody lawyerAs a parent, it can be worrying to learn that a guardian ad litem has been appointed for your children during custody proceedings, incident to a divorce or otherwise. The term “guardian” carries connotations that can be concerning for parents, but rest assured that guardians ad litem are a perfectly normal part of a custody case. When it begins to appear that a dispute regarding the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities is likely to be litigated, courts frequently bring in a guardian ad litem to help the court understand what type of arrangement is likely to be best for the children. 

In Illinois, all concerns regarding child custody are to be resolved in the best interests of the children. It can be difficult for a court to discern the children’s needs and wishes without an investigation by a guardian ad litem, as children, particularly young ones, are not able to speak for themselves in court as an adult could. If you expect that your child custody dispute will need to be resolved judicially and a guardian ad litem is involved, it is critical that you are represented by an experienced attorney. 

Understanding the Role of a Guardian ad Litem

The duty of the guardian ad litem is to conduct an investigation into the children’s or child’s best interests. There is an enumerated list of factors that courts must consider in making decisions regarding the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities. A guardian ad litem is familiar with these factors and will investigate accordingly. 

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Kane County Family Law AttorneyIf you are a parent involved in an ongoing legal battle over parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, you may be wondering whether your child will have any say in the matter. Since Illinois courts are required to decide all child custody issues in favor of the child’s best interests, it would only seem natural that the wants and needs a child expresses would be important. However, children are not always the best at recognizing their own self-interest. This is what parents are for–deciding what is best for the child and doing it. While a child’s expressed wishes are relevant to a court’s custody decision, parenting time arrangements are never left up to the child. If you are fighting for custody of your child, it is important to have an attorney who understands the court’s decision-making process. 

How Are a Child’s Wishes Factored into the Court’s Decision?

Illinois courts use a list of factors to help them determine what course of action is in the best interests of the child. Other factors include things like the mental and physical health of all parties, and how well the child is adjusted to their current school and community. One of those factors is the expressed wishes of the child. However, the court will also consider the age, maturity, and capacity to make responsible decisions. 

As a parent, you are likely aware that young children in particular are easy to manipulate. Parents may try tactics from bribing a preschool-aged child with ice cream to badmouthing the other parent to a middle schooler in order to manipulate the child. A child who has been bribed or influenced may tell the court that they wish to remain with the manipulator-parent, but courts can take these words with a grain of salt. 

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Kane County Family Law AttorneyAdopting a child can be an amazing way to grow your family. People adopt for all kinds of different reasons. Some do it out of necessity because the child of a family member or friend needs a new loving home. Other couples adopt because they are unable to have children of their own - gay and lesbian couples often fall into this category. There are also people who choose adoption for moral reasons, preferring to give a home to existing children in need rather than trying for a biological child. No matter the situation, adoption can be a long and costly process. Only the truly committed prospective parents make it through the process and are finally able to bring home their new legal child. However, children older than babies may have some trouble adjusting. A little patience and understanding can go a long way. 

Tips for Helping Your Adopted Child Adjust to Your Home

Toddlers and older children alike may experience emotional distress when they are moved into a new permanent home with their adoptive parents. Adopted children may have spent some time in foster care or a group home, or they may have had a difficult home life with their biological parents for some time. Some tips that may help you help them include: 

  • Therapy - If your new child is not already in therapy, now is the time to start. A qualified child psychologist may be able to help your child cope with any distressing feelings they are having about forming a new family. You and your partner may also want to consider therapy for yourselves to help you learn to adjust to parenthood. Family counseling can also be a great idea. A therapist can help you and your child communicate more effectively and understand each other better. 

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