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Family Law

Posted on in Family Law

IL family lawyerAdoption can be a beautiful way to grow your family. However, the adoption process can be complicated, and sometimes take years depending on the circumstances. Not everyone is qualified to adopt a child in Illinois. There are certain requirements that the state sets out limiting who will be permitted to become an adoptive parent. These rules are in place to protect the safety of children who are eligible for adoption. The state has a strong interest in making sure that adopted children are placed in safe homes with capable and caring parents. While many adults will have no trouble qualifying, others may have difficulties for any number of reasons. An attorney can offer assistance if you anticipate any trouble.

What Are the Requirements to Adopt in Illinois?

The requirements to adopt a child may vary depending on the circumstances. If the child to be adopted is already related to the prospective adoptive parents, some requirements can be waivable. Many adoption petitions are very much decided on a case-by-case basis. However, typical requirements to become an adoptive parent include:

  • Age - In Illinois, adoptive parents must typically be 18 years old. Exceptions are only made for good cause. For example, the court may allow an older teenager to adopt her siblings after the loss of their parents if doing so is in everyone’s best interests.
  • Spousal participation - If a married person is seeking to adopt, their spouse must also be a party to the adoption and meet all requirements. Unmarried people can adopt without restriction. However, this may not be necessary for spouses who are separated and have been living apart for at least a year.
  • Residency - Adoptive parents must have resided in Illinois for six months. For those who are in the military, 90 days of residency is sufficient. This requirement may be waived in related adoption or for other appropriate reasons.
  • Reputation - Illinois law states that “reputable” adults can adopt. This requirement may seem a bit strange and is heavily case-specific.
  • Criminal background - Adoptive parents must submit to a criminal background check. Merely having a record will not necessarily prevent you from adopting. A non-violent misdemeanor that is at least a couple of years old is unlikely to get your adoption petition denied. However, more serious convictions or any record involving crimes against children may be a bar to adoption. Courts will not place a child with a person who has a history of harming children, nor will they want to risk exposing children to drug crime or violence. If you have an offense of this nature on your record you will need an attorney.

Many adults have some type of concern about being approved to adopt. Speaking to a qualified attorney may help set your mind at ease, or at least give you a realistic idea of what to expect.

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Posted on in Family Law

Kane County Adoption LawyerAdoption can be a beautiful way to expand your family. When you consider adopting a child in Illinois, there are a lot of choices to be made. Will you adopt after starting as a foster parent, or directly pursue adopting a newborn? Will you work with an agency? And now, will the adoption be open or closed? In the past, nearly all adoptions were closed but there is a growing trend towards open adoption. However you choose to go about adopting, it is important to have a lawyer you trust overseeing the process. 

What is Open Adoption?

In a traditional closed adoption, records about the birth parents are sealed and the child has no contact with them, typically at least until adulthood. In an open or semi-open adoption, however, the adopted child will have some form of contact with her birth parents. Open adoptions may be preferred by birth parents who know they are not prepared to raise a child on their own, but do not want to completely lose contact with the child entirely, either. 

The level of contact between adopted child, adoptive parents, and birth parents can vary quite a bit depending on the terms of the adoption contract. Some adoptive and birth families only exchange occasional letters and pictures. Some live close to one another and visit frequently. It is generally left up to both sets of parents what type of frequency of contact they would like to share. 

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Kane County Family Law AttorneyA lot of people in Illinois seek divorce because their marriage has become unsafe as a result of domestic violence or abuse. Any family, regardless of social or economic status, can be affected by violence in the home. As your divorce is processing, an Order of Protection can help keep you and your children safe. An order of protection forces the abuser to leave your home and not harm, or in some cases, even contact you. So who can get this order? If you need an order of protection in Illinois to keep you safe while you divorce your abuser, it may be wise to contact a qualified attorney for help. 

What Are the Requirements to Get an Order of Protection? 

There are two main requirements to get an Illinois Order of Protection. First, you must be a “family or household member” of the person you need the order to protect you from. Fortunately, this definition is pretty broad in Illinois. You do not even need to have been married to the abuser. “Family and household members” include: 

  • Couples - Spouses, former spouses, as well as couples who are dating or were dating can file. 

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Posted on in Family Law

Kane County Family Law AttorneyA Guardian ad Litem is a specially appointed person whose primary goal is to protect the interests of a minor child who is involved in a court proceeding. Most of the time, a Guardian ad Litem is an attorney with special training who effectively represents minor children in family law proceedings. They are often called upon in contentious divorce cases but are also used in some adoptions or other family law matters. If a Guardian ad Litem has been appointed in your family law case, an attorney may be able to help you understand their role. 

When is a Guardian Ad Litem Appointed? 

A judge will appoint a Guardian ad Litem if a court proceeding involves minor children and the judge feels that the children need a trained adult to solely represent the interests of the children. A court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem in: 

  • Contentious Divorce - Parents going through a divorce in Illinois are always encouraged to reach an agreement when it comes to parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities, or other important decisions regarding the children’s upbringing. This is not always possible. If there is a dispute, the court may call upon a Guardian ad Litem to help determine what arrangement would be best for the child. 

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Kane County Family Law AttorneyIn Illinois, many divorced and single parents rely on child support to provide for their children’s needs. Unfortunately, however, many paying parents fail to fulfill their support obligations, leaving the other parent and the child in a difficult situation. If your child’s other parent is not paying court-ordered child support, it is important to take action to resolve the situation, and an experienced family law attorney can help.

Talk to the Other Parent

In some cases, it is worthwhile to try talking to your child’s other parent before taking legal action against them. If you tend to have a good relationship with the other parent and their failure to pay support seems unusual, you might simply ask them to explain what is going on. Perhaps they are going through a time of financial hardship and they intend to make up the missed payments as soon as possible. In this case, the situation may resolve itself in due time, or you may be able to agree on modifications to the child support order that allow the other parent to make payments within their current means.

Get Help From the Division of Child Support Services

The Illinois Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) provides many different services for parents who receive child support, including collecting and disbursing payments. If you are unable to resolve the other parent’s missed payments on your own, you can request help from DCSS to collect these payments. DCSS can enforce a number of consequences for delinquent parents, including garnishing wages, intercepting tax returns and casino or lottery winnings, suspending driver’s licenses, denying passport applications, and including the parent on a public list of delinquent parents.

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