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Kane County family law attorney civil union

For decades, gay and lesbian couples in the United States have been fighting a long and hard battle for marriage equality. In the late 1990s, the federal government passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as one man and one woman and allowed states not to recognize same-sex marriages that were legally performed in other states under their laws. In 1996, the state of Illinois made it illegal for same-sex partners to marry. However, in 2011, the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act was passed, which gave both same-sex and opposite-sex couples similar rights and protections to those of married couples.

In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that defining marriage as only being between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. In 2015, the Court also ruled that allowing individual states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states was unconstitutional. This effectively granted same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry and subsequently most states turned domestic partnerships and civil unions into marriages, but Illinois kept civil unions as an option for cohabitating couples. Though civil unions give couples virtually the same rights and protections as married couples, there are a few issues that fall into a legal gray area. One such issue is parental rights within a civil union.


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois parenting time and responsibilities lawyer,There was a time in the United State’s history when most families comprised of a mother, a father and their biological children. Now, the “typical” American family has become somewhat of a thing of the past. With more Americans remarrying and same-sex marriage being legalized throughout the country, the “typical” American family is not so predictable anymore. According to the United States Census Bureau, more than half of American families were divorced and remarried or recoupled in 2010. The Bureau also reported that nearly four million children were living in a blended family or stepfamily in 2010.

Blended families face their own unique challenges and can prove to be difficult for some children to adjust to. Here are a few tips you can use to help ensure the success of your blended family:

Plan Your New Family


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer,Even though there has been a rise in alternative forms of co-parenting after a divorce, couples typically live in two different residences after they become divorced. Most of the time, children of divorced couples travel between the two parents’ houses according to the parenting time agreed upon by the couple. Illinois recognizes that the presence of both parents in a child’s life is important, which is why more and more couples are receiving equal or nearly equal parenting time. If one spouse has more parenting time than the other spouse, then the spouse with a lesser amount of parenting time will typically be responsible for making child support payments to the other spouse.

Calculating Basic Support Obligations

The first step to calculating child support payments is finding each parent’s monthly gross income. Once the monthly gross income is figured, then the Gross to Net Income Conversion Table is used to figure out each parent’s monthly net income. Then, both parents’ monthly net incomes are added together and the corresponding value is taken from the Income Shares Schedule. The amount from the table is the basic amount of money that should be spent on the child each month for living expenses, food, clothing, and other basic needs.


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois parenting time and responsibilities lawyer,When you are going through a divorce, it can pretty much turn your life upside down. Though you may experience some stress and anger, there are ways that you can combat that stress and deal with your anger in a healthy way. Unfortunately, this is not what happens in all divorces. In some cases, one parent may have so much hate for the other parent that it overcomes the love that they have for their children. This is when parental alienation usually appears and it can be detrimental to your child’s wellbeing.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when one parent tries to turn the children against the other parent. Most of the time, this happens when one parent is so angry at the other parent that they use deprecating comments, false allegations, and bribery to try to get the child to turn against the parent. Both the mother and the father are equally as likely to be the alienated and alienating parent. Typically, parental alienation occurs in families in which one or both parents have a personality disorder, but parental alienation can happen in any family.


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois parenting time lawyer, Although a divorce may be exactly what you wanted, your children may not think that a divorce is a good thing. Divorce can be extremely tough on families -- especially on kids. Changes in the home, daily routines and living situations can be a big stressor to children, who very much thrive off of routine. All children react to divorce and cope with the stress of divorce differently. While some children may act out by misbehaving in school, other children may act out by reverting to habits of younger children. Divorce is difficult for everyone, but here are a few ways you can help your children cope with the inevitable stress of divorce:

Be Honest with Your Children

Especially when telling your children about the divorce, you should strive to be as honest as is appropriate. Your children deserve to know why you are getting a divorce, but you should adjust the level of detail to suit the age of your child. Younger children need simple, concise answers, while teenagers may need more detail.


paternity-test-DNAIn the state of Illinois, a man is only legally presumed to be the father of a child if the mother was married or in a civil union with him when the child was born or within 300 days before the child was born. If the mother was not married when the child was born, the man she names as the father of the child is then referred to as the alleged father. That man will only become the legal father after one of three things happens:

  • Both parents complete and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form when or soon after the child is born;
  • An administrative paternity order is entered into by a child support agency; or
  • An order of paternity has been entered in court by a judge.

If the father contests the paternity of the child, the mother will then have to file a paternity suit that seeks to establish a parent-child relationship between the father and the child. Once you enter into a paternity suit, the judge will more-than-likely order the mother, the alleged father and the child to submit to genetic testing.

Understanding Genetic Testing


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer,When you are going through a divorce as a stay-at-home parent, you often have different things to worry about than if you were a working parent. Most of the time, stay-at-home parents sacrificed their careers or education to stay home and take care of the children. This can be problematic for them because stay-at-home parents typically rely on the income of their spouse to support the family. When you get a divorce, you find yourself being put into a situation where you must re-enter the workforce with little or outdated education and large gaps in your employment history. In these situations, spousal maintenance is used as a tool to keep you on your feet. Here are five steps you should take when you are a stay-at-home parent who is getting a divorce.

Gather All of Your Financial Documents

First things first -- you need to have all paperwork on your finances ready to present to a divorce lawyer. These documents can include:

  • Tax returns and W2’s from the previous three to five years;
  • Bank statements, including information on both checking and savings accounts;
  • Mortgage documents;
  • Vehicle titles;
  • Retirement account statements;
  • Credit card statements; and
  • Investment account statements.

Ensure You Have Access to Your Money

Some stay-at-home parents find that they do not have regular access to their family’s funds. If this is the case, you should make sure that you begin saving small amounts of money here and there to build up a reserve. One way around letting your spouse know you are saving money is by asking for cash back when you are at stores. If you have reason to believe your spouse might be hiding money from you, you should tell your lawyer who can help you discover it.


Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer,Traditionally, divorce has been frowned upon, especially if a couple has children. It was thought that children were better off growing up in a family where their parents were married. But staying in an unhappy marriage can mean a life of misery for you and can actually be detrimental to your children. Though “staying together for the kids” was once seen as an act of decency, it is now seen as an act of ignorance because children pick up on familial tension far more than some adults realize. That tension can manifest itself in many different ways in children, none of them being favorable. Here are four ways staying in a bad marriage could affect your children:

Chronic Stress

Sure, your kids might not know exactly why you and your spouse are fighting, but they can pick up on the tension that the fighting creates, which can lead to stress. Children look up to both of their parents and when they are both fighting constantly, they feel tense around them, rather than relaxed. Chronic stress can lead to problems such as depression and chronic fatigue.

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child custody lawyer, attorney fees,For most pet owners, their pets are a part of the family. When a couple gets divorced, one of the issues that may arise is who gets to keep the pet. Prior to 2018, the state of Illinois treated pets like any other piece of property--it was awarded to one of the spouses during the allocation of the couple’s other assets. A new law that was put into place at the beginning of 2018 allows a judge to decide which spouse is the best owner for the pet. A Change in the Law Before the beginning of the year, pets were considered an asset in a marital estate. Usually, the spouse that paid for the animal or had the best financial situation for the animal was allocated the pet in the divorce. This led to some animals losing the pet parent that loved them the most and sometimes a spouse would even fight over the pet out of spite and end up with an animal they did not care about. The new law gives judges the ability to look at the situation and decide what is in the best interest of the pet’s wellbeing. This means that one spouse may end up with full ownership of the pet or both spouses could end up in a joint ownership situation, meaning the arrangement would function similar to a child custody arrangement and the time spent with the pet would be split between both spouses. Deciding Factors

The only animals that the law does not apply to are service animals. Though service animals are companion animals, they provide their owner with assistance and it is important for the animal to stay with the spouse that needs them. For all other animals, judges will look at which spouse provides the necessary elements for the pet’s wellbeing. This can include the judge looking at who:

  • Has bonded with the animal;
  • Has taken the animal to the veterinarian;
  • Takes care of the pet’s day-to-day needs, such as walking or feeding;
  • Trained the animal; and
  • Has financially provided for the pet.
In addition, the judge can look at factors such as the age of the animal, whether there are other animals or children in the household that the pet has become accustomed to, and whether or not there are breed-specific rules in a different jurisdiction if a relocation is a possibility. Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

If you are a pet owner, you understand the emotional complexities that an animal has. Going into litigation over a pet can be nerve-racking, but with the help of a skilled Aurora divorce attorney, you can ensure that the judge will see that you are the best option for the pet. Contact the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. to see how they can help you protect your most precious asset. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation.



Illinois custody attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,It was an issue first reviewed by the Illinois Supreme Court more than 35 years ago, and the justices ruled then that common law marriages would not be recognized in this state. This meant non-married, cohabiting partners, regardless of the length of their relationship, could not claim rights to property owned by the other person. This ruling was upheld earlier this month when the Illinois high court decided that unmarried domestic couples had no rights to a partner’s property when the relationship ends.

Marriage and Cohabitation Not the Same, When a Relationship Ends

Many couples do not believe marriage is the right way to affirm their relationship. In fact, there are many couples who live together for long periods of time, even outlasting their married counterparts. However, the end of a relationship not licensed by the state through marriage can provide for some drama when it ends if one feels they are entitled to part of the property and assets amassed during their time together. However, in its most recent ruling, the state’s high court again confirmed that division of certain property and assets held by unmarried couples was not subject to the same laws as those impacting married couples going through a divorce.
  • When first considered, the Illinois Supreme Court reasoned the issue as a way to uphold a policy that discouraged cohabitation of unmarried partners, and any children resulting from the relationship.
  • Despite a change in societal norms, the state only recognizes a partner’s rights when part of a legally licensed marriage.
  • The laws in Illinois pertaining to unmarried couples apply to both those in same-sex relationships, as well as straight couples.

Financial Tips for Unmarried Couples

Here are few things cohabiting couples should consider to avoid unpleasantness should the relationship end.
  1. Create a plan for paying shared obligations, such as rent or utilities.
  2. Schedule bill payments with a plan that prevents unnecessary debt or late balances.
  3. Alternate purchasing expensive items.
  4. Owned real estate, rather than rentals, can complicate matters. If you are helping with mortgage payments make sure your name is on the title.

Seek the Help of a Knowledgeable Illinois Divorce and Property Division Lawyer


Posted on in Life After Divorce

Illinois custody attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,After going through the stress and expense of a divorce, the last thing on the mind of many adults is getting into a new relationship. However, for some divorced spouses, the desire to find a new partner is high on their list of things to do after getting out of a failed marriage. Just as no two divorces are alike, the reasons for getting into or avoiding a new relationship are just as varied.

Avoid Making the Same Mistakes

If you are intent on getting into a new relationship following your divorce, it may be important to take stock of the things that ended your marriage and strive to prevent those same issues from damaging future relationships. Other pitfalls to avoid include:


Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois child custody attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,Throughout the divorce process, much of the stress and anxiety weighs on the adults, as well as their children. It is a very difficult time for everyone involved. However, when a divorce involves children, often times members of the extended family are affected. This is especially true for grandparents who have built a deep and loving relationship with their grandchildren.

Grandparents’ Rights in Illinois

As with many legal matters, laws pertaining to visitation vary from state to state, and the issue of Grandparents’ rights to spend time with their grandchildren is no different. Here is a summary of some key facts relative to visitation of grandchildren during divorce. A court may grant visitation if:


Posted on in Child Custody

child custody, Aurora family law attorneyEven the most congenial divorce proceedings come with their own set of challenges. These are life-changing, stressful, heartbreaking and complicated times for everyone involved. Children are often caught in middle of the legal battles, and their concerns are just as real those of their parents’. It is not unreasonable for them to have concerns about who they will stay with, whether they will stay at the same school, or continue to live near their friends.

Different States, Different Rules

Child custody laws vary from state to state, and different counties or districts within each state may also have established protocols when it comes to making decisions regarding the children. Because of the differences in custody laws in different state, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was drafted and adopted by 49 states—including Illinois—and the District of Columbia to help streamline custody rulings country.


move, Aurora family law attorneyIn today’s digitally-connected world, it has never been easier to find employment and educational opportunities. Sometimes, of course, these opportunities may be far from your current home. If you are single and have no children, taking a new job in another state could seem like an exciting adventure. If, however, you are a parent who shares parental responsibilities with a former partner, doing so is often much more complex.

Moving Out of State

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) contains provisions that apply to parents who wish to move out of Illinois with their children when they are subject to a parenting plan or court-issued custody order. If you wish to move out of state and have at least half of the parenting time with your child or more, you must notify the other parent of your intent to move. Notification is not required if your move will be less than 25 miles from your current home.


child support, DuPage County child support lawyersVery few parents would argue that they do not have a responsibility to provide financially for their children—at least to a certain extent. Raising a child costs real money, and generating that money should be the concern of both parents, regardless of their relationship with one another. Under the law in Illinois, a family court may order child support payments from either or both parent to ensure that the child’s needs are properly met. How such payments are calculated, however, has become a subject of controversy in recent years, which we will address in this post and at least one other upcoming post.

Income Guidelines

The first thing that you need to know about child support calculations in Illinois is that a family court is guided by a formula and considerations listed in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The IMDMA provides a fairly straightforward method for calculating child support payments that relies primarily on just two factors: the number of children being supported and the paying parent’s net income. A parent supporting one child can expect to pay 20 percent of his or her net income as support, 28 percent for two children, 32 percent for three children, and so on, up to 50 percent for six or more children.


relocation, DuPage County family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, if you are subject to a parenting plan or child custody order and you wish to move to a new city or state with your child, you will probably need the permission of the other parent to do so. If the other parent does not consent to your move, you have the option of asking the court to override his or her objections. When the court takes up a relocation case, it must give consideration to a number of factors to determine if the relocation will ultimately serve the child’s best interest.

Relocation Defined

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that a relocation is more than just a simple move. You are permitted to move with your child within a certain radius of current home without needing anyone’s approval. If your move exceeds that radius, however, it is considered a relocation by law. A parent with the majority of the parenting time or equal parenting time must seek the other parent’s consent—or that of the court—for a move with the child that is:


parenting, DuPage County family law attorneyAre you subject to an agreement regarding parental responsibilities with a former partner due to a divorce or a breakup? If so, it is important to understand what type of responsibilities you have what your rights may be as far as your child is concerned. Too often, parents make assumptions about the law that are not correct, leading to confusion and misunderstandings about their roles in the lives of their children.

Separate Considerations

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that a parenting plan for divorced or unmarried parents should address two primary areas of concern. If the parents cannot reach an agreement on such a plan, one will developed by the court based on the best interests of the child. The two basic considerations are significant decision-making authority and parenting time. While they may be related to a minor extent, the law allows each consideration to be made separately.


child support, DuPage County child support attorneyAre you a divorced parent who struggles with the limited amount of parenting time that you have been allocated with your child? Such a situation is understandably frustrating for anyone. Even parents who are fortunate enough to share parenting time equally often do not feel that it is enough. These parents are not being selfish; rather, they truly believe that the time they spend with their children offers substantial benefits for everyone involved. There is, however, another frustrating element of shared parenting time that effects many parents: child support. It can be very disheartening to assume responsibility for your child half of the time or more but still be required to make child support payments.

No Current Correlation

As the law in Illinois exists today, there is no statutory relationship between child support requirements and parenting time or parental responsibilities for divorced or unmarried parents. The considerations for each are completely independent of one another, at least as far as the letter of the law is concerned.


parenting plan, DuPage County family law attorneysIf you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, holidays can present a number of rather unique challenges. In most families, holidays are a time for getting together with loved ones, many of whom who have not seen one another in some time—possibly since the same holiday last year. Of course, parents want their children to be part of the festivities and to visit with family members who may have traveled a great distance for the occasion. If you are subject to a shared parenting agreement, however, it may take some negotiation to figure out where your children will be spending the holidays.

Do Not Wait

While November may have only just started, Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away. This means that you and your child’s other parent should not delay in making plans regarding your holiday parenting time. The first thing you should do, however, is to check your existing parenting plan document, as many such plans contain a holiday parenting time schedule created years in advance to reduce confusion. If your plan does not include a holiday schedule or provides that you will negotiate a reasonable agreement each year, it is time to start preparing for winter holidays.


confessing, Aurora family law attorneyAs most people are aware, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of all marriages today will eventually end in divorce. While this number has declined in recent years, a 60-70 percent success rate for marriage is still not all that encouraging. Marriages can break down for any number of reasons, and, in most cases, divorce is the result of a combination of many factors, some within the spouses’ control and some not.

A Challenging Journey

The process of divorce, however, can be extremely difficult with many decisions to be made and arrangements to be negotiated. This does not even take into account the emotional and psychological struggle that many divorcing individuals go through as the process goes along. The cumulative effect of all of the difficulties can be overwhelming at times, but some experts suggest that there may be a way to ease your mind a little and to provide emotional relief to your spouse at the same time. Confessing, or taking responsibility for wrongs you may have committed, can go a long way in making the divorce process much smoother for the both of you.

The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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