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

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Oswego parenting time attorney

The ultimate goal of all parents is to make sure their children are happy and healthy. In cases in which parents are divorced or are no longer together, disagreements may arise when it comes to determining what is best for their kids. In divorce cases, you must address certain child-related issues, such as parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Illinois courts strongly encourage couples to work together to come up with a plan for their family, but this does not always work. Sometimes, a parent will do whatever they can to get their way when it comes to the custody of the children. If it is known that a parent uses marijuana, the other parent may attempt to use that fact to their advantage. 

Marijuana Laws in Illinois

Medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Illinois since 2014. Those with a variety of qualifying conditions have been able to use cannabis as a way to treat certain diseases and conditions. At the beginning of 2020, recreational marijuana became legal for most adults in Illinois. As long as you are over the age of 21, you are legally permitted to purchase and consume cannabis in Illinois, although in certain amounts and in designated places. It is important to note that the drug still remains federally illegal.

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DuPage County fathers' rights attorneyIn today’s world, most people would agree that a father plays just as an important role in raising a child as a mother. Many people also believe that a child deserves to have both parents present in his or her life. For some people, this can be difficult, especially if the child’s parents were not married when the child was born. In cases such as these, it is up to either the mother or father to petition to establish the paternity of the child, which can be done a few different ways. Establishing the paternity of the child creates a legal relationship between the child and his or her father. Until paternity is established, there is no legal relationship between the two, even if they are biologically related.

Presumed Paternity

In the state of Illinois, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he was married or in a civil union with the child’s mother at the time the child was born. A man is also presumed to be a child’s father if he was married to the mother at any point within 300 days before the child was born. If the parents were not married or in a civil union during either of these times, the man has no legal presumption to the paternity of the child, and either parent must go about establishing paternity through signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or through genetic testing and a court or administrative order.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

There are quite a few reasons why a mother or father would want to establish paternity for his or her child. In most cases, establishing the paternity of the child gives both the child and the father rights they would not otherwise have. Benefits of establishing paternity include:

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois parenting time and responsibilities lawyer,Even just a decade ago, it was uncommon for fathers to win custody of their children, rather than just having visitation rights. Partial custody was awarded in some cases and full custody was rarely awarded unless the mother was a substance abuser, physically abusive, in jail or somehow otherwise unfit to be a parent. Now, most attorneys, judges and other divorce professionals agree that children do their best when both of their parents play an active role in their children’s lives. Still, fathers may have a more difficult time gaining a majority of or even partial parenting time with their children. Here are a few tips you can use to help you win at a parenting time hearing:

Build a Strong Relationship with Your Child

When judges allocate parenting time, one of their main concerns is what custody situation would be in the child’s best interest. The judge will be examining the relationship that the child has with you and the child’s other parent, so it is important that you ensure your relationship with your child is strong. Keep in touch with your child, even when they are not in your custody. Check in with your child often and make sure that they know you are there for them whenever they need you.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois parenting time and responsibilities lawyer,Divorce is difficult for everyone in the family, but it can be especially difficult for fathers who are going through a divorce. Even though it is 2019 and most people agree with the fact that a child does his or her best when both parents are involved in their life, fathers are often given the short end of the stick when it comes to divorce. Mothers are still seen as the primary caregiver and are often still given preference when making determinations about parenting time and decision-making rights. Though it may seem that there are numerous societal and cultural factors that are working against fathers, having help from a divorce lawyer who focuses on father’s rights can be beneficial. Here are four things you can do to be a good dad after your divorce:

Fight for Your Right to Parenting Time

Unfortunately, the court systems tend to favor the mothers over the fathers when it comes to parenting time. This can spell difficulty for fathers who want to play an active part in their child’s life, so it is important that you are tenacious about fighting for parenting time. When you attend parenting time hearings, make sure you are attentive, you listen to the judge and you show the judge that you care about your children.

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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.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer,In the United States, the traditional family unit has been changing more and more with each passing year. Families only comprised of a married mother and father and their biological children are now not the only “acceptable” form of a family. With the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. in 2015, more families are composed of same-sex couples with adopted children. With divorce becoming more common and more socially acceptable, blended families have also become more common. Sometimes, to complete a blended family, step-parents may want to adopt their spouse’s children. This is called stepparent adoption and it is the most common form of adoption in the U.S.

Special Considerations

Related and unrelated adoptions are very similar in some ways, but also very different. Related adoptions can often be easier to complete than unrelated adoptions, but they do come with their own specific set of factors that should be taken into consideration. These include:

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Posted on in Paternity

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child support lawyer,When a child is born, it is automatically known who the child’s mother is--this is not the case for the child’s father. In Illinois, if a couple is not married or in a civil union when the child is born, the father is not legally considered the father of the child and his name cannot be added to the birth certificate until paternity is established. The only time there is a legal presumption of paternity is if the mother and the father of the child were married or in a civil union at the time of the child’s birth, or were married within 300 days before the child was born. Establishing paternity is important for both the parents of the child and the child itself.

The Importance of Determining Paternity

When a child’s paternity is in question, the father does not have any legal rights when it comes to the child. In order for a father to have rights to parenting time or parenting decisions, like decisions about the child’s healthcare or education, paternity must be established for the child.

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The structure of the American family is drastically changing. Even though the majority of children are still raised in households with a married mother and father, that number has been decreasing over the years. According to the Pew Research Center, less than half of American children are living with both of their parents in their first marriage. Family structures in the United States have been changing and now include blended families with step-parents and children, parents who cohabitate and LGBT families. According to The Williams Institute, about half of LGBT women and a fifth of LGBT men are raising a child. The Case Recently, an Illinois court ruled that a woman has parental rights to a child that was conceived in her lesbian marriage. The woman’s former wife had sought a sperm donor to carry the child that was to be raised by the both of them. When the child was born, both parents identified themselves as co-parents on the birth certificate but split seven months after the birth. Even though the woman has no biological connection to the child, she was granted parental rights and partial custody of the child by a Winnebago County court. Determining Parentage Under Illinois law, a person is considered to be a parent of a child if the mother of the child and the person entered into a marriage, civil union, or other legal relationship before the birth of the child and the child was born during the time of the relationship. Using this law, the mother seeking parental rights in the case involving her non-biological child had a right to seek custody. Illinois Parental Rights Laws

According to Illinois law, parents can assert rights involving their non-biological child and they can also be held responsible for providing child support payments.  In the state of Illinois, parental responsibility consists of two things - significant decision-making and parenting time. Significant decision-making consists of things such as:

  • Education, including the choice of schools and tutors;
  • Health, including all decisions pertaining to the medical, dental and psychological well-being of the child;
  • Religion;
  • Extracurricular activities; and
  • Unless an agreement by both parents is submitted that details the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will determine which responsibilities are allocated to each parent.
Determining Factors

In the event that the parents can not come to an agreement in determining parental responsibilities, the court will determine the responsibilities that each parent is accountable for. When making these determinations, the court looks at these factors:

  • The wishes of the child;
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community;
  • The mental and physical health of the child and both parents;
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate, or the level of conflict between them;
  • The level of each parent’s past participation in parental responsibilities;
  • Any prior agreement between the parents involving parental responsibility;
  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The child’s needs;
  • The distance between the parent’s homes, the difficulty of transporting the child to and from the homes, each person’s daily schedules and the parent’s ability to comply with the arrangement;
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage and facilitate a relationship between the other parent and the child;
  • The likability of abuse by either parent to the child; and
  • Whether one of the parents is a sex offender.
Seek Help from an Illinois Parental Rights Lawyer Navigating the court system when you are seeking custody arrangements for your child is difficult and can be confusing. Having an experienced Illinois parental rights lawyer with you can provide a sense of relief and support. The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. can help you figure out what is best for you and your child. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation.

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parenting time, DuPage County family law attorneysA divorced, separated, or unmarried parent should never feel like a stranger in the life of his or her child. For many parents, however, that was often their reality as Illinois—like many states—used to refer to their time with their children as “visitation.” A parent who is seen as a “visitor,” rather than integral part of the child’s life, could experience a variety of problems, including a lack of parental authority and the appearance of not being fully committed to his or her child’s best interests.

Last year, however, an amended law took effect which proved that Illinois lawmakers recognized the struggles of many divorced parents. The new law was an effort to “level the playing field” so to speak between parents with different levels of parental responsibilities.

Visitation Is Now Parenting Time

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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.

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Posted on in Visitation

parenting time, DuPage County family law attorneysThere are many scenarios that could lead to you having significantly less parenting time with your child than the other parent. Perhaps you were not married when your child was born and the court granted the other parent all of the decision-making responsibilities for the child and most of the parenting time. Or, maybe at the time of your divorce, you had serious issues with anger or showed signs of alcohol abuse, leading the court to limit the danger to your child. Whatever the reason may be, if you have precious little time with your child, you want to make the most of it. If the other parent is making it difficult for you to exercise your right to parenting time, a qualified family lawyer can help.

Get Things in Writing

Being denied access to your child can incredibly frustrating, especially if it is being done out of spite or anger. A finding of danger by the court is one thing, but the unsanctioned actions of the other parent are not acceptable. The first thing you should do if your parenting time rights are being unfairly limited is to keep a record of all communication between you and the other parent. Using emails or text messages instead of phone calls or in-person conversations can provide the documentation you may need down the road. If you ask to see your child and the other parent refuses, document his or her response. Failure by the other parent to comply with your court-ordered parenting arrangement could result in serious consequences for him or her.

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stepparent, Aurora family law attorneyBlended families come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. Some adopt to grow or start their families. Others have divorced and now have one single parent, or two partial or complete sets of parents and stepparents. Then there are those with a stepparent who is filling a gap that was created by an absentee or deceased parent. Though not the child’s biological parent, these stepparents provide a love, acceptance, and support that completes the family. In these instances, a stepparent adoption might be appropriate. Learn how to determine if it might be right for your family, and how you can move forward with the process.

Benefits of Stepparent Adoption

When you are already an active and influential part of a child’s life, it might seem redundant to file for adoption. However, there are some key benefits to stepparent adoption – namely the ability to assert legal rights to the child you already love. This right would allow you to seek parenting time, should your current marriage in divorce. It also gives you the ability to act as legal guardian if your spouse is unable to do so. Some examples of situations in which this might be helpful could include a medical emergency or an accident that leaves your spouse incapacitated.

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parental alienation, DuPage County family lawyerThe FBI believes that most of the thousands of children who go missing every year are abducted by a parent, usually a parent who has not been granted primary custodial responsibilities. In a significant number of these cases, authorities believe that the abducting parent had help from a third party.

Faye Yager, who founded Children of the Underground in 1987, freely admits that her organization is one of these third parties. During its heyday in the early 1990s, the group stole names from the birth certificates of dead people, advised runaway parents and their children to “leave everything behind,” and concealed them in one of an estimated 1,000 safe houses. These parents (mostly women) were on the run from allegedly abusive current and former partners (mostly men) and the courts that supposedly turned a blind eye to their plights. The movement lost steam in 1998, when Ms. Yager faced 60 years in prison for alleged child kidnapping and child cruelty; the charges were eventually dropped when the children at issue returned to their father.

Although the 68-year-old activist is now semi-retired, the group recently made headlines again in Minnesota, where a mother and three other people were charged with hiding two girls from their custodial father for over two years.

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parental responsibilities, Illinois family law attorneysWhen you are in the midst of a divorce, it may seem very tempting to just sit back and the let a judge make the difficult decisions. Of course, this approach fails to account for the multiple court appearances that will probably be necessary, and the fact that you will still need to provide the court with all of the information and evidence relevant to your case. Divorce laws in Illinois explicitly promote amicable agreements between divorcing spouses whenever possible. Divorcing parents, in particular, are expected to work together in developing a plan for cooperative parenting and protecting their children’s best interests. Parents Know Best There are many examples in Illinois family law indicating that a court must presume that parents will act in the best interest of their child. This is based on the idea that, unless proven otherwise, parents are equipped to fully understand the situation at hand and to make decisions for their child that are ultimately beneficial. Due to recent updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the same concept is now being applied to co-parenting and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Rather than assuming that courts should make parenting judgments, the amended law requires divorcing parents to develop a strategy for parenting together. The plan, of course, must be reviewed and approved by the court, but the court will only make changes or enter a judgment of its own when absolutely necessary to protect the child’s interests. Parenting Plans According to the law, once a proceeding for the allocation of parental responsibilities—formerly child custody—has begun, parents have 120 days to file a proposed parenting plan. The plan must address each party’s rights, decision-making authority, parenting time schedule, and a number of other concerns required by law. The deadline may be extended if either parent can show good cause. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, the court has the authority to order mediation to assist in the process. Should mediation ultimately fail, or if either party refuses to participate in good faith, the court may allocate parental responsibilities, likely taking the refusal to cooperate into account. A parenting plan that addresses all of the appropriate concerns and that is reasonable to both parents will be approved by the court and entered as part of the divorce judgment. Parents can later amend the plan either by agreement or by showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Legal Advocate for Parents

If you have questions about divorce, parenting plans, or the allocation of parental responsibilities, contact an experienced Aurora family law attorney. We will help you find the answers you need so that you can make an informed, responsible decision about how to proceed with your case. Call 630-409-8184 to schedule an appointment at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., today.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+VI&ActID=2086&ChapterID=0&SeqStart=8350000&SeqEnd=10200000

visitation, Illinois law, Illinois family law attorneysParents who are divorced or unmarried face often face significant challenges in remaining an active part of their children’s lives. As a non-custodial parent, especially, you may find getting access to visitation with your child to be difficult, let alone developing a meaningful parent-child relationship. Despite the obstacles, however, you know how important your child is to you, and understanding your legal rights can help you take necessary steps toward your more prevalent role in his or her life.

Reasonable Visitation Rights

The law in Illinois presumes that the best interests of a child are served when he or she enjoys a positive relationship with each parent. As such, any parent who is not granted custody of a child is granted reasonable rights to visitation. “Visitation” is a term which may be used to describe interactions between the child and a parent in various custody situations. For example, if your child’s other parent was granted sole legal custody, you generally maintain visitation rights. Alternatively, if you and the other parent have been granted joint custody, your child will likely maintain a primary residence with one of you while enjoying visitation with the other.

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Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, PAS, visitation rights, Divided families in Aurora are certainly not the only ones that have problems adjusting to divorce. In Turkey, hundreds of men have come forward, complaining about the unfair treatment they supposedly received in that country’s version of family courts. Most of their objections centered around high alimony payments and procedural barriers. Turkish families are in transition. The divorce rate has increased 38 percent in the last decade. Men, women, children and judges are all struggling to keep up. One of the issues many divorce parents struggle with worldwide is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).

Parental Alienation Syndrome

The Turkish dads also told horror stories about women who poisoned the relationships between father and children, or even refused to let dads see their kids. PAS is present in up to 15 percent of divorce cases, and both men and women are equally guilty. Psychologist Richard Gardner coined the term in the 1980s, and the New York native published a number of books and papers on the subject before his death in 2003. His findings were controversial then, and remain so to this day.

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child custody, child support, divorce and children, divorce and communication, DuPage County, DuPage County divorce lawyer, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois family lawyer, parental rightsWith nearly 50 percent of American marriages ending in divorce each year, divorce is a common part of the American experience. Regardless, it can be devastating for the family of the divorcing couple—especially if the couple in question has children. This can oftentimes be true not only for the couple’s immediate family, but for the extended family as well. Grandparents on the child’s non-custodial side of the family may have to fight to see the children harder than the parent, and other extended family can sometimes be left out in the cold. Still, divorce is, of course, the most difficult for the children who are faced with their parents’ split.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), parents continue to be the most important presence in their children’s lives during and after divorce. Parents may be relieved after a divorce (especially if the marriage was particularly sour), but children “are invariably frightened and confused by the threat to their security,” reports the AACAP. In some cases, a parent may even seek solace from his or her children, which can exacerbate feelings of insecurity and emotional instability. If the parents were on exceptionally bad terms leading up to the divorce and argued often, the child may even feel as if it was his or her fault.

If you are getting divorced and have shared children, there are several steps you can take to help your child through the transition. KidsHealth.org suggests that parents keep visible conflict and arguments hidden from the kids, and notes this to be the most important factor to consider. Also, it is recommended that parents minimize disruptions to daily routines. It will likely be much more work for the parent to minimize disruptions from a child’s routine, and special considerations for how to do so will have to be made.

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

630-409-8184

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

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