Category Archives: Parentage

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Out With the Old & In With the New: Big Changes to the Illinois Marriage & Dissolution of Marriage Act

On January 1, 2016, many changes took effect with regard to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA” or “Act”). The revised statute looks very different from the law Illinois family law attorneys and their clients have come to know. Detailed below are some noteworthy areas where the law concerning divorce, parenting, and property division has changed.

Changes to Grounds for Divorce:

The revised IMDMA has eliminated all fault-based grounds for divorce. Since 1977, Illinois has had both “no-fault” and “fault-based” grounds for divorce. Now, couples in Illinois are left with a single ground for divorce, “irreconcilable differences”. Additionally, the revised statute eliminates the two (2) year separation period previously required to dissolve a marriage. The aforementioned provision was replaced with a six (6) month separation period which provides, “If the parties live separate and apart for a continuous period of not less than 6 months immediately preceding the entry of the judgment dissolving the marriage, there is an irrebuttable presumption that the requirement of irreconcilable differences has been met.” 750 ILCS 5/401(a-5). Thus, an individual seeking a divorce in Illinois now only needs to assert that irreconcilable differences have led to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the parties have lived separate and apart for six (6) consecutive months by the time a judgment of divorce is entered. Litigants should be aware that living separate and apart does not mean an actual physical separation of the divorcing spouses. The parties merely must cease living together as a husband and wife would for at least six (6) months; however, effectuating this requirement can take place while living under the same roof. read more

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What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

parental alienation syndrome

Parental alienation syndrome is a growing concern paralleling the rise of divorce and children born out of wedlock over the past few decades. This relatively new phenomenon has spiked major disputes from both the legal and psychological communities as to how to identify and manage the condition. 

Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is considered “brainwashing” because one parent will routinely talk about the other parent to the child in a derogatory manner to the point that the child begins to harbor the same beliefs. This manipulative behavior can be highly destructive and can cause long-term detriment to parent/child relationships. It can also have a negative impact on the child’s psychological development. read more

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Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

joint custody

Sole custody in Illinois is generally defined as one parent being the primary decision maker for the minor child or children on the areas of: medical, education and religion. If you have sole custody, you most likely have the authority to make important decisions pertaining to your child’s life without having to consult with or obtain permission from the other parent. Joint custody in Illinois, on the other hand, provides both parents with decision making authority. As such, joint custody requires communication, collaboration, and compromise. read more

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Sole Custody in Illinois

sole custody in illinois

One of the biggest topics in family law is the issue of child custody. It’s fair to say that almost all parents unequivocally want the best for their children. Regardless of this fact, parents continue to have difficulties or inabilities to agree on important matters involving the well being of their children. When such instances arise that negatively affect the child, usually one parent will file for sole custody. There are very specific guidelines governing the issue of sole custody in Illinois.  This blog post outlines the main parameters a judge takes into consideration when awarding custody.   Child custody cases center around how well each parent can work alongside the other to achieve beneficial results for the child[ren]. Some things that are taken into account are: medical decisions, religion, education, extracurricular activities, the extended family and the child’s emotional and financial well being. If the parent’s viewpoints’ collide on the three major areas: medical, education and religion, sole custody is generally sought and awarded. read more

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How is Paternity established in Illinois?

Father-Son1

Establishing paternity in Illinois is generally very straightforward and easily outlined. Under Illinois law, if the parents were married at the time of the birth of the child, then the wife’s husband is legally presumed to be the father of the child. If the parents were not married when the child was born, paternity must be established.

If the parents were not married, then the biological father is NOT considered to be the parent until paternity is legally established. Whether the father plans to marry the mother of the child the next day, or never speaks to her again, paternity still must be established in order to create a legally-binding father-child relationship. read more

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What is a Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative?

guardian ad litem

If you are a parent involved in a custody or parenting time dispute in the Circuit Court of Cook County chances are you have heard of, or are seeking the assistance from, a guardian ad litem or child representative to represent your child(ren) in court. A guardian ad litem or child representative is a licensed attorney who is a neutral third party that advocates for the well being of the child most commonly in child custody cases, divorce, child support or paternity suits.  While the role of guardian ad litem is similar to that of a child representative, the statute distinguishes some key differences between the two.  If an attorney is appointed on behalf of your child(ren), it is important to know which title has been given to them by the court. read more

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Acknowledgement of Paternity in Illinois

acknowledgement of paternity

Finding out you are expecting a baby can bring out a flood of emotions. The initial news can be both joyful and scary. Many couples plan on having children while many others find out unexpectedly. If you are no longer in a relationship, having relationship issues, or have no intentions of staying with your partner, the news of expecting a child may not be pleasant. Furthermore, if you are uncertain if you are the child’s father, the news can be frightening and downright shocking.

Although statistics tend to vary slightly, roughly half of all children born in the USA are born to unmarried parents. Though single parenthood is both common and accepted, that still does not alleviate the sadness and angst many parents experience when faced with the possibility that they may be primarily raising a child alone or with limited support (emotionally and financially) from the other parent. read more

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What Chicago Family Law Firms Might Not Tell You

chicago family law firms

 WHAT CHICAGO FAMILY LAW FIRMS MAY NOT TELL YOU

It has become increasingly undeniable that we live in a very litigious society. Even with simple tasks such as entering to win a free cup of coffee, getting a new credit card or signing up for an email list, you are bombarded with extensive, confusing legal jargon. Moreover, when dividing assets during a divorce or negotiating child custody arrangements, things can get really convoluted to a lay person. We certainly can’t change the way the world works, but we can try to bring some simplicity into your lives, by sharing information on what many Chicago family law firms may not tell you. read more

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The Discovery Process in Divorce and Parentage Cases

discovery process

A look in the Discovery Process…

A major component of litigation is the discovery process. This article is a guide to the basics of navigating through a process that oftentimes is the most time-consuming, most expensive, and most informational aspect of a case. In both parentage and divorce cases, the discovery of the other party’s income, assets, and liabilities is a crucial part of evaluating one’s case, preparing for hearings and trials, and being prepared for settlement discussions. read more

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Joint Custody vs Sole Custody in Illinois

joint custody

How do Illinois judges determine joint custody or sole custody?

Determining child custody is typically the most highly-contested and heated issue one will encounter, for obvious reasons. Litigants who are encountering divorce (or a parentage action) for the first time are typically without the requisite knowledge regarding the differences between joint legal custody and sole legal custody of a child.

Joint Custody is predicated on two parents working together to co-parent a child. A joint custodial relationship requires good communication between the parents and the ability to work together to make important decisions regarding the child. For example, decisions concerning the child’s health, education, and religion must be made jointly by the parents, taking the child’s best interests into consideration. A stipulation between parties as to joint custody will culminate in the entry of a joint parenting agreement, which outlines the respective rights and responsibilities of the parents when it comes to parenting their child. In the event the parties to a joint parenting agreement have a disagreement when it comes to decisions impacting the child, the joint parenting agreement will direct the parties to attempt to resolve the issue with a certified mediator, prior to returning to court. In the event the mediator is unable to resolve the issue with the parties, the last resort will be bringing the issue before a judge for adjudication. read more

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