adopted children, Illinois adoption attorneysApproximately 5,370 children were adopted from other countries and brought to the United States in 2016. The majority of international adoptions involved children from China, Ethiopia, and Russia. Choosing to adopt a child from a foreign country comes with its own unique hurdles and benefits. One of the questions many parents of internationally adopted children face is how to incorporate the child’s heritage in his or her life. A new scientific study suggests that this task might be easier than prospective parents may think. The study shows that babies who are adopted before they learn to talk still retain some of the ability to speak their home country’s language.

Study Shows Language Acquisition Begins Very Early in Life

The study, led by Dr. Jiyoun Choi of Hanyang University in South Korea examined adults who had been adopted as babies from South Korea by Dutch-speaking parents. The participants were tested on their ability to pronounce Korean consonants correctly compared to participants who were not born in Korea. The research team found that individuals who were adopted out of Korea before they learned to speak could pronounce the Korean consonants better than other individuals. In fact, there was no difference between the speaking ability of those people adopted under the age of 6 months and those adopted after they were 17 months old. Dr. Choi explains, “This finding indicates that useful language knowledge is laid down in [the] very early months of life, which can be retained without further input of the language and revealed via re-learning.” The results of the test were profound because Dutch and Korean are vastly different languages with very different sounding consonants.

Dr. Choi encourages all parents to talk to their children during the first months of their lives as much as possible. Even if a child is not yet talking, he or she is absorbing a great deal that will be helpful down the road.

International Adoption Concerns

Language, culture, and heritage are just a few of the factors you will need to consider when you choose to adopt a child from another country. It is up to you and your family to determine how many or how few of your child’s native customs and traditions to embrace. Keep in mind, however, that children who struggle with their own identity could be at risk for mental health concerns, including depression, as they get older.

If you are thinking about adopting a child from another country, you probably have many questions, concerns, and hopes for the future. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., our experienced Kane County adoption attorneys are equipped to help you find the answers you need. We maintain a vast network of resources for adoptive parents, and we will work with you provide the best possible situation for your adopted child. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation today.



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attorney fees, Kane County divorce attorneyMany people have a mental image of divorce proceedings that includes a richer spouse being able to run roughshod over a spouse with fewer resources. This, however, is not usually the case, at least not in Illinois. Decisions from the last several years have redefined the idea of fairness in Illinois divorces, and nowhere is this more relevant than in the question of who pays whose attorney fees. The standard in divorce cases is changing.

“Leveling the Playing Field”

Illinois law does not mandate that one spouse must pay the other’s attorney fees. However, in the interest of public policy—meaning in promoting the common good—a court can order that the richer spouse assist the poorer with any required fees or court costs. This is often referred to as “leveling the playing field,” based on the idea that both spouses should begin a divorce proceeding on as close to equal footing as possible.

This power even extends to fees that have already been paid. For example, in In re Marriage of Earlywine, a case from 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court held that a husband, who had already paid his attorney $8,750 (having made the case that the attorney had already earned it), had to request some of it back in order to help the wife to pay her attorney’s fees. Without such contribution, the wife would not have been able to retain her attorney, a situation that is generally frowned upon by Illinois courts.

Attorney Fees as Sanctions or Punishment

The other situation in which a person might be ordered to pay their spouse’s attorney fees is if the person violates a court order or directive without justification. Section 508(b) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states unequivocally that if a party must be ordered back to court in order to enforce an order, the court “shall” order the party in violation of the order to pay any costs associated with bringing it.

In rare cases, attorney fees may be awarded as sanctions, which are specific penalties for bad behavior on the part of one spouse. For example, in In re Marriage of Johnson from 2011, the former husband was awarded sanctions against his ex-wife, who had repeatedly filed suit to overturn their judgment of divorce based on a spurious statement that the husband had lied. The husband’s motion for summary judgment was granted, as was his motion for sanctions against his former wife in the form of her payment of his attorney’s fees.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

Divorces are difficult and complex to begin with, but adding financial worries to the mix can be more than many people can handle. Having a knowledgeable divorce attorney on your side can make a dramatic difference. The dedicated St. Charles divorce lawyers at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. are well versed these types of cases, and we are happy to help you with yours. Contact our office today to discuss your options.



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commingled property, Illinois divorce attorneysWhen a couple decides to divorce, they must divide their property between them. As one might expect, each spouse brings property into the marriage, but marital property is also acquired throughout their relationship. Some couples are exceedingly careful about segregating their respective personal property, while others pay little attention to the matter until divorce becomes a possibility. If you are in a position where your property has become commingled, or “mixed in”, with your spouse’s, consulting an experienced divorce lawyer may be the best option for you.

What Is Commingling?

Commingling occurs when two people’s personal property becomes intertwined or mixed. The best example of this is an individual depositing individually-owned funds—money he or she made before the marriage or received as an inheritance during the marriage—into a marital checking account. Doing so, in most cases, causes the deposited funds to lose their identity as non-marital property.

It is important to understand that in equitable distribution states such as Illinois, personal property that is commingled becomes marital property. This process is referred to by statute as transmutation of property. It is very difficult to keep private property separate when willfully commingled, and indeed, the court presumes that your intent is to commingle your property if you do so.

Tracing Assets

Illinois law requires that each spouse’s non-marital property is to be assigned to that spouse during the relevant proceedings. This means that if you believe your property has been commingled, by yourself or your spouse, you may need to trace it. Tracing means identifying an asset’s origin, supported by the appropriate documents and/or expert testimony.

It is possible to preserve the integrity of some non-marital property, but only if it can be traced back to you with clear and convincing evidence. The most common asset to be traced is monetary; liquid assets can be traced back to one person with bank documents or deposit slips, but it is possible to trace many different assets, though some may require more legwork than others. For example, it can be quite difficult to prove specific liquid funds belong to you unless you have bank documents, but if you received a valuable item as a gift or inheritance, you may be able to trace it  by providing the accompanying letter or asking the relevant person to testify as to the property’s origin.

Seek Knowledgeable Assistance

When you are in the midst of a divorce, all you want is to get through it quickly, with a solution that is fair to all. Contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney to get the help you need. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.



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military, St. Charles divorce attorneysIf you or your spouse is serving in the U.S. military, or has done so in the past, you know that military life can differ from civilian life in many significant ways. If you decide to divorce, virtually all aspects of the process, from the division of assets to the allocation of parental responsibilities, will be handled somewhat differently than if you were both civilians—especially if either of you are still serving.

The Jurisdiction Question

Normally, an Illinois court maintains personal jurisdiction over a divorce action when one or both spouses have resided in Illinois for at least 90 days. This is also true in military divorces, and being stationed in Illinois is considered maintaining residence in the state. However, in order for a court to have jurisdiction over an active military spouse, he or she must be served with a copy of the action and summons, so there is no question as to his or her knowledge of the proceedings. In the past, it was not uncommon for a servicemember to come home and discover they had been divorced without their knowledge!

It is also possible under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (50 USC 521) to postpone the proceeding for the entire length of a servicemember’s tour of active duty plus an additional 60 days if the proceeding is likely to be difficult and complex. It is in the discretion of the civilian court to decide whether or not to do so, but it is often granted, especially in times of war and elevated military conflict.

Asset Division

Many assets, such as furniture or other everyday items, are divisible as they would be in a civilian divorce, as provided in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. However, certain assets and property are governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), including retirement accounts and military pensions. Contrary to popular belief, the USFSPA does not specifically grant any percentage of the servicemember’s retirement pay to his or her ex-spouse. Instead, the law grants a civilian court the power to treat this asset as marital property, thus enabling the court to divide it equitably. In most cases, the disposition ends up being similar to that of a civilian pension plan.

One important thing to remember is that the military utilizes what is referred to as the 10/10 rule. If you have been married to a servicemember for at least 10 years, while that servicemember has completed at least 10 years’ worth of creditable service, you are eligible to receive a portion of his or her retirement pay. If you do not meet this criteria, you are not eligible to receive any portion of that asset unless you work out an arrangement directly with your former spouse. The court may still award alimony or child support, but retirement pay is strictly regulated.

Seek Experienced Assistance

Divorce is almost never easy, and rules based on one or both spouses’ military service can make the process even more complex still. Contact a skilled Kane County divorce attorney to get the help you need with your case. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.



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divorce, Kane County divorce lawyerIn a world where access to information is as easy as typing a few search terms into your smart phone, it is rather surprising that so much misinformation about divorce continues to circulate. Some of the misconceptions may be attributed to long-held beliefs that can be difficult to change while others were once true but are not anymore.

For example, you may have heard that:

  • Half of Marriages End in Divorce. This common statement is not an accurate depiction of the actual divorce rate in the United States. It comes from a flawed comparison of the per capita rate of marriages and divorces in a particular year. Comparing the number of marriages against the number of divorces for any given year will result in skewed data. For example, some of the divorces that occurred in 2016 involved marriages that may have begun 30, 40, or even 50 years ago. The actual divorce rate is closer to 40 percent than 50 percent, and it is markedly lower among younger couples;
  • Divorce Is Bad for Children. Many couples make the mistake of “staying together for the children.” Research has repeatedly shown that doing so is often not in the best interests of the child. If a couple stays together but is often fighting, arguing, or giving each other the silent treatment, this can be very psychologically damaging to the child. If the atmosphere in the home is tense and unloving, a divorce may actually help the child to thrive. Children are very resilient, and if they are given love and guidance, studies suggest that it does not matter if that love comes from two separate households;
  • The Divorce Rate Is Rising: Despite beliefs to the contrary, the divorce rate peaked in the 1970s-1980s. In fact, about 70 percent of the people were got married in the 1990s were still married after 15 years. About 65 percent of those married in the 1970s and 1980s celebrate their 15th anniversary which means that marriages are lasting longer on average. Research shows that the divorce rate was approximately 40 percent in the 1980s dropping to about 30 percent in about 30% in the early 2000s. The present rate of divorce is estimated to be somewhere in between;
  • Getting a Divorce Will Make You a Social Outcast: There was a time when divorced men and women were looked down upon. They could walk into a crowded room and it would become quieter as others whispered gossip about the divorcee. This is very rarely the case anymore. With a few exceptions, most people are very familiar with divorce. Even if they are not divorced themselves, they have friends or relatives that are. Getting a divorce is not something shameful, and the social stigma once associated with divorce is all but gone.

If you are considering getting a divorce, you probably have many questions. Our attorneys are knowledgeable and ready to answer your questions and help guide you through the divorce process. Contact a skilled Kane County family lawyer at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation.



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fertility, Kane County family law attorneysIn vitro fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure in which an egg is fertilized outside of the body and implanted in the hopes of achieving a viable pregnancy. Many couples attempt to conceive a child for years naturally and with the help of other fertility treatments before finally trying in vitro fertilization. Both the concern over infertility and the procedure itself can be extremely stressful. In addition to the uncertainty regarding their ability to have children, couples who undergo IVF cannot know for sure that a viable embryo will result from the procedure. The procedure and the waiting process can be extremely difficult on a marriage, but a recent study suggests that such fertility treatments do not increase your chances of getting a divorce.

Previous Findings Regarding IVF and Divorce Debunked

The idea that fertility treatments lead to a much greater chance of divorce was first proposed in the Danish medical journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavia in 2014. New research, however, shows that fertility treatments do not lead to higher divorce rates, as was previously thought. The new study shows that while struggling with infertility does lead to psychological strain, this does not coincide with an increase in divorce.

Researcher Dr. Mariana Martins, a faculty member at the University of Porto in Portugal, led a team that studied nearly 43,000 Danish women who were undergoing fertility treatments. They followed the subjects for a period of 16 years. These women were compared to a control group of women who were not undergoing IVF treatment. The study showed that there was no major difference between the two groups in terms of divorce. Both the women who received IVF treatment and the women who did not receive IVF treatment were equally as likely to divorce their spouse in the future.

Stress May Be Good For Relationships

The researchers also found that going through the process of infertility can actually bring a couple closer together. “We also know that despite all the strain that this infertility can bring, going through [fertility treatments] can actually bring benefit to a couple’s relationship, because it forces them to improve communication and coping strategies,” Dr. Martins said.

While this study shows there is no direct link between infertility and divorce, many couples do face stressful circumstances that their marriage cannot withstand. It is still true that thousands of marriages each year end in divorce. If you are considering divorcing your spouse, you need an attorney who is knowledgeable and capable. Contact an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer for guidance with your situation. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.



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paternity, Kane County family law attorneysA child being born out of wedlock today does carry the stigma that it once did.; many couples may spend their entire lives together without getting legally married. Issues do arise, but usually for the parents, rather than the child themselves. Parental responsibility issues—formerly called child custody—are very common, and while a child has the legal right to expect support from both parents until they reach the age of 18, one parent will often refuse, especially if paternity is an issue.

How to Establish Paternity

In Illinois, the mother of a child born out of wedlock has all of the parental responsibilities for the child automatically if she is not married to the father. A man who wants to assert paternity may do so in one of three ways. The first is by having an administrative paternity order entered by the relevant state authority, which in Illinois, is the Department of Healthcare & Family Services (HFS). The second is to have an order entered by a judge—usually after genetic testing is performed. The third is for both parents to complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. Be advised that it is possible to be declared a child’s father by default if you have been served with notice of a pending paternity case and you do not attend the relevant court proceedings.

Child Support Issues

If a father wants to be involved in his child’s life but has not married the mother, it is important to be as open and straightforward with the court as possible. Any voluntary payment he makes to the mother is usually not counted as child support until a legal determination of paternity is made. After a determination is made, a child support order is likely to be established, regardless of whether or not the father intends to seek parental responsibilities or time with his child.

Exercising Parental Rights

A determination of legal paternity does not automatically give the father custodial rights or parenting time. It does, however, give him the right to ask the court for such considerations. When a child’s legal father petitions the court for shared parental responsibilities, the court must consider whether it is in the child’s best interest to grant the father’s request. In doing so, the court will take into account many factors, including the child’s current relationship with the father, whether the father has attempted to be involved in the child’s life since birth, and whether any allegations of abusive behavior have been made against the father.

A man, for example, who has no contact with a child or his former partner in years may be found to be the child’s legal father because of action initiated by the mother. If that man suddenly asks for equal parenting time after being absent for several years, he is likely to have that request denied. Conversely, a man who has made consistent efforts to see a child he believes to be his even before a determination of paternity is more likely to have reasonable requests for parental responsibilities and parenting time granted.

Work With an Experienced Attorney

Paternity issues are very common in Illinois courts, but while the parents may squabble, it is the child who often suffers. Contact an experienced family law attorney in St. Charles to get the help you need with your case. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.



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best interests, St. Charles family law attorneys“The best interest of the child” is a phrase often heard in several different contexts related to Illinois family law. However, they all intend to ensure that children are well protected and taken care of in every possible way. While this can be a subjective standard, it is the best one to ensure each individual situation is assessed properly. Still, it can be confusing for those dealing with a family law concern—such as the allocation of parental responsibilities—for the first time.

Factors Used In Illinois

What was once called “child custody” is now known as the “allocation of parental responsibilities” according to Illinois law. The best interests of the child in question should be the top priority in such proceedings. Obviously, it can have a significant effect on a child to live with a parent whose conduct endangers or otherwise harms them in a physical or emotional sense. However, it is sadly not uncommon for each parent to allege the other is unfit; the court then must instead weigh the actual evidence presented at hearing using several factors that keep the best interest of the child as the primary focus.

These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The situation that would best ensure the child’s physical safety and meet his or her basic needs. This includes any past history of physical violence or threats made by either parent or anyone associated with that parent (such as a new partner);
  • Where or with whom the child’s identity will flourish. Considerations should be made for mental health, emotional health, and concepts like choosing a religion or identifying with a particular culture;
  • The wishes of the child, taking into consideration his or her level of maturity and communication ability;
  • The parents’ ability to make decisions cooperatively, and any history of being able to do so or not do so;
  • Practical considerations, such as the distance between the parents’ homes and the frequency of possible visits; and
  • Any other factor “that the court expressly finds to be relevant.”

When Is This Standard Applied?

The best interests of the child is the applied standard in most child-related legal matters, but the two most common are in cases dealing with child welfare—such as the potential limitation or termination of parental rights—and the allocation of parental responsibilities. In both cases, a rebuttable presumption exists that the parents will cooperate for the good of the child. If the presumption is proven false, however, the best interest standard is what the court will use in making its ruling.

One important thing to keep in mind as a parent is that negative conduct or a past criminal history is not an automatic bar to obtaining at least partial parental responsibilities, especially not in Illinois, where the court begins with a presumption that a child’s life is better when both parents are involved. However, if you have arrests or charges in your past for offenses like domestic violence, it will almost certainly affect your chances of obtaining a significant share of parental responsibilities.


Know Your Rights

A good parent wants their child to be safe and happy. If you need help making that a reality, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney to discuss your case. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., we help parents protect their rights while providing the best possible situation for their children. Call 630-377-7770 today to set up a free initial consultation.



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child support, Kane County family lawyersWhile good parents love their children, it can be a very freeing feeling to no longer have to pay child support for them. Most of the time, this obligation ends when the child reaches becomes a legal adult, but there are some unusual situations where the requirement may end earlier or later. Either way, it can be very helpful to understand how the law in Illinois addresses ending a child support obligation.

The Regular Standard

In most cases, Illinois child support law stipulates that support obligations end on the child’s 18th birthday as long as he or she has graduated from high school. If your order does not specify a date, you may petition the court to end payments at the time you feel is appropriate. It is, of course, the court’s decision whether or not to grant the petition. Until your obligations end, you must help provide for all reasonable and necessary emotional, physical, mental and other needs that your child may have.

Generally, you must comply with existing child support obligations unless you can present clear and convincing evidence that your situation has changed. While many aspects of a divorce decree may not be modified after the fact, child support payments may be changed if the paying parent’s situation changes fundamentally. It is plausible to modify support payments either upward or downward, depending upon the situation.

Unusual Situations

While most parents’ support obligation will end when their child turns 18, it is possible for that obligation to end either before or slightly after, depending on the facts of the situation. In Illinois, support will end if a minor child becomes emancipated (and it is then judicially recognized by the family court), which they may accomplish in several ways. The most common ways in which a minor may become legally emancipated include joining the military or getting married (with the appropriate permissions, to ensure the marriage is valid). However, there are several others, including through a court proceeding.

There are fewer support situations that extend beyond a child’s 18th birthday, but by far the most common is that in which a child has not yet completed high school. Illinois law specifies that support obligations in such a situation should continue until the child turns 19 or completes high school, whichever is earlier.

It is also possible for a version of child support to continue while the child is attending college or another post-high school educational program. These obligations, however, require a separate proceeding and are not necessarily considered a right belonging to the child. Either parent may petition the court to order the other parent to assist with the child’s educational expenses.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

Child support laws in Illinois can be very complex, but help is available. Contact an experienced family law attorney in St. Charles to get the guidance you need. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.



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adopting, Kane County adoption lawyersChoosing to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a person’s life. It is estimated that about 135,000 children are placed with adoptive families every year. Some families adopt infants while others adopt older children. Many adoptions are domestic and others are international. Parents choose to adopt for many reasons. Some couples cannot have children of their own due to fertility issues. Others are older and can no longer have children biologically. Same-sex couples often look to adoption to complete their family. Some single people choose to adopt a child rather than waiting to find a suitable partner with whom they can have children. In short, people adopt because they believe it is simply the right thing to do for themselves and their family. Regardless of the reason, adopting a child into a loving “forever” home is one of the most selfless things anyone can do.

Why Adopt?

Deciding to adopt is a major decision and only those individuals or couples considering it can know if it is right for them or not. Many who do end up adopting cite similar reasons for their choice, including:

  1. 1.       You are giving a child the most precious gift possible: a family. Research has shown time and time again that children need devoted adults in their lives. Children must have guidance, love, and individual attention that is nearly impossible for them to get in a foster care environment. By taking in a child who does not have a family, you could be making his or her dreams of a loving home come true;
  2. 2.       Many children are waiting to be adopted at this very moment. About 51,000 babies are put up for adoption across the country every year. Unfortunately, many must wait before being adopted. There are currently about 415,000 children living in foster homes or group homes in the United States. Foster care is meant to be a temporary solution, but it is all too permanent for thousands of children;
  3. Adoption may be the best financial decision for those struggling to conceive. Fertility treatments can be prohibitively expensive, and there is no guarantee that these treatments will be successful. In vitro fertilization (IFV) can cost up to $20,000 per treatment, including medication, and the procedure results in a viable embryo only about 40% of the time. The mother’s age and medical circumstances of both parents affect the success rate of fertility procedures.

Considering an Adoption?

If you are thinking about adopting a child, it is important to understand that the legal process can be long and difficult. Fortunately, an experienced Kane County family law attorney can help. Call 630-377-7770 to speak with a member of the team at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today. We can provide the guidance you need as you look to grow your family through adoption.



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