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Posted on in Child Custody

best interest, child custody, Illinois family law attorneyIn any proceeding related to a child in Illinois, the primary concern, by law, is always the best interest of the child. Family courts and judges are expected to keep the child’s needs and well-being among the highest priorities, and are granted the discretion, in most cases, to ensure that such interests are fully addressed. The child’s best interest is often of primary concern in child custody or visitation proceedings, and, while, some of the language in the law regarding child custody is set to change in 2016, the goal of protecting children will remain the same.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

As part of the family law overhaul passed in Illinois earlier this summer, the concept of "legal" custody of the child is essentially being eliminated beginning next year. While, in most cases, one parent may be granted primary physical custody for the purposes of school registration and child support concerns, decision-making responsibilities regarding the child will be divided between the parents either by mutual agreement or at the discretion of the court. The change hopes to bring the focus of such proceedings back to the child, rather than on “winning” or “losing” custody rights.

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stepparent adoption, children, Illinois family lawyerAccording to recent studies, nearly 40 percent of all marriages are remarriages for at least one of the partners. While, to many, numbers such as these represent a renewed hope in the institution of marriages—which may be an accurate perspective—these estimates also indicate that more and more individuals are bringing more with them into marriage. Children from previous relationships are an increasing part of marriages, and especially impact those marrying for the second or third time. Of course, there is not a single best way to approach a stepchild situation; the dynamics of each family will depend upon a myriad of factors. However, for some stepparents, legally adopting their stepchildren may provide a level of needed security and legal parental responsibility.

Related Adoption

Foster care adoptions, along with domestic and international infant adoptions are certainly important for the well-being of children in need, but represent just part of the adoption story in the United States. The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reports that adopting a stepchild is the most common form of adoption in the country today. Stepparent adoption is a type of related adoption in which a family member of the child looks to become the child’s legal parent. Compared to other forms, related adoptions are generally much simpler and require little-to-no agency involvement in most cases.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois, New law, Senate Bill 57, Kane County Family Law AttorneyA couple of weeks ago, a previous post on this blog discussed a number of proposed family law changes contained in Senate Bill 57. At the time, the legislation was pending and having passed the Illinois House and Senate, was awaiting the signature of Governor Bruce Rauner. To that point, there had been little indication of the governor’s intention regarding the bill, but last week, Governor Rauner ended all speculation over his decision by signing the measure into law. Illinois residents must now prepare for fairly significant updates to many of the state’s family law provisions.

Throughout the legislative process, the law was sponsored by 10th District State Senator John Mulroe, and sought to bring state statutes more in line with evolving family needs. Many of the state's existing family-related laws have remained in place, virtually untouched, for nearly 4 decades, a period of time which includes nearly two full demographic generations. Now known as Public Act 99-0090, the new law is set to take effect on January 1, 2016, but there are some things to consider in the meantime.

Ask Questions and Get Answers

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supervised visitation, Illinois Law, Illinois Family LawyerOne of the basic tenets of family law in Illinois is the presumption of every parent’s right to a relationship with his or her child. Of course, this presumption contains two concepts that must be addressed: the definition of a parent and what having a relationship actually means. Under law, a parent is fairly easy to define, as only the child’s mother and legal father are granted parental rights. A relationship, however, can be rather difficult, particularly for a parent who has only been granted visitation with his or her child. It can be even more challenging for a parent whose visits must be supervised.

Requirement for Supervised Visitation

A non-custodial parent in Illinois is entitled to reasonable visitation rights with his or her child, unless visitation is found to present a serious danger to the child. The state, however, takes the parent-child relationship very seriously and most family courts are very reluctant to immediately cut off all contact between a parent and the child, the most extreme cases notwithstanding. Instead, the court may require supervised visitation, meaning that the non-custodial parent may visit with the child, but only under the watch of an agreed upon third party. A third party may be a trusted friend, family member, or a licensed mental health professional, and can be specifically designated in the visitation order if necessary. In some cases, the custodial parent may supervise the child’s visits with the non-custodial parent.

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Joint Parenting Agreement, child custody, Kane County Family Law AttorneysEvery child deserves love and support from both parents. A child of divorced or unmarried parents, however, may find his or her situation to be a little more complex than that of other children. He or she is often the subject of a child custody arrangement that dictates the role each parent assumes in his or her life. Custody arrangements can be customized to meet the specific needs of every family, but are categorized by law into two types: sole custody and joint custody. While the granting of residential custody to one parent is necessary, joint legal custody represents a cooperative effort between the child’s parents. Such an arrangement, however, generally requires the parents to develop a workable Joint Parenting Agreement regarding the care of their child.

Joint Custody

Under Illinois law, the concept of joint custody of a child refers to the shared responsibility between parents for making important life decisions in regard to the child. Most parents with joint custody do also make fairly equitable arrangements for each parent to spend time with the child, but joint custody does not guarantee that to any extent. Instead, it provides that each parent will be responsible for working together in deciding issues for the child such as non-emergency medical care, education decisions, religious upbringing, and other important considerations.

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