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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.

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Posted on in Order Modification

gavel book law scalesPeople’s lives do not remain static after a divorce. Individuals may move, remarry, have children, or experience any number of other major events that bring significant life changes. If this happens, it may be necessary to make a modification to your divorce judgment, because what once was acceptable may one day be too expensive, or it may be inequitable in terms of cost or time spent. Still, a modification cannot be made on a whim; there are requirements regarding what must be shown in order to make such adjustments.

What Can Be Modified?

Under Illinois law, almost every part of a divorce decree can be modified if sufficient evidence is shown for its necessity. Most of the time, changes are requested due to alterations in living conditions, such as the loss of a job. Generally, however, the most common type of change requested is a child support modification, as the needs of children and the ability of parents to pay are constantly evolving. Maintenance orders may also be modified, as each spouse’s financial situation is likely to change over time.

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Posted on in Child Support

child support, Kane County child support attorneyIt is decidedly common for a parent to be dissatisfied about the amount of child support that a court has ordered him or her to pay. However, this does not excuse the parent from paying it, even if a modification is pending. If you are owed back child support by your child’s other parent, this is referred to as an arrearage, and it must be paid, regardless of what other obligations your ex-spouse may have. In Illinois, there are various ways to collect on this particular obligation.

Penalties for Non-Payment

If you owe child support and fall behind in payments without working out an arrangement with the recipient parent—or the court—the state of Illinois will be informed. Depending on your location and the amount owed, federal authorities may also be notified. If you attempt to disappear to avoid obligations, there are entities such as the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) that exist to track down deadbeat parents, and you may be penalized more for attempting to shirk your commitments. In extreme cases, you may be jailed under the Illinois Non-Support Punishment Act.

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child support, Kane County family lawyerPayments of child support are supposed to be used to improve the life of your child or children. But, what exactly does that mean? Is it permissible to use the money to buy things that are useful but that may not be an immediate necessity? There is some guidance in the law as to what child support should be used for, but very often, it ends up being a judgment call. Doing your research or consulting a legal professional is always a good idea.

Illinois Law

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, all parents in Illinois have the responsibility to support the “reasonable and necessary educational, physical, mental and emotional health needs of the child.” Parents who are allotted the majority of the parenting time following a divorce or separation fulfill this responsibility by providing a stable home and raising their children. Thus, the other parent, in most cases, is ordered to make child support payments. In theory, such payments are meant to assist with the costs of housing, clothing, and food, but obviously, every parent knows there will always be more. This is part of what gives rise to the ambiguity over child support in the first place, as it is not uncommon at all for parents to argue over what truly qualifies as a “need.”

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Posted on in Children

parenting time, Kane County family law attorneyIt is not easy to be a parent. When you are unmarried, divorced, or separated, and the other parent has been awarded the majority of the parenting time, you may face serious difficulties in being the parent you wish to be. In an ideal situation, you have the right to reasonable parenting time—formerly called visitation—with your child, but reality is often far from ideal. You may be dealing with certain struggles of your own, and, as a result, the court may have placed restrictions on the time you have with your child. While parenting time restrictions may be challenging, they are not necessarily permanent, and you have the ability to work toward the restoration of your visitation rights.

Recognize and Accept the Reasons

Under Illinois law, the court cannot arbitrarily restrict your parenting time rights without proper justification, and proper justification requires more than just the word of the other parent. The court will only place restrictions on your time with your child if the court is convinced by a preponderance of the evidence that you engage in conduct which places your child in serious physical, mental, emotional, or moral danger. As such, the court must specify its findings and identify the behaviors it finds objectionable, including drug or alcohol abuse, physical or psychological abusive actions, or your relationships with certain individuals who may pose a threat to your child. Once you know what the problems are, you can begin working toward resolving them.

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