Category Archives: Family Law

IL family lawyerNot long ago, Illinois courts assumed that giving sole child custody to mothers was in the best interest of the child. In fact, it was not until the 1970s that most states began adopting new laws that treated mothers and fathers equally, as well as favoring joint custody over sole custody for one parent. While some believe that fathers are still discriminated against when it comes to equal custody decisions, studies have proven this to be untrue. Fathers’ rights groups have been perpetuating disinformation for over the last decade about how mothers are given preferential treatment by the courts. One Wisconsin study showed that from 1996 and 2007, divorce cases in which the mother was awarded sole custody dropped from 60.4 percent to just 45.7 percent, while shared custody increased from 15.8 percent to 30.8 percent in that same time period. Other studies have had similar findings. Yet, in some cases, fathers do face challenges.

Fathers Who Never Married the Mother of Their Child

While married mothers and fathers are generally treated equally in court when it comes to custody decisions, the same is not always true for fathers who were never married to their child’s mother. Children born out of wedlock are more likely to end up living with their mothers than fathers if it comes to a court decision.

White, College-Educated Fathers Pay Less Child Support Than Non-White, Poor Fathers

Race and income have a lot to do with how much child support a father will have to pay. In addition to wealthy men fighting against reforms that would require them to pay more in child support, white, college-educated men are more likely to get out of paying substantial child support, while poor fathers are more likely to be held accountable, tracked down, and put in jail for skipping on their child support payments.

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IL divorce lawyerWith summer right around the corner and school just weeks away from being over, your parenting plan needs to be discussed with your child’s other parent. Summer parenting time is different than during the school year for the obvious reason that your child now has a lot more free time. First of all, the parenting plan needs to define when the summer schedule will start and end. Do not assume that it starts on the last day of school and ends on the first day of school in the fall.

Vacation Time

Seventy-two percent of American families take summer vacations. As such, a parenting plan should clearly lay out the dates of planned vacations, which need to be discussed and agreed upon by both parents beforehand. To keep things fair, and to ensure that one parent does not monopolize on time with their child by taking an extra long vacation, trip times should remain equal or as close to equal as feasible. Or, the non-traveling parent should be awarded make-up days at the end of the vacation if they do not plan to take one themselves.

Traveling Out of State and Out of the Country

Unless the parenting plan specifically states that children cannot be taken out of the country or state, you do not need to worry about where your vacation is limited to. However, it is particularly important for long trips or overseas trips with various destinations for the traveling parent to give dates, locations, hotel phone numbers, and other information to the other parent. Furthermore, if you believe there is a risk that the other parent will simply vanish out of the country with your child, you need to contact an attorney to rewrite the parenting plan to ban overseas travel.

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce is very tough on children — a fact that has been well documented over many decades. Divorce has been associated with academic difficulties, disruptive and illegal behavior, low self-esteem, depression, and emotional distress. When children of divorce enter adulthood, they are more likely to live in poverty, have children out of wedlock, marry at a young age, and get divorce themselves than their peers from non-divorced families.

Because a parent’s strongest instinct is to protect their children from all of this, some spouses decide to either make the marriage work for the sake of the children, or they agree to get divorced, but only after the youngest child is on his or her way to college and out of the house. While both of these options seem like the right thing to do for your children because the family is kept in-tact, the truth is that both of these approaches may be more harmful than a simple divorce and shared custody.

How Delaying the Divorce Can Harm Your Children

Children are much more in-tuned with their parent’s emotions and thoughts than we give them credit for. Even very young children, or teenagers who are seemingly off in their own worlds, pick up on subtle insults and tension between their parents. The fact that you want to get divorced means that you are unhappy with the marriage, and that unhappiness will only intensify in the years to come as you wait for your youngest child to graduate high school. Parents may think they are helping their children by soldiering on during the marriage, but they are only doing themselves and their children a disservice. After all, one cannot fake happiness no matter how much effort is put into the facade.

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IL divorce lawyerWhile most allegations of domestic violence are true, sometimes innocent people get caught up in the lies of others. False allegations of domestic violence can be career-ending, life-ruining events for those who committed no crime. If you have been charged with or accused of domestic violence, you need to act quickly to protect yourself.

Statistics Are Not on Your Side

One study found that over a 17-month period, there were 111,891 prosecutions for domestic violence, while only six prosecutions for making false allegations. Even if many false allegation cases are never prosecuted, these are very hard odds to beat. However, in some cases, there is insufficient evidence for the court to take legal action against the defendant, either in the civil or criminal case.

Why False Allegations Are Made

When a man or woman makes a false allegation against their domestic partner, their reason for making the allegation often revolves around a divorce, legal separation, child custody, or visitation case. The accuser knows that, by labeling the other party as a domestic abuser, he or she will have a better chance at receiving a more favorable child custody decision or spousal support decision or be more likely to succeed in blocking any visitation rights for the other parent.

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IL custody lawyerThere may come a time when a child of divorce or separated parents has a desire to live with his or her other parent—the non-custodial parent. This can come as a shock to both the mother and father and is usually accompanied by hurt feelings and loss for the parent whom the child has been living with since the original custody decision. However, it is important to listen to the desire of your child, whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, particularly if your child is at least 14 years of age. The teenage years are a good time to make compromises with your children about living situations because in the long run, this will prevent fallouts from happening when they inevitably leave your and the other parent’s house for good.

Children as Young as 14 Have a Say in Which Parent They Live With

Under 750 ILCS 5/600, a court takes into account the wishes of the child, depending on the “child's maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision-making.” This comes at the age of 14 in Illinois. However, simply because a child is 14 or older does not mean that the court will automatically change a custody decision that has been in place for years to meet the child’s wishes.

Best Interest of the Child

If a decision cannot be made outside of the courtroom, a judge will consider all factors pertaining to the child’s best interests. Questions such as the following must be asked:

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