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safe haven law, Illinois Law, Kane County Family LawyerDespite the law’s 14 year existence, Dawn Geras continues to work tirelessly to remind scared and struggling parents that the state provides protection for them under what has colloquially become known as the Safe Haven Law. The measure, which was in enacted in 2001, permits parents to safely relinquish their newborn child at designated locations as an alternative to much more dangerous actions or neglect. Children who are relinquished under the law are provided any needed medical care and then quickly made available for adoption, often within just a few hours.

Geras is the founder of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago based charity that was instrumental in drafting the original version of the law. With the help of other volunteers, she works to educate the public about the existence of the Safe Haven Law and how it can help parents. “We initially started out saying if we could save just one baby, it would be worth it,” she said. “Today, we’re over 100. How many classrooms is that now?”

The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act provides that a parent may relinquish a newborn, up to 30 days old, at any hospital, fire station, emergency medical facility, or police station without fear of prosecution for abandonment. If there is no evidence of neglect or abuse, the relinquishing person is granted the right to remain anonymous, but personnel at the site must provide them with information related to their parental rights and available resources. They will also be encouraged to provide information for the Illinois Adoption Registry and Medical Information Exchange so that the child and his or her adoptive parents may have access to necessary information.

Kane County family law attorney, shared custody, child custodyDivorce is rarely easy for any couple. For a couple with children, divorce often represents merely the beginning of a new reality which includes shared custody arrangements and coparenting. Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, it can be understandably difficult for many individuals to cooperate with their ex-spouse. However, child development and relationship experts maintain that being able to put aside or work through differences can have a significant positive impact on the health and happiness of the children.

While either parent may maintain primary custody following a divorce or separation, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 80 percent of custodial parents are mothers. This figure includes families with equal joint- or shared custody arrangements, which have become increasingly common as custodial mothers continue to work rather than relying solely on alimony or support awards. Shared custody typically means that children will be spending time at each parent’s home according to some sort of arranged schedule. Whether you are the primary custodial parent or not, there are some things you can do to help your child be more at ease with a potentially unsettling situation.

Provide Familiarity

child abuse, neglect, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois family law attorney, children of divorceFor the past few days, your two year old toddler has not been acting like himself. He appears irritable and feverish. You decide to watch him for the next day or so to determine if a call into the pediatrician is warranted. Your son has other ideas. It is now two o'clock in the morning and you are trying to soothe your child who is running a high fever and tugging at his right ear. You make a call into your pediatrician's office as you buckle him in for a ride to the ER with what you suspect is a severe ear infection.

Upon arrival, the triage nurse takes you and your son into the triage room and confirms that your baby is experiencing intense ear pain and directs you to the nearest emergency room to await the on-call pediatrician. A young intern arrives and begins examining your child. You can not help but notice as they confirm the diagnosis that you are receiving odd looks by both the doctor and the nursing staff. She begins to discuss the treatment plan for the ear infection and you welcome the opportunity for relief in sight but then she blurts out, “can you tell me how your son received these bruises?”

You take a moment to let the question sink in, with disbelief you look down at your toddler's legs. Stifling a nervous giggle at the absurdity of her question you explain that your son is an active toddler, a boy who crawls, walks, falls and runs into furniture as he explores his expanding world. She reminds you that under the Illinois Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, she is required by law to report any form of suspected child abuse. Your whole ordeal just became a nightmare.

Posted on in Divorce

child of divorce IMAGEYou and your spouse have just officially agreed on getting a divorce, now comes the time to plan how you will break the news to your children. Divorce on its own is scary and overwhelming, and that is only magnified by throwing kids into the mix. However, if you prepare efficiently, sitting down and having “the talk” with your kids can go smoothly.

Before sitting down with your kids, don’t be afraid to consult with a child or family therapist for advice on what to say and how to say it. Helping children of divorce can be challenging Sit down with your spouse and write out a script for the conversation you will have with the kids-this will make giving the actual talk much less intimidating. Choose a specific time and place to sit down and break the news-you do not want friends or relatives to be present, and you do not want the talk to conflict with important dates (for example, the night before a big test).

Research shows that, even though a child may accept the divorce of their parents, the memory of being told usually sticks with them forever. Again, this means that you should put a lot of thought to when and where you will break the news-these details will undoubtedly stick with your kids.

Posted on in Family Law

Inner PeaceThe New Year can be a good time to reconsider a bad relationship. According to Psychology Today, this is why January is often called divorce month—there are more divorces filed nationwide in January than in any other month. “Some couples who’ve been planning to break up choose to avoid disrupting their families during the holidays. Others may be hoping that their situation or their partner’s behaviors will change, and when nothing shifts, they opt for dissolution,” reports Psychology Today.

According to the Huffington Post, some divorce scholars have attempted to determine an exact “D-Day,” the day on which more divorces happen than any other reason. One consultant told the Huffington Post that while people begin looking for information well before the holidays, “they can’t do much until the attorney are back in the office. January 12–16 seems to be the magic week for filings.”

Waiting until after the holidays to initiate proceedings is more common for families that have children. This, of course, is because couples that are anticipating divorce opt to stave it off in order to give “the kids one last happy holiday as in intact family. By January, if it’s still not working, they know it’s time to move on,” according to the Huffington Post. Divorce can be extremely difficult if you have children, regardless of how long you wait, according to Psychology Today. No matter when you break the news, whether you wait until after the New Year or not, “if you have children, you need to break the news to them gently and slowly.”

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