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guardian ad litem, Geneva family lawyerIt is all too familiar to most people that legal proceedings related to children can quickly deteriorate into ugly, contentious battles. Although it can happen for many reasons, unfortunately, it occurs most often when parents cannot separate themselves from the emotion of the situation, allowing their feelings for each other to cloud their judgment regarding the child’s best interests. Despite recent changes to the statute in Illinois regarding child custody—now called the allocation of parental responsibilities—there is no way to entirely prevent acrimonious disputes. To help the process, however, a family court has the authority under law to appoint a guardian ad litem, an attorney who serves as an extension of the court.

The Guardian ad Litem’s Duties

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a guardian ad litem (GAL) must be an appropriately trained and certified attorney, who is appointed to assist the court in understanding the circumstance relevant to a child-related legal matter. A GAL may be asked to help in the allocation of parental responsibilities, proceedings for parenting time disputes, relocations, and any other matter in which the child’s best interest are of primary concern.

order modification, illinois law, geneva family law attorneyOften, even after a final order from a family law court, the case is not over. As circumstances change, the order of the court may no longer make any sense. Sometimes you need to go back to court and ask for a modification of the original order. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the modification process is not a chance to appeal because you did not like the first decision.

What Can Be Modified in the Order?

Many aspects of a family law order can be modified if there is a change in circumstances. Things like custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal maintenance payments can be modified. Courts will not usually modify a property division order. The only way to get a property order modified is to demonstrate that the other side hid assets or was dishonest, and even then the sometimes the court will refuse to allow a modification.

mediation, dispute resolution, Geneva family law attorneyIssues of family law, including divorce, parental responsibility concerns, and child support, can become extremely contentious and stressful.  Too often, the opposing parties become so focused on “winning” or proving a point that they lose sight of the real matters at hand. This can be especially tragic when children are caught in the middle, as they often become collateral damage when they should be the primary focus.

If you are in the midst of an ongoing legal struggle, there is, unfortunately, no quick fix. But despite being a popular Hollywood cliché, you may choose to take some inspiration from the spirit of the Christmas season. Perhaps, instead of continuing to find ways to “win,” consider proposing a more cooperative approach to settling your differences. For many families, mediation may be just the solution they need.

What Is Mediation?

married name, divorce, Geneva divorce lawyerAs most people realize, divorce is a complicated process, even under the best of circumstances. The most amicable of marital dissolutions still require a number of very difficult, and very personal decisions to be made. Of course, the most obvious include dividing marital property, arrangements for parental responsibilities, and child support. Less obvious, but often no less troublesome concerns include where you will live after the divorce and how to start your new. Depending on your situation, you may be conflicted about whether to change your name back to the name you used prior to the marriage. While there are certainly many justifications for doing so—and it is entirely up to you—there a few reasons you may want to think about keeping your married name even after the marriage is over.

Your Professional Identity

If you married at a relatively young age, you may have had yet to establish yourself as a professional in your field or line of work. As your career developed during your marriage, you may have become known by your married name. Should you decide to change it after the divorce, the process will likely take significant time, and possibly money, as you attempt to re-establish your identity with clients, customers, colleagues, and, perhaps, a public image.

pets, divorce, Geneva property division attorneyFor many people, pets are as much a part of the family as a child. When a marriage breaks up, it can be tough to decide which spouse the pet is going to live with. There are many emotional and practical factors that go into making such a decision, and courts are not always the best places to decide pet issues.

How the Law Views Pets

Even though pets are an important part of our lives, the law views pets as a type of personal property. Your beloved family dog or cat is the same as the family television or couch as far as the law is concerned. Technically, the pet can be assigned a dollar value and put into one spouse’s column on the property division worksheet. There are no explicit pet custody provisions in the law.

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