Blog posts tagged in Geneva family lawyer
After a trying year due to COVID-19, many people are looking forward to 2021 with a vaccine being distributed throughout the country. However, there is growing concern that there could be a pandemic within the pandemic. Reports of domestic abuse have increased during the months of 2020. With much of the country’s workforce laid off or working remotely from home, and the uncertainty of the virus, tensions in many households have run high. Although stay-at-home orders issued at the start of the health crisis were intended to protect the public and prevent widespread infection, they left many victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) trapped with their abusers. However, they do have options for protecting themselves and their children.
Illinois Orders of Protection
Those who are subjected to abuse or harassment can take legal action against their abusers. Orders of protection, also known as restraining orders, are typically sought by domestic violence victims. Under Illinois law, emergency orders can be obtained immediately and may last up to 21 days. Plenary orders can last up to two years but may be extended in certain situations. If someone fears for their safety or that of their children, then it is critical to seek help and take steps to get out of the dangerous situation.
Too often, parents who are going through a divorce focus their energies on fighting with one another rather than on finding workable solutions for raising their children. Under Illinois law, divorcing parents are expected to develop a cooperative plan that addresses the allocation of parental responsibilities—once called child custody. Such an agreement, however, is not always possible, and the matter is left to the court to decide. During the proceedings, each parent will the opportunity make his or her case, which will be taken into account by the judge. But what about the child? Does the child get a say in how parental responsibilities are allocated?
The Wishes of the Child
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act clearly provides that, yes, the wishes of the child are to be considered by the court in a proceeding related to decision-making responsibilities or parenting time. The law, however, does include an important caveat. The court must also take “into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences.”
Under Illinois law, the legal relationship between a child and his or her father is only presumed if the man was married to child’s mother at the time of, just prior to, or just after the child’s birth. According to the most recent available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, more than 40 percent of all births in the United States are to unmarried mothers. These numbers indicate that, on average, paternity cannot be presumed in about two out of five cases.
The most common method for establishing paternity when there is no existing presumption—or to rebut a presumption in certain cases—is by means of a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (VAP) form. When both the mother and father complete the form properly, it creates a legal parent-child relationship between the man and his son or daughter. As such, completing the VAP form is an extremely serious matter and one that should not be taken lightly.
Be Absolutely Certain
As you try to provide for your children, it is important to stay aware of any and all potential opportunities that may arise. Sometimes, these opportunities may require you to move out of the area, and in some cases, to a different state. When children are not a consideration, it is relatively easy to pick up and move, and start a life in a new location. When a custody order—or a parenting plan under the updated law—is involved, you will need to understand what the law requires before you attempt a relocation.
The same measure that updated the state’s provisions on child custody also clarified what constitutes a relocation. Under the previous version of the law, only an out-of-state move required special consideration. Beginning this year, however, the updated statute provides direction on what a parental relocation is and the steps necessary in completing one.
When it becomes evident that you are headed for divorce, it is important to start planning for the process. You will need to have a good understanding of your current financial situation and what constitutes your ideal post-divorce scenario. Depending upon the circumstances of your relationship with your spouse, you may be able begin negotiating the terms of your divorce agreement. At first, of course, such discussions would need to be relatively informal, but you and your spouse can at least start talking about the future. The conversation is even more important if you have a child or children together, so that you can both better understand the role you are to play in your child’s upbringing.
Determine a Primary Residence
Among your first child-related concerns should be which parent will assume responsibility for a majority of the parenting time. This is an important consideration in determining where the child will attend school. The parent who does not have the majority of the parenting time will most likely be responsible for paying child support. Just because one of you has less parenting time than the other is not considered to be a reflection on your parental rights; rather it is more of a logistical determination.