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Illinois Courts Cannot Discriminate Against Parents for Legal Marijuana UseA child’s safety with a parent is one of the factors that a family court will consider when allocating parental responsibilities during a divorce or separation. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will also consider this when determining whether to let someone adopt a child or become their legal guardian. Illegal drug use in the home is a red flag that a parent may be irresponsible and creating a dangerous environment for a child. However, some of the assumptions on drug use will change starting in 2020, when Illinois officially legalizes the recreational use of marijuana.

No Discrimination Against Legal Users

The "Illinois Cannabis and Tax Act" includes a section that is titled “Discrimination prohibited.” The section states that the lawful use of marijuana under this act cannot be the “sole or primary basis or supporting basis” for limiting someone’s rights as a parent or right to adopt or become a guardian of a child. This means a court cannot reduce your parenting time or decision making responsibilities based on your co-parent complaining that you use recreational marijuana, as long as you use it in a legal and responsible manner. Likewise, the Illinois DCFS cannot cite your legal marijuana use as a reason for denying your adoption request.

Irresponsible Use

As with other legal drugs, marijuana use will still impact your parental fitness if you are irresponsible with it. A court may decide that your marijuana use is a danger to your children if:

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Adoption Preferred When Voluntarily Terminating Parental RightsTerminating a parent’s rights is not a decision that Illinois courts reach easily or without a compelling reason. A court may restrict a parent’s right to see a child if that parent is unfit or a threat. A disinterested parent can waive his or her right to parenting time and decision-making. However, it is rare for a court to grant a request to voluntarily terminate parental rights – even if both parents agree to it – unless there is another adult willing to adopt the child.

Why Voluntary Termination Is Rarely Granted

The legal parents of a child have both rights and responsibilities that cannot be surrendered or taken away without court approval. Child support is a vital financial responsibility that a court cannot eliminate unless it is terminating someone’s legal status as a parent. If it was easy for parents to voluntarily terminate their rights, some would do so in order to avoid continued child support payments. Instead, Illinois believes that it is in the best interest of a child to have two parents to financially support him or her.

Adoption

A court is more likely to grant a request to terminate parental rights in cases of adoption. The adoptive parent, such as a new spouse, agrees to take on the financial responsibility for the child, which satisfies one of the court’s largest concerns about terminating parental rights. However, the court will not terminate a parent’s rights against his or her wishes. Either the parent must willingly surrender his or her parental rights or the state can petition to terminate a parent’s rights by proving that he or she is unfit in ways such as:

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Reactions to Infertility Can Lead to DivorceLearning that you or your partner is infertile can be one of the most difficult challenges a marriage will face. Your feelings may be similar to how you would react to a death: grief, denial, anger, depression and acceptance. In a way, you are mourning the loss of a biological child you and your partner will never share. Amid the grief and seeking alternative means to have children, it is easy to miss signs that your marriage is in trouble. Infertility can bring a couple closer together but can also cause a division that leads to divorce.

Emotional Reaction

Both people in a marriage may feel shock and sadness at the news that one of them is infertile. The infertile spouse often feels guilty and inadequate, especially in the case of women. The other spouse may feel disappointed and uncertain of the future if having children is one of his or her goals in life. Negative emotions can cause couples to react in unhealthy ways, such as:

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Planning for Standby Adoption After DeathThe most common adoption cases typically involve an adult becoming the legal parent of a child after the biological parents consent to giving up their parental rights. Illinois is one of the few states to include standby adoption as a legal option. Standby adoption allows parents to decide who the adoptive parents of their children will be in case of their deaths. The rights and responsibilities of parents in a standby adoption are the same as those in other forms of adoption in Illinois, but the process must be planned in advance.

How It Works

Standby adoption may be established as part of an estate plan or when a parent has a terminal illness. The parents must fill out a consent form that:

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Kane County family law attorneysIn today’s American culture, remarriage is more common than ever. There are many reasons for the increase in second and third marriages, but most of them can be reduced to the idea that divorce does not cause people to give up on their dreams of being happy. For some, remarriage is relatively simple, with each spouse owning modest amounts of property and neither having children. In other cases, it can be more complex, particularly when children are involved. While some stepparents only ever develop a friendly relationship with their stepchildren, others become much closer. Some, in fact, take the rather large step of pursuing a stepparent adoption to create a permanent parent-child relationship.

Take It Slow

A whirlwind romance between two adults can be invigorating and exciting, and there is not necessarily anything wrong with such a relationship. However, it is unreasonable to expect that your new partner’s child is ready to accept you into his or her life just as quickly. Much depends on the child’s age and maturity level, but understand that the child is likely to have mixed emotions about you as his or her parent’s new partner. As you begin your life together, make every effort to be respectful and consistent in your attitude toward your spouse’s child, and do not push too hard. If a closer relationship is going to develop, it is going to take time and effort.

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