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b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce-process.jpgIt is rare that a couple can get divorced with no involvement from outside professionals. When you get divorced, you are dismantling a relationship that often includes significant amounts of money, property, and considerations for the couple and their children's future. Dividing your property and determining the best way to move forward with issues such as child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance generally requires neutral guidance from individuals who specialize in these areas.

When you file for divorce, understand that you will be working with a group of diverse professionals over the next few months to complete the process. This group includes your attorney, who will represent your interests throughout the process and guide you through each step. The circumstances present in your divorce will determine the necessity of other outside help.

A Property Appraiser

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Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, parental rights,If you are a parent currently going through a divorce, your child likely has opinions about the divorce and how it will affect his or her life once the process is complete. Depending on your child's age and personality, he or she may be quite vocal about these opinions. One of the issues that your child may be most vocal about is his or her custody arrangement after the divorce.

In Illinois, the court may consider a child's desire when determining custody, but the child's desire cannot be the only factor that determines custody. Much larger issues, such as each parent's household stability and current financial health, carry much more weight in the court's decision regarding a child's custody arrangement.

Getting a divorce and having to work out a custody arrangement for your child is stressful. Talk to your child about the custody evaluation process before it begins and answer his or her questions in a positive, age-appropriate way. If you need guidance with starting these conversations or how to handle sensitive subjects with your child, talk with an experienced family attorney or counselor to get a professional opinion about how to approach these subjects with your child.

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Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, parental rights, Divorce can be a drawn-out process, especially when children are involved. However, courts typically streamline this process by resolving child custody issues in conjunction with the related divorce. Illinois courts also recognize that the child’s best interests might differ from his or her parents’ interests. That is why courts often appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the child’s interests during the custody proceeding. To that end, the GAL might submit a rules of the road” order to the court. A rules of the road order outlines how the parents must behave in their child’s presence. For example, the order might prohibit the parents from making disparaging remarks about each other. The point is to limit the emotional toll that the proceedings already have on the child.

Some parents do not approve of rules of the road orders. In fact, one woman argues that such orders amount to an injunction (a court order restricting a party’s behavior) and must therefore comply with procedural rules.

Pending Illinois Supreme Court Case

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Posted on in Adoption

parental rights, Illinois child custody law, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois law applies the best interest standard in civil matters involving children. Divorce proceedings, child custody battles, adoptions and visitation hearings are all examples of matters where a court must consider what is in the best interests of the child. These best interests include maximizing the child’s physical, mental, moral and emotional well-being.

It is difficult to define the best interest standard precisely, because as any parent knows, what is best for one child might not be what is best for another. However, the law sets forth relevant factors for courts to consider. That list is meant to be a starting point. Courts may consider all relevant factors and not merely those delineated here:

  • The child’s wishes regarding custody, adoption, and visitation rights, if the child is old enough and has the mental capacity to express such wishes;
  • The parent’s (or prospective parent’s) wishes regarding custody, adoption and visitation rights;
  • The relationship between the child and his parents, siblings and any other relevant person, such as a parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend;
  • How well-adjusted the child is to his current home, school and community (if the court is considering an arrangement that would uproot the child);
  • The mental and physical health of all persons involved;
  • Whether there is a pattern or history of domestic abuse in the child’s current or potential home;
  • How willing both parents are to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent (especially with the parent who does not have primary custody);
  • Whether one of the parents is a sex offender; and
  • Whether one of the parents is a member of the military.

Note: One important aspect of the best interest standard is that courts typically presume that is in the child’s best interests for both parents to be involved. However, in a custody proceeding, there is also no presumption in favor of – or against – joint custody.

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legal guardianship, Illinois family law firm, DuPage County family law attorney, A child’s parents are not always the people who gave birth to him. In fact, sometimes a child’s “parents” are not actually his parents at all, but are actually his legal guardians. While a legal guardian may look like a parent and act like a parent, the law confers a different status.

For whatever reason, some parents are unable to care for their children. When that happens, courts have various means of transferring legal authority to someone who does have that capability. Legal guardianship is one such process. Before appointing a permanent legal guardian, the court might appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) who will be tasked with investigating the relevant facts. The GAL’s investigation will likely focus on the family’s situation and the parents’ ability – or inability – to care for their child. After the GAL investigates, he or she will make a recommendation to the court based on the child’s best interests.

The appointment of a permanent legal guardian begins with a petition filed in court. The petition must identify the minor child, the parents, the siblings and the proposed guardian. Additionally, the petition must explain why a legal guardianship is necessary. The facts will vary based on the case, but a typical reason might be that the parents lack the financial ability to care for their child. Notice of the petition must be provided to the parents and to any adult siblings. Notice must also be provided to the child, if he or she is at least 14 years old.

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