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Kane County child custody lawyersSharing parental responsibilities can be quite complicated for divorced, separated, or unmarried parents. Each parent may have an idea of how he or she thinks the child should be raised, and such ideas often differ—even between reasonable, well-meaning parents. Conflicting ideas about parenting can create confusion for the child, which is why it is so important for parents to work together to develop a parenting plan that clearly determines what role each parent will play in making significant decisions about the child’s life.  

What Are Significant Decisions?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines “significant decision-making” as “deciding issues of long-term importance in the life of a child.” The law also provides several considerations that are always considered significant decisions, such as:

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Kane County family law attorneyWhen a couple gets married, it is not at all uncommon for a spouse—usually a woman, but not always—to take her partner’s last name as a symbol of their union. Some partners choose to hyphenate their surnames so as to keep their own identity while adding their spouse’s name to theirs. When a marriage comes to an end, it is relatively easy—and usually part of the standard divorce paperwork—for a spouse who changed her name to change it back during the proceedings. But, what about the children of a divorcing couple? It turns out that changing the name of a minor child in Illinois may be more complicated than most people realize.

What the Law Says

While most of the legal details surrounding marriage and divorce are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5), name changes are typically made in accordance with the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5). The statute provides that a name change for a minor child is possible if the court finds “by clear and convincing evidence that the change is necessary to serve the best interest of the child.” A separate provision in the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 (750 ILCS 46) allows for a child’s name to be changed if both parents agree, though this law is typically utilized in cases of unmarried parents or when parentage is in question.

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Chicago family law, establishing paternity, getting married, Illinois law, Kane County family law lawyer, presuming paternity, St. Charles, putative father, Putative Father Registry, claiming paternity in IllinoisWomen of today have more options than women of earlier generations. It used to be that women who became pregnant out of wedlock had no choice but to marry, or else confront lives of poverty and social isolation. While that unfortunate scenario is the reality for some women, others have found that single motherhood affords more stability than marriage.

Lily’s story is one example. She broke up with her boyfriend Carl while pregnant because she feared he would make caring for their child more difficult. Carl had trouble holding down a job, and Lily decided she could not depend on him. Furthermore, because Lily and Carl were not married when she gave birth, and because his name is not on the birth certificate, he has no legal parenting rights. For Lily, that was the desired outcome. But is that what Carl wanted? What if Carl decides he wants to claim paternity? What rights would Carl, or any putative father, have under Illinois law?

Presuming or Establishing Paternity

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