The Law Office of Christina Martell

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27475 Ferry Road, Suite 130, Warrenville, IL 60555

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Kane County divorce attorney parenting time

Studies show that when it comes to parenting time (visitation) after divorce, the quality of time spent, not just the quantity of time spent, matters greatly. The moment that parents decide to end their marriage, they are flooded with a plethora of emotions. Mixed feelings such as confusion, anger, and fear are common, especially when the subject of parent-child relationships surface. It is understandable to be concerned about the logistics of your child’s future relationship with the other parent, as well as how your child will fare emotionally and mentally as he or she experiences the transition.

The Purpose of a Parenting Plan

According to Illinois law, a parenting plan refers to a written agreement that allocates a number of parental responsibilities to each parent, addressing issues such as parenting time, decision-making authority for the child’s life, custody, and the child’s overall lifestyle following the separation. While parenting plans and parenting time arrangements exist to provide a method of family organization and to minimize conflict following the divorce, they are also created to protect the child’s well-being. One of their primary purposes is to help establish, strengthen, and preserve parent-child relationships.

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DuPage County family law attorney paternity

Under Illinois law, if you are a married woman and you have a baby, your husband is legally presumed to be the father of your child. However, if you have a child while you are unmarried, you may assume that the father’s willingness to help raise the child is sufficient to ensure that your son or daughter has the support necessary for a comfortable life. However, without taking action to establish legal paternity, you may run into issues as time goes on. In many cases, establishing paternity is easy to do, and it provides significant benefits for mothers, fathers, and children.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity in Illinois

Taking the steps to establish legal paternity has advantages for everyone involved:

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Warrenville divorce attorney child support

If you and your spouse have come to a mutual decision to get a divorce and you are confident in your ability to cooperate on an agreement, an uncontested divorce can be a great option that allows you to save money, time, and stress, and retain control over important decisions that affect your family’s future. Many couples considering an uncontested divorce fear that involving attorneys will only complicate the process and therefore choose to work toward an agreement on their own. However, the right attorney can be a valuable asset even in an uncontested divorce and can help you ensure the process goes smoothly with minimal conflict.

Attorney Services in an Uncontested Divorce

If your uncontested divorce goes according to plan, you will not need an attorney to represent you in a trial. However, you can still benefit from an attorney’s experience and counsel. Some ways that your lawyer can help include:

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Warrenville family law attorney adoption

When you get married to someone who is already a parent, you often form a close bond with his or her children as well. In some cases, you may decide that it is in the children’s best interest for you to become their legal parent. Step-parent adoptions can be a great way to ensure that children are provided for and supported by a two-parent household, and if you believe this option is right for your family, you can take the necessary legal steps to make sure the adoption goes smoothly with the help of a family law attorney who is well-versed in Illinois law.

Following the Step-Parent Adoption Process

The best way to ensure that you follow the proper procedures for a step-parent adoption is to hire an experienced adoption attorney early on who can guide you through the process and help you address any challenges that arise. Typically, these challenges involve someone else who can claim parental rights. Depending on the situation, you should be prepared to:

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Winfield real estate attorney

Buying a home can be one of the most exciting events in your life, but it can also be overwhelming, especially for first-time homebuyers who are unfamiliar with the process. Before you close on your home, you will likely be working with a variety of people who can help make your closing possible, including a real estate agent, a mortgage lender, and a real estate attorney. The more you know about what each of these parties can do for you, the smoother your home search and closing process will be, allowing you to celebrate the purchase and the future you will build in your new home.

Real Estate Agents, Mortgage Lenders, and Real Estate Attorneys

Real estate agents, lenders, and attorneys each play a different role in your home buying journey, and it is important to understand which one you should go to for different services and answers to the many questions you may have. Here is what you should know about each one:

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Wheaton family law attorney adoption

Open adoption allows a child’s birth parents to have additional rights and future access to their child. However, they must form a solid relationship with the adoptive parents to utilize said rights. Whether you are looking to release yourself from the allocation of parental responsibilities, or gain them through adoption, be sure to consult with a knowledgeable adoption attorney.

Open Adoption Overview

An open adoption is a form of adoption that allows the birth parents to have some sort of relationship or contact with their child even after he or she has been adopted. After the adoption process is complete, however, the adoptive parents assume the same legal rights and responsibilities that the birth parents once had. 

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West Chicago real estate attorney title search

For many individuals, purchasing a home is a dream come true. Unfortunately, that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if proper precautions are not taken. To protect your rights and interests in this major purchase, it is imperative to confide in a knowledgeable real estate attorney, who understands the laws in Illinois.

A Title Search Overview 

Performing a title search is the first step to clearing a title. A title search uncovers any potential issues with the property that could affect your purchase. When performing a title search, a real estate attorney will assess the following elements:

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Naperville military divorce attorney

Going through a divorce is never an easy task. Emotions are high, marital assets must be divided equally, and financial instability can cause issues. When one or both spouses are members of the military, things can become even more complicated. Fortunately, you have options to protect you, your rights, and your responsibilities. If you or your spouse is an active member of the military and are seeking a divorce, it is important to contact a skilled legal professional to help navigate your case. 

Waiting Period

Members of the military, especially those overseas, are subject to safeguard under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA provides legal and financial protection against all non-criminal judicial proceedings such as legal contracts, health insurance, power of attorney, and divorce. Within a divorce, the SCRA allows any proceedings against an active service member to be paused until they are off duty. Because of this, your divorce proceeding may be delayed.

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West Chicago real estate attorney

You have just found your dream home, and your offer has been accepted. You may think the hard part is over, but complications can still arise. Although the home inspection may have been completed without any major issues, you may have an uneasy feeling about the home inspector and his or her judgment regarding a few elements of the property. Fortunately, you have options that can protect you, your offer, and your financial situation. Seeking the legal guidance of an experienced real estate attorney can make sure your rights are protected during the process of buying your home. 

Home Inspection Overview

Within the state of Illinois, a home inspection refers to the examination and evaluation of the interior and exterior of a property prior to the purchase of the property. In other words, it provides details about the house and gives a better understanding of the property to make sure everything is in proper working order.

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Winfield divorce attorney stay at home parents

Going through a divorce involves much more than signing a few papers. For a stay-at-home parent, divorce includes emotional, legal, and financial preparation. A mother or father who stays at home typically manages the household, takes care of the kids, and completes many different day-to-day tasks. It really is a 24/7 job. As a stay-at-home parent, the end of your marriage can be extremely daunting, since you may be concerned about your ability to support yourself and your children, and you will want to understand how divorce will affect child custody and whether you will need to return to work. Therefore, it is critical to know where to begin when facing this next chapter. A skilled family law attorney can help protect your parental rights, make sure you receive your fair share of your marital property, and address other legal and financial issues that arise during the divorce process.

Tips for Surviving Divorce as a Stay-at-Home Parent

Transitioning to your post-divorce life may seem difficult, but by setting goals and making the proper preparations, you can ensure that your family is prepared for success. Here are a few pointers to follow during the divorce process:

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West Chicago guardianship attorney

Typically, only parents are allowed to make decisions based on their child’s well-being. However, in certain situations, parents may be unable or unwilling to care for their children, and someone who is not the parent of the child may become their legal guardian. A guardian is able to make sound decisions for a child and assume the parental role in the child’s life. It is important to note that guardianship can also apply to disabled adults. Before anyone takes on this responsibility, it is crucial to understand what it entails by seeking professional legal guidance from an experienced family law attorney. 

Types of Guardianship

There are three different types of guardianship in Illinois:

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West Chicago family law attorney parenting time

Summer vacation is often a time of bliss for your children, but it may be less exciting for you. If you are divorced, you and your ex-spouse must create a parenting plan before finalizing your divorce. This legal document essentially states who will make decisions for your kids and how those determinations will be made. The plan outlines who will be allocated the parental responsibilities (child custody), in addition to parenting time (visitation). In addition, it should include how each parent receives important information about your children (medical or educational records), as well as how they will be transported between households for parenting time. When your children are on summer or holiday breaks, your normal parenting time schedule may be disrupted, but by following the tips below, you can work with your ex-partner to alleviate the stress for everyone.

Top Tips for Modifying the Routine

Summertime often forces you and your ex-spouse to establish a brand-new parenting time schedule, which can make co-parenting problematic. To make things a little less difficult for you and your ex, here are a few steps to achieve a smoother transition:

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Winfield asset division attorney

Whether it came out of the blue, or whether times in your marriage have been tough for a while, it is frightening to hear your spouse say, “I want a divorce.” Most couples who file for divorce are unprepared, and they are often not even on the same page. If you have children together, that can make the proceedings even more challenging. There are many issues that will need to be addressed, including the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) as well as the division of assets and property. You and your spouse may not agree on how these matters should be resolved, which is why it is essential to seek professional legal counsel at the beginning of the divorce process. 

Actions to Take Upon Filing for Divorce

If your marriage is in trouble and headed toward divorce, it can be difficult to think about life without your spouse. However, it is important to take the following precautions to prepare and protect your interests: 

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Cook County adoption attorney

Family is an important part of life. Because of this, many couples who are looking to start or expand their families turn toward adoption. According to the Donaldson Adoption Institute, 6 in 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption. This means that they themselves, a family member, or friend was adopted, had adopted a child, or had put a child up for adoption. There are many factors that can influence your decision to adopt. If you are considering adoption, it is a serious endeavor that should not be taken lightly. Whether you plan on adopting as a foster parent or through a private agency, having a family law professional by your side will make the entire process much easier.

Below are a few facts you should know before initiating the adoption process:

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Winfield real estate closing attorney

You have found your dream home, made an offer, and have been notified that your offer was accepted. However, you should not celebrate just quite yet, as a number of different items must be completed before the previous homeowner can hand you the house keys. The closing, also known as completion or settlement, is the final step within a real estate transaction. Your closing date will be established, and it will usually be several weeks after your offer has been accepted. Once the closing is complete, the house will officially become yours. Read on to learn a few things you should not do prior to your closing. 

Actions to Avoid During Settlement

Buying a home can be an exciting and stressful process. Be sure to keep these five tips in mind while you are in the process of closing on your new house: 

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West Chicago divorce attorney spousal maintenance

The state of Illinois has established spousal support guidelines for those in the midst of a divorce. Spousal support, also referred to as alimony or maintenance, is a court-ordered payment one spouse must pay to the other for an extended period of time. Spousal support is calculated by taking 33.33 percent of the payor’s net income minus 25 percent of the receiver’s net income. The final calculation, when added to the receiver’s income, cannot surpass 40 percent of the spouses' combined net income. In the event the final calculation is above 40 percent, it will be reduced to meet the required limit. 

When going through a divorce, it is important to consider all of the factors involving spousal support. If you are unsure of your eligibility or fear for your future financial stability, an experienced family law attorney can assist you during the legal proceedings to make sure your rights are protected. 

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Winfield child custody attorney

A child’s best interest is the key focus of any custody decision in an Illinois divorce. If parents do not agree on child-related issues, Illinois courts will intervene, and they usually favor a shared parenting arrangement. However, if a parent is believed to be a danger to the child, that parent may not be allocated any of the parental responsibilities, or their time with the child may be restricted or supervised. The job of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) is to protect children. If they see, hear, or believe a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect, a caseworker may open a child custody case to determine if a parent should be involved in his or her child’s life. According to the United States Children’s Bureau, the number of children who received a child protective services investigation or alternative response increased 10 percent from 2013 to 2017. These investigations are intended to protect the child from further harm. 

If You Are Accused of Child Abuse

Whenever an incident is reported, a DCFS caseworker’s job is to investigate the case to find out if it meets the agency’s guidelines for uncovering abuse. Additional steps may include a home visit by the caseworker within 24 hours of the report. During the home visit, he or she will gather and review any evidence and talk with other individuals who are involved in the case. These people can include your child, your child’s doctor, family members, and/or teachers. The caseworker will have 60 days to complete the investigation and come to a final decision. If he or she determines that the report revealed evidence of abuse on your part, further action will result. To ensure that your rights are protected, you should contact an attorney as soon as you learn that you are under investigation by DCFS.

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Naperville adoption attorney

There are hundreds of thousands of children in the world who do not have a loving home or parents who can provide them with affection and care. Approximately 135,000 children are adopted each year, and many of them are unaware of their birth parents or family members’ names, appearance, or ethnicity. According to Illinois statutes regarding adoptive children, information about the child’s birth parents and family may be shared and can be used to reconnect in the future. If available at the time of the adoption, the information is typically given to the adoptive parents. The parents can present it to the child at that time or at a later date when the child is older.

Types of Accessible Information

There are many different types of information the adoptive parents or the adopted individual may access regarding the birth parents and/or additional relatives: 

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Naperville family law attorney guardian ad litem

Not every divorce is amicable, and some are highly contentious. In certain situations, parents may be unable to reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and these matters may be left up to a judge to decide. In these cases, a guardian ad litem, also known as a “GAL,” may be appointed by the court. A GAL serves as an attorney who represents the children, ensuring that their best interests will be protected. In a sense, they act as the “eyes and ears” of the courtroom. It is important to understand the legal role a GAL plays and how they may affect your case. 

A Guardian ad Litem’s Duties

Because a GAL’s job is to represent a child’s best interests, they are carefully vetted. To become a GAL, a person must complete extensive education, including training on how to recognize signs of abuse and/or neglect. 

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DuPage County allocation of parental responsibilities attorneyA divorce can be challenging for all the involved parties, including for a child the couple had together. Many changes will take place once the final decree is issued. Whether you and your spouse and your attorneys plan to resolve the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) in or out of divorce court, you will want to make sure you are putting your child’s best interests first. According to the United States Census Bureau, about five out of every six custodial parents were mothers (82.5 percent), and one out of every six were fathers (17.5 percent) in 2014.

When addressing the allocation of parental responsibilities, it is important to weigh these six factors to keep your child’s well-being in mind:

  1. The wishes of your child: In many states, including Illinois, the court will consider the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasonable preferences in regard to parenting time.

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