The Law Office of Christina Martell
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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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Naperville uncontested divorce attorney

The decision to divorce can be difficult for many couples, regardless of whether they were married a few years or a few decades. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a divorce may be granted when “irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” and efforts at reconciliation have failed or future attempts to reconcile would not be in the best interests of the family. Illinois is known as a “no-fault” state, meaning one or both spouses do not need to find an issue within their marriage, such as violence, substance abuse, or adultery, to file for a divorce. An uncontested divorce occurs when both you and your spouse mutually agree to the divorce and are able to reach a settlement on the outstanding issues, such as allocation of parental responsibilities, spousal support, child support, and asset/property division.

Reasons to Choose Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce allows you and your spouse to reach a settlement in a quick and efficient manner compared to a contested divorce, in which various issues may need to be settled in court. The advantages of choosing uncontested divorce include, but are not limited to:

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Posted on in Adoption

Winfield family law and adoption attorney

The act of adopting a child can transform lives. Couples who cannot have biological children of their own often provide a loving and safe home for a deceased family member's child, an orphan, or a neglected child. Due to the nature of this responsibility, adoption can be a long and complicated process. Regardless if it is a related, domestic, or international adoption, there are many legal steps to complete. Approximately 135,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. Adoptions can take place through the foster care system, private domestic and international agencies, or between family members. It is important to understand the legal steps for adopting in order to achieve your dream of becoming an adoptive parent. 

The Illinois Adoption Act

The Illinois Adoption Act is the law that governs adoptions in Illinois. This law applies whenever adoption is finalized in Illinois, regardless of where the child was born. As stated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), adoption “establishes you as a child’s legal parent with all the rights and responsibilities of a child born to you.” A “child,” per Illinois statute, means a person under the legal age of 18. As an adoptive parent, you assume all rights and responsibilities for your child, such as, but not limited to:

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