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Orland Park supervised parenting time attorney

Divorce can be a messy and emotional process, especially when children are involved. Understandably, parents often show a different side of themselves when their parental rights are on the line. The formulation of parenting time schedules is always done in the best interests of the child, and this often includes shared time with both parents. However, in some cases, both parents remaining in the child’s life can be dangerous and unhealthy for the child, warranting intervention from the Illinois court system. As difficult as this may be for the child and the parents, supervised visitation may be required for a parent to spend time with his or her child.

Supervised Parenting Time Situations

Supervised visitation is the court’s way of allowing a parent to remain in his or her child’s life while making sure that the child’s safety is a priority. In some cases, a parent may try to restrict their former partner’s relationship with the child by requesting supervised visitation requirements. To ensure that a child's relationship with a parent is not harmed because of the other parent's negative actions or emotions, the Illinois courts will only consider mandating supervised visitation in a select number of situations. These scenarios include:

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Orland Park estate planning lawyer

Preparing for your future is the best way to ensure that things go as planned in the legal department. No one can accurately predict what will happen; however, taking preventative measures is a good step in the right direction. Many put off creating an estate plan until they are older, thinking that they will have plenty of time to do it later in life. However, this places them at risk of losing everything in the event of an emergency. The future may be unpredictable, but with an experienced estate planning attorney’s help, you can make sure that all of your bases are covered.

The Basics of Estate Planning

An estate plan has many moving parts, all of which are unique to each person or family. Some individuals decide to complete only one of the following legal documents, while others have an attorney help create them all: 

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Orland Park parentage attorney

For many people, the identity of a child’s father is not established through an official legal process, but is instead assumed due to the parents' marital status. That is, a man is known to be a father because he is married to the child's mother. While this may be the case for the majority of dads, there are instances in which a child’s father must be legally identified. This is known as establishing paternity. In many cases, parents will forego establishing paternity to avoid making changes to their current lifestyle. However, these fathers often do not know the benefits and rights tied to establishing paternity.

Paternity Benefits

Establishing paternity comes with many benefits, some of which are personal, while others are financial. On a personal note, a child knowing his or her father can be important to the child’s identity and peace of mind. Some kids wish to know their father and build a relationship with him. Others simply need the information for a better sense of personal identity and to mitigate the uneasiness of not knowing their other parent. Knowing the identity of the biological father is also important for access to the father’s medical history. This can be helpful in predicting possible medical issues that come from the father’s bloodline.

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Orland Park divorce mediation attorney

When couples say “I do,” they imagine the future that they will build together. Unfortunately, for many couples, “forever” has an expiration date. There are many reasons why couples decide to get divorced, and for some, it is a mutual decision that involves little contention from both sides. All divorces require legal proceedings; however, there is an alternative option available that does not involve the same amount of time or money that is typically tied to divorce cases that require litigation.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution available to divorcing couples. Rather than hiring your own attorney to represent you in court, mediation involves representation from a neutral third party to assist you and your spouse with the divorce decision-making process.

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Orland Park stepchild adoption attorney

The relationship between a stepparent and a stepchild is unique for every family. Some stepparents will take on a strong parenting role, while others remain a neutral party. For those who view their stepchildren as their own, adoption can be the final piece to the puzzle. This grants them legal rights over the child and can make a stepparent feel more like a “real” parent to the child. Adoption is always a lengthy process, but stepparent adoptions can be especially time-consuming if the child’s other biological parent is alive. Below is a breakdown of the step-by-step process.

The Legal Process

  1. Find an Adoption Attorney - Before starting any legal process, your first step should be to hire a qualified attorney. Adoption attorneys are especially important to ensure that nothing goes wrong during the proceedings. Without professional assistance, the adoption process can take much longer than anticipated, and some courts require legal representation in adoption cases. Finding an attorney who is well-versed in Illinois’ adoption laws will make you feel more secure about the legal process, allowing you to focus on other parts of the adoption.

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Orland Park power of attorney for healthcare and finances lawyer

Designating a power of attorney (POA) is an area of estate planning that many individuals do not consider until it is too late. A POA is a legal document that gives a designated person the power to make financial or medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. While this may sound risky, it is actually the most reliable way to ensure that your wishes are followed in cases of emergency. The best course of action is to fill out the legal documentation that lists your decisions with the help of an estate planning attorney. These declarations must be legally followed in the event you become incapacitated or cannot make decisions for yourself. 

POA for Healthcare

Having set decisions for your healthcare before an emergency occurs is crucial. Those looking into a POA must consider the importance of quality of life and the financial burden that medical procedures can create. Legal documents addressing these matters are also known as advance directives. Power of Attorney for healthcare is one of the most powerful types of advance directives, and the person who is authorized to make decisions for you can ensure that you are cared for according to your wishes. You can give your agent broad authority to act according to how they think you would like matters to be handled, or you can be specific about the types of decisions they are allowed to make and the care you would like to receive.

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Orland Park divorce lawyer

Frequently, legal blogs provide a concentrated look at the parts and pieces that make up a divorce. They explain each area in-depth and look at the finer details of the different aspects of divorce. However, it is also important to take more of a bird’s-eye view at the divorce process to understand how it plays out as a whole. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney is always the first step you should take. Not only can an attorney give you a better idea of what the road ahead of you looks like, but he or she can provide an outside perspective on your case while advocating on your behalf.

Filing a Petition

As with any legal process, the court must be notified of the impending legal action. A person who wishes to get a divorce must file a petition. The state of Illinois does not have a waiting period to file a petition, but at least one of the spouses must legally reside in the state on the day of the filing. In order for an Illinois judge to grant the divorce, one spouse must have legally resided in Illinois for 90 days before the judgment.

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Orland Park will and trust attorney

In life, it can be a good idea to plan ahead, since no one knows what the future holds. Estate planning is the process of arranging in advance for the management and disposal of your estate both while you are alive and after your death. Estate planning is crucial for your future as well as your family’s well-being. Wills and trusts are two of the most common legal documents that are created in the estate planning process. Both handle finances and assets, but they do so in different ways. Many families seek legal assistance to create one, if not both, of these estate planning tools to have peace of mind in regards to their future.

What Does a Will Do?

A will details what will happen to you and your assets after your death. It will state how you want your affairs handled and how your property should be distributed to your heirs. While many young adults and parents do not take the time to consider their own death, addressing these issues can ensure that your wishes are followed correctly. If you have minor children, you should take the time to appoint guardians to ensure that they will be taken care of by people you know and trust. If this is not decided before death, children may be placed into the hands of a family member who you would not want to care for their children. 

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Oak Forest child relocation lawyer

Families relocate now more than ever before. The modern improvements in technology and transportation make it easier for families to move and keep in touch after relocating. Many divorced couples will choose to do this to help themselves move on from their previous marriage. However, while adults have the right to choose when and where they move, the court has a say in all relocation cases involving children. There are three common situations in which court approval may need to be obtained for child relocation: when a parent moves at the time of the divorce, when a parent moves after the divorce, and when an unwed parent chooses to relocate. Married or not, adults who share children together must get permission from the court if their planned move could potentially affect their existing child custody and parenting time agreements or their child's relationship with the other parent.

What Factors Will the Court Review?

When a parent petitions the court for permission to relocate, or when a parent seeks to prohibit their former partner from moving with their child, the court will determine whether the planned move is in the child's best interests. In most cases, a judge will seek to protect both parents’ rights to spend time with their child. For most children, having both parents in their lives is beneficial, and this idea can affect the court’s ruling on relocation. However, if a child has been exposed to domestic abuse, or if parents continue to argue regularly, relocation may be the best thing that will allow the child to flourish in a conflict-free environment.

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Tinley Park prenuptial agreement lawyer

Prenuptial agreements have become much more common in recent years. In the past, prenups were exclusive to wealthy couples to protect their finances in the case of a future divorce. There are various explanations given for why prenups have become so popular. Some say it is because couples are getting married later and thus have acquired more wealth before marriage, while others attribute the influx to the rise of female equality in America. Regardless of the reason, many couples view prenups as a necessity, and it is important to understand what should be included in this kind of legal documentation.

What Can Be Included in My Prenup?

  • Properties: There are two types of property that exist in a marriage, separate and marital. Property that is considered separate includes everything acquired before the legal marriage. Marital property is that which is gained during the marriage. Prenups can allow you to deem some property separate and some marital before saying “I do.”

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Oak Forest child support lawyer

When parents get a divorce, they will both continue to be responsible for providing for their child financially. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act includes regulations about when and how child support must be implemented into a custody arrangement. Most often, the noncustodial parent will be legally obligated to pay the custodial parent a particular amount. However, depending on several factors, including if parents share equal or near-equal amounts of parenting time, this may not always be the case. By working with an attorney, you can ensure that all the relevant factors are taken into account when calculating child support obligations.

What Factors Are Considered When Determining Child Support?

The amount of child support that a parent has to pay is based on a formula laid out in state law. This formula determines a Basic Support Obligation that is based on the number of children and the income earned by both parents. Each parent will contribute a percentage of this obligation, depending on the amount they contribute toward their combined income and, in some cases, the number of overnights the children spend with each parent every year.

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Oak Forest estate planning attorney

While a will documents your wishes for what will happen with your belongings after your death, a living trust allows you to determine how to handle your assets both while you are alive and after you have passed. In your trust, you may be called the “grantor,” “settlor,” or “trustor,” and you will be able to designate who will get your possessions. These people are called your “beneficiaries.” You will also name someone as your “trustee,” which means that he or she will be the one to ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly.

You may be your own trustee, or you can name a survivor trustee who will take control of the trust after your death. You may also set yourself up as a beneficiary of the trust while you are living, and you can add others as beneficiaries, including a spouse, children, or a friend. A living trust can be changed as you feel necessary at any time, or you may cancel it altogether. The trust will be empty until it is funded, which means that until you have transferred your assets to the trust, it will not go into effect.

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Orland Park divorce lawyers

Divorce is stressful and it is rare that anyone walks away financially unscathed. Splitting up means leaving a combined household and having to set up two different homes and lives. It also means assets and debts will be divided, and despite the best efforts of the court, individuals often feel shortchanged. However, there are some steps a person can take in order to take less of a financial hit in a divorce. 

Know Your Assets and Debts (And Your Spouse’s)

Not every husband or wife is totally honest about what they own or what they owe. If you are faced with divorce, one of the first things to do is account for all bank accounts, investments, retirement plans, insurance policies, etc. that your spouse has. You also need to know where you stand on debt, like credit cards, taxes, and medical bills. One way to go about finding any hidden items is by getting a copy of your spouse’s credit report. If there is anything you do not recognize, you will need to dig deeper, perhaps with the help of a forensic accountant.

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Oak Forest divorce and bankruptcy lawyerNo matter how much money you have, you are almost guaranteed to take a financial hit when you get divorced. Even if it is just because you are splitting one household into two, you will likely have less money for bills, especially those that are growing due to snowballing credit card interest charges. If you and/or your spouse have spent the last few years racking up debt, even if you split it in your decree, then you may feel like there is no light at the end of the financial tunnel. Should you consider filing bankruptcy after your divorce? Everyone’s situation will be different, so it is important to understand your options.

Splitting Debts and Assets

Not all divorces are equal. If at all possible, you will want to try to work out a reasonable solution with the other party. If one of you has a higher income, that may mean they will be expected to take on more of the debt. If your spouse has run up credit cards and other debts on a joint account, it may be difficult to determine who actually made all those purchases. There are myriad scenarios when it comes to the finances involved in a divorce, especially if the marriage was a longer one. 

Besides splitting households, you will also be entering into territory that may be new to both you and your ex-spouse. You may have the added responsibility of child support and/or alimony. Therefore, if there is any way for you to go through your assets and bills together and come up with fair solutions, it is imperative that you do so. Your attorney can help you determine what solutions make sense, but you may want to consider mediation if you cannot come to an agreement in a timely manner.

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Oak Forest family law attorney guardian ad litemA Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a legally appointed attorney who is assigned by a judge in child custody cases at the request of one parent or the other (or their attorney). The GAL is supposed to act as the legal representative of the child or children. They are in a position to spend time interviewing the parents, children, and other parties involved in the case, and they will then report directly back to the judge.

Should I Request a GAL?

While you may feel that your children will be better off with a GAL involved in your case, you must understand that the GAL is not supposed to act as an advocate for either parent, and they will focus instead on the children’s needs. They are tasked with legally determining the best interests of the child. Even though you and the GAL both have your child’s best interests at heart, there may be many negatives to involving a GAL in your case.

If you are financially unstable, for example, a GAL may see that as a sign that you may have trouble providing for your children. If you report concerns to him or her that are unfounded, then the GAL may see you as overly emotional and/or acting out of anger rather than out of care for your children. The GAL may be focused on pursuing specific information that he or she knows the judge will want to know, rather than listening to the issues that you feel are important.

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Tinley Park divorce and pets lawyerIn the not-so-distant past, many people would have laughed at the idea of a pet’s custody being decided in court as part of a divorce settlement. However, last year, Illinois was the second state to pass a law stating that pet custody can indeed be determined in court, based on what the judge feels is best for the pet. Rather than still treating the pets as property, like an inanimate object or financial asset, your family pet may now be the subject of a custody case.

Proving You Are the Superior Pet Parent

Much like in a child custody agreement, judges will now have the authority and responsibility to consider the best living situation for the pets in a divorce case. If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is ready to fight for custody, you will need to be prepared to prove your worth as a pet owner. Questions such as who took the animal to the vet, who typically cares for the pet, who has the better-suited home for the pet, and more may be considered. You will want to gather evidence, as you would with any other contested part of your divorce, to prove that you are the better pet parent or that the other party cannot give your animal friend the life that he or she deserves.

Coming to an Agreement

In some cases, divorced spouses may end up having to split custody, just like they would with children. In these cases, it is also a good idea to reach a legal agreement ahead of time about who will pay for vet bills and make decisions about veterinary care, where the pet will stay when either or both spouses will be traveling, etc.

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Orland Park Child Support Lawyer

Financial circumstances can change dramatically from the time a couple divorces through when their children turn 18 years old. One or both parents may get new jobs or become unemployed. Either parent may get a raise or take a pay cut. Any of these factors, along with numerous others, can affect the parents’ levels of responsibility for providing support for their children. 

In addition, something may happen that changes the needs of a child and leads to their care being either more or less expensive. Child support may be modified or even eliminated completely, depending on the circumstances.

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Tinley Park bankruptcy attorneyThe word “bankruptcy” has a lot of negative connotations, but when your debts are piling up, and there is no relief in sight, bankruptcy may indeed be your best option. It can be a great stress relief to get your creditors off your back and start fresh. However, the process can also be confusing, especially for those who have never been through it before. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you decide which type of bankruptcy works for you (typically Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 for individuals) and guide you through the entire legal process.

Chapter 7

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a debtor may end up wiping their liability slate clean. Usually, this works for those with large credit card debt or medical bills and not enough income to cover the expenses. Although part of the process includes a liquidation of the debtor’s assets, some assets can be exempt, and an attorney can help you determine which assets you may have. Often, debtors do not have anything else of significant value, so their bankruptcies fall into the “no-asset” category. 

The discharge for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy often only takes a few months, and the filer can move along without any more creditors calling them. The downside, of course, is the impact on the filer’s credit score, and the fact that the bankruptcy will remain on his or her credit report for 10 years. Still, most people can apply for and receive credit within that time period. They may be required to pay higher interest rates or have lower credit limits.

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Oak Forest estate planning lawyer power of attorneyWhen planning your estate and drafting a will, sometimes it will be necessary to create a power of attorney as well. How do you know when it is needed or whom you should choose? Although you may be doing well now, there may come a time as you get older or face unexpected medical issues that you will no longer be able to take care of your own bills and properties, and you may not be able to make decisions about your own personal care. At that time, it will be of utmost importance to have someone you trust to take care of these things for you.

What Does a Power of Attorney Do?

A power of attorney can be vital in protecting you and your assets. When you create a power of attorney agreement, you will name an agent who is authorized to make decisions for you, but your agent will only have as much power as you have laid out for him or her. In other words, you can choose for your agent to simply take care of your bills and property if you are somehow incapacitated, or you can opt for him or her to have more power, such as the authorization to give gifts or set up trusts on your behalf. 

You may also select a power of attorney to take care of your healthcare needs. Adults may create a power of attorney to name an agent who can manage their medical care and personal needs if they become incapacitated or unable to make their own healthcare decisions. As with a power of attorney for property, a power of attorney for healthcare can limit the decisions your agent can make or provide them with general authority to meet your needs.

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Posted on in Divorce

Orland Park divorce lawyersDivorce often brings intense conflict and emotional stress that most people have never experienced before in their life. When a marriage fails, the disappointment and strain that accompany the divorce process can be overwhelming. Spouses are left to ponder a future without one another amidst worries about child custody, child support, visitation, spousal maintenance, the division of marital property, and more.

This stress is compounded when spouses are unable to work together to craft a divorce agreement and instead fight over the related issues in a courtroom. While many people who go through divorce litigation have no other alternative, others – even on less than cordial terms – can avoid court through collaborative divorce.

What Does Collaborative Divorce Mean?

Similar to mediation, collaborative divorce is when spouses reach agreements on the elements that go into a divorce decree through joint cooperation. Unlike mediation, which utilizes a neutral party that works together with spouses, collaborative divorce involves the spouses and their respective attorneys. The most critical facets are addressed in four-way, face-to-face sessions, while lesser items can be negotiated through the parties via phone or email.

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