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Disproving Paternity Does Not Always Terminate Parental ObligationsIllinois presumes that the husband is the legal father to any child conceived or born during the marriage. The legal father has a right to parental responsibilities and an obligation to contribute to child support in the event of a divorce. The presumed father can declare the non-existence of a parent-child relationship if he learns that he is not the biological father. If the court grants the action, the man can ask to terminate his legal obligations to the child. However, terminating your parental responsibilities takes more than claiming that the child is not yours.

Time Limit

You must file a petition to terminate your paternity within two years of learning that you may not be the father. The two-year time limit can start at any point, as long as you had no reason to doubt your paternity before learning the relevant facts. For instance, an Illinois court recently approved a man’s petition to terminate his parental obligations when his former wife told him that he was not the father of their 12-year-old daughter. A DNA test proved this to be true, and, after hearing testimony, the court believed that the man had not previously known that he was not the father.

DNA Testing

A genetic test is the surest way to determine whether you are the biological father of a child. Illinois law instructs courts to grant DNA testing when either parent or child requests it. However, the court has the right to deny a DNA test if it believes that it is against the best interest of the child for reasons such as:

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Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Prenuptial AgreementThe purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to save you time and stress in the event that you divorce. Mistakes in your agreement can make the divorce process more complicated instead. Imagine your frustration if you learn that the agreement is unenforceable because of the way you created it or a provision in it. You may end up renegotiating your division of property and spousal maintenance. A fully enforceable agreement could be just as frustrating to you if you realize that it leaves you at a disadvantage. You would need a legal reason to discard a valid contract. Despite the possible problems, there are many couples who benefit from having a prenuptial agreement when they divorce. There are four mistakes that you should avoid when creating an agreement:

  1. Do Not Rush: You should give yourself weeks to months to create your prenuptial agreement. You need time to consider what you want from the agreement and to examine it before you approve it. You may feel tempted to hurry through the process because the idea of getting divorced makes you uncomfortable. However, you will wish you had taken the time to understand the agreement if you end up using it.
  2. Do Not Withhold Information: A prenuptial agreement can be invalid if one of the parties lied about or withheld financial information that would have changed the agreement. This is usually a valuable premarital property that someone hid. If your future spouse knew about the property, he or she may have asked for a greater share of marital assets. Parties can also withhold information about debts that could become a marital obligation in a divorce.
  3. Do Not Use the Same Lawyer: At first glance, it may seem practical to share one family law attorney when creating a prenuptial agreement. You are on good terms with each other and share the same goals. However, you each need your own attorney to look at the agreement and make sure that it is fair to you. You should choose your own attorney to ensure that he or she is independent of your partner.
  4. Do Not Sign Anything You Are Uncomfortable With: You are not obligated to approve a prenuptial agreement before your marriage. If something in the agreement seems wrong or confusing, ask your attorney to explain it to you. Your future spouse is not allowed to pressure you into signing, such as presenting an agreement the day before your wedding. Creating an agreement under duress would make it invalid.

Contact a Naperville Family Law Attorney

A prenuptial agreement is a complicated document, much like a divorce agreement. You need an experienced DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., to create a valid agreement that is fair to you. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Illinois Court Rejects Father's Relocation PetitionA co-parent who wishes to relocate with his or her children bears the burden of proving why the move is in the best interest of the children. There can be several reasons why children may benefit from relocating, such as:

  • Better education;
  • A more diverse community;
  • Proximity to family members;
  • A higher standard of living; and
  • Employment opportunities for the primary parent.

However, the court must also consider how the relocation would affect the other parent’s rights. Regularly visiting each parent is often of the greatest benefit to the children. A court may reject a relocation petition if it is unconvinced that the children will be in a clearly better living situation than they are currently.

Recent Example

In the case of In re Marriage of Fatkin, a divorced father asked to relocate his two children from Illinois to Virginia. The father, who had a greater share of the parenting time, had not found full-time employment where he was living and wished to move into his parent’s home in Virginia Beach, where he grew up and had a job waiting for him. He cited several ways that his children would benefit from the move:

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Should You Become Your Parent's Guardian?Your parents may reach a point in their old age that they are no longer able to make decisions about the important matters in their lives. Ideally, you will prepare for this possibility with them by creating a power of attorney for healthcare and finances. If you do not have these documents, you can request adult guardianship for a parent. If granted, the guardianship will allow you to manage your parent’s finances and decide how to proceed with medical treatment and living arrangements. However, you must consider the potential consequences before applying for adult guardianship:

  1. Will Your Parent Contest It?: It can be infuriating for an adult to cede the ability to make his or her own decisions. Your parent may have enough self-awareness to fight your attempts to take control of his or her life. Of course, this does not mean that your parent is mentally fit, but you may end up in a bitter court battle to obtain guardianship. Your parent may feel humiliated by the evidence that you present to prove that he or she needs a guardian. No matter the court’s decision, your relationship with your parent may be strained.
  2. Will a Family Member Contest It?: Just because your parent needs a guardian does not mean that it will automatically be you. Your other parent will be the first option to make important decisions, as long as he or she is capable of doing so. If your other parent is also mentally unfit, you may need to contest his or her decision-making powers. Your siblings may vie for guardianship over your parents and contest your attempts to take control. Ideally, you can share the responsibility with your siblings, but they may be unreasonable and unwilling to give up any power.
  3. Is Guardianship Necessary?: Becoming the legal guardian of your parent is a costly and time-consuming process. Before starting, you should question whether your parent needs a guardian in this situation. Being confused at times does not mean that he or she is incapable of making important decisions. By talking with your parent, you may get him or her to agree to take your advice on matters without requiring your legal authority.

Contact a Warrenville Family Law Attorney

Before applying for guardianship of your parent, you should check whether your parent already has documents related to the power of attorney. A DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you obtain guardianship if you need the legal authority to make decisions on your parent’s behalf. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-393-3111. 

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Your Rights When a Child Refuses Parenting TimeParents normally understand the importance of each of them having parenting time after a divorce. It is a legal right that each parent is presumed to have, and the children benefit from the regular contact and relationships they form. However, what should parents do if a child refuses to visit one of them? Teenagers can insist on their right to decide which parent they spend time with, not thinking that it would violate a legal agreement. Both parents are responsible for solving any conflicts related to parenting time.

Right to Parenting Time

You can force your child to attend your parenting time, but he or she is likely to be miserable if he or she does not want to be there. You should ask your child why he or she does not want to visit you. You may need to ask specific questions if your child does not give you a clear answer, such as:

  • Are you comfortable spending time with me and living in my home?;
  • Is there anything I can do to make our time together more enjoyable?; and
  • Is there something else you would rather be doing when you visit me?

The last question may be crucial when talking to a teenager, who may feel that your scheduled visits disrupt his or her social life. Your teenager may be mature enough to have a say in your parenting schedule. Be willing to adjust your schedule to fit his or her needs, but tell your teenager why you still want to see him or her regularly.

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Creating a Parenting Schedule for the HolidaysYour first holiday season after your divorce can be stressful for you and your children because it is the first time you are not celebrating the holidays together as a family. Your parenting schedule should not add more stress to the season. Divorced parents often have unique schedules for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may have already included one in your divorce parenting agreement. However, you will not know how well the schedule works until you put it into action. You may need to adjust your holiday parenting schedule to something that works better for your children.

Qualities of a Good Schedule

You should build your holiday parenting schedule around what will create the most enjoyable experience for your children. This requires sacrificing some of your own time with the children so that both you and your co-parent can celebrate with them. How you divide your time depends on your individual circumstances. You should ask yourselves:

  • Which home will the children be most comfortable spending a holiday at?;
  • Which parent is most capable of hosting a holiday celebration such as a dinner?;
  • What other family members will the children be able to see when staying with each parent?;
  • Are the children old enough to handle traveling between parents on the holiday?; and
  • Is one parent more closely associated with certain holiday traditions than the other?

Types of Schedules

There are four ways that you can structure your holiday parenting schedule:

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Legal Recourse When a Parent Flees with a ChildA divorced parent living in the Chicago area may not relocate with his or her children more than 25 miles from their current home unless:

  • The other parent agrees to the move; or 
  • A court approves the move.

The relocating parent must file a petition to relocate and prove to the court that it is in the children’s best interest to move with him or her. The court can block the children’s move and modify the division of parenting time if the parent decides to relocate anyways. Fearing that a court will reject their relocation requests, some parents flee with their children to another state or country. State, federal, and international laws can help you rescue your children if your co-parent has abducted them.

Parental Kidnapping

Illinois defines parental kidnapping as when one parent defies a court-approved parenting order by hiding or removing the children from the other parent. You can request an emergency custody order for your children if you believe your co-parent has fled with them or is a risk to do so. Federal law allows your state’s courts to maintain jurisdiction over your parenting case, even when your co-parent flees to another state.

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How a Postnuptial Agreement May Strengthen Your MarriageCreating a postnuptial agreement seems like a sign of weakness in a marriage. Why would you need an agreement that prepares you for a potential divorce if your marriage is strong? A postnuptial agreement is a practical document that you should create when you and your spouse are cooperating. Having a postnuptial agreement means you recognize that you could divorce and that you may disagree on what to do with your assets at that time. Instead of a weakness, negotiating a postnuptial agreement can be healthy for your relationship:

  1. You Are Discussing Your Finances: Financial struggles and disagreements cause marital conflict that can lead to divorce. You may have financial concerns but are avoiding a conversation with your spouse because it is stressful. Ignoring the topic will not make the problem go away. Negotiating a postnuptial agreement forces you to talk to your spouse about your finances.
  2. You Discover What You Disagree About: You may have a different philosophy about spending and saving than your spouse. Your negotiations are your chance to say that you are concerned about your spouse’s spending choices and how they may hurt your marital assets. Your spouse may have his or her own concerns about your spending habits. You can plan so that you both would have enough assets to support yourselves in case of a divorce.
  3. The Negotiations Encourage Honesty: Even when together for several years, you may not know all of the assets your spouse owns or how much money he or she earns. It is appropriate for you to ask your spouse for details about his or her finances during the negotiations. Your postnuptial agreement would be invalid if your spouse hid significant assets from you. Believing that your spouse is not hiding anything from you will improve your trust in your marriage.
  4. You Are Working Together Towards Solutions: Creating a good postnuptial agreement requires finding compromises for complicated financial issues. You want an agreement that is fair to yourself and your spouse. By the end of the process, you will have gained experience in cooperating with your spouse to solve difficult situations.

Worthwhile Process

You may never need to use your postnuptial agreement but will be happy that you created one if you ever divorce. The agreement saves you time by settling some of your divorce’s most contentious issues in advance. A DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you make a postnuptial agreement or review an existing agreement. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Improving as a Father Through DivorceSome men become more active and involved fathers despite the obstacles that their divorces create. Courts often grant less allocation of parental responsibilities to fathers, which means that fathers have less time with their children and less say in parenting decisions. As a father, you are always a full-time parent, even if you see your children only part-time. You need to change what you require of yourself as a full-time father.

Parenting Time

You should treat your time with your children as a precious resource. When you were living with your co-parent, you could be less active with your children because you were sharing parental responsibilities. Single parents cannot avoid interacting with their children and taking direct responsibility. This should include:

  • Talking with your children individually;
  • Helping them with their homework or life problems; and
  • Having fun with them.

You need to adjust the rest of your life's schedule to make the best use of your parenting time. You may need to shift your work hours so that you can be with your children during your parenting time. Social activities with friends or romantic interests should always be secondary to your time with your children.

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Parenting Plans Should Be Specific, Yet FlexibleWhen it comes to a document as important as a parenting plan, you want to avoid vague language and unanswered questions. A weak parenting plan can create conflict between the co-parents, which may also harm the children. Your parenting plan can be as specific as you need to prevent your co-parent from interpreting it differently. However, the plan should also be flexible so that you can respond to unusual circumstances with practical solutions. A good parenting plan thoroughly addresses all of the known issues that are involved in co-parenting while allowing flexibility to adjust to unforeseen issues.

Detailed Document

Parenting time is rightfully the most discussed aspect of a parenting plan because it is the most fundamental part of co-parenting. However, there are numerous areas of co-parenting in which there is a potential for conflict if the plan does not specifically address them. Some of the most common questions that the plan should answer include:

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Remembering a Prenuptial Agreement for Your Next RelationshipGoing through a divorce is when you are most likely to realize how useful a prenuptial agreement can be. The agreement can save time on the negotiation of the division of properties and spousal maintenance. Unfortunately, it is too late to create a prenuptial agreement or even a postnuptial agreement if your divorce has already started. You should remember this lesson when you enter your next major relationship that involves sharing assets with your partner. Creating a prenuptial or co-tenancy agreement is a practical step towards protecting individual assets if you have previously divorced.

Second Marriage

There may be several reasons why you did not create a prenuptial agreement before your first marriage:

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When You Can Extend Child Support Beyond Age 18In most cases, divorced or separated parents’ obligation towards child support for an individual child ends when the child turns 18 years old. If there are other children who are still minors, the support payments must be modified to reflect one less child. Otherwise, the support payments end once the last child becomes a non-minor. A parent may not feel like his or her parenting expenses are over if the non-minor child continues to live with him or her or is still financially dependent. There are three situations in which Illinois law allows the primary parent to continue receiving child support payments after the child has become a legal adult.

College Students

Young adults often choose to obtain a post-secondary education, but attending college is expensive. Illinois parents can petition to continue child support payments to cover a non-minor child’s college expenses, including tuition, housing, textbooks, school supplies, food, and medical expenses. Students who commute to school while still living with a parent are eligible, though the living expenses will be less. However, there are qualifications and limitations to the support payments:

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Settling Parental Disputes Across State LinesDisputes involving the allocation of parental responsibilities become more complicated when one of the parents moves to a different state. Relocating with a child from Illinois to another state requires court permission, decided by what is in the best interest of the child. If the relocation is approved, there are new questions about:

Most states in the U.S., including Illinois, have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to set guidelines for co-parenting across state lines.

Jurisdiction

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Reasons Your Prenuptial Agreement May Need an UpdateCreating a prenuptial agreement is helpful in settling financial issues that will come up during a divorce. The agreement lays out a plan for how premarital properties will be treated and what level of spousal maintenance will be provided. However, spouses should consider it a living document that may need to be updated. Financial circumstances in the marriage can change in ways that make the agreement obsolete or unfair to one party. It will be easier for both parties to renegotiate the prenuptial agreement while still married than during the divorce.

Spousal Maintenance

Parties in a prenuptial agreement may choose to establish the value and duration of spousal support payments after divorce, especially when one party has a significantly greater income than the other. However, the balance of financial power can change in a marriage: 

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Posted on in Paternity

Parental Rights Without MarriageYou do not need to plan on marriage in order for family law to be useful. Cohabiting couples share their lives in many of the same ways as those who marry. This includes having children, which will tie the two people together even if they separate. A co-parent who never married is responsible for child support payments if the couple lives apart. However, there are benefits to being married parents that unmarried parents do not automatically receive. Unmarried couples must proactively use family law to gain equal rights as parents.

Establishing Parentage

When a married woman has a child, her husband is assumed to be the father. A biological father who is not married to the mother must identify himself as the father in order to have paternal rights. The father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form immediately after the child’s birth. In some situations, only one person is the biological parent. The other partner can apply for adoption to become a legal parent. Establishing parentage grants several rights regarding the child, including:

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Including a New Significant Other During the HolidaysIt is understandable and in many cases expected that you will date new people after your divorce. The tricky part is when and how to introduce your new romantic interest to your family – most significantly your children. You want to include your significant other in all aspects of your life, but you also must consider how others will react. This conflict becomes heightened during the holiday season. You can spend time with your new partner, but including him or her in family events may create uncomfortable situations. There are circumstances in which it is a bad idea to invite a new significant other to a family holiday gathering.

During the Divorce

Openly dating someone while your divorce is ongoing can be damaging to your case. Besides making you look selfish, your divorcing spouse may bring up legal questions of whether:

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Four Differences Between Guardianship of a Child and a Disabled AdultIn broad terms, guardianship can be differentiated by cases involving minors and cases involving disabled adults. Both are similar in that they require a court ruling to determine whether a responsible adult should have decision power over the ward’s:

  • Personal care and health; and/or
  • Financial estate.

However, guardianship of a disabled adult has many fundamental differences from guardianship of a minor. Obtaining guardianship of a child is already a difficult process because the court must determine what is in the best interest of the child. Obtaining guardianship of a disabled adult can be more complicated because the court must also consider the rights of the adult. Here are four key differences between guardianship of a minor and guardianship of a disabled adult:

  1. Assumed Need for Guardian: Children must have an adult who is responsible for their safety and personal decisions. If the parents are incapable of doing that, a guardian will be appointed, whether it is another adult or the state. For disabled adults, courts prefer to give them as much independence as they can handle. The person requesting guardianship must explain why he or she should have power over the adult.
  2. Parents As Guardians: Parents do not need to apply for guardianship of minors because they are assumed to be responsible for their own children. When a disabled person becomes a legal adult, the parents will need guardianship if they want to retain the decision-making power they had when the disabled adult was a child. As with anyone else, the parents must prove why they should have guardianship of an adult.
  3. Legal Preparations: To prove the need for guardianship, the petitioner must show why the disabled adult is incapable of being responsible for him or herself. A doctor’s evaluation is required to explain the adult's physical and mental limitations and what type of guardianship is recommended. The petitioner also must be knowledgeable of the adult’s wages, personal assets and financial obligations.
  4. Court Hearing: When requesting guardianship, the petitioner is taking the disabled adult to court in order to restrict his or her decision-making powers. The adult has a right to an attorney in order to contest and prevent the guardianship. Depending on the adult’s level of awareness, he or she may feel embittered because of the prospect of losing his or her rights as an adult.

Deciding on Guardianship

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Coping With Your Children's Absence After DivorceSeparation anxiety applies to parents and children after a divorce. As a parent, you have developed a bond with your children and are not used to extended time apart. With a post-divorce parenting plan, you will likely not see your children for days at a time. The change can be jarring. While your children will always be with one of their parents, you are suddenly alone when your children are staying with their other parent. This can be depressing if your life has centered around taking care of your children. However, you can also think of your free time as a chance to find a purpose and structure that is not reliant on being a parent. There are several actions you can take to help you towards this:

  1. Rediscovering Personal Passions: When you became a parent, you may have put aside some of your favorite hobbies and activities. Taking care of your child came before your personal interests. You now have the free time to continue those interests. Participating in fun activities gives you something enjoyable to do while keeping your mind off your children's absence.
  2. Reconnecting with Friends: Parenthood also changes your social interactions. Your leisure time is often spent doing activities with your family or other parents. With your children away and being cared for, you are free to meet with friends for more adult social outings. The important aspect is being with other people at a time when you are feeling alone.
  3. Adjusting Your Work Hours: If your job gives you flexibility in your hours, you may be able to change your work schedule to fit with your parenting schedule. On days when you know you will not have the children, agree to work longer hours. In exchange, you may be able to work shorter hours on the days when you do have the children.
  4. Being Productive: Some people feel satisfaction when accomplishing something in their free time. Your time without your children is a good chance to work on personal projects, such as fixing up your home or continuing your education. You can also volunteer your time towards charitable efforts. These activities can give you a sense of purpose in your life.

Dividing Your Parenting Time

The days you spend apart from your children make the days you are together more important. Your parenting schedule should give both parents days with your children that do not involve work or school commitments. If your children are always gone on your days off work, you are missing your chance to bond with them. A DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, will help you create a fair parenting agreement. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Postnuptial AgreementsPostnuptial agreements are often grouped in the same discussions as prenuptial agreements. Both are legal documents that help spouses predetermine the terms of a hypothetical divorce, including:

  • Defining marital and nonmarital properties;
  • Determining how marital properties would be divided;
  • Protecting spouses from nonmarital debt; and
  • Setting the expectations for spousal maintenance.

By definition, the difference between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement is that postnuptial agreements are reached after the spouses have married. Spouses may opt for a postnuptial agreement if it is too late to create a prenuptial agreement or they need to change the prenuptial agreement. However, spouses can have different reasons for creating a postnuptial agreement than they would for a prenuptial agreement.

Changing Relationship

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11 Factors Courts Consider When Ruling on Child RelocationIllinois law prohibits a divorced parent from relocating with a child without notifying the other parent and receiving court approval. There are no exceptions for cases in which the other parent has little parenting time with the child or is deemed unfit. Unless the other parent has lost his or her parental status, a relocation order must be obtained if a parent wishes to move a child:

  • More than 25 miles if living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will County;
  • More than 50 miles if living in any other county in the state; or
  • More than 25 miles if the new location is in another state.

Child relocation disrupts the allocation of parental responsibilities for the other parent. Regular parenting time may be impractical if the child lives too far away. However, the relocating parent and the child may benefit from the move. Illinois law lists 11 factors that a court should consider when deciding on a child relocation request:

  1. The Reason for the Move: The relocation should have some direct benefit for the parent or child. For instance, a parent may relocate because of a new career opportunity that will allow him or her to better support the child.
  2. The Reason for the Objection: If the parent who is not relocating wishes to block the move, he or she can explain how the move would disrupt his or her parental rights.
  3. Parental Fitness: The court will examine whether either parent has a history of not fulfilling his or her parental responsibilities.
  4. Educational Opportunities: The court may favor a move that puts a child in a better school district.
  5. Extended Family: It is often beneficial for a child to live near other relatives. The court will consider whether the move results in the child being closer or farther away from relatives.
  6. Impact of Relocation: A move may improve a child’s standard of living but may also be emotionally traumatic.
  7. New Parenting Agreement: The move would likely require changing the allocation of parental responsibilities. The court wants to see whether the parents can still create a reasonable agreement.
  8. Child’s Wishes: The court will only consider what the child wants if the child is mature enough to give a reasoned explanation.
  9. Appropriate Arrangement: The moving parent must have the necessary resources in order to support the child in the new location. A younger child may struggle with a more disruptive parenting arrangement that results from the move.
  10. Continued Relationship: The court wants to minimize any effect that the move would have on the relationship between the child and the objecting parent.
  11. Other Factors: Either parent can present other reasons that moving or not moving would be in the best interest of the child.

Relocation Orders

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