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IL divorce lawyerProperty division is one of the key issues that spouses will need to address during the divorce process. All of a couple’s marital property, which includes any assets or debts they acquired during their marriage, will need to be divided. While Illinois law does not require property to be divided equally between spouses, each spouse should receive a fair and equitable share of the marital estate. As spouses determine how to divide property in a way that will provide for their ongoing needs, ownership of their family home will be one of the most important matters to address. By understanding their options, spouses can make decisions that will allow them to move forward with their lives while maintaining financial stability.

Options for Ownership of a Family Home

Real estate property is likely to be one of the most valuable assets owned by a couple. Both spouses may have emotional connections to their home that may make it difficult to decide how to handle ownership going forward. It can often be beneficial to receive an appraisal of the home to ensure that the spouses fully understand its value. After gaining a complete understanding of the full value of the marital estate, spouses can make decisions about how ownership of the home and other assets will be handled.

When addressing homeownership during the divorce process, spouses can generally choose from one of the following options:

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IL family lawyerParentage refers to the legal relationship between parents and their children. Paternity is used to describe the father-child relationship. Whether you are a father, mother, grandparent, or another family member, you may have questions and concerns about how paternity influences family law issues. Read on to learn answers to some of the most common questions about paternity in Illinois. For legal advice customized to your particular situation, reach out to an experienced family law attorney.

How Do You Establish Paternity?

When a married couple has a child, the law presumes that the mother’s husband is the father. However, if an unmarried couple has a baby together, they must take additional steps to establish paternity. You may be able to fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) to establish paternity. However, if the other parent will not cooperate, you may need to take action through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services or the court to establish paternity.

How Does Paternity Impact Child Support?

For single parents, child support payments can make all the difference in the world. If you are a parent or guardian who wishes to pursue child support from a child’s father, you must first establish paternity. Once the legal relationship between the father and child has been established, you may petition the court for a child support order.

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IL family lawyerThere are a variety of situations where parents may become involved in child custody disputes. When married parents get divorced, there is usually no question as to the identity of a child’s parents. However, when parents are unmarried, the child’s presumed father may not necessarily have legal parental rights toward the child. Matters involving child custody may become more complicated in these situations, and to ensure that parents’ and children’s rights will be protected, it may be necessary to establish paternity.

When Will Paternity Need to Be Established?

If a mother was married at the time of her child’s birth, or if she was in a marriage that ended within 300 days before the child was born, her spouse or former spouse is presumed to be the child’s legal parent. However, if a mother is unmarried when a child is born, the other biological parent will not be considered the child’s legal parent until paternity is established.

The easiest and most straightforward way to establish paternity is for the parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. This can be done if both parents are in agreement about the identity of the child’s father, and a VAP can be completed at any time after the child is born.

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wheaton child support lawyerIndividuals who were never married but share a child often face unique challenges and circumstances. Challenges such as child support are often dealt with as an element of the divorce process. In cases that involve non-married parents, it is likely that the establishment of paternity will be required. If this step is delayed, it may be possible for the custodial parent to seek retroactive child support for the expenses incurred prior to the custody support order taking effect.

The Parentage Act

Before child support or parenting time can be court-ordered, parentage must be determined. Parentage refers to the legal relationship between a parent and child. The Parentage Act in Illinois, originally established in 1984, entitles every child the right to their parents’ support, including physical, emotional, and financial support. The Parentage Act was specifically put in place to address the legal rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents. This includes divorced parents and parents who were never married. 

Ultimately, when determining the allotment of child support, it is important to maintain the same lifestyle the child is accustomed to or would have been accustomed to if their parents had remained united. 

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IL family lawyerDuring a case regarding child custody, a child may be appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL). GALs are court-appointed volunteer attorneys with legal or specially trained medical health experience. While some judges assign GALs to every case involving a child, other judges reserve this resource until requested by one of the involved parties. Certain circumstances that may benefit from a GAL include child custody, adoptions, child support, and the emancipation of a minor.

The main goal of GALs is to represent a minor’s best interests. The best interest of the child is the standard that must be used by both the GAL and the courts to make decisions regarding the child’s future living arrangements and parent relationships. This standard includes elements such as the child’s age, current relationship with their parents, and the stability of each parent’s living arrangements.

Each jurisdiction has its own requirements that determine when a GAL can and should be appointed as well as the GAL’s minimum qualifications and payment. The effectiveness and quality of a GAL depend on the jurisdiction’s available funding and regulations.

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