The Rights of Teenage Parents: Parenting as a Minor in Illinois

teen, Wheaton family law attorneysBeing a teen parent can pose unique challenges, both from a practical and legal standpoint. Whether you are a teenager expecting or parenting a child, or a parent of a minor who is themselves a parent, an experienced family law attorney in the DuPage County area can work with your family to protect the best interests of the minors involved – both parent and child.

Legal Issues That Can Arise Related to Teen Parenthood

Some of the legal issues facing teenage parents stem from being unmarried, since most teens ultimately decide not to marry when expecting a child. Teen parents and their legal guardians should discuss with their family law attorney issues related to:

  • Paternity - In Illinois, paternity is not automatically established for an unmarried father, and neither is simply signing the birth certificate enough to create legal fatherhood. Your family law attorney in Illinois can advise you regarding the steps necessary to determine paternity, depending on whether both parents agree about who the father is.
  • Child support – Teen parents in Illinois can be ordered to pay child support. Under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, if a minor parent is unable to pay child support obligations and the child’s primary caregiver – usually the child’s mother – is receiving government benefits, the parents of the minor ordered to pay support (the child’s grandparents) may themselves be required to pay the child support instead.
  • Grandparents’ Rights – Some degree of conflict inevitably arises when teens are parenting under the roof of their own parents. Ultimately, the parent retains the right to make the parenting decisions for the child, even when that parent is a minor -unless the minor is determined by the court to be unfit, or willingly signs over custody or guardianship to the grandparent.
  • Emancipation – In Illinois, 16- and 17-year-olds can become legally emancipated – and thus able to work, move out, sign a lease, and enter into contracts – but only if both parents agree. This means that even though grandparents may not be legally entitled to make parenting decisions for their grandchild, the minor parent does not have the freedom to move out of the family home without permission.

This issue can become especially thorny when a teenage couple wishes to live together with their child in the home of one set of grandparents, and the other set of grandparents does not approve. A skilled family law attorney can help your own family navigate these complicated matters.

Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Illinois

Our dedicated DuPage County family law attorneys have worked with many families involving teenage parents and understand the complex family dynamics teen parenthood can bring. We can guide you through the process of protecting your parenting rights and fulfilling your parenting responsibilities.



Warning Signs of a Controlling Relationship

controlling, Wheaton family law attorneysDomestic violence and abuse are not always as obvious as one might think. In fact, a victim could be in an abusive relationship for a number of years without even being aware of it. Certain domestic violence situations do not occur at the start of the relationship; instead they develop over time. It is important to be mindful of these following warning signs to not only protect yourself, but to keep your family safe as well.

Abuse may take the form of a manipulative or overly controlling partner. If you are worried about such issues in your relationship, look for some of the possible warning signs, including:

Your partner overly romances you. A controlling partner is going to want to make you feel special in order to build your trust quickly. This way, the bond will grow and he or she will be able to persuade you into believing him or her without a second thought. The gifts and abundance of attention may also just be a distraction of the abnormal behavior to which he or she is prone.

Your partner wants a quick commitment. Pressure to get married quickly is a warning sign that may affect more than just you but your family as well. Because your partner tries to convince you to fall in love so quickly, he or she may pressure you to take that leap and get married and even have children right away as well.

Your partner becomes possessive of you. As soon a controlling partner sees you spending too much time with someone else, there is the potential of he or she becoming territorial over you. This is a sign that could make or break the relationship. At this point, you may start to feel guilty for something that is not even your fault. If you are aware of the warning signs during this time of the relationship and you are married, divorce can be an option.

Your partner has unpredictable moods. An abusive partner may be unaware or uncaring about how his or her moods affect those around him or her. His or her mood might change more frequently than you remember. One day they could be happy, and the next they might be abusive or emotionally damaging. It is important to stay aware in these situations and protect yourself from potentially dangerous behavior.

Your partner is always the victim.  Abuse from a controlling partner will never be the abuser’s fault. He or she will find a way to make it your fault.  This could possibly become severe enough for your partner to start blaming you for his or her behavior, making you feel responsible for your own unhappiness.

If you are feeling trapped in a controlling or abusive relationship, we can help. For more information on family laws, discuss your case with one of our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation by calling 630-871-1002. We represent clients in DuPage County, Cook County, and Kendall County.



Use of Technology-Based Evidence Increases in Family Courts

evidence, Wheaton family law attorneyTechnology has become an integral part of our lives so it should come as no surprise that evidence mined from smartphones, computers, and social applications are being used in divorces and custody battles across the country. But just how frequently is technology being used in family courts? And what does it all mean? Could your text messages, photos, or social media posts lead to potential problems down the road?

Increased Reliance on Digital Data

According to a recent survey of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 97 percent of members reported an increase in the submission of technology-based evidence. Phone logs, call histories, internet and browsing histories, and GPS information were all said to have been used by members, but the bulk of evidence came from emails, text messages, and social applications. More specifically, 41 percent of AAML members cited the use of Facebook information, 17 percent reported the mining of Twitter accounts, and 16 percent reported the submission of evidence from Instagram.

How Technology Is Affecting Family Court

While the procurement of information through illegal means is strictly prohibited and inadmissible in all Illinois courtrooms, most cases are using evidence that can be easily accessed through social media. For couples seeking a fault divorce or in a custody battle, this could be detrimental to one or both parties if there are photos or content that could be perceived as reckless behavior, irresponsibility, or infidelity. Because this information cannot be destroyed or deleted, individuals with possibly incriminating evidence should seek strong legal support. Of course, it is also advisable to avoid sharing or posting photos or information that could be misconstrued or taken out of context.

It is important to note, however, that information should not be withheld in order to win a case if it places a child in danger. In fact, failure to notify the proper authorities if there is suspicion or evidence of child endangerment could prove to be counterproductive. In one such case, a father submitted evidence against the mother of his child to the courts. Unfortunately, because that evidence included the mother having their daughter film explicit content, both parents ended up losing custody of the child.

Get the Help You Need

For guidance with your divorce or child-related case, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today. Our team is prepared to assist you through the entire process with the high-quality counsel and representation your case deserves. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation today.