Wheaton, IL family law attorney for paternity and child custodyIf you have a child while you are unmarried, establishing legal paternity provides important benefits to the child, and it can also help both mothers and fathers protect their parental rights. However, it is important to understand exactly what legal paternity entails to determine whether further legal action may be necessary, especially in cases in which you wish to confirm or deny the right to custody and parenting time.

What Benefits Does Legal Paternity Provide in Illinois?

For a child, establishing legal paternity ensures access to financial support from both parents in order to provide for regular needs, including shelter, food, clothing, healthcare, and education. The child can also benefit from the father’s health insurance, life insurance, government benefits including Social Security, an inheritance in the event of his death, as well as information from the father’s medical history that may make better medical care possible for the child.

For the parents, establishing legal paternity usually means that the father will be obligated to make regular child support payments to the mother. The father will also likely have the right to consent to or contest possible future decisions regarding the child’s adoption. The father also has the right to petition for allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, but this is not automatically guaranteed.

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DuPage County property division lawyer for business valuationIn an Illinois divorce, a wide range of assets can be considered marital property, which must be equitably distributed between spouses. This includes joint bank accounts and many properties that you may consider to be part of the household, including the home itself, vehicles, furniture, and more.

However, marital property also likely includes privately owned businesses and other properties owned in only one spouse’s name, provided that they were founded or acquired during the marriage. When you or your spouse have significant business assets, it is important that you understand how the division of property may work in your divorce.

Valuing Marital Business Assets in Illinois

If you have business assets that you want to protect in your divorce, you should first determine whether any of them may be excluded from the marital estate. Businesses that you owned prior to your marriage may be considered non-marital property, especially if they were designated as such in a prenuptial agreement. Businesses purchased with money from a gift or inheritance specifically in your name may also be considered non-marital assets.

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton, IL family law attorney for divorce or legal separationWhen you and your spouse have children together, you may feel pressured to stay in an unhappy marriage for their sake. Perhaps you fear that your children will be caught in the middle of a messy divorce process, or you may be worried about how their lives will change if they no longer live in a two-parent household. These are certainly valid concerns, but staying together may have negative effects on your children as well. Rather than delaying the inevitable, it may be best to consider your options for a divorce that leaves both you and your children in a better place.

How Staying Together Can Harm Your Children

You may have good intentions for attempting to stay together, but this can be harmful for your children in ways that you may not expect. For example, if you and your spouse are frequently angry with each other and engaging in destructive conflict, you may be modeling an unhealthy relationship in a way that affects how your children approach their own relationships. This is especially true if there is physical or emotional abuse in your household, not to mention the fact that your children may be at risk of physical or mental harm. If you are preoccupied with conflict in your marriage, you may also be unable to devote the time, energy, and attention to your children that they need.

Alternatives That Can Help Your Children

If your marriage is struggling, there are often more productive options than simply trying to ignore or cope with the problems. Some alternatives that can help both you and your children include:

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Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County parenting plan modification lawyerDuring the process of your divorce, it is important to reach a resolution on a parenting plan in accordance with your children’s best interests at the time. However, chances are that your life situation will change significantly in the years following your divorce, and the original parenting plan may no longer meet your children’s needs or your own. When this is the case, you should consider pursuing a legal modification to the parenting plan that better accounts for your family’s current circumstances.

Reasons to Modify Your Parenting Agreement in Illinois

After your divorce, you may modify a parenting time agreement at any time as long as you can demonstrate that the change is in your children’s best interests. Parental decision-making responsibilities, on the other hand, typically cannot be modified until two years after the original agreement was finalized, except in circumstances in which the children’s mental or physical health is at risk. Specific reasons to modify your parenting plan may include:

  • A parent’s move: A move to a new home within 25 or 50 miles may necessitate some changes to your parenting time schedule, while a longer-distance relocation may require a major adjustment, as well as additional approval from the court.

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Wheaton child support lawyer for college expensesIn almost every situation in which a child’s parents are separated, both parents are obligated to contribute financially to the child’s regular needs through child support. This includes expenses related to the child’s K-12 education, but it does not necessarily include expenses related to college or post-secondary education. For this reason, Illinois has special provisions in place that may require both parents to contribute to their children’s higher education even after they have reached the age of 18. As a parent, it is important to be aware of what you might be required to pay.

Calculating College Expenses in Illinois

In most cases, tuition and housing are the largest expenses associated with a college education. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average cost of tuition and fees in the 2019-2020 academic year was $10,116 for in-state students and $22,577 for out-of-state students at public schools, and $36,801 for students at private schools. The cost of room and board varies significantly depending on the college or university, but average costs in recent years come in at around $10,000 annually.

When ordering separated parents to contribute to college expenses, Illinois tries to keep costs manageable by requiring parents to pay, at most, the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board for an in-state student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For the 2020-2021 school year at the University of Illinois, tuition and fees are estimated to be between $17,000 and $22,000, and room and board is estimated at around $12,000. Actual expenses for parents could be less if their children are attending a school or educational program with lower costs.

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