guardian ad litem, Wheaton family law attorneysWhen you are involved in a dispute over parental responsibilities or other concerns related to your children, it can be difficult to maintain objectivity, especially if the relationship between you and the other party is not ideal. Divorce situations are especially prone to acrimony and contentiousness, and unfortunately, the best interests of the child can be somewhat lost among the myriad of other considerations. A court-appointed attorney known as a guardian ad litem, however, can help refocus the proceedings on the child’s well-being, thanks to provisions offered by Illinois law.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Unlike other types of guardianship, such as those covered by the Illinois Probate Act, which provide far-reaching authority over another person’s interests for an indefinite period of time, the guardian ad litem, or GAL, is appointed for the specified proceeding. In fact, the Latin phrase “ad litem” translates to English as “for the suit.” While GALs may serve similar purposes in other areas of law, they are most commonly utilized in family law situations on behalf of a child’s interests. In Illinois, a GAL is required to be a licensed attorney, properly trained and qualified to serve in such a capacity.

The Duties of the Guardian ad Litem

The most important thing for parents to keep in mind when a guardian ad litem has been appointed to their case is that the GAL works as extension of the court. He or she has no interest in who “wins” or “loses,” but is instead focused on determining the outcome that would best serve the child. The GAL is required to conduct an investigation into the child’s living and family situation to identify best practices and area of concern. In doing so, he or she may interview the child, parents, and other relevant family members or individuals, review previous court proceedings, and observe the child’s home, school and community environments.

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DuPage County child custody lawyersStudy after study has shown that children thrive with both parents in their lives. Except for cases involving domestic violence or abuse, having two parents involved in a child’s upbringing is generally greatly beneficial. Even parents who are not married or have gotten divorced are able to work out shared parenting schedules which allow them to both be positive influences to their child. However, according to a new study, Illinois fathers are not enjoying as much parenting time as other fathers around the nation.

Study Investigates Shared Parenting Across the Country

A study has recently been published that puts Illinois fathers at 47th out of 50 states in terms of the amount of custody they have. Illinois children in shared parenting scenarios only spend about 23 percent of their time with their fathers. The study was conducted by a software company called Custody X Change which creates apps for divorced parents. Researchers compiled data about parenting time arrangements through a survey of legal professionals across the country. This particular study only included shared parenting scenarios in which both parents desired to have custody of their children and excluded cases involving custody restrictions due to criminal convictions.

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lawsuit, DuPage County divorce attorneysIn Illinois, laws once existed which allow legal action to be brought against someone who had an affair with a married person. Under the last iteration of such laws, Illinois recognized two torts known as “alienation of affection” and “criminal conversation,” informally called “heart balm torts.” These torts allowed spouses to bring civil claims for adultery against a third party.

The term “alienation of affection” was used to describe an instance when a third person disrupts a married couple’s relationship by having an inappropriate relationship with one of the spouses. The term “criminal conversation” was used to refer to adultery and sexual relations. Many people consider such laws to now be obsolete and even offensive. Illinois was one of the last states to abolish the antiquated statutes in 2016, but pending cases were not affected by this. One high-profile alienation of affection lawsuit which was litigated for years has just recently settled.

Lawyer Sues Husband’s Former Lover

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Posted on in Illinois family lawyer

children, DuPage County family attorneysThe most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that approximately 40 percent of all births in the United States in a given year are to unmarried women. While this was formerly a cause for shame or concern, in this day and age, there is often much less stigma, but children out of wedlock do sometimes require additional considerations to ensure their rights are protected. If you are the parent of a child born outside of marriage, it is important to be aware that there may be extra steps you need to take to protect your child legally.

Paternity and Custody

Many of the major disputes over the rights of children occur when custody or parental responsibilities are in question. With marital children, custody arrangements are fairly straightforward, given that Illinois law grants visitation (parenting time) to both parents unless it would endanger the physical, moral, or emotional health of the child. With non-marital children, there are other considerations—namely, the issue of paternity.

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sperm donor, Wheaton family law attorneyNot everyone who wants to have children can conceive naturally. If you are in this position, you may consider adoption, or you may consider surrogacy or sperm donation. However, if you decide to use a surrogate parent, you should be aware that both sperm donors and surrogate mothers have rights which could present issues if you do not reach agreements with them before the child’s birth.

Sperm Donors

Under the Illinois Parentage Act, a sperm donor in Illinois retains no rights or responsibilities to any child born of their genetic material if, and only if, the donation is given directly to a licensed physician. In other words, most unknown sperm donors fit this bill, as most sperm banks handle their materials via licensed physicians.

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