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By Amanda Oliver

college education expenses, Skokie child support lawyersOften times parents consider there to be an inherent “unfairness” in the fact that they are obligated to pay a portion of their child(ren)’s college education expenses when they are subject to a dissolution or paternity action, when they would not have otherwise been required to do so.

This position has been argued for years, but the result remains the same; according to 750 ILCS 5/513, “the court may award sums of money out of the property and income of either or both parties or the estate of a deceased parent, as equity may require, for the support of the child or children of the parties who have attained majority in the following instances: (2) the court may also make provision for the educational expenses of the child or children of the parties, whether of minor or majority age, and an application for educational expenses may be made before or after the child has attained majority, or after the death of either party.”

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Posted on in Child Custody

childChanges are coming to the custody and visitation portions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). However, at this time and in prior years, there are distinct differences between the terms “custody” and “visitation.” Many litigants of custody battles do not know if they should be awarded custody of their children.

Each parent to a divorce usually believes they want “custody” of their children. However, often times what that parent is asking is whether the child(ren) can spend more time with one parent than the other. Technically, this is not custody of a child. Technically, under the current statute, the term of art “visitation” determines how much time each parent spends with a child.

Custody, in contrast to time, is decision making. The parent that decides the choice of doctor for a child is making a custody decision as one example (medical decision making). If the parents can agree on the choice of doctor, it may be appropriate to award joint custody to the parents. Other major custody issues involve decision making related to extracurricular activities (enrollment and selection), child care, religious training or lack thereof, and the like. If two parties can agree on all of these decisions, than they are strong candidates for joint custody.

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jointJoint Custody v. Sole Custody

In Illinois, joint legal custody means that the parents will share in all major decisions affecting their child.  Sole legal custody means that one parent is given the authority to make all major decisions affecting the child without having to consult with the other parent.

In Illinois, parents can have joint legal custody, with the child primarily residing with one of the parents. On the other hand, one parent can have sole legal custody of the child, but have equal amounts of parenting time as the other parent. Therefore, the determination of joint or sole custody will not necessarily affect how much time the child spends with either parent.  In most cases, the non-custodial parent will be granted a reasonable amount of visitation time with the child.

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fathers rights, unmarried, illinois child custody lawyerIt is common in today’s world for couples to have children out of wedlock. There is no longer, or at least less so, a stigma about putting kids before marriage. However, the problem arises when (if) the relationship ends. The mother is presumed to the parent of the child by virtue of having given birth to the child. A man is presumed to be the father of a child if he and the mother are or have been married to each other, if the father signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP), and/or the father is on the child’s birth certificate. What rights does the father or mother have if the relationship ends and there was no marriage?

Parentage matters are governed by multiple statutes. First, the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (750 ILCS 45/1 et seq). This is different from the Illinois Parentage Act (750 ILCS 40/1 et seq.) which deals with artificial insemination. The Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 is usually referred to as the “Paternity Act.”

Second, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/101 et seq.) plays a significant role in the parentage actions. For example, 750 ILCS 5/607 is the Visitation statute that governs the standard used in the Paternity Act for setting visitation for a unwed parent. A non-custodial parent is ENTITLED to reasonable visitation unless a court finds that visitation between a child and parent would “endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral OR emotional health. For this reason, the majority of parents are entitled to visitation with their child. Reasonable visitation is discretionary and case specific.

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