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Will County family law lawyerFor many couples, a prenuptial agreement is a useful tool to help each partner define and protect their interests in property and assets. Agreements that are written and willingly signed by both partners are generally legally binding and enforceable, including in the event of a divorce. However, they are not necessarily permanently set in stone. There are many reasons why you may wish to modify a prenup at some point during your marriage, and you should know that it is possible to do so.

How Do I Modify a Prenup?

In Illinois, the primary legal requirements for modifying a prenuptial agreement are the same as the requirements for creating a prenup in the first place. Namely, the modifications must be set down in writing, and both you and your spouse must sign the document indicating your agreement. You can also revoke a prenuptial agreement entirely through the same process. The most challenging part of modifying a prenup may be finding terms that you and your spouse both agree to. However, there are situations in which updating your agreement can be beneficial for both of you.

Reasons to Update a Prenuptial Agreement

You and your spouse may want to update your prenup if one of the following applies to you:

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Joliet IL family lawyerParents of children with special health or developmental needs are well aware of the challenges that come with raising and providing for them. Unfortunately, these challenges can often become more pronounced when parents are going through a divorce. In addition to the mental energy that the divorce process requires, parents may also be concerned about how best to handle decisions regarding child support and parental responsibilities in a way that prioritizes their children’s interests and needs.

Child Support for Special Needs Children in Illinois

One of the most significant challenges for parents of children with special needs is the financial cost. Estimates from the U.S. government indicate that from birth to age 18, the cost of raising a child with special needs may be at least five times as high as the cost of raising an average child. While many sources of financial assistance may be available, a good portion of the expenses is likely to fall on the child’s parents.

When the parents of a child with special needs decide to get divorced, child support is a crucial element of the resolution. Illinois law typically bases child support obligations on the average amount that parents within a certain income bracket tend to spend on a child’s basic needs, but the law allows for a significant deviation from the usual calculation to account for a child’s extraordinary developmental, medical, or physical needs. You should be sure to consider costs including ongoing medical care and treatment, special education, in-home accommodations, transportation to appointments, and the services of child therapists and developmental specialists.

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Joliet IL family lawyerIf you and your partner are ready to commit to a life together in marriage, it is crucial that you can trust each other to make responsible financial decisions and respect each other’s property and financial goals. Similarly, if you are already married and your financial situation has recently changed, it is important to determine how you and your spouse will adapt to this new reality. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can often help to address these issues. When considering whether an agreement of this nature is the right choice, you should be aware of some of the property concerns that it can help you manage.

What Can an Illinois Prenuptial Agreement Do?

Provided that you and your spouse can agree to the terms, a prenup or postnup can help you do all of the following:

  • Define non-marital property - One of the most common reasons for creating a prenup is to protect the property that each spouse brings to the marriage. For example, a prenup can clearly define the amount of each spouse’s premarital retirement contributions, or ensure that a business or home remains the separate property of one spouse. A postnup can accomplish a similar purpose during the marriage, perhaps if a spouse wants to protect a newly acquired inheritance.

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Will County family law attorneyLegal matters related to a child’s paternity rarely exist in a vacuum. Often, they are accompanied by questions regarding the extent to which the father will be involved in the child’s life. For example, will the relationship be limited solely to financial support, or will the child be spending significant time with the father? The answer varies from case to case, and regardless of the method you use to establish paternity, you should be prepared for the possibility of a court case addressing parenting time and parental responsibilities.

What Comes With the Establishment of Legal Paternity in Illinois?

In many cases, the primary purpose of establishing legal paternity is to ensure that the father is obligated to contribute to child support. This, of course, benefits the child, but it also helps the mother or whoever has custody of the child. Additionally, when a legal parent-child relationship has been established, the child is eligible for other financial benefits from the father, including inheritance, health insurance coverage, and benefits from life insurance, Social Security, and Veterans Affairs.

A child’s legal father also must be notified if the child is involved in an adoption proceeding, giving him the opportunity to consent or contest the adoption. However, the establishment of paternity does not, in and of itself, give the father rights or obligations regarding the exercise of parenting time and parental responsibilities. Rather, defining these arrangements requires additional action in family court.

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Joliet paternity lawyerWhen a child is born to unmarried parents, there is often uncertainty surrounding the father’s involvement in the child’s life, or even the father’s identity. Establishing legal paternity can remove much of that uncertainty and lead to many important benefits, including financial support for the child and parental rights for the father. Under Illinois law, there are several options for establishing paternity, and it is important to consider which one is the best choice for your case.

Methods of Establishing Paternity

Some ways of establishing paternity are more difficult than others, and the options available will depend in large part on the nature of the relationship between the child’s parents. The possible methods of establishing a man’s parentage in Illinois include:

  • Presumption of paternity - In Illinois, a man is presumed to be the legal father of a child if he was previously married to the child’s mother within 300 days prior to the child’s birth, even if he is no longer married to the mother when the child is born. Additionally, a man who marries the child’s mother after the child’s birth may be presumed to be the father if he agrees to be listed as such on the birth certificate. However, it is important to note that a presumption of paternity may be rebutted if there is evidence that another man is the child’s biological father.
  • Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) - A man who is not presumed to be the father can still establish paternity with few obstacles if he and the child’s mother agree to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity after the child’s birth. This form may be completed at the hospital where the child is born, or at a later time, and it must be filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) in order to take effect.
  • Administrative Paternity Order - If both parents are not in agreement regarding the child’s parentage, a VAP will not be a viable option. One alternative for a mother who is seeking to secure child support is to pursue an administrative order through DHFS. DHFS may order an alleged father to submit to genetic testing as part of this process.
  • Adjudication of Paternity - Another option for either parent is to petition for an adjudication of paternity in court. This process typically involves court-ordered genetic testing, and the court will consider the results and other evidence in determining whether a man should be adjudicated as the child’s legal father. After a judicial order of paternity, the legal father can also petition the court for parenting time and parental responsibilities.

Contact a Will County Parentage Attorney

Given the variety of options available for establishing paternity, you may have questions regarding the best way to proceed and what to expect throughout the process. At The Foray Firm, our experienced Joliet family law attorneys can help. Contact us today at 312-702-1293 to learn how you can get the legal guidance and representation you need to secure your parental rights and provide for your child’s needs.

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