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Will County family law attorneyDivorce is an emotionally-challenging life experience that, unfortunately, many couples go through. Regardless of the number of years that you have been married, recognizing that the promise of “till death do us part” has been broken can be devastating. This is especially true for those who share children together. Divorce does not just affect the married couple’s relationship, but also each parent’s relationship with their children. This decision does not need to have a damaging impact on your relationship as a parent, however, and the way that you choose to discuss this decision with your kids can be a key factor in the ramifications of your divorce.

Breaching the Topic

When you and your spouse have made the definitive decision to move forward with your divorce, it is important to be upfront with your children from the start. If they find out about your divorce through the grapevine before you have had the chance to talk to them, this can be damaging to your relationship and their trust in you. If you and your spouse are filing for divorce, it is highly unlikely that your child has not sensed your distance or tension in the past. They may even suspect that divorce is on the horizon. 

Before telling your kids the news, you and your spouse must be on the same page about how the discussion will go. Presenting the news as a united front will send the message that you are both their parents, despite your impending divorce. The details of the conversation will shift depending on your kids' ages, but be sure to stress that your decision to divorce is not reflective of your love for your child or a result of their actions in any way. 

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Will County paternity lawyerIf you have recently had a child, or simply never identified your child's father on their birth certificate, it is important that you legally recognize who the child’s biological father is. For some mothers, naming their child’s father may open a door for a contentious or abusive relationship between the child and their biological father. For others, they may not be certain about who the father is. A difficult situation that some mothers encounter is their child’s biological father passing away before they were able to name them on the birth certificate. Even if the child’s father is deceased, proving paternity can lead to a number of benefits, both financial and emotional. Luckily, those with male children still have the ability to do so with the help of modern technology.

DNA Testing on Family Members

For those who want biological proof of who their child’s father is, DNA testing is the manner in which this can be done. This is a common option for men who are uncertain about their biological connection to a child. Though it may seem far-fetched, this is also a way to prove paternity for a man who is deceased if you have a son. Modern technology has allowed lab technicians to determine a child’s father by analyzing the man’s blood relatives’ DNA. Such paternity testing will be conducted using DNA samples from the paternal grandparents or alleged father’s other children since this will reveal whether or not the genes actually match the deceased, alleged father. By looking at the chromosomes within the DNA, lab technicians can determine whether or not there is a biological connection between the child and the man in question.

Taking a closer look at the biology behind the testing, one must understand that men have an X and a Y chromosome while females have two X chromosomes. For male children, their Y chromosome will be compared to that of the paternal male relatives. Y chromosomes are passed virtually unchanged down the male line. By comparing the Y chromosome of the male child to the alleged father’s brother or father, one can determine whether they match—signifying their biological connection—or not—proving that they are unrelated.

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Is My Prenuptial Agreement Valid in Illinois?If you could protect yourself from an unpredictable future, would you do it? Many engaged couples have come to the realization that protecting yourself from the unknown is better than being unprepared. As a bright-eyed and recently engaged couple, divorce is likely not at the forefront of your mind. You are probably spending time thinking about the fun part of the engagement: planning a wedding and a future together. Just as nailing down the details of your wedding arrangements is critical for a successful wedding day, recognizing and preparing for the possibility of divorce can also lead to a better marriage. The unpredictability of an ending relationship can add anxiety and tension to marriage, whereas having things planned out with the help of a prenuptial agreement can ease your worried mind. If you are considering signing a prenup, you should be aware of the following mistakes that can make your agreement invalid in a court of law.

DIY Disaster

As is the case with most legal proceedings, generic legal forms can be found on the internet and filled out by each spouse to act as their prenuptial agreement. Rarely do these unsupervised and uninformed DIY prenups hold up in a court of law. Trying to cut out the cost of an attorney and create your own prenuptial agreement with your spouse can actually lead you to spend more time and money in court later on. Working with an attorney is critical for ensuring equality within the agreement, compliance with your state’s laws, and proper filing of the legal document.

Full Disclosure

The most common reason why couples decide to create a prenuptial agreement is to divide their assets and debts evenly before emotions are heightened by the stress and devastation of divorce. It is imperative that you and your spouse fully disclose your assets and debts in the agreement. Failure to do so can invalidate the entire agreement. If you do not disclose your financial background, the court may assume that you were trying to conceal assets and keep them out of the divorce and your spouse’s hands. Whether intentional or not, you could find yourself scratching your entire prenuptial agreement if things are left unsaid.

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What Can I Do If I Am Facing Domestic Abuse During the Illinois Stay-at-Home Order?Unfortunately, a high number of Americans are victims of abuse in their own homes. No spouse, significant other, family member, or child should be subjected to domestic violence, yet many struggle to survive at home. Recognizing this domestic violence epidemic is especially relevant during these unprecedented times. With Illinois stay-at-home orders still in place, many domestic violence victims are finding themselves unable to escape their perpetrators. Luckily, the state of Illinois has taken action to help those who find themselves in these unfortunate situations.

Support During COVID-19

Since March, Illinoisians have been asked to remain within their homes to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. While this allows some people a chance to spend much needed time with family members, those in abusive living conditions no longer have the time or space to get away from their abuser. Illinois has recognized this apparent issue and addressed domestic violence survivors in the details of its stay-at-home order. Illinois was one of the 17 states that listed domestic violence survivors and those seeking physical safety as exempt from the stay-at-home order. The state even went so far as to list domestic violence shelters and employees as essential businesses and workers.

Obtaining an Order of Protection in Will County

Another issue that many victims have seen in these past few months is courts closing or restricting their case numbers. Many of these courts closed their doors until the beginning of June, Will County included. This presented a problem for those looking to file for an order of protection during those early weeks of the pandemic. This problem has since been mitigated as the Will County court system reopened on June 1. Though still restricting the number of cases allowed in court, Will County courts are hearing most of their family law cases through virtual means. However, domestic abuse cases may be deemed necessary to be seen in the courthouse due to the severity and urgency of the situation. This is under the discretion of the judge, but regardless, Orders of protection can be filed during the pandemic. If your case does happen in person, the following precautions have been put in place:

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What Can I Do If I Suspect My Child is Being Abused By Their Other Parent?A parent’s main priority is to protect their child, even if that means taking them away from their other parent. According to Childhelp, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds, and most abusers are family members or others close to your child. Whether you were never married, are filing for divorced, or are recently divorced, it is crucial to alert authorities if you suspect your co-parent of abuse. It can be uncomfortable and difficult to present your fears to the court, but this is the only way for you to take action for your child and protect them from their own parent. Courts typically lean towards keeping both parents in children’s lives, and it is a rare occurrence for a judge to give sole custody to one parent. However, accusations of violence and abuse make courts think twice about their parental responsibilities determinations to protect the child from harm.

Warning Signs of Abuse

The fear of making a false accusation of abuse is often enough to keep parents silent about their suspicions. If parents are not married and do not live under the same roof, it can be difficult for them to identify abuse with certainty. Look for the following signs in your child if you suspect that they are being subjected to abuse:

  • Extremely withdrawn, anxious, or fearful about making a mistake or doing something wrong
  • Frequent, unexplained injuries, welts, bruises, or cuts
  • Shying away from touch or flinching at sudden movements
  • Difficulties sitting or walking
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing for the type of weather (long sleeves on a hot day)

Possible Outcomes

There are a few ways that the court may address the accusations in order to protect your child. Depending on the evidence at hand, the court may be able to provide an immediate response and change to your parenting agreement. If you are divorced, this is known as post-divorce modifications. What the judge will likely decide as their initial response is to require supervised visitation for your child’s other parent. This means that they will continue to see your child but always have a designated supervisor present. This will allow the court to monitor their activity together and protect the child from any abuse that may occur behind closed doors. Depending on the extent of the abuse and the parent’s ability to keep a relationship with the child, the court will try to keep both parents in their lives to some extent.

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