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Il family lawyerAs research about mental health and effective treatment options continue to develop, mental illness has become much better understood and far less stigmatized. However, an important part of living well with mental illness is managing it properly. When a parent has a mental illness that is not addressed, he or she may be unable to care for their children. In serious situations, a parent with mental illness can even pose a risk to a child’s health and well-being. If you share parental responsibilities in Illinois and have seen your child’s other parent act in ways that are cause for concern, an experienced attorney may be able to help you make any necessary changes to parenting time or parental responsibilities.

A Parent’s Mental Health Can Impact a Child’s Mental and Physical Health

Children who are mentally healthy in childhood reach important milestones in their emotional development. Independence, self-soothing, confidence, and other important social skills allow children to successfully navigate life’s tough situations. Mentally healthy children also tend to be happier and function better at home and in school.

A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the mental health of a child is deeply intertwined with the mental health of a parent. Parents with untreated serious mental health issues can model inappropriate or ineffective coping mechanisms, such as intense anxiety or uncontrolled anger. A parent’s mental health challenges may interfere with their ability to provide care for a child and may even contribute to an unsafe living environment.

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IL family lawyerAn important part of any divorce involving children is a parenting plan. Parenting plans are part of the final divorce decree and, as such, are legally binding. They cannot be modified without court approval and parents who fail to abide by the terms of their parenting plan can find themselves facing court sanctions and loss of parental privileges. Sometimes, however, life changes, and under certain circumstances, parents can successfully petition an Illinois court to change the parenting plan to an arrangement that makes more sense for their family. If you want to petition for a modification of your parenting plan, here are a few things to know.

When Can a Parenting Plan Be Modified in Illinois?

It is important to note that parents cannot modify the allocation of parental responsibilities (custody or important decision-making authority) simply because they do not like the plan’s contents or believe the arrangement is unfair. Many parents feel upset when they first get divorced because they are dissatisfied with the arrangements of the divorce decree. However, whether an arrangement is truly unfair is neither here nor there as far as Illinois courts are concerned; to petition for a modification, parents must wait two years after the divorce is finalized. The only exception to this is if keeping the current plan would put a child at risk of physical or emotional harm.

Parenting time - which is the arrangement that details when each parent will spend time with the child - can be modified at any time as long as there is a significant change in circumstances or if both parents agree to the change. For example, if one parent gets promoted to a job that has them working night shifts, the parenting plan will need to change; that parent can ask their ex-spouse to approve the change, or they can go to the court to get the change approved. Either way, it is important to make changes with the court instead of simply agreeing in person.

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IL family lawyerDivorce can feel like a lose-lose proposition. No matter what you do, it is virtually impossible for both parents to get everything they want - especially when it comes to issues like parenting time and parental responsibilities.

But difficult compromises are an important part of every divorce because children need both parents whenever possible. Creating a parenting plan that meets the best interests of your children and accommodates you and your spouse’s schedules and needs can be very challenging but it is definitely doable. Finding a workable balance is important for a sustainable co-parenting arrangement, and with the help of an experienced family law attorney, you can do it too. Here are five tips to help.

Create a Parenting Schedule That Makes Sense

While it might be tempting to jockey for as much parenting time as possible, single parenting is difficult. Burned-out parents are not at their best, and children who spend most of their time with only one parent may see their relationship with their other parent suffer. Instead, consider your schedule and propose a realistic solution that meets your needs and your children’s best interests.

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IL family lawyerSome mothers in Illinois are reluctant to name their child’s father on a birth certificate and for good reason. Their child’s father may be abusive, angry, or an alcoholic and the mother may fear that by establishing paternity, she is exposing her child to a lifetime of a relationship with a poor caregiver. A mother may also be reluctant to try to establish paternity because she is not sure who the child’s father is. Others still may want to legally name their child’s father but feel unable because the father has passed away.

Yet legally establishing paternity is important for many reasons. Single parenthood is a daunting task that poses a difficult financial and emotional burden. If you are on the fence as to whether or not you want to establish paternity, here are five great benefits that you, your child, and their father could enjoy if you do.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

  • Simplified child support and parenting agreements - Before a father can get parenting time or can be ordered to pay child support, a legal relationship with a child must be established. Even if parents already have a verbal agreement about child support or a co-parenting schedule, not establishing paternity can make these impossible to enforce.
  • Social Security and Veterans Administration benefits - Children can get Social Security and VA survivor benefits from parents who have passed away, but only if there is a legal child-parent relationship. These can include cash payments, life insurance, and money for education.
  • Health insurance coverage - If a father has insurance through his job, his child may be covered up to age 26. Having good health insurance is essential for helping a child grow up happy and healthy.
  • Parent-child relationship - Research shows that children do best when they have a positive relationship with both parents. Of course, certain fathers behave in ways that make co-parenting impossible. But for most of us, imperfect parenting is the name of the game - and although a young child may not have questions about their father yet, they are bound to when they are older.
  • Knowledge of family history - Adults sometimes need to know their family history for many reasons. Health questions, genetic risks, and curiosity about heritage and genealogy are all good reasons for having relationships with members of both sides of a child’s family.

Call an Experienced Will County Paternity Lawyer

Proving legal paternity can be difficult, but it can have major payoffs. Although it may not be easy, an experienced Joliet paternity lawyer with The Foray Firm can help you and your child get the benefits of establishing paternity. No matter the situation, we are here to help you establish paternity in a friendly, non-judgmental environment. Call us today at 312-702-1293 to schedule a confidential consultation and learn more.

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IL family lawyerGuns are powerful tools that can be used for many different purposes. Unfortunately, sometimes individuals living in Illinois use firearms to threaten, hurt, or intimidate family members and intimate partners in terrifying acts of domestic violence. People using firearms unsafely may even be a threat to themselves. When misuse of firearms becomes serious enough that gun violence may be an imminent threat, a Firearms Restraining Order (FRO) is a type of order of protection that is available in Illinois.

What Is a Firearms Restraining Order?

Illinois enacted a law beginning January 1st, 2019, called the Firearms Restraining Order Act. This act allows someone’s family, parents, roommates, or anyone else who lives in the same house to petition for a court order prohibiting that person from owning or buying guns for up to six months. Law enforcement can also petition for a FRO.

Unfortunately, after many fatal shooting incidents, family members and friends of the shooter have often observed warning signs from the perpetrator that they might harm themselves or others. Although it is hard to believe that someone you know and love could do such a thing, acts of gun violence happen every day, and missing the signs can have tragic consequences. Here are common warning signs that someone may be in crisis:

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