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IL family lawyerMany are surprised to learn just how common domestic violence is in Illinois. Sadly, violence between spouses, romantic partners, family members, and housemates happens in millions of homes across the Prairie State. It is estimated that over 40 percent of women and 26 percent of men in Illinois have been victims of intimate partner violence or violence between current or former romantic partners.

If you have been abused by a family member or romantic partner, you are not alone. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your children. One of the most important of these steps is seeking an order of protection.

A Plenary Order of Protection Can Last Two Years

In previous blogs, we have discussed the way an Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) can protect domestic violence victims from further abuse. EOPs are a crucial first step for many abuse victims. However, EOPs only last a few weeks. Plenary Orders of Protection are long-term protection orders which may prevent an abuser from contacting the victim, coming to the victim’s home or work, and more.

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Top Questions About Divorce in Illinois

Posted on in Divorce

chicago divorce lawyerBeginning the divorce process can be a daunting task. After all, most people have little experience dealing with legal issues prior to their divorce case. If you are like many people ending a marriage, you may have never stepped foot in a courthouse before. Understandably, you may feel confused and intimidated by the process. You may be unsure of what to expect. While each divorce case is different, most cases follow the same basic structure and involve similar concerns.

How Do You File for Divorce in Illinois?  

Every divorce begins with the divorce petition, technically called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois. One spouse, called the petitioner, files the paperwork with the court and the other spouse, the respondent, is expected to “respond” to the divorce petition. The respondent may choose to do nothing. In this case, the judge will make a “default judgment” which means that the divorce concludes without the respondent’s input on issues like the division of assets and debts, child custody, and child support. If you live in the Chicago area or have children, you may also need to file additional forms.

How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced?

Divorce cases vary considerably in length. If you do not have children or own significant assets, your divorce may be over in a matter of a few months. However, if you and your spouse disagree on how to divide property, share custody of your kids, or handle other divorce-related issues, the case may take longer to resolve.

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Will County family law attorneyResearch shows that fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives is associated with better academic achievement, intellectual functioning, and social skills. Children with absent fathers are more likely to suffer from mental health problems like depression. Unfortunately, some fathers do not see their kids as often as they want because they are unaware of their rights. If you have established the paternity of your child and you are not a danger to your child’s well-being, you may be able to secure visitation or parenting time. However, you may need to take certain steps to assert this right.

You Must Establish Paternity First

If you are interested in spending more time with your children, you may need to take certain steps to establish your parental rights. Before you are given the right to parenting time with your child, you must establish paternity. “Paternity” refers to the legal relationship between a father and his child.

In Illinois, unwed fathers can establish paternity by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. However, you will need the mother’s signature on the VAP form as well. If she denies that you are the child’s father or will not cooperate, you may need to establish paternity through an administrative order or court order. You may need to submit to DNA testing to prove that you are the child’s father. A DNA sample is taken from your mouth using a cotton swab and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Once paternity has been established, you can have your name added to the child’s birth certificate and seek an order for parenting time.

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Will County family law attorneySadly, domestic violence and abuse are not uncommon in Illinois. Research shows that over 40 percent of women and over 25 percent of men in Illinois have suffered abuse from a spouse or romantic partner. No one should ever have to tolerate this type of mistreatment. Fortunately, there are legal protections available in Illinois that can help you escape an abusive relationship.

If you are like many people, you may be unsure of whether the mistreatment you have endured counts as abuse. You may wonder, “Is psychological manipulation considered abuse?” or “What if I do not have physical marks from the abuse?” Read on to learn what is considered abuse according to Illinois law and what you should do if you have been abused by an intimate partner.

Abuse is Not Always Physical

When you picture an abused husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend, you may picture someone with a black eye or other physical injuries. While physical abuse like punching, slapping, pushing, and kicking certainly is abuse, this is not the only type of abuse a person can endure.

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Will County divorce lawyerKnowing when a marriage relationship is truly over can be nearly impossible. Many spouses waver between calling it quits and pursuing reconciliation for months or years before filing divorce paperwork. If your marriage is on rocky ground, you may be researching your options. Legal separation does not end a marriage, but it can offer important legal and financial protections. Read on to learn about the difference between divorce and legal separation and the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Divorce Versus Legal Separation

When a married couple divorces, their marriage is terminated and spouses are free to remarry. Legal separation, on the other hand, preserves the marriage relationship. Legal separation is more than being physically separated or living apart. When a couple is legally separated, the marriage still exists, but the spouses are subject to binding court orders regarding divorce issues like property division and child support. This makes legal separation an attractive option for spouses who are not ready to divorce but still want to address these issues. (Property division in a legal separation differs from property division in a divorce in that the court only divides property if the spouses agree. Otherwise, asset division is reserved by default.)

You may also decide to file for legal separation instead of divorce if you have religious or personal beliefs that prohibit divorce. Some spouses seek separation instead of divorce so that they can continue to stay on the other spouse’s health insurance plan. Being separated but still legally married may also preserve your access to your spouse’s Social Security or pension benefits.

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