IL family lawyerSince 2014, same-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois. This means that same-sex married couples have the same rights and benefits under Illinois law as opposite-sex married couples, and it also means that they must go through the same process to get a divorce. However, many same-sex couples in Illinois are in civil unions rather than marriages, whether because of a personal choice or because their union began before same-sex marriage was legal. If you are in a civil union with your partner, you may wonder what will happen if the relationship fails and you wish to dissolve the union.

Property Division and Maintenance in Civil Union Dissolution

According to Illinois law, the sections of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act regarding the divorce process also apply to the dissolution of a civil union. In part, this means that both partners have a right to most forms of property, assets, and debts that were acquired during the union, including the home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and more. These assets and debts will need to be distributed fairly between partners based on the same criteria used in the division of marital assets.

The dissolution of a civil union can also include an order for maintenance or alimony if it is necessary to ensure a fair resolution. This means that the partner with greater income and assets could be ordered to make payments to the partner who needs help supporting themself. Keep in mind that maintenance obligations end not only if the receiving partner gets married, but also if they enter into a new civil union or even start living with a new partner.

Child-Related Issues

When a civil union is dissolved, issues like the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time may also be involved, provided that both partners are considered to be the children’s legal parents under Illinois law. Fortunately, Illinois treats marriages and civil unions the same with regard to the presumption of parentage. This means that if the child was born to one of the parents during the civil union, both parents will be presumed to have parental rights. The same can be true if the civil union started after the child’s birth if both partners are listed on the child’s birth certificate, though this can make matters more complicated. In this case, pursuing a stepparent or second-parent adoption can better ensure that both partners’ rights are protected if the civil union ends.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

If you want to dissolve your civil union, you need an attorney who has experience with the unique aspects of these cases. Our St. Charles, IL family lawyers at Shaw Family Law, P.C. will help you understand and protect your parental and property rights. For a free consultation, contact our office today by calling 630-584-5550.

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Il family lawyerDomestic violence does not always involve physical harm like punching and slapping. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as harmful. An abuse victim may be psychologically manipulated in such a way that he or she fears leaving the abusive situation or even blames himself or herself for the abuse. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that some abusive people use to manipulate and control their victims.

Controlling a Victim Through Deceit

The term “gaslighting” refers to a 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman called Gaslight. The film centers on a manipulative husband’s attempts to undermine his wife by making her question her sanity. One of the tactics used by the husband to make his wife think she is going crazy is dimming and brightening the gaslights. The term has since become a catch-all term for psychological manipulation used to maintain control or power over a victim.

Examples of Gaslighting in a Toxic Relationship

Gaslighting can take many forms. An individual may use the tactic to avoid being caught in a lie or to make the victim question his or her version of a past event. A person who is using gaslighting to manipulate you may:

  • Consistently accuse you of misremembering conversations and events
  • Deny actions or remarks that you are sure actually occurred
  • Pretend to forget things that you told him or her
  • Disregard your feelings
  • Tell you that you are “crazy” or overacting
  • Prevent you from seeing friends and family
  • Discourage you from seeking healthcare services or psychological counseling

Gaslighting is Sometimes a Sign of Abuse

Gaslighting is often a sign of an abusive relationship. If you have been the victim of abuse and the perpetrator is a former or current romantic partner, household member, or family member, you are not alone. Domestic violence affects the lives of millions of Americans. In Illinois, there are legal protections that can help you avoid further abuse. An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) is available without the abuser’s knowledge. The order may require the abusive person to stay a certain distance away from you and your children, temporarily move out of your shared home, surrender firearms, and cease contacting you.

Contact a Kane County Family Lawyer

If you are the victim of threats, control, manipulation, harassment, intimidation, or abuse at the hands of a spouse or family member, you do not have to tolerate this treatment. For help getting an order of protection, divorcing an abusive spouse, or other family law needs, contact a St. Charles family law attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.

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IL divorce lawyerDomestic violence is a hidden epidemic in Illinois and throughout the country. Millions of men and women suffer silently in abusive marriages because they are unaware of the resources they have at their disposal. In fact, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence served over 45,000 adults and nearly 9,000 children in the year 2019 alone. If you are ready to leave an abusive marriage, you should know that there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your children.

Protecting Yourself and Documenting the Abuse or Harassment

In Illinois, what are often referred to as “restraining orders” are called orders of protection. An order of protection is a court order that prohibits an abusive person from further abuse or harassment. If the subject of the order, called the respondent, violates any of the terms of the protection order, he or she may be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Furthermore, a protection order serves as a crucial record of the abuser’s actions that will be very important during any subsequent divorce or child custody cases.

Prohibiting your Spouse from Coming Near You

An emergency order of protection (EOP) is often issued on the same day on which it is requested. You do not have to wait to attend a hearing with your spouse in order to get an EOP. You must simply fill out the proper form and file it with the circuit clerk at your county courthouse. You will then attend a hearing and answer any questions the judge has about your request for protection. Your spouse does not have to know about the hearing.

The EOP may:

  • Prohibit your spouse from coming to your work or your children’s school
  • Force him or her to surrender firearms
  • Require your spouse to move out of your house
  • Prevent your spouse from contacting you or your children

An EOP lasts 10 days, however, you may be able to get a plenary order of protection if you require a longer protection period.

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IL family lawyerWhen most people think about child custody issues, they assume that the issue involves the child’s biological parents. However, non-parents such as grandparents can also be important figures in a child’s life. If you are a grandparent, you may be curious about your right to see your grandchild. You may wonder if there is any way that you can be granted visitation rights the way that a biological parent would be. In Illinois, grandparents can be issued visitation rights, but only in certain circumstances.

Grandparents Rights in Illinois

The Illinois state government generally assumes that parents know what is best for their child. However, if the wellbeing of the child is questioned, the government can step in. If a parent does not want their child to spend time with his or her grandparents, it is assumed that the parent has a good reason for doing so. However, this is a rebuttable presumption. If a grandparent can prove that spending time with a grandchild is necessary to protect the child’s wellbeing, the court may grant visitation rights to the grandparent.

Petitioning the Court for Grandparent Visitation

Sometimes, parents refuse to let their children see their grandparents. If you are a grandparent who has been denied access to your grandchild, you may want to gain court-ordered visitation. To do so, you will need to file a petition with the court. Because it is assumed that parents have their children’s best interests in mind, you will need to show evidence that the parents’ denial is causing undue physical or psychological harm to the grandchild. Additionally, you will need to show at least one of the following:

  • The parents are divorced or separated and at least one parent agrees to grandparent visitation
  • The parents are unmarried and living separately
  • One of the child’s parents is deceased or missing
  • One of the parents is “unfit” to care for the child
  • One of the parents has been incarcerated for 90 days or more

When deciding whether to grant grandparent visitation, the court will also consider the child’s preferences, the grandparent’s health, the quality of the grandchild – grandparent relationship, and several other factors.

Contact a Kane County Grandparents’ Rights Attorney

At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we understand how important grandparents are in the lives of their grandchildren. For help petitioning the court for grandparent visitation, contact a skilled St. Charles family lawyer from our firm today. Call 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.

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IL family lawyerExpanding your family through adoption can be one of the most rewarding choices you ever make. However, it is important to remember that adoption is a complex legal procedure. This is why individuals wishing to adopt are highly encouraged to work with an experienced adoption lawyer. Your lawyer can explain what is expected of you and can help you avoid obstacles that will hinder the adoption process. The type of adoption you are pursuing will determine the specific steps you will need to take in order to add a child into your family, however, there are some aspects of adoption that are the same for all Illinois adoptions.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to adopt a child in the state of Illinois, you must meet certain criteria. Typically, you must be 18 years old or older to adopt. The court may make exceptions to this requirement in some cases. Unless you are planning to adopt a relative, you must also have lived in Illinois for at least six months. The residency requirement is reduced to 90 days for those in the military. If you are pursuing any type of adoption other than a relative adoption, you will also need to pass a criminal background check.

Options for Adopting a Non-Relative

There are several avenues for adopting a child in Illinois. The most common is through a public or private adoption agency. You may also adopt a child through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Many of the children available for adoption through the DCFS have been removed from their original homes because of abuse or neglect. You also have the option of adopting a child directly from the birth parent(s) through a private adoption.

Steps Involved in Adopting a Child in Illinois

The first step in the legal adoption process is filing a petition or request to adopt with your local circuit court. Next, a guardian ad litem is appointed. This individual represents the child’s best interests and will oversee much of the adoption process. Adoptive parents seeking a non-relative adoption will be subject to a home study and background check. During the home study, an investigator will visit your home and ensure that it is a safe environment for children. The investigator may ask you questions about your reasons for seeking adoption, your thoughts and feelings about the potential adoption, and your finances. The investigator may also interview other household members. If the child’s biological parents still have their parental rights, the court will need to hold a hearing to determine if the biological parents’ rights should be terminated. You may be granted temporary custody of the child until the adoption is finalized. If the court finds that adoption is in the child’s best interests, the court will enter a judgment in your favor and grant the adoption.

Contact a St. Charles Adoption Lawyer

If you are interested in adoption, contact an experienced Kane County adoption attorney from Shaw Family Law, P.C. We can assist with relative adoptions, agency adoptions, private adoptions, and adoptions through the DCFS. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and set up a free consultation to learn more.

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