st. charles divorce lawyerThe results of a new study released last week reveal that the number of calls to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline continues to increase each year while the number of domestic violence survivors reaching out to police for help has decreased. The study was conducted by The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence. The organization gathered data from a variety of sources, including public agencies, service providers, law enforcement, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, the Department of Children and Family Services, and interviews with survivors.

Serious Statistics

According to the data collected, there were more than 32,000 calls made to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, up by 9 percent from the year before. Although there was an increase in hotline contacts, the number of domestic violence survivors reaching out to police decreased by 5 percent. The reasons cited for that decline by survivors are alarming. Many said that there is a lack of support from law enforcement, including being met with denial by police and even accused of lying.

In contrast, the support that survivors say they receive from community-based programs was cited by survivors as being beneficial, with many saying if it were not for those services, they would still be trapped in their abusive living situations.

Another alarming statistic cited in the study was the problem with access and funding in order to secure safe housing once a survivor has left their abuser. Many victims are unable to access subsidized housing and other public benefits. In fact, less than 6 percent of domestic abuse survivors who applied for housing were approved, for a total of only 86 applicants.

This lack of safe housing is also a problem when survivors seek help from domestic violence shelters. Last year, more than 4,450 survivors were turned away from shelters because there was no space available. Many of these survivors have no financial resources – more than 40 percent of survivors that received help from the state of Illinois last year had an income of less than $500 per month. Sadly, this is far too common, as a recent study in California discovered. According to that study, financial abuse occurs in more than 99 percent of gender-based violence cases.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_st-charles-il-family-law-attorney.jpgIllinois family judges take parental rights seriously and only terminate them against the wishes of the parent in the most serious cases. Abuse, neglect, or abandonment can make it dangerous for a child to live with a parent in their home and Illinois DCFS must sometimes take action against a parent’s and even a child’s wishes. Unfortunately, this means that if your parental rights have been terminated, it is very unlikely that you will get them back, even if you have taken extensive measures to improve your circumstances. 

However, it is sometimes possible to reverse a parental rights termination and reunite a child with his or her parent. An experienced Illinois family law attorney can talk to you about your situation and help you understand your options. 

Clear and Convincing Evidence

Most states never allow parents whose parental rights have been terminated the option to reinstate those rights. However, Illinois law states that parental rights can be reinstated if a motion has been filed by the child or by DCFS that is supported by “clear and convincing evidence” that reinstating parental rights would be in the child’s best interests. While this may sound open to interpretation, it is a strict burden of proof that must be met before a judge will reinstate parental rights. In addition to providing clear and convincing evidence that reinstating parental rights would be in the child’s best interests, the following conditions must also be met: 

  • Three or more years have gone by since parental rights were originally terminated 
  • The child must be at least 13 years old, or be the younger sibling of a child who is 13 years old and wants their parent’s rights reinstated, and understands the full implications of the parental rights being restored 
  • The parent wants reinstatement and can prove there has been a substantial change in circumstances since their parental rights were terminated

Children of Deported Immigrant Parents

A unique circumstance that sometimes grants more flexibility in the reinstatement of parental rights is when a parent who is an undocumented immigrant is deported, leaving a child who is a U.S. citizen without a parent. These children are often left in foster care or are cared for by relatives who are not their parents. A judge may reinstate your parental rights if you lost your parental rights due to deportation. 

Contact a Kane County Parental Rights Attorney

At Shaw Sanders, P.C., we know that good people make mistakes. We also know how important your children are to you and how important you are to them. If you have had your parental rights terminated and want to know whether you may be able to get them back, schedule a free consultation with a St. Charles parental rights attorney who can walk you through your options. Call us today at 630-584-5550

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IL family lawyerMany couples decide to create a prenuptial agreement together before they get married. Although nobody wants to think about their impending marriage ending in divorce, the period before the marriage is actually a great time to negotiate a prenup because partners have plenty of goodwill towards each other and want to look out for each other’s best interests.

Unfortunately, many people discover that the prenuptial agreement they created is not legally enforceable. Even worse, they generally find this out at the worst possible time - when the divorce proceedings have begun, and they are depending on their prenup to hold up in court.

This article examines the most common factors that cause prenups to be invalid. If you have questions about your personal prenup, an experienced family law attorney is the best person to give you advice.

Lack of Financial Transparency

Because the primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to protect spouses’ financial interests in the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement must contain accurate and complete financial information from each spouse. If a spouse was not honest when the prenup was being created, then the other spouse made decisions based on invalid information - and that might make the prenup unenforceable.

Manipulation or Duress

If a spouse was truly manipulated into signing a prenup, and that fact is discoverable to a divorce court, the prenup may be unenforceable. Some conditions that may be considered duress include announcing the desire for a prenup right before the wedding and making the wedding contingent upon the prenup, or pressuring a spouse to sign when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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IL divorce lawyerEngagement - and the sparkling, expensive piece of jewelry that typically accompanies it - is the subject of many romantic movies and books. The internet is replete with articles detailing exactly how much a man can expect to spend on an engagement ring, and in a new marriage, a ring is often a couple’s most valuable asset.

Unfortunately, not all relationships end up as happy and hopeful as the moment of engagement. When an engaged couple breaks off the engagement or a married couple decides to get divorced, there are often questions about what happens to the engagement ring or other gifts couples have purchased for each other that might be considered marital property.

What Happens to the Engagement Ring if We Do Not Get Married?

The fate of an engagement ring depends on who broke off the engagement, but generally, it must be returned. Illinois law has determined that if the recipient of the ring breaks off the engagement, she must return the ring. Likewise, if a couple mutually ends the relationship, the ring must be returned.

If the person who proposed breaks off the engagement, Illinois law is less clear. The majority consensus is that the recipient may keep the ring if the giver ends the engagement.

Do I Have to Give Back the Engagement Ring if We Get Divorced?

Because a ring is a gift given in anticipation of marriage, once the marriage has taken place the ring belongs to the recipient as his or her exclusive property. This means it is usually not considered marital property and is not subject to division in the event of a divorce.

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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 Sanders, 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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