A person does not need to be a blood relative of a child in order to love and care about him or her. If you married someone who already had a child, it is possible that you have spent a great deal of time getting to know the child and providing for his or her needs. You may even think of the child as if he or she was your own biological offspring. If this situation describes you, you may be wondering what it takes to adopt your stepchild. Stepparent adoptions can sometimes be complicated personally as well as legally. This is why it is a good idea to work with a skilled Illinois stepparent adoption lawyer who has experience handling stepparent adoption cases.

Stepparent Adoption Criteria

Stepparent adoption is a significantly different process than other types of adoption. In many cases, an investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services or background check is not required. In order to qualify for a stepparent adoption, the following criteria must be met:

  • The stepparent is legally married to the child's parent. Boyfriends and girlfriends cannot proceed with a stepparent adoption even if they have been heavily involved in the child's life.
  • If the child is 14 years old or older, he or she must agree to the adoption. Teenagers have the ability to block a stepparent adoption.
  • The parental rights of the child's other parent have been terminated.

According to the law, a child can only have two legal parents. If your stepchild's other parent is still alive, he or she will need to terminate his or her parental rights in order for you to be able to adopt the child.

Reasons for the Termination of Parental Rights

In some cases, a parent may voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights in order to allow a stepparent adoption. However, if the other parent does not consent to the adoption, the process becomes more complicated. If you wish to adopt your stepchild but your child's other parent objects to the adoption, the only way you can adopt the child is by having the other parent's parental rights involuntarily terminated. The court will terminate the parent's rights if it determines that the parent is "unfit." According to Illinois law, a parent may be considered unfit if he or she:


Kane County Child Support LawyerChild support helps parents cover child-related costs including housing, education costs, daycare, and much more. In Illinois, child support is considered the child’s right. The court will typically require the parent with less parenting time to pay child support payments to the parent with the majority of the parenting time. This support helps distribute child-related costs between the parents. But what happens if a parent fails to pay child support?

In this blog, we will discuss the consequences of child support nonpayment and what parents should do if they are not receiving child support.

Penalties for Not Making Child Support Payments

It should be noted that Illinois courts only have the authority to enforce formal child support orders. If your child’s other parent had a causal agreement and the other parent has suddenly stopped paying, there is little the court can do to enforce the agreement. You need to have an official child support order through the court or the Illinois Health and Family Services Division of Child Support Services. For some parents, this will require establishing parentage or paternity first.

If a parent fails to pay an official child support order, he or she can face penalties including:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Asset seizure
  • Liens against real estate or other property
  • Suspension of a professional license or driver’s license
  • Interception of tax refunds
  • Criminal prosecution

Criminal charges for failure to pay child support are the last resort. However, Illinois takes child support payment seriously and will pursue criminal prosecution if a parent willfully refuses to make payments.


Mediation for Child Relocation Disputes

Posted on in Family Law

Kane County Child Custody LawyerWhen divorced or unmarried parents share custody of a child, moving to a new residence can present a significant challenge. Courts typically approve parental relocations if both parents agree to the move and the move is in the child's best interests. However, the situation becomes much more complicated legally and personally if one of the parents disagrees with the move.

If you or your child's other parent intend to move and you disagree with their intention, family law mediation may help you and the other parent negotiate a mutually-agreeable arrangement.

Illinois Law Regarding Child Relocation

"Relocation" describes moving to a new residence that is a significant distance away from the old residence. For parents in the collar counties of Illinois, a move is considered a relocation if the new residence is 25 miles away or more. For Illinois residents outside the collar counties, the cut-off is 50 miles.

Under Illinois law, the relocating parent must obtain permission from the court or approval from the non-relocating parent to move with the child to a new residence. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, the next step is to petition the court for permission to move. The court will make a determination that is in the child's best interests after evaluating all of the evidence and arguments presented by the parents.

However, you may be able to avoid the stress and expense of a court hearing by working out an arrangement with your ex through mediation.


Kane County Paternity LawyerParentage refers to the legal relationship between a child and a parent. Typically, a mother’s parentage is easily established because she gives birth to the child. However, establishing parentage, or paternity as it was previously called, can be much harder for fathers.

Establishing parentage can help both the parent and the child in many ways. The legal recognition of a parent-child relationship provides a host of financial, emotional, and logistical benefits to both parties. If you are an unmarried parent, establishing parentage can provide financial stability, legal protection, and emotional security for your child.

Establishing Parentage is the First Step in Getting Child Support

When a parent is legally recognized, they can be required to make child support payments. This financial assistance helps ensure that the needs of the child are met. If a woman has a child and paternity is not established, she cannot ask the court for a child support order until the father's paternity is legally recognized. In some cases, this may necessitate DNA paternity testing. In other cases, establishing paternity is as simple as signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital when the baby is born.

Establishing Parentage Secures Certain Legal Rights and Protections

Legally recognizing a parent-child relationship not only provides financial security, but also legal protection. Parents who have established parentage can take advantage of certain legal rights and protections. As the legally recognized parent, a mother or father can petition the court for "parental responsibilities" or the right to make significant decisions about their child's upbringing. This may include decisions about medical treatments, school or sports team programs, and religious or cultural affiliations. The parent can also request "parenting time" or visitation with the child.

Establishing Parentage Can Lead to Deeper and Lasting Emotional Bonds

In addition to the financial and legal benefits, establishing parentage can lead to stronger emotional bonds between parents and their children. For example, when a man is legally recognized as a father, he is more likely to be involved in his child's life in a meaningful way. This can help the child to feel secure and connected, knowing that their parent is an active part of their life.


Factors in Illinois Stepparent Adoption

Posted on in Family Law

Kane County stepparent adoption lawyerYears ago, the nuclear family typically consisted of a mother, a father, and their biological children. Today’s nuclear families come in all different “shapes and sizes,” including single-parent, blended, same-sex, and extended families. Given the high rate of divorce and remarriage in the United States, it should come as no surprise that stepfamilies have become fairly common, with one or both spouses bringing children from a prior relationship into the marriage. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the biological parent of the children has either passed away or is not an active part of the children’s lives, and the stepparent essentially steps into that absent parent’s role. Many families decide to take steps to make that role a legal one.

Stepparent Adoption

Under Illinois law, there are several factors that must be met in order for a stepparent to adopt their spouse’s child. The first factor is that the stepparent must be legally married to the child’s biological mother or father. This also applies to same-sex couples.

Another factor under Illinois law is that if the child is 14 years of age or older, they must consent to the adoption.

A third factor that applies is the state’s law that does not permit a child to have more than two legal parents. This means that if the child’s other biological parent is not deceased, they must either sign away their parental rights, have disappeared from the child’s life, or have been proven to be an unfit parent.

Adoption Process if One Parent is Missing

Even if the child’s other parent has disappeared, the law states they still have the legal right to object to the adoption. If their location is unknown and there is no way to notify them of the adoption petition by conventional means, then the courts will allow notice by publication. Service by publication is when a legal notice is published in newspapers of the area the parent was last known to have lived in. The notice is published several times and if the parent still does not respond, the courts will consider the adoption an uncontested one.


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