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Naperville property division attorneyGetting a divorce is never easy, especially when it comes time to dividing your marital property and assets. One of the most valuable and treasured things you and your spouse own is most likely your family home. Divvying up such a big and expensive asset can create contention, making the rest of the property division process uncomfortable. For many couples, the family home can be a sentimental asset, especially if you have raised children in the home. When it comes down to it, there are three basic options you can choose from when deciding what to do with the home: continue co-owning the home, sell the home and split the proceeds, or allow one spouse to “buy out” the other spouse.

Co-Own the Home With Your Spouse

For some couples, keeping things just the way they are is the most beneficial option. If you have children who want to stay in the home, it can be helpful to keep the home ownership under both of your names. This can also be an option for spouses who cannot agree on what to do with the home or who want to defer decision-making regarding the home until a later date, such as when children have graduated from high school.

Sell Your Home and Split the Profits

The most popular option that couples choose when getting a divorce is selling the family home and dividing the proceeds that come from the sale. This is typically the easiest way to deal with the home, but it can have certain consequences. If your house has appreciated significantly, you may have to pay capital gains taxes on the sale, which must be paid when you file your income taxes. Divorcing couples who decide that this option is best will also have to take the time to find new living arrangements.

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Naperville divorce attorneyIt is not impossible to have an amicable divorce - some people are able to get a divorce without any major disputes. However, there are many couples whose relationship is so contentious that they are unable to be civil while they are going through a divorce, especially when it comes to child-related issues. Parents can turn into completely different people when there is an issue involving their child. Sometimes during a divorce, parents can lose sight of what is best for their child because of all of the arguing and anger. In cases such as those, the court will often appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to help make sure the child’s needs are being met and decisions are being made in their best interests.

What Is a GAL?

A GAL is an attorney who has been appointed to a case involving disputes regarding children. The attorney has special training in family law and child issues and has two main roles: to determine the best interests of the child and to conduct an investigation and report the findings to the court. In simple terms, the GAL is responsible for reporting recommendations for custody arrangements or other areas of family law.

What Does a GAL Do?

As soon as the court appoints a GAL, they will begin to observe the parents and try to understand the issues that exist in the case. In many cases, parenting time arrangements are one of the main points of contention. The GAL will then begin to conduct their investigation by looking into the parents’ lives and backgrounds. To do this, the GAL will conduct interviews with various individuals, including the parents, the child, and other relevant family members. If the GAL deems it necessary, they may also interview other people such as the child’s teachers, doctors, or the family’s neighbors.

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Naperville open and closed adoption attorney

Adoption is defined as the act of legally taking on the responsibility of another person’s child and bringing the child up as your own. It can be a wonderful way to achieve your dream of becoming a parent if you are unable to have biological children. Increasing the size of your family comes with a long list of decision-making, and choosing to adopt is only the first step in the process. The prospective parents must then decide if they would like to conduct an independent adoption or find their child through an agency. Once this is decided, the prospective parents must consider the terms of each adoption, otherwise known as open or closed adoption.

Leave Things Open or Close Them Altogether?

Regardless of the means of adoption that you choose, you will have to consider the degree of “openness” that you would like your future child to have with his or her birth parents. Open adoptions allow some form of contact between the adopted child and his or her biological parents. This can include the simple exchange of information, direct contact before the finalization of the adoption, and/or the creation of post-placement contact agreements. Closed adoptions eliminate all forms of contact, keeping the biological parents' identities unknown to the child and the adoptive parents.

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Wheaton domestic violence attorneyDomestic violence is something that is, unfortunately, all too common. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than 12 million people experience some sort of violence or abuse by family members or romantic partners each year. According to Illinois law, domestic violence occurs when a family or household member commits any act of abuse toward you or other members of your family or household. You do not have to be related by blood or even marriage for an act to be considered domestic violence; it can occur between people who are dating (or formerly dated) or even just people who live together (or formerly lived together). Abuse is not limited to physical harm, but can also be sexual or emotional.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family members if you are experiencing domestic violence. Getting an order of protection can be extremely beneficial in any domestic violence situation.

What Is an Order of Protection?

An order of protection is a civil court order that can protect those who have experienced domestic abuse. The order of protection will contain certain stipulations that limit what the respondent (your abuser) cannot do or is required to do. These rules are known as “remedies”. As a court order, the respondent is bound by law to obey the terms of the order, or they could face criminal penalties.

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Naperville spousal maintenance attorneyThere is no guarantee that either spouse will receive spousal maintenance in an Illinois divorce. Though 40 or 50 years ago, spousal support or alimony was rather common in divorces, today it is more of an exception to the rule, rather than the rule itself. There are a few situations in which you might receive spousal maintenance. Your case might involve spousal maintenance if you and your spouse have a significant difference in income or if one of you sacrificed your career to stay home and raise the kids or take care of family responsibilities. Whatever the case, there is a formula used to determine the amount of maintenance to be paid in Illinois.

How to Calculate Spousal Maintenance

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) specifies the formula that is used to determine how much spousal maintenance is to be paid and how long those payments will last. The formula contained in the act applies to couples whose combined gross annual income is less than $500,000. Anything more than that, and the court can use its discretion to determine an appropriate amount of maintenance.

Currently, spousal maintenance is calculated by taking 33.3 percent of the payor’s net annual income and subtracting 25 percent of the payee’s net annual income. The result of that calculation is the annual amount of spousal maintenance that must be paid. To determine the monthly payment amount, the annual spousal maintenance amount is divided by 12. It is also important to note that the payee's net annual income and the amount of maintenance, when added together, cannot be higher than 40% of the couple's combined net annual income.

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Wheaton spousal maintenance attorneyFor many people, one of the biggest stressors in their marriages is money. Unfortunately, financial stress does not go away if you decide to get a divorce. Couples that are used to living off of two incomes can find it difficult to revert back to a single paycheck each month. After divorce, a two-income household becomes two households running off of two separate incomes. Some spouses may wonder how they are going to make ends meet when it is just their income paying for everything, especially if children are involved. In order to avoid leaving one spouse in financial distress, Illinois law may require some spouses to provide spousal maintenance payments (also known as alimony) to their former partner after finalizing their divorce.

Factors for Receiving Spousal Maintenance

Not every divorce case involves a spousal maintenance award. In fact, today’s divorce cases do not involve spousal support unless a serious need is established for this form of compensation. If one spouse requests maintenance, the court will look at a variety of factors to determine whether or not a maintenance award is appropriate. These factors include:

  • Each spouse’s income, taking into account marital property that has been allocated to each spouse and any financial obligations resulting from the divorce

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Naperville divorce attorneyFor some, divorce can feel like a fresh start after being in an unhappy marriage; however, divorce can also bring out the worst in people. Many partners think they know their spouse, but there are times that a divorce can change a person completely, prompting them to act in ways that their spouse never imagined. Some divorcing couples become extremely argumentative and combative, making the divorce more difficult and emotionally stressful for everyone in the family. Whether you anticipated your spouse’s difficult behavior or were surprised by their attitude, here are a few tips to help you get through a divorce with a high-conflict spouse:

Minimize Contact With Your Spouse

One of the most important things you can do to deal with a high-conflict spouse is to limit your contact with them. Avoid speaking to them unless it is necessary for your divorce or for parenting reasons. When you do contact them, try to do so in written form, such as texting or emailing, to make it easy to record the conversation in case it may be necessary to provide evidence of your interactions. 

Remember to Pause and Breathe

High-conflict spouses will often do anything they can to get underneath your skin. They will try to push all of your buttons to get a reaction out of you, because for them, conflict is enjoyable and can be used to their advantage in the divorce proceedings. Do your best not to give them the reaction they are looking for. Take a deep breath, formulate a response, and then talk to them in a calm and collective manner. 

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Wheaton, IL divorce attorneyEvery couple is different, but it is not uncommon for one spouse to have most of the responsibility when it comes to the family’s finances. This can be troublesome during a divorce, because the spouse who did not handle the money during the marriage often gets the short end of the stick, especially when it comes to the asset division process. Divorce can wreak havoc on your financial well-being, especially when it comes to your credit score. If you are getting divorced, it is important to take control of your finances and ensure you come out of the divorce without taking a huge hit to your financial health and credit score.

Tips to Maintain and Improve Your Credit Score

Simply getting a divorce will not affect your credit score. However, other things that happen during a divorce can affect your credit for the worse. To protect your credit score and make sure you come out of the divorce with acceptable credit, here are a few tips you should follow:

  • Joint accounts should be closed. If you and your spouse share any checking, savings, or credit card accounts, you should stop using these accounts and close them immediately, if possible. If your spouse has control over an account with your name on it, you may be responsible for any charges or expenditures they make. Leaving accounts open, especially credit card accounts, is playing with fire.

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DuPage County prenuptial agreement lawyerPrenuptial agreements have become more common than ever, yet many couples continue to tie the knot without this form of additional security. There is a preconceived notion that prenuptial agreements are only beneficial for the wealthy; however, every couple can benefit from a prenup. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that outlines how certain issues will be handled if the couple ever files for divorce. The agreement must be signed by both parties, of their own free will, before the wedding takes place. There are many things that you can include in a prenuptial agreement, and it is important that you consider all of your options before you sign it.

The Engagement Ring

One of the basic purposes of a prenup is to protect your personal property from being considered marital property in the event of a divorce. Since the engagement ring is given prior to the marriage, it is technically the property of the receiving spouse. In order to protect this asset, you should have your ring appraised to know its financial value, then include it as one of your personal assets.

Your Pets

Another thing that many couples do not plan for beforehand is the placement and ownership of their pets post-divorce. Many people consider their pets to be part of the family, so they can easily become a point of contention in a divorce. You should list any pets in your prenuptial agreement and clearly state who will care for that pet, both physically and financially.

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DuPage County paternity lawyerEstablishing paternity is not something that many mothers think about, since most fathers are presumed. In a legal sense, paternity is the established legal relationship between a child and their father. Establishing paternity gives both the child and the father rights that they would not have without the legal classification. Many (including Illinois courts) agree that most children thrive when they have both parents playing an active role in their lives. Not only does establishing paternity authorize legal rights, but it also helps facilitate the parent-child relationship. Many other benefits come with establishing the paternity of a child, which is why you should consider completing the legal process if your child’s paternity has not been legally recognized.

Presumed Paternity

In the state of Illinois, paternity is presumed if the mother and father were married at the time the child was born or if they were married within a 300-day time period before the child was born. If neither of those situations applies, either the mother or father must take action to legally establish the paternity of the child. This can be done by filling out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form while at the hospital or by filing it with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Paternity can also be established through the use of genetic testing and an administrative or court order.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

There are many reasons why a mother or father would want the court to recognize their child’s biological father. In most cases, the parent seeking to establish paternity of their child does so because they want to initiate the legal relationship and the benefits that go along with it. Benefits of establishing paternity include:

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Naperville family law attorneyStarting a new life after divorce can be tough for everyone, but for children, the adjustment can be especially challenging. Kids are accustomed to having both parents constantly in their lives and any change can be difficult. They thrive off of stability and permanency, which is why co-parenting arrangements can sometimes be disruptive to children. One alternative solution to the traditional co-parenting structure is called a “nesting” plan. This type of plan does not work for every family situation, but it is an option worth considering.

What is a Nesting Plan?

A nesting plan is a type of alternative co-parenting arrangement in which the children remain in the family home and the parents take turns living in the home with them. This type of arrangement allows children to have minimal disruptions in their everyday lives and continue to live under the same roof at all times. Rather than requiring the children to pack up and move between two households, the parents take on that burden for the benefit of their children. 

Considerations for Nesting Plans

As with anything, there are pros and cons to a nesting plan. Many families believe this alternative arrangement is beneficial because it takes a more child-centered approach to co-parenting. The children remain in the family home longer and continue to see both parents within that home, just not at the same time. Nesting plans are typically temporary, but they provide a secure way for children to transition into life with two unmarried parents.

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DuPage County divorce attorneyDivorce is considered to be one of the most stressful life events you can experience, and almost 50% of married couples go through it. One of the factors that contributes to the stress of a divorce is the financial aspect. It has been estimated that divorces can cost anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to almost $100,000, depending on the couple’s situation. While getting a divorce is never free, there are certain things that you can do to help keep your divorce costs reasonable.

Come Prepared to Meetings With Your Attorney

While your attorney will play a crucial role in your divorce case, you want to make the best use of their time and avoid paying for unnecessary attorney's fees. In order to cut back on the amount of time spent in legal meetings, come to your appointments organized. If you know that you will be meeting to discuss property division, make sure you come prepared with a list of your marital assets and debts and any other relevant financial documents that may be useful to your attorney.

Be Prepared to Negotiate

Nobody ever gets everything that they want in a divorce. It is important for you to have a realistic idea of what is and is not possible when it comes to a divorce settlement. The most expensive divorces are those that go to trial because the spouses cannot reach a settlement outside of court. It is important to know when to compromise to save you time and money.

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DuPage County child support modifications attorneyOne thing that is addressed in all divorce cases involving children is child support. Illinois believes that both parents have a responsibility to financially contribute to the cost of raising a child. Because of this, child support is not just the responsibility of one parent, but rather, an obligation for both. In the state of Illinois, child support is provided to the main caregiver by the child’s other parent until the child is 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. Both parents are responsible for what is called the “basic child support obligation.” Each parent’s share of that obligation is determined using a formula that takes into account the incomes of each parent in addition to their parenting time.

Life is not always predictable and can throw curve balls when we least expect it. It is not uncommon for a parent to become unable to handle their current support payments; however, they are legally required to pay them unless their arrangement gets legally modified. In the instance where you believe that your support payments should be modified, you can petition the court to make this change. Before you do that, you must be able to prove that there has been a “significant change in circumstances.” 

Examples of Significant Changes in Circumstances

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there are three reasons why a child support order can be modified: there has been a significant change in circumstances, the child support order deviates from the child support guidelines, or the order needs to be changed to address the child’s healthcare needs. A significant change in circumstances is the most common reason why child support orders are modified. These changes in circumstances can include:

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DuPage County parental relocation lawyerFor some, relocation can be a necessary step after divorce. There are many reasons why divorcees would want to move after the divorce is finalized. Some wish to be closer to family members, while others move for a new job. Regardless of the reason, a parent must have primary or equal custody of the child in order to submit a relocation request. In Illinois, relocation includes any move that is at least 25 miles from the child’s current home for those that live in Will, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake or McHenry County or moves outside of Illinois state borders. If the child lives in a different county than those listed above, relocation boundaries increase to 50 miles from the current residence to any other part of Illinois. Moving with your child can be stressful, especially if your ex-spouse does not approve of the relocation.

Notice of Relocation

Before you are able to do anything, you must provide your former spouse with notice that you intend to relocate with your child. In the notice, you must include the date of your intended relocation, your new address, and whether or not the relocation is permanent. If the other parent signs the notice, it can be filed with the clerk of the circuit court, and if the judge agrees that the proposed move is in the child's best interests, the parenting plan will be modified. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, the parent seeking to move must file a petition with the court requesting to relocate.

Deciding Factors

If the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own, they must take the issue to court. A judge will review the petition for relocation and the other parent's objections to the planned relocation to determine whether the move is in the child's best interests. When the judge is making the decision about the relocation, he or she will consider a variety of factors. These include:

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DuPage County family law attorneyWhen you get a divorce, everyone is impacted. In many cases, children are the ones who are most affected, because they may not always understand what divorce means. Illinois courts believe that a child flourishes when both parents are in their child’s life and play an active role. Even if a person does not have a personal relationship with their child, parents have a responsibility to provide for their child financially. This is where child support comes in. Both parents are expected to contribute to the financial needs of the child, and they must provide a basic amount of child support, which is determined using a formula defined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. However, this basic child support obligation does not always account for all of the expenses that are involved in raising a child. Parents may also be required to divide other costs.

Extra Expenses

  • Medical Expenses: Medical care is expensive, which is why it makes sense to require both parents to contribute to these costs. The court can require either parent to add the child to his or her insurance plan. The court can also require both parents to split the out-of-pocket costs associated with medical care.
  • Childcare: The courts will divide the reasonable costs of employment-related childcare between the parents based on the percentage of the basic child support amount that each parent is responsible for. The costs will be added to the basic child support obligation, and payments may be paid to the other parent or to the childcare provider directly.
  • School and Extracurricular Costs: A child’s upbringing can be greatly supplemented by extracurricular activities. Because of this, Illinois courts can order either or both parents to pay for reasonable costs of extracurricular or school activities that are meant to enhance the child’s educational, athletic, social, or cultural development.
  • College Expenses: Attending college or receiving post-secondary education is often a key part of ensuring that a child will have success in life. Because of this, Illinois courts can also order one or both parents to contribute to the costs associated with college. These costs can include tuition, room and board, books, supplies, or other materials.

A Naperville, IL Child Support Attorney Can Help You Get Your Child the Financial Support They Deserve

Not only are both parents expected to contribute to the financial responsibility of raising a child, but they are required by law to do so. Illinois courts will order both parents to pay for costs related to their children, and if they do not, they can face penalties. If you are going through a divorce or are looking to collect child support from your child’s other parent, you should contact a knowledgeable DuPage County child support lawyer. At Goostree Law Group, we can help you figure out an appropriate figure for basic child support and also calculate the appropriate costs to add to that figure for extra expenses. Call our office today at 630-364-4046 to schedule a free consultation.

 

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Naperville divorce attorneyDivorce is full of difficult situations. Even making the decision to get a divorce can seem impossible. Perhaps one of the hardest situations that you will have to deal with during your divorce is breaking the news to your children. Depending on your circumstances, your children may already suspect that something is awry. If there has been constant fighting in the house, your children are likely aware of the fact that you and your spouse are unhappy. There is no way to predict how your children will react to the news of a divorce; each child processes and copes with the news differently. Though this can be a difficult time for everyone, here are a few tips to help you tell your children that you and your spouse are getting divorced:

Act as a Team

This may be difficult for some couples, but telling the children about your decision as a team can make a world of difference. Even if the decision to divorce was not mutual, it is important that the children see that you and your spouse can still work together. After all, you will always have a common connection -- your children. 

Plan What You Will Say

This is one conversation that you do not want to make up as you go along. You and your spouse should sit down and plan out some talking points that you want to get across when you tell the kids that you are getting divorced. You both should be sure that your child understands that the divorce is not their fault, but rather a matter between you and your spouse. You should also remind your kids that you both love them very much, regardless of your marital state.

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Naperville prenuptial agreement attorneyEveryone thinks that marriage is forever — and for many people it is. But for some Americans, divorce is still very much a reality. Depending on the source, the divorce rate has lingered around 40 to 50 percent for the past decade or so. Getting a divorce can turn your entire life upside down and can even change your financial situation for the worst. One thing you can do to protect yourself before you get to that point is to get a prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that you can use to dictate how certain things will be handled in the event of a divorce. This can be greatly beneficial in reducing the amount of conflict and the length of time it takes to complete a divorce if you and your spouse ever get to that point. In order for your prenuptial agreement to be enforceable and valid, there are certain things that are not permitted in a prenuptial agreement and certain rules and procedures you must follow when creating one. Here are a few mistakes you should avoid while creating your prenuptial agreement:

1. You and Your Spouse Did Not Have Different Attorneys

One of the basic requirements of a prenuptial agreement is that you and your spouse both have independent legal representation. If you and your spouse do end up getting a divorce, what is best for you may not be what is best for your spouse. A single lawyer cannot advocate for both you and your spouse equally.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_childsupport3.jpgFor many divorcing families, the topic that is always at the forefront of every decision is the children. For divorcing parents, a topic that often comes up is child support. In years prior, the calculations for child support were much more basic, but they did not always take into account the factors that more and more parents were dealing with, such as two incomes and shared parenting time. In today’s child support calculation process, more details are taken into consideration than ever before. This includes the amount of parenting time each parent has, the income of each parent, the cost of health insurance for the child, the cost of the child’s extracurricular activities and the cost of childcare. The calculation process can be difficult, but it is important to understand.

Determining the Basic Child Support Obligation

Before the amount that each parent should provide for support is determined, the basic child support obligation is calculated. This is the total finances that both parents should be providing their children each month. To find this, the gross monthly income is determined for each parent. Then, the corresponding value from the 2019 Gross to Net Income Conversion Table is taken, which is the parent’s net monthly income. These two incomes are then added together. The total of both parents’ incomes is used to find the amount that both parents should be using each month to provide for the child’s basic needs.

Determining Who is Responsible for Paying What

Once you know how much should be spent on the child’s basic needs each month, you have to figure out who will be paying what. First, you will determine how much each parent’s income is in relation to the household’s total monthly income. You can do this by taking each parent’s income and dividing that number by the sum of both parent’s income. The percentage of the household income that each parent is responsible for also depends on the number of children. Using the Income Shares Schedule, a single parent of three kids who makes $2,075 per month will be responsible for paying $839 per month.

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Naperville guardian ad litem lawyerUnfortunately, divorces do not often involve much amicability, especially on issues related to children. Divorcing parents may not see eye to eye on what is best for a child of the marriage. This can result in major disagreements that do not have a clear solution.

During a divorce, a child’s best interests can be put on the back burner or forgotten altogether. In order to avoid this, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to the case to help understand the situation and determine what solutions would be in the child’s best interest.

What is a GAL?

A GAL is an attorney who has been trained and certified to handle child-related issues. A GAL can be appointed in any case that involves child support, child custody, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, parental relocations or the general welfare of a child. Though the GAL is a licensed attorney, he or she does not act as an attorney for either side. Rather, the GAL’s role is to examine the circumstances of the case and act as an advocate for the child’s best interests.

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Wheaton adoption lawyerIn the state of Illinois, all types of adoptions require that a home study be done at some point during the adoption process. It does not matter whether you adopt a child from a private agency or through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) -- everyone who is a prospective adoptive parent must complete a home study. The home study process can be rather long, but it allows agencies to evaluate the prospective family’s capabilities and to determine whether they are suitable to adopt a child. The home study process also allows families time to become educated and prepare for adoption.

Home Study Components

While some people may think a home study is simply just a visit to their home from a social worker, it is actually much more involved. In fact, the home study process consists of a series of steps and requirements.

Background Check

One of the first steps in the home study process is completing and passing a background check. All adult members of the household are required to consent to a background check and must pass it for you to be eligible to adopt. If there are children between the ages of 13 and 17 living in the household, they must allow a check of the child abuse and neglect registry as well as the child sex offender registry.

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