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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 paternity lawyerThe number of babies born to unwed mothers has dramatically increased in the past 50 years or so. According to the Pew Research Center, around 5 percent of births in 1960 were to unmarried women. Today, the number of babies born to unmarried mothers is somewhere around 40 percent. While the acceptance of birth outside of marriage has grown, many mothers now find that they must go about other ways of establishing paternity for their children.

In the state of Illinois, paternity can be established in one of four ways: through assumed paternity, through a signed and completed Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, through an Administrative Paternity Order or through an Order of Paternity.

Assumed Paternity

One of the most common ways of establishing paternity is through assumed paternity. The state of Illinois assumes that when a child is born to a married mother, the husband is the father of the child. If the mother was married or in a civil union when the child was born or within 300 days before the child was born, the husband is legally presumed to be the father of the child. If the mother was not married during that time, she must go about establishing paternity through one of the other ways.

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DuPage County Parenting plan attorneyGetting a divorce when you have children is much different than getting a divorce when you do not have children. Couples who divorce and have children often face a more complicated and stressful situation than couples who do not have children. With the addition of children, there are many different things that must be addressed before you can finalize your divorce. In the state of Illinois, couples are required to have a parenting plan in place before their divorce can be completed. A parenting plan is a document that details the agreement between the couple and outlines many of the issues and procedures relating to the children, including how parenting time will be allocated and how decision-making responsibilities will be handled.

Before you go to court about your parenting plan, you must first attend mediation. Illinois courts believe that families benefit from the use of mediation when issues need to be settled, but they also understand that mediation does not work for everyone. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement during mediation, you will have to take your case to court where a judge will make determinations about your case.

Components of a Parenting Plan

In your parenting plan, there are certain elements that must be present before the court will approve the plan. At a minimum, the parenting plan should contain information about:

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DuPage County parenting time lawyerWhen it comes to divorce cases and issues involving children, the Illinois court system places the needs and well-being of the children above all else -- including the parents. Child custody can be a contentious issue in divorce cases, but the job of the judge assigned to your case is to ensure that the child is safe, well cared for and loved, no matter the custody situation. Illinois courts understand that children do their best when both parents are present in their lives. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifically states that “it is presumed that both parents are fit and the court shall not place any restrictions on parenting time.” A judge will, however, place restrictions on parenting time if he or she feels the child would be in danger by spending time with one or both parents.

Considering Parenting Time Restrictions

It is widely understood by most people that a child not only deserves to have both in his or her life, but that they also thrive when they form a relationship with both parents. In most divorce cases, there will be an equal or nearly-equal allocation of parenting time. Unless a parent petitions to have the other parent’s parenting time restricted or the court learns of a danger to the child, parenting time will not be restricted. Before any decisions are made, a hearing will be conducted to determine whether the child’s mental, emotional, physical or moral health would be in danger if he or she were to spend time with the parent.

Types of Parenting Time Restrictions

Once you have attended the hearing, the courts will determine whether a parenting time restriction is appropriate. The court will examine all aspects of each parent’s life, such as his or her living arrangements or work schedules. If the court finds any of these aspects to be questionable, then they may place restrictions on the type, duration or supervision of the parenting time. Restrictions on parenting time can include:

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DuPage County divorce attorneyOne of the things that holds back many couples from divorcing is the children. Many parents worry and wonder what kind of effects the divorce would have on their children, even if they know that a divorce would be best for their personal wellbeing. In reality, many parents do not know that staying in an unhappy marriage can actually be more detrimental to a child’s wellbeing than divorce. Here are a few ways as to how staying in an unhappy marriage could harm your children:

Chronic Stress and Tension

If you are feeling the stress at home, then your children probably are too. Constant fighting or bickering can mean chronic tension in the home and that is not good for anyone. Your children will feel it and will feel uneasy in their own home.

Low Self-Esteem

Children absorb everything around them. When their surroundings are full of fighting and rejection, children tend to internalize that, which turns into low self-esteem. Constantly being at odds with your spouse can cause your child to feel uncertain and rejected.

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