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McHenry County Family Law Blog

How same-sex couples will be affected by new laws

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Even though Illinois has been one of the states at the forefront of allowing same-sex couples to legally marry, the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the right to marry across the entire country carries with it certain ramifications that must be understood. Bearing in mind the potential changes that the ruling makes, there are certain issues that have to be considered. With a conventional divorce, there are laws in place as to how the process goes. The same will be true for same-sex divorce.

Studies have shown that the number of same-sex couples who have ended their unions - whether it was a marriage or a partnership that was not legally recognized - is similar to that of opposite sex couples. As same-sex couples marry and realize that their unions are legally recognized across the nation, it is inevitable that some of these couples will choose to end their union and divorce. Such issues as child custody can be complicated because in many instances, there is only one member of the couple who is biologically linked to the child. If both parents were granted custody, it can be a difficult issue to navigate.

Receiving an order of protection under Illinois family law

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Regardless of the problems that can afflict an Illinois marriage, there is never an excuse for domestic abuse. Unfortunately, this happens all too frequently and it becomes necessary to consider seeking an order of protection. There are certain state laws that are in place when it comes to receiving an order of protection. It must be understood what they do and the consequences if they are violated.

An order of protection can be provided to a person who has been abused by family members. It will restrict the alleged abuser's actions and access to the abused person and the family. Under this order, the abuser will be prohibited from continuing performing abusive acts or making threats. This includes harassing, physically abusing, intimidating, interfering with personal liberty, and willful deprivation. The abuser will be barred from sharing the residence with the abused. They cannot use alcohol or drugs. The abuser will be required to stay away from the person who was abused and not go to the place of work, school, and other locations.

What is the law for visitation rights in Illinois?

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When an Illinois couple shares a child and decides to part ways, the best interests of the child are paramount. Unless there is some issue that makes it preferable for the child not to have contact with one of the parents, it will be beneficial for the child to have contact with both parents. This is why visitation rights are so important. The state has laws in place requiring that visitation be granted.

The parent who does not have custody of the child will be allowed to have visitation. The exceptions are if the child will be placed in danger physically, mentally, morally, or emotionally if visitation is granted. If the custodial parent does not have an identified address, alternative arrangements for visitation with the non-custodial parent will be made. Visitation is defined as time spent between the non-custodial parent and the child. This might also involve electronic communication at junctures that the court will determine.

What child-custody arrangements are available?

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Every family is unique. Every separation is different. Every parent-child relationship is distinct. The many permutations that accompany these variations call for flexibility in fashioning a child-custody arrangement. Fortunately, Illinois laws allow for just that.

Child custody can be arranged in whatever way works best. Parents can slice custody into physical and legal. They can share custody or give one person sole custody. They can split custody so that some kids live with one parent and the other lives with the other parent.

Supreme Court authors historic same-sex ruling

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For generations, same-sex couples have dreamed of receiving equal treatment under the law. But for years, it was just a dream, a hope far over the horizon. Not anymore.

By a vote of 5-4, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. According to the ruling, "No longer may this liberty be denied" to same-sex couples. Going forward, these couples have "equal dignity in the eyes of the law."

Child custody does not have to be contentious

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For many Illinoisans, thinking about child custody evokes images of shrill exchanges and frustrated parents. But does child custody have to be adversarial and frustrating? Is there a better way, a way that considers each parent's viewpoint and attempts to incorporate them in a manner that leaves both parents, if not happy, at least accepting of the arrangement? Yes.

How can Illinoisans do that? By trying a new approach. Rather than starting a child custody conversation with guns blazing, and then predictably moving to litigation that leaves such an important question to be answered unpredictably by a judge, Illinoisans can instead take a collaborative approach.

Illinoisans can modify their child support

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For many Illinoisans with kids, one of the biggest issues during a separation is child support. Kids don't come cheap. They eat their weight in food. They outgrow clothes as fast as you can buy them. And they make other expenses like insurance and housing go up too.

Given the high price of children, it makes sense that both parents should pitch in to cover the cost. But how much each parent should pitch in can be a nettlesome question. Often, parents cannot solve that riddle on their own. If so, a court will step in and decide for them. Following that decision, the court will issue an order called a child-support order spelling out the court's decision.

Divorce affects everything, including taxes

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In Illinois and elsewhere, divorce is not an easy time. A lot gets that thrown at a person fast, and often the person is not in the best situation for handling the onslaught. One issue that can get overlooked once the divorce has made it into the books is taxes.

Figuring out the tax consequences of a divorce may seem like a low priority after sorting through issues like alimony, child custody, child support and property division. However, just because Illinoisans may not think it important, does not mean that the IRS will be any more forgiving of mistakes that lead to it getting less than it believes it should receive.

Child custody basics in Illinois

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Illinoisans going through the child custody process should realize that child custody is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process that ends only after the child has become an adult. What are the stages in that process?

The first step is often the trickiest: getting the parents to sit down and discuss what they believe the child custody arrangement should look like. If the parents can do so, they have a lot of freedom to fashion an agreement. They can decide that one parent should get exclusive custody of the child (the law calls this "sole custody"). Or they can agree to split time 50/50. Or they can come up with some other type of arrangement. For example, if the parents live far apart, one parent may have custody during the school year while the other parent has custody during the summer.

Divorce affects everything, including taxes

Photo of Karen M. Lavin

In Illinois as elsewhere, divorce is not an easy time. A lot gets that thrown at a person fast. And often the person is not in the best situation for handling the onslaught. One issue that can get overlooked once the divorce has made it into the books is taxes.

Figuring out the tax consequences of a divorce may seem like a low priority after sorting through issues like alimony, child custody, child support and property division. But just because Illinoisans may think that, does not mean that the IRS will be any more forgiving of mistakes that lead to it getting less than it believes it should receive.