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DuPage County family lawyerWhat is a putative father? A putative father is someone believed to be the biological father of a child that was born out of wedlock. Because the couple is not married, legally the man is not the child’s father and the mother can put the child up for adoption without his permission. If the mother decides to keep the child, the man can choose to have no role in their life and therefore does not have to pay child support, but also is not allowed to have any say in how the mother chooses to raise the child. However, if the father decides he wants a say in the child's life or in the adoption process, some steps must be taken to legally become known as the child's father. 

Putative Father Registry 

The first step is to register with the Putative Father Registry. This must be done on time and if it is not, it could potentially cause the loss of parental rights altogether. When the child is born, hospitals offer Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity forms. However, if the father is not present at the birth he must register in the Putative Father Registry within thirty days of the child’s birth. The registration form will ask him to provide personal information such as his name, current address, social security number, and date of birth, as well as information about the mother and child. 

Once that is established if the mother decides that she wants to give the child up for adoption, the father will get a notice stating that there is a pending adoption. He will then be allowed to appear before the court and provide information that helps the court to determine the child's best interests. The Illinois Adoption Act states that a putative father can be a potential father if he can meet just one of the required criteria. 

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DuPage County family law attorneyThe parenting plan that you and your spouse establish or that the court judicially establishes on your behalf, effectively has the force of law. A parenting time schedule is grounded in a formal court order. All parties are required to act in compliance with court orders and may face legal sanctions for noncompliance, including improper relocation. This force extends to any temporary orders that may have been placed during the time period in which the divorce is in process.

If your former spouse—or current spouse if your divorce has yet to be resolved—has removed your child from the local area without seeking permission from the court, they could be charged with contempt of court. If concealment of the child in violation of any court order lasts for a period of greater than 15 days, the offending parent has opened themself up to criminal abduction charges as well. Should you discern that the other parent has removed your child from the local area without a court order, it would be prudent to discuss your rights and potential enforcement actions with an attorney. 

Differentiating Between Relocation and Moving

Used in the context of parental relocation, “relocating” and “moving” are not synonymous. A parent must inform the court and other parent of a move, but they need not seek prior permission. In the legal vernacular, relocation refers to removing the child from a familiar community and moving a great distance. Per the specific legal definition, a parent “relocates” the child if they live in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County and move a distance greater than 25 miles from their previous home. A parent residing in another Illinois County relocates if they move more than 50 miles from their previous home, while a parent presently in residence within Illinois but geographically close to a state border may move up to 25 miles, including across state lines, without relocating. 

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IL family lawyerWhen parents are divorced or unmarried, having a court specifying the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time is essential. Not only does a parenting plan ensure that parents understand their rights and expectations regarding parenting duties, it also provides valuable stability in the life of the child. If parents cannot agree on the terms of their parenting plan, the court will step in and make a decision on the unresolved issues for the parents. Whether parents reach a parenting plan agreement on their own or the court hands down a decision for them, parents are required by law to adhere to the plan. Failure to do so can result in charges for parental abduction.

What Is Parental Abduction?

From time to time, parents may mistakenly fail to comply with the provisions set forth in the parenting plan. A parent may forget to drop off their child for the other parent’s allotted parenting time or lose track of time. Minor instances like these do not constitute parental abduction.

However, when a parent refuses to comply with the parenting plan, forcibly removes a child from the other parent, or conceals a child at an unknown location, the parent may be guilty of parental abduction.

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IL family lawyerWhen you get a divorce in Illinois, the state requires you and your spouse to submit a parenting plan for any minor children you may have. The ideal option is to come to an agreement with your spouse about how you will handle child-related issues, like parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. However, if you cannot come to an agreement, the court will be forced to make certain decisions about parenting time and decision-making responsibilities for you.

Elements Considered to Determine Your Child’s “Best Interests”

If the court determines that the judge must make certain decisions for you and your spouse concerning your parenting plan, the judge will do so based upon the best interests of your child. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the elements that are involved when making a determination on the child’s best interests include:

  • The child’s wishes, taking into consideration their age and ability to form independent opinions
  • How well the child has been fitting into his or her home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of the child and the parents
  • The level of cooperation between the parents
  • The willingness between each parent to help the child maintain a close relationship with the other parent
  • The child’s needs
  • The wishes of each parent
  • Whether or not there has been a history or threat of physical violence or abuse to the child or another member of the child’s household
  • The quality of the relationship between the child and their parents and other members of his or her family
  • The willingness of each parent to put the child’s needs ahead of their own

In many cases involving contested child issues, a guardian ad litem is assigned to the case to help the judge understand the above elements as they pertain to the individual child’s case. The guardian ad litem acts as the child’s representation in hearings and will conduct his or her own research to determine what the child’s best interests are. Once they have completed gathering information, they prepare a report that they then share with the court. The judge does not have to go with the recommendation of the guardian ad litem, but they usually do.

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IL family lawyerParents filing for divorce in Illinois are required to complete additional steps throughout the divorce process. Not only do they create arrangements as a couple, such as dividing their marital assets and determining spousal maintenance, but they must also decide how they will continue to care for their children after the end of their marriage. When creating a parenting plan, divorcing parents consider all aspects of their children’s lives, such as their physical and emotional needs, academic and extracurricular schedules, and more. But what about the changes that are bound to happen in the child’s life? How can a parenting plan be prepared for the unexpected?

Parenting Plan Modifications

The Illinois court system recognizes that divorce agreements do not always last the tests of time, especially when it comes to parenting plans. Within a parenting plan, divorcing parents will designate parenting time, the allocation of parental responsibilities, and child support. Parenting time outlines where and when the child will be living with each parent while the allocation of parental responsibilities states what decision-making capabilities each parent has. All of these decisions are made in the best interests of the child and should reflect that moving forward. If you find that certain parts of your parenting plan are not working, you are able to update your plan in a process known as post-decree modifications. For those who completed their divorce outside of a courtroom, you and your co-parent will need to reconvene with the help of your attorneys to make these adjustments. For those who had a trial divorce, a judge will need to listen to your requests and make decisions on your behalf.

The following areas of your parenting plan can be modified:

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