Our Practice Areas
Prospective parents who are either related or unrelated to children are able to adopt in Illinois. In some cases, prospective parents adopt a child at birth from a child’s biological parents.
In other cases, a stepparent who has been involved with a child may wish to adopt. In other cases, a child may already be with the prospective parents due to a Guardianship or DCFS placement.
Our experienced attorneys at Henderson Law & Mediation can discuss your options and guide you through the process of Adoption.
Custody (Parental Allocation)
In Illinois what most states refer to as “custody” is called Parental Allocation. There are two main components of Parental Allocation. One is legal decision-making, which allocates who gets to make major decisions in the children’s lives in the areas of health, education, extra-curricular and religion. These decisions can be made together under joint-decision making (formerly joint custody) or one parent can make the decisions under sole-decision making (formerly sole custody). The other component of parental allocation (formerly custody) is who the children live with. Typically both parents are awarded Parenting Time unless someone presents a danger to the children. There are a variety of different schedules that can be established, including each parent having equal or shared time.
The Attorneys at Henderson Law & Mediation have extensive experience both settling and litigating Custody (Parental Allocation) Cases.
Parents owe a duty of support to their children. A claim for child support can be brought as part of a Paternity, Divorce, or Non-Support Action.
In July 2017, Illinois changed the child support laws. Prior to July 2017, Illinois used a percentage based approach.
In July 2017, Illinois introduced an income-shares model. Under this approach there are two formulas used. One formula is used if the parties have shared parenting time which is defined as each parent having more than 146 overnights per year. A second formula is used if the parties do not have shared parenting time.
Parents in Illinois can be ordered to help their children pay for College. Generally, the parent’s contribution is limited to the cost of attendance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (approximately $31,000 per year). College contribution can include expenses beyond tuition such as housing, books, supplies, and medical expenses. The amount each parent is required to pay is based upon each parent’s resources and the resources of the child.
Divorce is the process of dissolving a marriage. Many issues can arise in a divorce case. If there are minor children the parties will need to decide Custody / Parental Allocation, Visitation/Parenting Time, and Child Support.
The parties will also need to resolve the financial issues such as Division of Property, Division of Debt, and Maintenance/Alimony.
A variety of techniques can be used to bring a divorce to a conclusion from negotiating an agreement or litigating any issues the parties cannot resolve.
Division of Debt
Sometimes during a marriage, parties accumulate debt. Through a Divorce or Legal Separation, each party can be responsible for a portion of that debt. Several factors such as who obtained the debt, the reason for the debt, and each party’s income in determining who is responsible for the debt.
Guardian ad Litem
A Guardian ad Litem is a neutral third-party attorney appointed by the court to represent the children’s best interest. The Guardian ad Litem acts as the “eyes and ears” of the court and makes recommendations based on the Best Interests of the children. Typically, a Guardian ad Litem investigates the areas of Custody/Parental Allocation, and Visitation/Parenting Time.
A Guardianship may be necessary under several circumstances in Family Law. It is possible to have a Guardianship over minor children or disabled adults.
Guardianship for Minor Children
A Guardian for Minor Children has the legal rights to care for the children if their parents are unable or unwilling. This may be for a short period of time or longer depending on the particular facts of the case.
Guardianship for Disabled Adults
Sometimes a parent or other loved one can no longer care for themselves. If an adult is incapacitated and cannot make decisions concerning their financials, medical treatment or day-to-day care, a Guardian can be appointed to make these decisions on their behalf.
Our Attorneys at Henderson Law & Mediation can guide you through the process of obtaining Guardianship over minor children or disabled adults.
A Legal Separation is a formal separation between a married couple. It does not dissolve the parties’ marriage but can address the issues concerning the minor children of Custody/Parental Allocation, Visitation/Parenting Time, and Child Support.
Financial Issues between the spouses can also be addressed through a legal separation such as Maintenance, Division of Property and Assets and Division of Debts.
In Illinois, a spouse with less income and earning ability can be awarded maintenance as part of a divorce or legal separation to maintain the standard of living that the parties had during the marriage.
In Illinois, there are two formulas used to determine maintenance. There are two formulas used to set maintenance. One is used to determine the amount of maintenance. The second formula is used to determine the length of maintenance.
To determine the amount of maintenance Take 30% of higher earner’s gross (before tax) income and subtract 20% of other party’s gross and that is the maintenance amount. Then double-check so that the receiving party’s income and maintenance combined cannot exceed 40% of the combined incomes of both.
The duration of maintenance is based upon the length of the marriage:
0-5 years 20% Length of Marriage
5-10 years 40% Length of Marriage
10-15 years 60% Length of the Marriage
15-20 years 80% Length of the Marriage
20 Plus years 100% Length of Marriage or Permanent
Mediation is a technique used to resolve differences by obtaining agreements with the aid of a neutral third party, a mediator. The mediator’s only goal is helping the parties to reach an agreement on one or all of the outstanding issues brought before them.
The benefit to mediation is that is that you and the other party can create a solution that works best for you and your family rather than having the Judge decide all issues.
Orders of Protection
Orders of Protections are used to protect victims of Domestic Violence from their abusive relatives, boyfriends/girlfriends, or former boyfriends/girlfriends. An attorney experienced in the area of Orders of Protection can help protect you and your children from Domestic Abuse.
Sometimes when there is a Parentage, Custody/Parental Allocation or Divorce Case one party will attempt to use an Order of Protection to gain an advantage in the Family Law case. This practice is shameful and unfortunate. If you find yourself in this situation as a victim of a fabricated Order of Protection, it is important to hire an attorney to represent your interests.
No one wants to plan for a divorce, but sometimes life happens. Recent statistics show that a little over half of all marriages end in divorce. A pre-nuptial agreement is an insurance policy for your marriage. It is an agreement between the spouses for how to resolve financial issues such as Property and Asset Division, Debt Division, and Maintenance in the event that the parties later decide to formerly separate or divorce.
Sometimes after a divorce, the parties still have issues that are not resolved such as someone not following the Judgment. In these cases, there may be the need to enforce the terms of the Judgment.
In other cases, life has changed since the time the parties were divorced and there may need to be changes made to Custody (Parental Allocation), Visitation (Parenting Time), Maintenance or Child Support. In order to be a change in any of these areas there needs to be a “substantial change in circumstances.”
Sometimes parents cannot resolve issues and these issues interfere with their ability to co-parent their children. A Parenting Coordinator acts as an “on –call” mediator to help the parents resolve issues that pop-up between them.
Paternity (Including DNA Testing)
Paternity is the legal recognition of the parent-child relationship. Sometimes the parent-child relationship is established at birth or shortly after the birth of a child by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). If a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity has not been signed then the Parent-Child Relationship can also be established through the courts, including through DNA testing.
Under a Parentage case , the court can address issues of Custody/Parental Allocation, Visitation/Parenting Time, and Child Support. Through a Parentage Case, child support can be set up through the court.
Property and Asset Division
In divorce, the property and assets are considered marital property and are divided between both spouses. Generally, anything that either party acquired from the day of marriage until the day of divorce is considered marital property and can be divided between both spouses.
Property that was owned prior to marriage, was received as a gift or was inherited is considered non-marital property and typically remains the property of the person who received it.
Parents in the Will County area who have primary parent status, and who want to move more than 25 miles with their minor children must have the agreement of the other parent or the permission from the Judge before they move. A Judge will consider a variety of factors, including but not limited to, both parents motives, educational opportunities at the current and new residence, wishes of the child, and new visitation/parenting time schedule for the non-relocating parent.
Visitation (Parenting Time)
Both parents are entitled parenting time with their children. Many times the parties are able to come up with a schedule that works best for their family and their children in a parenting agreement. If the parents are unable or unwilling to agree to a schedule then the parties are required to mediate the issue or litigate it.
The Attorneys at Henderson Law & Mediation are experienced in securing parenting time through negotiation and, if necessary, litigation.