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High Point Plaza, 4415 West Harrison Street, Suite 213
Hillside, IL 60162

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Oak Park Stepparent Adoption AttorneyThe divorce rate in the United States is high, and after ending their marriage, former spouses will often begin new relationships or get remarried. Blended families are common, and stepparents will often build strong relationships with their stepchildren. A stepparent adoption may be used to solidify these bonds, making a stepparent the child’s legal parent who will have obligations to provide for the child’s needs and the right to maintain a close relationship with them. However, even when a stepparent adoption may seem like the best solution for everyone involved, some obstacles may arise during the adoption process, and parents will need to understand the best ways to resolve these issues.

Issues That Can Affect a Step-Parent Adoption

One of the primary challenges in a stepparent adoption is obtaining consent from the child’s other biological parent. In Illinois, a child can only have two legal parents, and before a stepparent can adopt the child, the other parent’s parental rights must be terminated. A parent can voluntarily agree to terminate their parental rights by signing a consent form, but in some cases, they may refuse to give consent, or it may be difficult to locate them to obtain consent.

There are some situations where a parent’s parental rights may be involuntarily terminated. In these cases, the other parent and the stepparent will usually need to demonstrate that the parent is unfit. A parent may be considered unfit in the following situations:

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Hillside IL prenuptial agreement attorneyThere are many reasons why couples who are planning to get married may wish to enter into a prenuptial agreement. A “prenup” can protect the ownership of assets that each party will be bringing into the marriage, ensuring that a person will continue to own certain assets if they end up getting a divorce. This can be especially beneficial for business owners, people with large incomes or family wealth, or those who have children from a previous relationship. However, spouses will need to meet certain requirements to ensure that their prenup will be valid. If an agreement is not drafted correctly, and one spouse challenges the agreement during the divorce process, some or all of the terms of the agreement may be found to be unenforceable.

Reasons a Prenup May Be Unenforceable

Most of the time, a prenuptial agreement may only be challenged based on the grounds that it was either not signed voluntarily, or that it was unconscionable.

A person may claim that they did not voluntarily sign a prenup, but instead were coerced or threatened into signing it. For example, if one party presented a prenuptial agreement to the other on the day of the couple’s wedding and stated that they would not get married unless it was signed, this could be considered coercion, and the agreement might be found to be invalid on that basis. A couple can avoid this possibility by signing the prenup well in advance of the wedding, as well as by making sure that each party has the opportunity to consult with their own attorney to ensure they fully understand their rights and how they will be affected by the agreement.

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Oak Park family law attorneyIf you are getting a divorce from your spouse, you may have ill feelings toward that person. Your anger and resentment may be so intense that you want to bad-mouth your ex-spouse every chance you get. However, doing so will likely only serve to perpetuate a hostile situation. It can also be damaging to your children, and it can even affect the outcome of the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities.

The Downsides of Bad-Mouthing Your Former Spouse

Speaking poorly about your former spouse can be harmful to both you and your kids. Keep in mind that your ex-spouse is still your children’s parent. Just because you no longer get along with your ex, that does not mean he or she is any less of a parent to your children. Your children still love your ex-spouse and look up to him or her. It will be hurtful for your kids to hear you speaking poorly about someone they care about, and they may feel forced to take sides. Being caught in the middle like this is a lose-lose situation for a child, who will likely feel guilt and shame because they are unable to make both parents happy. Children may even feel that they are doing something wrong themselves, which can lead them to develop self-esteem issues.

Bad-mouthing your former spouse can also negatively impact your standing in disputes over the allocation of parental responsibilities. Illinois courts decide on these issues based on what is in your children’s best interests, and one factor that they consider is each parent’s willingness to support their children’s relationships with the other parent. If you show that you will remain hostile toward your former spouse and endanger these relationships, you may be granted less parenting time and decision-making authority.

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Oak Park IL family law attorneyIn today's world, there is no such thing as an "average" family. Years ago, the traditional mother, father, and baby set-up was the norm, but nowadays, things are much different. According to the 2018 American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, more than 6 million people lived in a household with a child who is not biologically related to them, including in a stepfamily. One reason for this is that many people who get divorced end up getting remarried, which often creates blended families, bringing children from prior marriages together in one household.

One question that may go through any stepparent's mind is whether they can adopt their stepchild. While there is definitely a legal way to adopt a stepchild, it can be a somewhat complicated process. There are many details pertaining to the adoption process that you will have to understand and address before you are able to adopt your stepchild.

Determining Adoption Eligibility

Before you can adopt your stepchild, you must be sure that you actually qualify to adopt him or her. In Illinois, adopting a stepchild requires:

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Oak Park family law attorney prenuptial agreement

The idea of signing a prenuptial agreement (prenup) is often thought to be a taboo topic to bring up with your spouse or loved one. Some people may think that wanting a prenup is a sign that you do not trust your soon-to-be spouse, or that you do not see the marriage lasting. While these perceived negatives do exist with regard to prenups, many millennials are still deciding to enter into this legal document. In the past, many couples got married right out of high school or college, with little or no savings or income, and also filing for divorce was considered giving up too easily. But times have changed, and so have views regarding marriage. With many couples waiting to get married until they are in their 30s or even 40s, such individuals often have many more assets to bring into a marriage, making them want to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement.

A Financial Gap

The most common reason that you may have heard of prenuptial agreements is that many celebrities enter into them to protect their assets in case of divorce. While not everyone is a rich and famous celebrity, it is fairly common for individuals to come into a marriage with very different financial situations. One spouse may have a large sum of money in savings, or perhaps he or she received an inheritance from a family member, while his or her partner is not as financially fortunate. Upon getting married without a prenup addressing this kind of a large asset difference, oftentimes most assets will then be considered marital. This could mean that your spouse might be able to receive a portion of your money in the event a divorce occurs. However, if you address this asset gap before the marriage in a prenup, your savings are more likely to be protected and reserved for you.

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