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Crystal Lake IL paternity lawyerThe composition of the average American family has changed drastically over the years. According to the Pew Research Center, one in four children today lives with parents who are not married. One of the biggest reasons for this is an increase in the number of babies born to unmarried mothers. In 1970, only 26 out of 1,000 births were to unmarried mothers, but in 2016, 42 out of every 1,000 births were to unmarried women. Having a child outside of marriage is common these days, but it can come with its own legal hurdles. If your child is born and you are not married when it happens, you may need to take extra steps to establish paternity for your child.

Voluntarily Establishing Paternity

In Illinois, the paternity of a child is only legally presumed if the mother was married at the time of the child’s birth or within the 300 days prior to the child’s birth. If she was, the man the mother was married to is presumed to be the child’s biological father. If the mother is unmarried when she gives birth, steps must be taken to establish paternity for the child. The easiest way to do this is through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, or VAP, for short.

A VAP is a form that the parents must fill out, sign, and either return to hospital staff who will turn it in to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or take the form home and send it in at a later date. The form must be signed by both the mother and the father in order to have the father’s name and information added to the child’s birth certificate.

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McHenry County family law attorneyWhen a family court judge must decide how parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody) must be allocated, that decision is always based on what arrangement will be in the child’s best interests. Many parents going through this process are unsure of what the court will be looking for in order to determine their children’s best interests. The following is a brief overview. For a more detailed explanation and how the best interest standard may apply in your situation, contact Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC.

Factors that Contribute to a Child’s Best Interests

The child’s best interests are an important factor when the court decides how parenting time and parenting responsibilities will be shared between the two parents. In many cases, it is in the child’s best interests if the two parents share custody equally, although that is not always possible given the location of each parent or their relationship with each other. There may also be issues where one parent should not have significant parenting time. Here is a closer look at what factors the courts will consider:

  • Child’s needs and adjustment to their current routine - The court will seek to ensure that the parenting arrangement provides for a child’s care needs and minimizes changes to their school and extracurricular activity routines.

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McHenry County family law attorneyAs children develop, they tend to learn the basics of life, such as walking and talking, from their parents. They also rely on parents to teach them skills that will allow them to become self-sufficient. However, parents can also have a negative impact on their children. In a home where domestic violence has occurred, even young children can sense the problems, and witnessing violence can have lasting effects on children of all ages.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence?

“Domestic violence” is a term that describes a variety of behaviors used by a person to maintain power over a family member or member of the same household. Most commonly, domestic violence occurs between former and current romantic partners, and it may include threats, physical abuse, sexual abuse, intimidation, isolation, or emotional manipulation. Domestic violence is seen in all social, economic, and racial groups, and it can affect partnerships ranging from casual relationships to married couples. Whether intentional or not, the abuser uses their power to keep the victim in an unhealthy relationship.

The Effects of Witnessing Domestic Violence

Millions of children witness abuse at home every year. A child deserves a healthy and safe home environment, but in cases involving domestic violence, home may be the last place he or she would want to be. Living with domestic abuse may mean witnessing physical violence, hearing fights, and seeing the aftermath, such as bruises or property damage. When they live in a home where violence is occurring, children may experience a variety of negative effects, including:

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Crystal Lake IL divorce attorneyWe cannot control the timing of many events in our lives. However, when it comes to divorce, it is wise to do it at the right time for you and your family. It is also important to plan for your children’s needs when getting a divorce. While you might not be able to control when your spouse asks for a divorce, if you work together and put your children’s best interests first, it is possible to make it official at the right time, depending on the circumstances.

High-Conflict vs. Low Conflict Divorces in Illinois

If there are constant fights with yelling or screaming, or violence in the home, it is probably best to complete your divorce sooner rather than later. Violence and spousal abuse will have a greater negative effect on your child than a divorce, regardless of their age. On the other hand, if you are in a low-conflict marriage but have irreconcilable differences, you may choose to wait to complete your divorce. 

However, this does not necessarily mean you should stay in a rocky marriage for the sake of your children. This often does more harm than good. In the end, it is healthier for children to have divorced parents than to live in a high-conflict household. Choosing to end your marriage can also be beneficial for your children as they form their own personal relationships down the line. Children in high-conflict households with parents who did not get a divorce are actually more likely to get divorced as adults. 

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Crystal Lake IL divorce attorneyStudies tell us that divorce is one of the most difficult life events for children and adults alike. Even under the very best of circumstances, research shows it takes a significant emotional toll on everyone involved, often leading to long-term psychological effects that require a healthy support system in order to successfully cope.

Among the countless stressors that often arise throughout the course of a divorce, experts tell us there are certain aspects of the experience that have a particularly strong impact. Children can be especially susceptible, as they experience many of the same painful challenges adults do, often with heightened emotional responses. 

Here are some of the biggest stressors of divorce and the struggles they present for children and their parents: 

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