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Peoria Family Law Blog

Unwed Illinois fathers and the importance of establishing paternity

In recent decades, it's becoming increasingly difficult to define what constitutes as being a traditional American family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2012, roughly 40 percent of U.S. births were to unmarried women. Whether by choice or not, the fact that there are so many children being born to single mothers raises several questions, one of the most important relating to the role fathers play in the lives of these children.

When a married man and woman have a child, there is little question about the father's paternity rights. However, in cases where a child is born to parents who are not married, questions are often raised about everything from what to call the unwed biological father to his rights to see and parent the child.

Divorce: what husbands and fathers need to know before moving out of a shared home

We often discuss important matters related to the divorce process like child custody and the division of marital assets. Rarely discussed, however, are the immediate actions an individual should and should not take upon making the decision to divorce. Whether a divorce is precipitated by one major event or a slow demise over the course of several years, when a divorce is imminent it's customary that spouses physically separate.

In many cases, it's the man who chooses to vacate a family home or shared apartment. A father with good intentions may move out of the home he previously shared with his wife and three kids to spare his soon-to-be ex-wife the pain and hassle of doing so. In another example, upon learning his wife wants a divorce, a man with no children may decide it's easiest if he moves out of the expensive apartment the two own. While, in some cases, a man's decision to move out may make practical sense, doing so often has many negative and unforeseen consequences.

Does peer pressure influence divorce decisions?

Many of us fear or have difficulty with change. Even in cases where we may not be happy, it's sometimes easier to stay the course rather than face the unknowns that accompany making a change. This is frequently the case for many unhappily married individuals and couples. Even in cases where a husband and wife constantly fight or come to realize they are no longer in love, it can be difficult to take action and choose to end a marriage and file for divorce.

While making the decision to divorce may not be easy, according to at least one study, it’s a decision that's a lot easier to make when an individual has a positive example of the possible outcome. For the study, researchers from three prominent universities studied the phenomena commonly referred to as "copycat divorces." The study's findings indicate that an individual who has at least one friend who is divorced is "75 percent more likely” to also divorce.

How to survive and thrive during the divorce process

Living in an unhappy marriage can take an enormous toll on an individual emotionally, mentally and physically. Finally making the decision to file for divorce and end a marriage, can be extremely liberating, but also scary. Any change can be difficult and divorce is full of changes, some of which may be difficult. When going through the divorce process, it's important to know that there will be difficult times ahead. It's also, however, important to remain confident and know that the decision to divorce is the right one.

Most Peoria area residents have likely heard the phrase no pain no gain. This saying definitely applies to the divorce process as individuals in the midst of a divorce often feel overwhelmed by numerous and sometimes conflicting thoughts, feelings and emotions. To make the divorce process easier, individuals would be wise to take the following advice to heart.

Don't procrastinate when it comes to filing for divorce

The decision to divorce should not be taken likely. That being said, often unhappy spouses spend long years or months attempting to fix a broken or dead marriage well after they know it's past the point of saving. For the sake of one's own happiness and that of shared children, it's important to take action and file for divorce sooner rather than later.

Of course, at face value, the advice referenced above makes sense. However, when an individual is actually faced with the prospect of filing for divorce, things become much more complicated. When contemplating divorcing a spouse, emotions such as love, regret, guilt and empathy often interfere with an individual's ability to think clearly and rationally. There are, however, some definite signs that a marriage needs to end.

Societal shifts reflected in child custody matters

This past weekend, sons and daughters across the Peoria area gathered with their fathers to celebrate Father's Day. There's no doubt that, regardless of a child’s age, fathers play an important and influential role in the lives of their children. While traditionally mothers were considered the primary caregivers and tended to take on the majority of child rearing duties, today more than ever, fathers are taking a more active role in their children's lives.

What happens then when a marriage or relationship between a mother and father ends? Previously many family law judges were more likely to grant a mother full physical custody with the father having access to a child every other weekend and the odd week day. Today, regardless of marital status, many fathers are fighting to retain child custody rights to raise and spend equal time with their children.

Sherri Shepherd battles exes to retain custody of her children

To fans of the television talk show The View, co-host Sherri Shepherd is best known for providing comedic relief. More recently, however, the actress and comedian is facing divorce and child custody disputes that are no laughing matter.

The 47-year-old is currently embroiled in two child custody battles, one with her ex-husband over custody of their nine-year-old son and another with her current and soon-to-be ex-husband over the custody of the couple's unborn child. In both cases, Shepherd faces potentially losing primary physical custody of her children.

Illinois fathers fight for equal child custody rights

Each year, divorcing couples in the Peoria area head to court to fight over custody of minor-aged children. In many cases, each parent is desperately seeking to be awarded as much time as possible with their children. However, even in cases where a father has and wants to continue to play a major role in raising his children, when it comes to child custody matters, judges across the state of Illinois are prone to siding with a mother.

One father, who went through a bitter three-year child custody battle in 2003, is among those who argue changes are needed when it comes to how the majority of Illinois child custody cases are determined.

At an impasse, divorcing parents turn to child custody mediation

For parents with minor-aged children, matters related to child custody are among some of the most difficult and emotionally charged of all divorce issues. In some cases involving children under the age of 18, parents are able to agree upon child custody and visitation matters. In many cases, however, parents have strong differing opinions on what’s best for a child. When this happens, parents must turn to the courts to help determine child custody matters.

There are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration when determining the terms of a child custody agreement. Through a process known as child custody mediation, both parents are required to meet with a court-appointed mediator who works with both parents to devise a workable and agreeable parenting plan. While a judge has the last say in finalizing a child custody agreement, he or she will rely heavily upon the mediator's recommendations and proposed parenting plan.

Can you be sent to jail for failing to pay child support?

Child support is determined with the use of a formula in Illinois. The amount of money a parent is ordered to provide for child support is directly tied to the parent's income and number of children. For example, a parent in Illinois would typically be ordered to pay 20 percent of his or her net income to support one child and 28 percent to support two children. However, the child support formula is a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule.

In some cases, a court may consider other factors in order to arrive at an appropriate child support order. It is very important for Peoria area residents to work with their attorneys to achieve reasonable child support arrangements; the failure to comply with child support orders can result in serious consequences.