Multi-Family Adjustment in Child Support

multi family adjustmentIllinois law governs the method of calculating child support in a dissolution or parentage proceeding. The method of calculating child support was modified in July 2017. Since then, parties and attorneys alike have been adjusting to the new method of determining child support.

One of the interesting points of the July 2017 changes to child support calculations is something called the multi-family adjustment. This adjustment allows for a deduction when determining a party’s income for child support purposes based on the fact that they have other children whom they support.[1]These other children can be children from a prior or a subsequent relationship.

There are two types of multi-family adjustments. The first type is for those with an order to support another child. In cases where a party has a court order to support another child, the amount of support being paid for the other child is deducted from that party’s net income calculation because the person paying child support is credited for their payments towards their other child’s support.[2]

The second type of multi-family adjustment is for those without an order to support another child. When a person is supporting another child or children but there is no court order requiring such, there are standard deductions taken from the supporting party’s income in order to account for that support.[3]This comes up most often in cases in which parties have separated and one party has entered into a relationship with another person, had another child and is still in a relationship with the other parent of the subsequent child. In these cases, although the parent is supporting the subsequent child in a two-parent household and therefore not paying child support, they are still given credit for the funds they must use to support the subsequent child.

Because the multi-family adjustment can make a significant impact to any child support determination under Illinois law, it is important to inform your attorney if either you or the other party have any children from prior or subsequent relationships.

If you have any questions about how the multi-family adjustment for child support may effect your case or other child support or family law issues, please contact Sherer Law Offices at shererlaw.com or 618-692-6656.

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

[1]750 ILCS 5/505(3)(F)(I)

[2]750 ILCS 5/505(3)(F)(I)(i)

[3]750 ILCS 5/505(3)(F)(I)(ii)

2019 Changes to Illinois Maintenance Laws

changes to Illinois Maintenance lawsStarting January 1, 2019, the Illinois maintenance guidelines are undergoing changes that may impact your pending divorce.  Under both the current and new maintenance guidelines, the law sets out certain calculations to be used in determining the amount of maintenance. These calculations apply when the gross annual income of both parties is less than $500,000.00 and the person who will be paying the maintenance is not under an obligation from a prior relationship to pay child support, maintenance, or both.[1]  In cases where a party is already obligated to pay child support or maintenance from a previous relationship, or when the gross annual income of the parties is more than $500,000.00, the court will determine the amount of maintenance, if any, by looking at things such as the parties’ age, health, work history, length of marriage, and other factors.

Under the current 2018 guidelines, maintenance is calculated by taking 30% of the payor’s grossannual income minus 20% of the payee’s gross annual income. Regardless of the calculation, the final maintenance amount is not to exceed 40% of the combined gross income of the parties.

However, this calculation will change after December 31, 2018.  The calculations to be used when the parties’ combined gross annual income is under $500,000 have undergone some significant changes. Starting January 1, 2019, maintenance will now be calculated by taking 33 and 1/3% of the payor’s net annual income minus 25% of the payee’s net annual income.[2]

Another major change for maintenance payments beginning in 2019 is that maintenance payments will no longer be deductible for the payor and the payee will no longer claim such payments as income tax.  Keep in mind, however, that if your maintenance order was entered prior to January 1, 2019, the old tax rules will apply, unless you later agree otherwise. This means that the payor will still be entitled to deduct those payments and the payee will be required to claim the payments as income, unless the parties expressly agree otherwise.

For more information and help regarding a divorce, maintenance obligations, maintenance tax consequences, or other matters, please contact Sherer Law Offices at (618) 692-6656.

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

[1]750 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/504 Effective until January 1, 2019

[2]750 ILCS 5/504 Effective January 1, 2019

Can I Be Required to Pay for College and Post-Minority Support After My Divorce?

pay for collegeIs Post-Minority Support Unconstitutional?

Divorcing with college-age children may lead to the inevitable question of who will pay for college expenses of the child. In Illinois, Section 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act controls this question. Section 513 provides that the Court may require either party to contribute to the educational expenses of a child over the age of 18. These educational expenses may include tuition and fees, housing expenses, medical expenses, living expenses of the child, and the cost of books and supplies. The important thing to note here is that this section says “may,” because parents are not required to contribute the post-secondary expenses of their children with the same certainty as when the child is under the age of 18.

This statute has been challenged in the past and found to be constitutional. Specifically, in 1978, the Illinois Supreme Court decided a case challenging the constitutionality of Section 513. The Court said the statute was constitutional and discussed their belief that children of divorced parents were less likely to receive assistance from their parents for college education than children of married or single parents.[1] In 1988, the Second Appellate District said that this rationale also applied to cases where the parents had never been married. [2]

The reasoning behind these 1978 and 1988 cases may seem outdated now. In Illinois the “average” family, statistically, is no longer a two-parent married household, in fact in 2011 only 46% of children under age 18 lived in a two-parent married household. [3]

A recent DuPage County case brought these changing norms to light when it again challenged the constitutionality of Section 513. [4] In this case, Yakich v. Aulds, both parents were ordered to pay 40% of the college expenses for their daughter and the daughter was ordered to pay the final 20%. However, the mother paid the daughter’s portion of the expenses.  The father, Yakich, argued that parental decision-making with respect to college contribution exists for married persons, but this input ends for non-married couples, and he was therefore unable to give meaningful input into his daughter’s college decision-making process. He further argued that because of this lack of input, non-married parties can be forced to bear a burden with respect to their child’s college expenses when they had no say in where their child went to school or how much tuition cost. This obligation, he argued, does not exist for parties who are married or single, who are not required to contribute to their children’s college expenses, violating the equal protection clause. The Court largely agreed with the father in this case and found that divorced or never married parents are not provided the same input and ability to educate their children as married persons are permitted. Further, because the Court found that there is no rational basis for this difference, it determined that equal protection was denied to the father in this case and Section 513 was unconstitutional as applied to him.

This case does not completely abolish Section 513, as it only decided regarding one specific situation.  However, it puts this statute on the chopping block if other Courts were to agree with the Yakich v. Aulds Court and find other circumstances in which a party being required to pay college expenses would be unconstitutional.

TheYakich v. Auldscase is currently on appeal. We will keep this blog updated when the higher courts give their ruling.

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

[1]Kujawinksi v. Kujawinski, 71 Ill.2d 563 (1978).

[2]Rawles v. Hartman, 172 Ill.App.3d 931 (2d Dist., 1988).

[3]Yakich v. Aulds, 15-F-651 (DuPage Cnty May 4, 2018) (citing Livingston, Gretchen “Fewer than Half of U.S. Kids Today Live in a ‘Traditional’ Family,” PewResearch Center, December 22, 2014, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/12/22/less-than-half-of-u-s-kids-today-live-in-a-traditional-family.

[4]Yakich v. Aulds, 15-F-651 (DuPage Cnty May 4, 2018).

 

The State Of Illinois Turns 200

Illinois2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Illinois’ statehood, as well as the creation of our Supreme Court. With this milestone in mind, Sherer Law would like to take the opportunity to step back and reflect on our history and some on the great legal minds who have shaped our State.

On December 3, 1818 Illinois was promoted from a United States territory to the 21stState to join the Union.  However, in order for Illinois to be granted full statehood status, we first had to adopt our own constitution.  Our constitution shaped our current judicial system, creating our Supreme Court and providing for trial and appellate state courts to be created.[1]Originally, our Supreme Court consisted of a Chief Justice and only three Associate Justices.

The first Illinois Supreme Court Justices were appointed by the General Assembly, commissioned by the Governor, and elected for life. In 1848, our constitution was changed to require that the Supreme Court Justices would be elected by popular vote for a term of service.[2]  In 1870, our appellate court system was established. This was composed of circuit court judges appointed by our Supreme Court.

Currently, our Supreme Court is presided over by 7 Justices: Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier and Justices Robert R. Thomas, Thomas L. Kilbride, Rita B. Garman, Anne M. Burke, Mary Jane Theis, and P. Scott Neville Jr.  Each of whom will serve a 10-year term before being up for reelection. [3]

Many of the changes to our judicial system over the past 200 years are due to some of the great legal minds who have called Illinois their home.  Most of us will be familiar with the famous attorney and legal crusader from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, our 16thPresident of the United States. In fact, four of our Presidents have roots in Illinois.  Ronald Reagan, the only U.S. President born in Illinois; Ulysses S. Grant, who lived with his family in Illinois for some time; and Barack Obama, also an attorney, who lived and taught in Illinois.

George Leighton, a Federal District Court Judge who passed away this year, was another great legal mind from the state of Illinois.  Mr. Leighton was the son of immigrants, and he himself never graduated high school.[4]  He was forced to leave before graduation in order to work on an oil tanker to help provide for his family.  Nevertheless, he continued to study independently and eventually received his college diploma from Howard University.

From there he entered Harvard Law School in 1940.  His schooling was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the United States Army and was awarded the rank of Captain and received a Pacific Service Metal and a Bronze Star. After he completed his service, he returned to Harvard Law School and earned a Bachelor of Laws in 1946.

After graduation, he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he fought to desegregate juries and schools, represented those who could not afford an attorney, and advocated for people facing the death penalty.  On December 19, 1975, President Ford nominated him to serve as a judge for the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois.  He served as a judge until retiring on November 30, 1987 and returning to private practice.  The Honorable Judge Leighton continued to work as an attorney until retiring at the age of 99.[5]After he passed away on on June 6, 2018, he was fittingly laid to rest in Arlington Nation Cemetery.

[1]http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/isl2/id/167

[2]https://ballotpedia.org/Judicial_selection_in_Illinois

[3]http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/meetsupremecourt.asp

[4]http://www.jonathanpollard.org/2001/100501c.htm

[5]https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-met-george-leighton-dies-20180606-story.html

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

Divorce: How to Break it to the Kids

break it to the kidsOne of the worst parts of getting divorced is when you have to break it to the kids. Depending on how old the kids are and how much the marriage has deteriorated, they may have already guessed what’s happening, but you should still broach the subject carefully. We’ve come up with some tips to help.

Do It Together

It’s always hard to do things with your soon-to-be ex, but it’s important to remember that you will both continue to be parents, so this is a good time to start practicing how to raise the kids as a divorced couple.

Plan Ahead

There’s no way to map out exactly how a conversation will go, and you can’t expect it to happen just the way you plan it, but you can foresee some questions (maybe even objections) and decide how you’ll address them. Because you and your partner should have the conversation with your kids together, you should also complete the planning stage together. It’s important that you both agree on how and when to broach the subject, as well as the kind of language you’ll use. The words you choose to use can make a big difference, so it’s important that you decide carefully, agree on it beforehand, and stick to the plan.

Talk to Everyone at Once

If you have more than one child, be sure to talk to all the children at the same time. This is not a situation to deploy the “divide and conquer” strategy. While it might be tempting to try to talk to just one child at a time, in reality that will just lead to confusion for them and emotional exhaustion for you, since you’ll have to have the same tough conversation multiple times. It will also give them a chance to talk about it amongst themselves before you have a chance to talk to each of them, which will lead to rumors and fear.

Answer Any Questions

They’re bound to have questions: where will they live? Who will they live with? Will they still see both parents? Will they still be a family? It’s important to address all these questions and any others they might have in order to reassure them that your decision to end the marriage has nothing to do will your love for them.

Be Prepared for Multiple Conversations

It will take a while before they’ll be able to fully digest what you tell them and what it might mean for them. Be prepared for them to come back later with more questions and be open to answering all those questions. Just keep in mind the first rule of talking about divorce with the kids: do it together. You might not both be in the same room when one of your kids asks you about the divorce, (they’ll likely feel more comfortable talking to one parent than the other), just remember the words and language you and your partner decided on and continue to abide by that plan. You should also keep your partner in the loop about any questions or concerns your children are having, just as they should keep you abreast of anything that one of the children might approach them with after the initial conversation.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  You should consult with an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, emails, and communications.  Contacting our offices does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send any confidential information to us unless and until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Past results do not guarantee future results. Every case is different and is decided on its own merits. Any testimonials or endorsements regarding services do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. 

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

What Is A Postnuptial Agreement?

postnuptial agreementYou’ve probably heard of a prenuptial agreement, in which the two parties entering into marriage sign a contract detailing what belongs to whom, and what is owed to each party in the event of a separation or divorce. Most people prefer to sign such a contract before the wedding to give them peace of mind before they legally merge their lives together.

But just because you didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement, doesn’t mean your financial situation is set in stone. Much like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can help provide peace of mind to one or both parties – the main difference being that it’s drawn up and signed after, rather than before, the wedding.

How Do You Know if You Need A Postnuptial Agreement?

There are a few reasons you and/or your spouse might want a postnuptial agreement. Most of the time they are used to protect one spouse’s marital property interests in the event the other spouse is embarking on a business venture that will entail a significant amount of risk. On the other hand, if one spouse suddenly came into a large inheritance, they may want to protect that asset in the event of a divorce, in which case a postnuptial agreement can provide that assurance.

Other times the couple may have wanted a prenup, but never got around to signing one before the wedding. In a time where more and more couples are comprised of spouses who both work outside the home, fewer people feel like the concept of communal property makes sense for their circumstances.

Alternatively, if two people get married and only then realize that they have very different ideas about how to handle money, a postnuptial agreement can help to save their marriage by defining which assets and properties belongs to which spouse. If you’re having marital problems, and you feel like your finances might be at risk because of it, a postnuptial agreement can allow you to focus on working on your marriage instead of worrying about your financial assets. Many people feel more comfortable working on relationship issues they may not otherwise have given a chance without a postnuptial agreement.

On the other hand, if you’re seriously considering divorce, a postnuptial agreement can save time and money in the divorce process by dividing property and assets ahead of time.

The birth of a child is another common reason people sometimes seek out a postnuptial agreement, especially if one or both of the spouses was previously married to someone else. A postnuptial agreement can clarify the child’s inheritance rights of property and finances from the current marriage and/or one or more previous marriages, if necessary.  However, you cannot pre-negotiate child support.

Previous marriages can also make inheritance tricky if one spouse dies, which is another common reason for seeking out a postnuptial agreement. In that situation, a postnuptial agreement can clarify who owns an asset in the event of a divorce or the death of a spouse.

There are many reasons for wanting a postnuptial agreement. Whether your circumstances have changed, or you just wanted the additional peace of mind a contract can bring, the family law attorneys at Sherer Law Offices are here to help.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?How long the does the divorce process take? That depends on a lot of factors, including how complicated the division of assets is (how many assets, children, pets, etc.) and how well you two cooperate in the divorce process. If one spouse decides they want to drag it out, they can make it last years.

The Requirements

First, there are some requirements you need to meet before you can even file for divorce. These include the fact that, under Illinois law, you or your spouse need to have lived in Illinois for at least 90 days before you can file for divorce in Illinois. If children are involved, that limit goes up to 180 days. If for some reason you don’t meet the time limit and you can’t wait, you’ll have to file in another state.

In Illinois, the only remaining grounds for divorce is irreconcilable differences.  Under Illinois law, if you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for 6 months, irreconcilable differences are presumed. If you have not been living separate and apart for 6 months, you can still file for divorce, but you must allege that irreconcilable differences have arisen and prove same.

Uncontested Divorce

The best-case scenario is when you and your spouse can both agree that divorce is in everyone’s best interests, and you can agree on things like the division of assets, spousal support, and parenting time. These divorces can be completed in as little as two weeks, but more commonly take a month or two.  If there are children involved, both parties must complete a parenting class prior to the entry of the final judgment.

Contested Divorce

When you and your spouse can’t agree on one or more of the important factors in the divorce, that’s known as a contested divorce and it can take much longer – anywhere from 18 to 30 months and on. Each issue that you and your spouse can’t agree on needs to be determined by a judge, and each time you need to go before a judge to argue your case extends the time it will take before the divorce can be finalized.

Divorce by Publication (Default)

Maybe things have deteriorated in your marriage to the point where you don’t even know where your spouse is currently living. If this is the case and you want to seek a divorce from this person, you’ll need a divorce by publication, which requires a few steps.

First you need to attempt to notify the spouse of your intention to divorce them. If you don’t know where they are, you can publish a notice of your intention in local newspapers in the area where they were last known to reside.

You also need to do everything you can to try to locate your spouse. This might include things like calling their friends and family, their last known residence/landlord, employer, etc. There’s no definition for the things you need to do in order to prove you made an effort to reach your spouse, but you do need to provide sufficient evidence that you did everything in your power to reach them. This process could take months.

The missing spouse needs to be given a reasonable amount of time to respond to the notice of your intention to divorce them, but if they fail to respond, then the court will grant your divorce. At that point, you will need to publish notice of the divorce in all the local papers in the area where your spouse was last known to reside.  After publishing the notice once a week for three weeks without a response, the court will deem the divorce to have been finalized.

The Attorneys

Unfortunately, some attorneys will take advantage of the friction in divorces and drag out the process, so they can bill more hours on the case. We never do this. Our job is to serve you and make the process as easy and painless as possible. If you’re considering getting divorced and you need a family law firm you can trust, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

How Are the “Best Interests of the Children” Determined?

Best Interests of the ChildrenWhen a couple with children decides to get divorced, the first question is usually: how will it affect the children? In most cases, everyone wants what’s best for the children, including the court, but what, exactly, does that mean? And how does a court determine what’s in the best interests of the children?

Ideally, the couple can agree on what’s best for their children and work together to come up with a Parenting Plan that decides how much parenting time each parent gets, where the children will live, who pays child support and how much, etc. The Parenting Plan needs to be approved by a judge, but judges do often assume the parents know what’s best for their children. So long as the Parenting Plan does not run afoul of the law, go against public policy interests, and/or seem unconscionable (meaning no reasonable person would agree to it), the Parenting Plan will be approved by the Court.

Most couples can agree on how to raise the children after the divorce, but sometimes a divorce happens in which the couples can’t agree, and no amount of mediation can help them reach common ground. In that case, the court will have to step in and make up its own mind as to what’s best for the children of the divorcing couple.

In addition to determining how to split parenting time, most judges will also decide which parent gets to make the major parenting decisions (where the children will go to school, who their doctor will be, when they can get their driver’s license, etc.) In Illinois, the law requires that the Court allocate decision-making responsibilities to the parents, either by having them jointly decide one category or by having one parent be solely responsible.  With the 2016 amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the Court now specifically has to award decision-making responsibility for the 4 following categories:  Health/Medical, Education, Religion, and Extracurricular Activities.  For each category, the Court must indicate whether both or one parent can decide that issue, so it is possible for one parent to have sole decision making on something like medical decisions, but the other parent to be solely responsible for educational decisions.

When allocation of decision-making is contested, Judges must look at 15 factors and weigh them against the existing facts of that case. Those 15 factors are:

  • The children’s wishes;
  • How well the children have adjusted to their current home, school, and community in general;
  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved in the divorce;
  • The level of conflict between the parents and their ability to work together to make decisions;
  • The level of each parent’s past participation in making significant parenting decisions;
  • Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents regarding the making of parenting decisions;
  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The children’s needs;
  • The distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the children, each parent’s daily schedules, that of the children, and the likelihood the parents will be able to cooperate in an arrangement;
  • Whether a restriction on decision-making is appropriate;
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to foster a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the children;
  • Any history of physical violence or threatened physical violence directed at the children by either parent;
  • Any history of abuse against the children or any member of the child(ren’s) household;
  • Whether one of the parents is a sex offender, the nature of their offense, whether they’ve sought treatment, and the nature of that treatment;
  • Any other factor the court might find relevant.

It should be noted that this is not a tally in which parents should aim to win the most points. Each judge will give more weight to some factors than others and it all depends on the situation. If you have any questions about what this might mean for your case, contact us today.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

You’re Getting Married and Your Future Spouse Has an Adopted Child, What Does This Mean for You?

future spouse has an adopted childWhile getting married and having kids is great, and relatively straightforward from a legal perspective, life doesn’t always go that smoothly. Sometimes the kids come before marriage, whether from a prior relationship or through adoption. So what does that mean for you if you’re about to become the newest addition to an existing family?

Marrying someone who has already adopted a child can be especially tricky. How tricky depends on a variety of factors:

  • The child’s age now
  • The child’s age when they were adopted
  • Their history before they were adopted
  • Whether they had a closed adoption

The Child’s Age Now

As with any other adoption, if the child is of a certain age, they have a say in whether they want to be adopted by their new step-parent. If the child does not want to be adopted by you, for any reason, then the adoption can’t move forward. That can be painful, but it’s important to respect their wishes and try to work through any existing issues that may have contributed to that decision.

The Child’s History

The child’s age and their history at the time they were adopted can also be important factors in whether they want to add a legal parent. While some children are adopted very young, and thus have never known any other family, others have lost their biological parents and/or been through the foster system. That can make it hard for the child to learn to put down roots and to trust that people are going to stick around for the long haul. For that reason, offering to adopt them can be a beautiful way to show your commitment, not just to your future spouse, but to their children. At the same time, it could also mean the child is not comfortable being adopted by anyone else, in which case it’s important not to force anything on them, even if they’re not yet of age to have a say.

Whether They Had a Closed Adoption

A closed adoption is when the identities of the birth parents and the adopted parents are not known to each other, in which case adopting your step-child could be fairly straightforward, assuming all parties are on board with the idea. But when the birth parents are still in the picture, it can make things tricky.

There are a variety of reasons this might happen. Your future spouse may personally know and/or be related to their child’s birth parents, but decided to adopt for the good of the child. It could be the biological parents were not ready to have a child and your future spouse was; or the biological parents may have been neglectful or even abusive, and your future spouse stepped up by adopting the child for his or her own good.

In any case, although they do not have legal rights to the child, if the biological parents are still in the picture, they may place some emotional pressure on the situation by expressing their disapproval. They won’t have the ability to formally object in Court, since they are no longer their child’s legal parent, but you may want to take their opinion into consideration to help things go smoothly, especially if the child has any sort of relationship with their biological parents.

Your Future Spouse’s View

Ultimately, it is your future spouse has the final say in all this, and he/she may or may not want you to adopt their child. No matter how well things are going between you two, their first obligation is to look after the best interests of their child.  The tougher the child’s history, the more protective the adopted parent is likely to be of them. If your future spouse doesn’t want you to adopt, don’t take it personally. Just do your best to be an active member of the family, as a child can never have too much love.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

Defining Domestic Violence: Are You Living In An Abusive Home?

abusive homeThe idea that we may be living in an abusive home can be a tough reality to face. When we love the people who don’t treat us as well as they should, it can be easy to make excuses for them, or even blame ourselves for their behavior.

In fact, that’s one of the biggest red flags that you may be living in an abusive home – when your partner downplays the importance of the abuse, denies it, or blames you for it.

The problem is this: you are never responsible for someone else’s actions. Their choices are their own and no one else’s. No amount of willfulness or thoughtlessness on your part justifies anyone else hitting you, threatening you or your loved ones, or trying to control you.

If you’ve been thinking you might be living in an abusive home, here are some things to consider:

Physical Violence

Physical violence is probably the first thing that comes to mind for most of us when we think of domestic abuse. It can be anything from hitting you to attacking you with a weapon – and keep in mind that almost anything can be considered a weapon. Just because a hardcover book isn’t on a standard list of weapons doesn’t mean someone couldn’t do serious damage with one if they wanted to, which brings us to our next clue to look out for:

They Scare You

You should never be afraid of anyone you live with. If they look at you or behave in any way that scares you, don’t try to brush it off as paranoia. Trust your instincts and get out of there, if you can. If you can’t get out, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

They Threaten You and/or Your Loved Ones

Abusers don’t always have to physically hurt you or anyone else to be considered abusive. Threats can be just as powerful, if not more so, especially if they’re threatening your loved ones – and remember that’s not limited to humans. It can be just as terrifying to have someone threaten to hurt, or even kill, a beloved pet, and if that’s the case, you may be living in an abusive home.

They Control You

Again, abuse isn’t always physical. Oftentimes, it’s more about control than anything else. Sometimes they exercise that control with physical violence and/or threats, other times it’s by controlling the money for the house and/or controlling what you do, where you go, and whom you see.

Anyone who takes your money, makes you ask for money, and/or refuses to give you money for things you need while they’re going on spending sprees, is abusive. By the same token, cutting you off from friends and family is a classic abuse tactic. If they forbid you, or try to stop you, from seeing your friends and family members, they’re abusing you. They want you to be completely dependent on them for everything and that’s never a good situation for you to be in.

No matter your relation to your abuser, you have rights. If you think you may be living in an abusive home, contact a qualified family law attorney today to talk about your options.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

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