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Naperville paternity attorneyUnder Illinois law, the legal relationship between a child and his or her father is only presumed if the man was married to child’s mother at the time of, just prior to, or just after the child’s birth. According to the most recent available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, more than 40 percent of all births in the United States are to unmarried mothers. These numbers indicate that, on average, paternity cannot be presumed in about two out of five cases.

The most common method for establishing paternity when there is no existing presumption—or to rebut a presumption in certain cases—is by means of a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (VAP) form. When both the mother and father complete the form properly, it creates a legal parent-child relationship between the man and his son or daughter. As such, completing the VAP form is an extremely serious matter, and one that should not be taken lightly.

Be Absolutely Certain

Prior to acknowledging paternity voluntarily, it is important that there is no doubt in your mind that you are the child’s father. Once the form has been completed and the time period for rescinding the acknowledgment has passed, you are the child’s father in the eyes of the law. If, down the road, you become aware that you might not be the child’s biological father, it may be too late.

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Naperville family law attorneysLife is full of unexpected turns of events. Sometimes, an individual gets married but quickly realizes that the marriage was a mistake. If you have found yourself in a situation like this, you may be wondering what your options are for ending the marriage. You may have heard about annulments, but you might not know exactly how a person gets his or her marriage annulled. In Illinois, annulments are only granted under certain circumstances. If you do not qualify to have your marriage annulled, divorce may be your only option for ending your marriage.

Difference Between Annulment and Divorce

While a divorce legally terminates a marriage, an annulment rescinds a marriage. An annulment, called a “Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage” in Illinois, makes it as if the couple was never married. If you receive a judgment of invalidity it is if your marriage never took place in the eyes of the law. Typically, judgments of invalidity are retroactive, meaning the judgment is effective on the marriage date. When a marriage is considered retroactively invalid, the court making the determination of invalidity will not have the authority to divide the spouses’ property or make determinations about child custody or child support. Instead, separate proceedings will need to be initiated to manage such concerns.

Grounds for a Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage in Illinois

The term “grounds” is used to describe the reasons that a judge may grant an annulment. The legal grounds for a declaration of marriage in Illinois include:

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Naperville divorce attorneysIf you and your spouse are headed for divorce, you know that you will be expected to divide your marital property between the two of you. While you may not know for sure how that will play out, you may already be thinking about who—if either of you—will keep the marital home, who will get which car, and how to split the household furniture. In the stress and confusion of the divorce process, however, you may be forgetting about a very important—and possibly very valuable—asset of which you may be entitled a portion. Experts say that retirement accounts are the most commonly overlooked assets in a divorce case.

Retirement Savings and Plans

Before marital property can be divided, both you and your spouse should provide one another with a full accounting of all of your assets and debts, even if you think he or she already knows about them. In some cases, this may require a few calls to old employers inquiring about the status of employer-funded retirement programs or plans. You may realize that you have forgotten about a 401(k) plan or similar account that was opened years ago. The same may be true for your spouse, and the money in such accounts, depending on when the accounts were funded, may be considered part of the marital estate.

Marital or Non-Marital?

When considering a retirement account, your spouse may claim that, since his or her name is on the account, the funds are his or hers. The law, however, says otherwise. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, assets that were acquired by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital property in divorce. While there are a few exceptions, including property received by gift or inheritance, retirements accounts follow the standard guidelines. This means that any retirement contributions made during the marriage are considered marital property, regardless of the name on the account.

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