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IL familiy lawyerPaternity refers to the legal relationship between a child and the child’s father. When a woman has a baby, she is automatically considered the child’s legal parent. The woman’s husband, if she is married, also becomes the child’s legal parent. However, when unmarried parents have children together, the situation is different. Often, one or both parents will need to take additional steps to establish the legal relationship between the child and the father. Read on to learn about establishing paternity in Illinois and what you can do if you have questions or concerns about paternity.

How Can You Establish the Legal Father-Child Relationship?

Establishing paternity offers important advantages for both parents and children. The easiest way to establish paternity is for both parents to fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) and file it with the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services. However, this option is not always possible. If your child’s father refuses to sign the VAP or there is uncertainty about who the child’s father is, you may need to take action through the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) or the court system. Genetic testing may be needed to verify the father’s biological relationship to the child. Typically, DNA paternity testing is accomplished by taking a small cheek cell sample from the inside of the mouth.

What is the Purpose of Establishing Paternity?

Often, the issue of paternity arises because a mother is seeking child support payments. Court-ordered child support is a crucial form of financial support for single parents. However, you cannot get child support from your child’s father if you have not established paternity. Once the child’s relationship with his or her father is officially established, you can petition the court for child support. The child also becomes entitled to health insurance coverage through the father’s healthcare plan, social security benefits, and inheritance rights. Once paternity is established, the father may also petition the court for parenting time with the child.

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IL divorce lawyerAutism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause difficulty with communication, socialization, and behavior. The condition ranges from extremely mild to severe. Some people with autism are unable to speak or take care of themselves. Others can handle everyday tasks but need assistance with more complex responsibilities.

As a parent of an autistic child, you may face significant child-related costs. Your child may need specialized education or childcare. He or she may participate in early intervention treatment services such as behavioral therapy or speech therapy. Some parents of children with autism forgo a career and stay home to care for their child full time. Expenses can quickly add up, and these costs do not disappear once the child turns 18. Fortunately, Illinois law provides a way for parents of children with disabilities to receive child support even after the child is an adult.

Financial Assistance for Divorced and Unmarried Parents with an Autistic Child

Unmarried and divorced parents in Illinois are often subject to a child support order. Typically, child support ends when a child graduates high school or college and becomes financially independent. However, a child with autism may not achieve the same level of independence during adulthood as neurotypical children. Illinois parents in this situation may be able to extend child support payments.

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IL divorce lawyerGetting engaged to be married is an exciting and romantic experience. If you are like many soon-to-be spouses, you may worry that asking your partner for a prenuptial agreement will put a damper on this exciting time in your life. You may even wonder if bringing up the idea of a prenup will make him or her question the engagement.

Prenuptial agreements are massively misunderstood. Fortunately, more and more people are starting to understand the value of prenuptial agreements. Prenups are not only for celebrity couples or the ultra-wealthy. Prenuptial agreements protect both spouses’ rights and financial interests. Drafting a prenuptial agreement is also a great way to discuss crucial financial issues before you get married. The following tips can help you broach the subject in a way that is non-confrontational and low pressure.

Make it a Collaborative Venture

Many fiancé(e)s are offended by the idea of signing a prenuptial agreement because they assume that the documents only benefit one spouse in a marriage. Television shows and movies have painted a very inaccurate picture of what a prenuptial agreement actually is. Prenuptial agreements should always benefit both spouses. In fact, Illinois courts will not uphold a prenup that is “unconscionable” or grossly biased toward one spouse. Make the discussion collaborative. Instead of insisting that your partner signs a ready-made prenup, make an appointment to meet with an attorney together and discuss your questions and concerns.

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