What Does a Family Law Attorney Cover?

Most people will use the terms “Family Law” and “Divorce Lawyer” interchangeably with each other.  The truth, however, is that Divorce Law is only one aspect of Family Law. 

What is family law and what do family lawyers do? Family law is a legal practice area that focuses on issues involving family relationships, such as adoption, divorce, and child custody, among others. Therefore, family law attorneys are legal professionals that specialize in these specific matters. Family lawyers can also act as mediators when family disagreements develop and represent litigants in family conflicts that end up in courts.

Below are some of the things that an experienced and reputable family law attorney can do for you.

Child Custody/Child Support agreements

In the hardest of times when a couple separates, one of the most challenging problems to solve is children.

Court orders and settlement agreements involving both custody and support usually are included in the larger divorce case, but may be revisited as conditions change. For instance, child support may be altered after the non-custodial parent’s financial situation changes.

A child support order is determined by what is reasonable and necessary for the support of the child or children. It is presumed that the guideline support amounts represent the amount of support that is reasonable and necessary, unless it can be demonstrated to the court that circumstances exist that would make the guideline amount inappropriate.

Divorce and Divorce Mediation

Undergoing a divorce is probably one of the most draining experiences that a family can face, and divorce cases involving substantial assets or complex estates require specialized knowledge. A good divorce attorney is skilled at dividing marital property, calculating spousal support, and proposing a plan for child custody, visitation, and support (if applicable).

Attorneys can also cover divorce mediation. Divorce Mediators work with a couples involved in family break-ups to make arrangements, either to plan for a separation or divorce, or after the split has taken place, without the need for court intervention.

Domestic Violence Protection

Domestic violence is described as abusive behavior when a family or household member uses physical or mental maltreatment toward another family or household member. The IDVA uses the following terms as abuse:

1. Physical abuse
2. Harassment
3. Intimidation of a dependent
4. Interference with personal liberty
5. Willful deprivation
6. Exploitation
7. Stalking

An Order of Protection is a court order made in writing which prohibits, by law, further abusive behavior.

Who are persons considered to be family or household members?
The IDVA defines members to include:

1. A spouse
2. Ex-spouse
3. Girlfriend/boyfriend who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship
4. Parents
5. Children
6. Stepchildren
7. Significant other/partner
8. Persons who share or allege to have a blood relationship through a child
9. Persons who live together or formerly lived together
10. Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants

International Child Abduction (Hague Convention)

Although not a common practice for most family lawyers, some specific attorneys have the knowledge, experience and skills in Hague Convention cases to take on international parental child abduction cases. 

The Hague Convention is a treaty that many countries, including the United States, have joined. Its purpose is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent. Proving claims in international child abduction cases under the Hague Abduction Convention requires analysis and careful development of all evidence and testimony that may support or defeat defenses to claims of wrongful abduction or retention. Therefore, choosing an attorney who has extensive experience in cases involving international child custody disputes is vital.

Reasons to Hire a Family Law Attorney

Now that you know what a family law attorney is, you’re probably wondering how hiring legal representation in your family law case would benefit you. Here are the major benefits that come with hiring a family lawyer.

Legal Protection

How realistic are the claims coming from the other party? Can the other party actually receive what they’re stating they’ll receive? A family law attorney knows the law, as well as the outcomes of past verdicts, and can use that knowledge to help you receive the best possible outcome.

Legal Knowledge

There’s a lot of red tape and substantial paperwork when it comes to family law proceedings. And that’s before it goes to trial. By hiring a family law attorney, you can rest assured the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Consequently, you will not have to sweat about your case being thrown out as early as possible.

Court Experience

If a case goes to court, experienced attorneys can make sure that their client is prepared for everything that is going to happen when they enter the courtroom room, and will know exactly how to handle any particular situation that arises during the pendency of a family law case. This will keep the judge happy and the proceedings running smoothly and efficiently.

Peace of Mind

Ultimately, one of the best benefits of hiring a family law attorney to represent your interests in a case is the fact that you will be able to trust your legal issues are being duly dealt with. Whenever you have an issue or a family matter that requires legal representation, it’s essential to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced professional.

Last Words

There are areas of Family Law that involve people who are involved in Civil Unions, Domestic Partnerships, and same-sex relationships.  As a Chicago-based Family Law practice, we can ensure that the appropriate contracts and agreements are in place to help to avoid any issues in the future.

If you are facing a family law issue, contact the family law attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our firm handles family law matters in Cook County and surrounding counties. Masters Law Group concentrates in area of domestic relations, which includes divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, child support and related family matters.

We offer a wide range of services tailored to our clients’ unique legal needs. Masters Law Group LLC has a unique depth of knowledge, experience and talent in the Family Law and Divorce field. Click here to view our practice areas. And click here to set up a consultation today.

What Should You Include in Your Illinois Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a document that says who will make decisions for a child and how those decisions will be made. This often happens in a parental responsibilities case. These plans outline how you and the other parent will continue to care and provide for your children after you separate. 

It’s a good idea for a parenting plan to have a system in place for how disputes should be handled if the situation arises, and a way in which parents can periodically review and make necessary changes to the plan. The plan may also include other provisions or information intended to help both parents understand and abide by the shared responsibilities in raising the child or children.

What to include in your plan:

  • Where the child lives
  • Time the child spends with each parent
  • How each parent gets information and records about the child
  • How the child is to be transported for parenting time

When filing one plan, both parents must sign the plan indicating they agree on all the terms of the document. If parents do not agree, they must file separate plans. The court will look at each detail of both plans to determine what’s in the best interest of the child or children. 

Important things to know about Parenting Plans:

  • Each parent must file a parenting plan within 120 days of asking the court for parental responsibilities;
  • If the parents agree on parental responsibilities, including parenting time, they can file one parenting plan (signed by both parents) within the 120 days. If the parents don’t agree, they must each file their own parenting plans;
  • If neither parent files a parenting plan, the court will hold a hearing to determine the child’s best interests; and
  • The court will look at the parenting plans when it decides who gets parental responsibilities.

Once both plans have been created and shared with the court to examine each parent’s responsibilities, the court can accept the plan and it becomes a Joint Parenting Order. After the Joint Parenting Order is in place, changes cannot be made to it for two years. 

If either parent does not follow the order, they are breaking the law and can be taken to court. The purpose of a court order for parental responsibilities is to protect both parents’ rights when it comes to the care and decision-making responsibilities of the child.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois — joint allocation of parental responsibilities, sole allocation of parental responsibilities and shared allocation of parental responsibilities:

Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to cooperate in decision-making regarding education, health care and religious instruction. It does not mean that the children live with each parent for an equal amount of time. The parties will agree or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will pay child support and exercise parenting time. The amount of time the children spends with the non-residential parent is addressed in a parenting time agreement or order.

Sole allocation of parental responsibilities is the term that describes the arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility for deciding everything related to the child’s welfare. It does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture. Parenting Time and parenting time can be the same in a sole allocation of parental responsibilities case as it is in a joint allocation of parental responsibilities case.

Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a form of joint allocation of parental responsibilities. It is appropriate when the child spends equal time with each parent, the parents reside in the same school district and are able to join parents.

Parenting planning of your child can be a very emotional law topic. It can become complicated and require much interaction between the parents and the court. It’s in your best interests to hire an experienced attorney if you need assistance with parental planning issues.

Hiring Legal Help

Hiring an attorney highly experienced in family law will help you understand your legal options and create a plan for what comes next. Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. We help clients put aside their grief and educate them about their options in child allocation of parental responsibilities.

We represent individuals in both their initial quest to set a parenting time schedule, as well as parents looking to modify a previously determined schedule. If you require a review of your current parenting time schedule or parenting plan, contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

 

5 Signs It’s Time to Consider Divorce

Divorce can be a draining, time consuming process when it comes to legally dissolving one’s marriage with their former spouse. It’s important to recognize warning signs that it may be time to consider the divorce process. In doing so, it will lessen the blow of preparing for this emotional journey.

Signs it’s time to get a divorce can be a confusing, especially when there are children involved. Therefore deciding whether you’re in a failing marriage that’s beyond repair is obviously not a choice that comes easily.

It’s not always as black and white as infidelity or financial problems, and while divorce is no one’s plan in life, these red flags could mean the end of your marriage.

1. Lack of Communication

Communication is a key ingredient to a healthy relationship.  Even when it leads to a disagreement — it is important for spouses to understand how the other is feeling. Some might think that avoidance of conversation to prevent arguments is preferable to fighting with a spouse.

When conversation breaks down completely – and neither of you are willing to put forth the effort to learn about what each other is feeling – is a clear indication that the relationship may no longer be worth the ongoing upset. 

2. Avoiding your Partner

You start to find ways to avoid any interactions with them, and would rather have no contact than negative confrontation. You find yourself wanting to spend more time with friends and family. This can be a sign that things have changed on your end in a big way.

3. Change in Values and Priorities

In good relationships couples value the same things. People can change over periods of time which is completely normal and healthy in a relationship, but what they once used to value no longer matters to them any more.

It could be as small or as big as a partner changing a couple things in their lifestyle which forces a new way of life upon their partner. For example, one partner wants to move somewhere for a job opportunity while the other would rather not. Unless both people can adapt to significant changes like this, it can be a tough one to surpass.

4. Indifference inside and outside the relationship 

If negative thoughts have begun to override the way you see your partner, things may be headed for divorce. Prolonged feelings of indifference toward your spouse is a major sign that something is off within your marriage. When you stop caring about what the other person thinks and feels, you’ve lost the ability to listen and connect—which is not as easy to fix.

5. Lack of Intimacy 

Feeling close to your partner goes far beyond the physicality of the relationship.  The deficiency of emotional intimacy is equally as big of a sign as the more apparent lack of physical intimacy. If you feel like you can’t connect with your spouse on a deeper level—or don’t want to—you’ve lost an important part of the marriage.

It’s always possible to seek out counseling to find out what’s not working. But if you’re past the point of feeling attracted to your partner, divorce may be the next step. 

Final Thoughts

Breaking up a marriage can be one of the hardest things to do — but thinking long term is the best way to go about these types of situations. Divorce can be frightening and overwhelming. But when you break it down into small, manageable steps, like those outlined above, it becomes somewhat “do-able” to leave a relationship that no longer benefits you and your family. 

It could mean setting time aside to sit down and openly talk to your partner about your feelings, going to counseling or maybe even starting the separation process. Living unhappily is not necessary and there is usually a light at the end of every tunnel —if you look hard enough. 

Read more

Illinois Civil Unions

To celebrate the last day of Pride month, Masters Law Group dives into everything you need to know about protections, responsibilities and benefits of Civil Unions in our great state of Illinois.

There are significant victories that have been celebrated over the years when it comes to the legal battle of recognizing same-sex legal relationships. Before civil unions and same-sex marriages were allowed, the state of Illinois offered domestic partnerships in 2005. This allowed partners to receive health insurance and other benefits, but it didn’t include all the benefits one would receive in a civil union.

Civil Unions were created in the state of Illinois in 2011. They were significantly popular as same-sex marriage was not legalized yet. In 2014, same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Illinois. One year later, the U.S. Supreme Court made it legal in all 50 states (Obergefell v. Hodges). As we approach the end of pride month, same-sex couples in the state Illinois have the right to enter the process of forming a Civil Union.

What is a Civil Union?

A civil union is a legal relationship granted by the State of Illinois. Partners who enter civil unions are granted the same protections, responsibilities and benefits that one would normally receive in a marriage. Eligibility for those wanting a civil union include the following:

  1. Must be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Cannot be related – by the half or the whole blood or by adoption; an aunt or uncle and a niece or nephew, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, or by adoption; or between first cousins.
  3. Cannot enter civil unions prior to dissolution of marriage or similar legal relationships.
  4. Individuals who live out of state, as that civil union would not be legal in their home state.

This process consists of applying for an obtaining a civil union is relatively easy. It starts by the couple applying for a certificate of civil union which takes 30 minutes to process. Civil unions can be certified by a person of the clergy or a judge. After you receive your certificate claiming that the civil union has been certified, they must file it to their respected county clerk within 10 days.

One of the only differences between a civil union and a marriage is that partners of a civil union can alter their legal form of commitment to be considered marriage, which requires getting a marriage license. Whereas married spouses cannot change their relationship to a civil union.

Step-Parenting & Civil Unions

One of the current cracks in the Illinois legal code is stepparents’ rights following the end of a civil union. The Act contains only the word “married” and not “joined in a civil union”.  The reason that a partner to a civil union does not have any legal rights available is because, under the current law, partners to a civil union lack standing. Standing is required in order to bring this matter into court. This hole in the legal code can lead to emotional consequences, as partners can be prevented from seeing the child by the biological parent, has no legal remedy. Recent cases brought in Illinois have shown that partners involved in civil union dissolution can face frustrating battles when seeking to remain a part of their child’s life.

Hiring the right Civil Union Attorney

By hiring a knowledgeable and experienced civil union attorney – who understands the ins and outs of civil union law and civil law dissolution will only put you and your family at ease. Masters Law Group concentrates in various areas which will provide you with reassurance. We have dedicated ample amounts of time in order to become knowledgeable and up to date in this new area of family law. We will take the time to fully understand your situation and provide honest advice regarding your options.

Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

 

Parentage Rights for Same-Sex Couples

Fortunately for married same-sex couples in Illinois who have children, the Illinois Parentage Act provides the same protections that were once afforded to fathers in a heterosexual marriage. Here’s what you need to know. 

Parents are legally recognized in three ways: through marriage, adoption, and DNA. While same-sex couples may now legally marry throughout the United States, not all states have provided an equal opportunity for gay parents to obtain parental rights, whether through biology, legally recognized partnership, adoption, or other means.

What is Parentage?

In parentage cases, also called “paternity cases,” the court makes orders that say who the child’s legal parents are.

If parents are married when a child is born, there is usually no question about parentage. The law assumes that the husband is the father and the wife is the mother, so paternity is automatically established in most cases.

But for unmarried parents, parentage of their children needs to be established legally.  If there is not an agreement on paternity of a child, the Court can order a DNA test to determine the father.  After paternity is established, allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time and child support can then be set forth via a Final Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Judgment.

Presumption of Parentage under the Illinois Parentage Act

What is a presumption of paternity under Illinois law, and how does it establish the rights and responsibilities of a parent? Generally speaking, a presumption of paternity refers to situations in which the law says that a person is the child’s presumed parent—typically the father. Matters of paternity—and the presumption of paternity—are governed by the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 (750 ILCS 46/). That statute defines a “presumed parent” as “an individual who . . . is recognized as the parent of a child until that status is rebutted or confirmed in a judicial or administrative proceeding.”

A presumption of paternity typically happens in cases where there is no direct evidence that the parent is the child’s biological parent, but there are other ways in which that person is presumed to be the parent (and therefore responsible for providing care and support to the child). Situations in which there is a presumption of paternity may include:

  • Individual (presumed parent) married the child’s biological mother or otherwise started a relationship with the child’s biological mother, and the child was born during the relationship;
  • Individual and the child’s biological mother got married, and the child was born within 300 days of the end of the marriage;
  • Individual and the child’s biological mother got married, but the marriage was determined to be invalid, and the child was born within 300 days of the declaration of invalidity of the marriage; or
  • Individual married the child’s biological mother or otherwise started a relationship with the child’s biological mother after the child was born, but the individual is listed (by choice) as the parent on the child’s birth certificate.

Since a presumption means only that parentage is presumed, there are ways either to provide evidence of paternity or to dispute paternity. Presumptions of paternity can be disputed, for example, with DNA evidence and other forms of documentation.

How the Presumption of Paternity Extends to Same-Sex Couples

The Illinois Parentage Act also extends to same-sex couples, including when it comes to the presumption of parentage. Same-sex parents are now also permitted to have both their names on a birth certificate, and there is a presumption that the parents listed on a birth certificate are the child’s parents.

This legal presumption is important when it comes to parenting time issues in a divorce or legal separation. Without this presumption, a parent who wants child custody would have to prove a legal relationship with the child in order to have standing to seek custody. A person who does not have standing cannot prevail in a legal challenge seeking rights to custody or even visitation.

Once parentage has established under any of the criteria set forth in the statute, the parent can be allocated parental responsibility, parenting time, and even be required to pay child support. Like heterosexual couples, the court determines the issues of time-sharing and parental responsibility by considering the best interests of the child. However, if the child is born as part of a surrogacy agreement, there are laws that govern how that situation would be handled.

Lastly, men in a same-sex marriage may still be at a disadvantage even under the revised law because the law does not create a presumption for either man having a child with a woman outside the marriage. Both men would have to adopt the child to gain legal rights.

Contact Masters Law Group

As you can see, same-sex parents can face legal hurdles when determining their parental rights. Illinois parental laws do not discriminate between same-sex and opposite-sex parents; However, some judges may have limited experience with LGBTQ relationships. The attorneys at Masters Law Group use their years of experience and relationships with the local courts to prevent issues and focus on solving problems and achieving the best possible result for our clients.

Each year in the Illinois, thousands of families seek answers to questions regarding divorce, separation, allocation of parental responsibilities, support and other matters of family law. If you have questions about how the Illinois Parentage Act applies to you, contact the experienced attorneys at Masters Law Group here today. 

New Child Tax Credit 2021 for Parents Who Share Custody

As a part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, monthly child credits are starting this July. But if you share custody with your ex-spouse, who claims the child tax credit? 

President Joe Biden recently signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. Amongst other things, the legislation will increase the child tax credit to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 annually for children under 6 for the tax year 2021. Here’s what else you should know…

How Claiming Child Tax Credit Typically Works

When parents share joint custody, they usually work out a schedule according to their work requirements, housing arrangements and the children’s needs. This includes financial plans like which parent is eligible for child tax credit payments. 

However, if you are recently divorced or separated – or simply don’t have a plan in place – which parent claims the new tax credits? 

Fundamentals of the New Child Tax Credit

The American Rescue Plan temporarily expands the child tax credit for 2021 which aims to substantially reduce child poverty by supplementing the earnings of families receiving the tax credit. The U.S. Department of the Treasury states that Child Tax Credit has been revised in the following ways:

  1. The credit amount has been increased. The American Rescue Plan increased the amount of the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6, and $3,000 for other children under age 18.
  2. The credit’s scope has been expanded. Children 17 years old and younger, as opposed to 16 years old and younger, will now be covered by the Child Tax Credit.
  3. Credit amounts will be made through advance payments during 2021. Individuals eligible for a 2021 Child Tax Credit will receive advance payments of the individual’s credit, which the IRS and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service will make through periodic payments from July 1, to December 31, 2021. This change will allow struggling families to receive financial assistance now, rather than waiting until the 2022 tax filing season to receive the Child Tax Credit benefit.
  4. The credit is now fully refundable. By making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, low- income households will be entitled to receive the full credit benefit, as significantly expanded and increased by the American Rescue Plan.
  5. The credit is now extended to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories. For the first time, low- income families residing in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories will receive this vital financial assistance to better support their children’s development and health and educational attainment.

To facilitate the disbursement of Child Tax Credit advance payments during 2021, the American Rescue Plan requires the IRS to establish an online portal for taxpayers to update relevant data for mid-year payment adjustments (for example, the birth of a child during 2021). In addition to this online tool, the Treasury Department and the IRS will carry out a sweeping public awareness campaign parallel to its Economic Impact Payment campaign to reach all Americans who may be eligible for this financial assistance.

What Are The Updated Requirements For The New Tax Credit?

There are net income limits and rules to be aware of. But simply put, if your adjusted gross income is $75,000 a year or less and you are a sole taxpayer, you can receive a full tax credit for your child. It fluctuates as your net income increases.

For now, the tax credit extends to:

Children ages 5< 

  • $3,600 per child

Children age 16<

  • $2,000 per child

Children age 17<

  • $3,000 per child

Children 18-24 currently enrolled in college and full-time status

  • $500 per child

To help see exactly how much money you’ll receive in advance, Kiplinger has released a Child Tax Credit Calculator. Try it out here.

Can Both Parents Receive The Monthly Payment In A Shared Custody Situation?

For parents who share custody, child support can sometimes add complications to their stimulus check total and eligibility. Furthermore, rules for the third payment have changed from the first two payments, removing a loophole that allowed some families to “double-dip” (both parents receiving their own dependent payment for the same child), among other major changes as listed earlier. If you are wondering if there are the same loopholes when it comes to claiming the new child tax credits, the short answer is “no”. Only one parent can claim a child and receive the credit.

So which parent gets the tax credits? When the terms of the divorce clearly identify a custodial parent — the parent who has primary custody of the child — that parent is legally entitled to claim the child as a dependent and receive any associated tax refunds. Many parents have a 50-50 custody agreement but don’t have a written agreement regarding which of the parents claims the child on their taxes. Whether you have primary custody or joint custody of a child after divorce, the fact remains that only one person can claim the child on each year’s tax forms.

Be aware that if you falsely claim your child, you will possibly have to pay all or a portion of that payment back the following year.

Can The Tax Credit Money Pay For Overdue Child Support?

If you are divorced and haven’t been paid the correct child support unfortunately, the tax credit cannot be used for overdue payments – according to the congressional research service. However, the credit you will claim in 2021 and 2022 can be subject to overdue child support CRS stated. 

What Action do Families Need to Take to Receive the Payment?

Most families won’t have to do anything to receive their child tax credit payment starting July 15. Similar to the stimulus payments, the CTC payments will be automatically deposited into the taxpayer’s bank account, or sent in the form of a prepaid debit card or paper check (depending on what information the IRS has on file for each qualifying taxpayer).

However, action should be taken for non-filers. Even those who made too little to file a 2020 tax return should do so now in order to receive the advanced monthly CTC payments in the future. The Treasury Department and the IRS say they will continue efforts to make more families aware of their eligibility.

Conclusion

If you have children or other dependents under the age of 17, you likely qualify for the Child Tax Credit that hits bank accounts July 17. When you address the issue of claiming children on taxes, it’s important to research your rights and make your claim correctly. 

If you need further assistance with a parenting plan or child support, you can contact Masters Law Group to schedule a consultation. We represent individuals in the Chicagoland area in both their initial quest to set a parenting time schedule, as well as parents looking to modify a previously determined schedule, child support orders and allocation of parental responsibilities.

 

Managing Your Money After a Pandemic Divorce

As the world slowly begins its back-to-normal phase, the aftermath of the pandemic has left a lot of devastation in its wake. If your marriage didn’t survive quarantine, here’s how to get your finances back on solid ground after a divorce. Read more

Parental Child Abduction? Hire a Hague Convention Attorney.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the main international agreement that covers international parental child abduction. It provides a process through which a parent can seek to have their child returned to their home country.

A number of countries around the globe have joined a treaty called the Hague Convention. This multilateral treaty was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and concluded on October 25, 1980, entering into force on December 1, 1983.

According to the Convention, the removal or retention of a child is “wrongful” whenever it breaches custody rights attributed to a person or any other body. If, at the time of removal or retention, those rights were exercised. Even if a parent already has legal custody of a child, the Convention is needed. U.S. court orders may not be recognized in other countries, and sovereign nations cannot interfere with each other’s legal systems, judiciaries, or law enforcement.

LIST OF U.S HAGUE CONVENTION TREATY PARTNERS

Listed below are the countries that are participants of the Hague Convention in force with the United States of America. The official list and dates the treaties signed can be found here.

 

Andorra Lithuania
Argentina Luxembourg
Armenia Macedonia, Republic of
Australia Malta
Austria Mauritius
Bahamas, The Mexico
Belgium Monaco
Belize Montenegro
Bosnia and Herzegovina Morocco
Brazil Netherlands
Bulgaria New Zealand
Burkina Faso Norway
Canada Pakistan
Chile Panama
China (Hong Kong and Macau only) Paraguay
Colombia Peru
Costa Rica Poland
Croatia Portugal
Cyprus Korea, Republic of
Czech Republic Romania
Denmark Saint Kitts and Nevis
Dominican Republic San Marino
Ecuador Serbia
El Salvador Singapore
Estonia Slovakia
Fiji Slovenia
Finland South Africa
France Spain
Germany Sri Lanka
Greece Sweden
Guatemala Switzerland
Honduras Thailand
Hungary Trinidad and Tobago
Iceland Turkey
Ireland Ukraine
Israel United Kingdom (Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Isle of Man, Montserrat)
Italy Uruguay
Jamaica Venezuela
Japan Zimbabwe
Latvia

 

CHOOSING YOUR ATTORNEY

To make sure you have the best possible chance in your Hague Convention case, you need an attorney who understands both the dire circumstances and the delicate interplay of state, federal, and international laws.

Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph of Masters Law Group have extensive experience in cases involving international child abduction disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system.

Read the details of our most recent successful Hague Convention case here. Furthermore, see what our clients have to say on representing their Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction case:

“Anthony Joseph and Erin litigated my Hague Convention federal court case and, after a terrifying and tiring few months, we won our case!! If I didn’t have the direction and focus of these two we wouldn’t have won. Anthony is a shark, no one will work harder and smarter and know every detail in the court like this man. AND ERIN!!!!! She is dotting all the i’s and crossing the T’s. Not one thing will get by her. She thinks outside the box and will find a solution to every problem. They way they work together, the other side doesn’t have a chance in court. Because of these two my children are safe with me in the USA and we won an extremely difficult to win case. 9/10 times the children have to go back to the country they were taken from, in this case it was Mexico. I had the odds stacked against me hugely. It’s very difficult to get any judge to side with the person who left with the children. Because of their expertise in Hague, they found the important details to keep my kids and myself away from our abuser who tried to get us back into the scary situation we were living in. THANK YOU TO YOU BOTH. Every day I’m grateful for them changing my life. When something this is important is at stake it is imperative you choose great counsel. And Masters Law Group is it.”

– SHARON H, HAGUE CONVENTION CLIENT TESTIMONIAL

Instead of trying to figure out international law issues alone, contact the Family Law Attorneys at Masters Law Group. Our experienced team will help you navigate the legal complexities of your case and are committed to vigorously representing you in these frightening, high-stakes proceedings.

Contact us to schedule your consultation here today.

 

What is Paternity Fraud and Should I be Concerned?

Paternity fraud occurs when a man is incorrectly identified as the biological father of a child by the mother. In this blog, we discuss the cause of action for paternity fraud in Illinois. Read more

Getting a Same-Sex Divorce in Illinois.

Divorce is the last thing you think about when you and your spouse are exchanging vows. However, for different reasons, divorce happens. When it comes to divorce and child custody cases involving same-sex couples, there are many factors that can complicate the court’s ruling.

Along with the right to marry in Illinois (and every state in America), marriage equality laws also gave couples the right to divorce, regardless of where they live. But, in some cases, the divorce process can become complex.

Because same-sex marriage hasn’t been legal for too long, courts have broad discretion when making decisions about relationships that were in place long before the Supreme Court’s landmark decision. One of the biggest issues same-sex couples run into when they get divorced is determining how to award spousal and child support if the couple was living together as domestic partners much longer than their legal marriage. Same-sex couples often see one spouse adopt children and then they live as a family, without the benefit of a joint- or cross- or co-adoption.  That could spell disaster for the non-adopting parent.

Parental Responsibilities

Parental responsibilities are different for someone married to a child’s birth mother. The law spells out how the birth mother’s spouse can be the legal parent of the child. For two married men, adoption is often the route to parentage, for married women, the female who did not give birth also usually adopts the child/children.

Since 2016, instead of dividing up “custody” and “visitation,” divorcing parents make an “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Under the revised Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, only non-parents get visitation.

You must be a parent to have any parental responsibilities. Who’s a parent is determined by the Illinois Parentage Act. The Parentage Act spells out 4 ways the spouse of the birth mother can be legally presumed to be the child’s parent. The law below applies to both marriages and civil unions. It also applies to a male or female spouse of the birth mother. The four paths to parenthood are:

  1. The child is born while the spouses are married to each other.
  2. The child is born after the marriage is over. It must be within 300 days after that termination.
  3. The first 2 situations, but where the couple tried to enter into a marriage or civil union “in apparent compliance with the law.” However, that marriage or union is later terminated or declared invalid for some reason.
  4. A person marries the birth mother after the child is born. Plus, that person consents to being added to the child’s birth certificate.

Parenthood for two married men results from one being the child’s biological father, and the other adopting the child,. Or, it results from both spouses adopting a child together.

Same-Sex Divorce Procedure

Generally – asides from the issue of Child Custody (Parenting Time) – the divorce process for same-sex couples is not different compared to a divorce involving a heterosexual couple.

  1. File the Petition for ‘Dissolution of Marriage’. To properly file in Illinois, one or both parties must establish residency within the state for at least 90 days before commencement of the case. The petition must state whether the divorce action is sought on fault or no-fault grounds. (Contested or Uncontested).
  2. Serve the complaint on the other spouse.
  3. The other spouse files an answer to the petition or risks a default judgment from the court.
  4. The investigation and negotiation stage occurs, where the couple’s attorneys gather relevant evidence and prepare for a court appearance. The couple may also work toward a mutually-agreeable settlement through divorce mediation.
  5. A trial commences if no settlement is reached. At this stage, the divorce is granted, and the court determines issues like custody, child support, spousal maintenance and the division of the couple’s property.

Hiring the Right Experienced Same-Sex Divorce Attorney

If you are going through a same-sex divorce, you probably have many questions about the process.

By hiring a knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney – who understands the unique challenges same-sex couples face – will ensure that your interests are protected during the dissolution of your marriage. How? Since it is possible to encounter judges or other court personnel who may have had limited interactions with same-sex divorces or same-sex individuals in general, it is important to have an attorney who is not only sensitive to the dynamic, but one who is well known by the Court and knowledgeable of the various laws.

Masters Law Group understands that divorce is a stressful situation and that our clients want to move on with their lives. As such, we move through settlement negotiations, mediation or litigation with our clients assurance and well being in mind.

Whether you are facing a same-sex contested divorce, uncontested divorce, or civil union divorce, our firm’s attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most.

Divorce cases involving substantial assets or complex estates require specialized knowledge.  Masters Law Group is skilled at identifying and valuing assets and wealth, including real estate, securities, business interests, retirement funds, pension plans, tax shelters (domestic and foreign), overseas accounts, stock options, trusts and other actual or potential sources of wealth.

Don’t go it alone. Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.