adoption, Kane County adoption lawyersChoosing to adopt a child is a truly monumental  decision for all involved, and in order to ensure it goes successfully, it is important to have an attorney who understands the stakes. The process is very complex, even for legal professionals, and there are certain questions that should be asked so that you can be certain you are working with a knowledgeable attorney.

  • #1. What is your background in adoption law? This is perhaps the most important question that can be asked. The adoption process is quite complex for anyone, even those with experience, especially if you wish to adopt internationally. The most recent available data shows over 260,000 adoptions have been brokered internationally since 1999, with the majority being from countries where procedures were either not conducted in English, were prone to adjustment, or both. This can be a severe roadblock for an inexperienced attorney.
  • #2. Do you have preferences about adoption types, or is there a type of adoption you will not handle? There are multiple types of adoptions, including private, open, agency-assisted, and many others. Some attorneys refuse to work with adoption agencies, or may refuse to handle adoptions in specific countries. Such preferences are legal as long as this information is communicated up front, but it is not always presented openly.
  • #3. What do you charge, on average, to handle an adoption? While there is no specific fee that is appropriate or inappropriate, it is important to have a sense of what will the entire process will cost. A flat fee may be preferable for your situation, but it is possible for an ethical attorney to still charge an hourly rate. As long as your attorney is honest with you about fees, no red flags should be evident.
  • #4. Do you require a retainer fee? While there is some debate about the appropriateness of retainer fees, some adoption attorneys in Illinois do charge retainers while others do not. Many feel that paying a retainer is a gamble, especially since in Illinois, the birth mother is granted 72 hours after the birth of a child to decide whether she truly wishes to place that child up for adoption, leaving the adoptive parents with virtually nothing if she elects to keep the baby.
  • #5. Will I be kept informed? While this is hopefully a given for any competent attorney, it should still be asked. If your attorney is the only knowledgeable adoption practitioner in the firm, you may go weeks without contact while he or she is busy on other matters. It is important to get a clear picture of your potential attorney’s availability.

Contact a Knowledgeable Adoption Lawyer

Ensuring your adoption attorney is a good fit for you can be critical to the success of your adoption. If you are in need of experienced, compassionate Kane County adoption attorney, contact Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. for help. Call 630-377-7770 today to set up a free initial consultation.



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new law, St. Charles child support lawyersIn July of this year, a new law regarding the calculation of child support went into effect in Illinois. The measure was intended to update the state’s approach to child support and to bring Illinois more in line with most other states. The change was largely seen as an improvement over the previous law, as calculations must take into account the income of both parents instead of just the paying parent, as well as a number of other factors that were not considered in the past.

Those who already have a child support order in place may be curious about how—if at all—the new law will affect their current obligations. Most, however, will need to wait until there is a sufficient justification to amend their existing order before they will see any changes to their support payments.

Substantial Changes in Circumstances

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), a child support order can be modified if and when either parent shows that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the family. A substantial change could be one that affects the income of either parent, either parent’s own needs, or the needs of the child. Common examples include the paying parent’s loss of employment and an illness or injury to either parent or the child. Upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances by either party, the court will recalculate the paying parent’s obligation by applying the existing calculation guidelines to the family’s new situation.

New Law Is Not a “Substantial Change”

When the Illinois legislature created the bill to amend the state’s child support law, the bill’s authors had the foresight to consider how the new law might affect existing child support orders. Therefore, they included language that specifically excluded the new law as an appropriate basis for modifying a support order. “The enactment of this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly itself does not constitute a substantial change in change in circumstances warranting a modification,” the Act clearly states.

However, there is another provision in the law that could help parents seeking a support order modification. Absent a substantial change in circumstances, a parent may seek a modification if a recalculation under the current guidelines would create a difference of at least 20 percent from the existing support order. The 20 percent change must also equal at least $10 per month. The “20 percent rule” is frequently used in cases where neither party has had dramatic life changes but enough small changes have accumulated over a period of several years to justify a recalculation of child support obligations.

We Can Help

If you have questions about modifying a child support order in Illinois, the experienced Kane County child support lawyers at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. can provide the guidance you need. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.





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shared, Kane County family law attorneyThere is no question that divorce is already a difficult and painful process. Couples with children have an even more challenging road ahead of them. Parents must not only come to terms with the end of their marriage, but also need to figure out how to move forward as mothers and fathers. How will they raise their children now that they are no longer married?

Attitudes regarding the roles of parents after a divorce have changed dramatically in the last 50 years. There was a time when mothers were almost automatically considered a child’s main or only parent. Mothers were generally tasked with raising children both within a marriage and after a marriage ended in divorce. Eventually, society began to recognize the dramatically important role a father plays in a child’s life. However, today’s mothers are still more likely to be awarded custody of their children than fathers are. According to a new study, this maternal favoritism may not be in the best interest of children.

Children Do Better in Life When Both Parents Are Involved

Richard A. Warshak, PhD, clinical professor of psychiatry and author, has been studying the effects of divorce on children for decades. His most recent analysis supports the idea that children need both their mothers and fathers in their lives. According to the data gathered, children who spend at least 35 percent time with each parent, rather than live with one and visit the other, have better relationships with their fathers and mothers. Furthermore, these children tend to do better academically, socially, and even psychologically. Children who spend time with both parents get better grades, are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and are less susceptible to mental illnesses and stress.

Warshak—along with many other respected child psychologists—believes that shared parenting should be the norm for children whose parents do not live together just as it is for parents who do live together. Aside from instances when a parent has proven to be neglectful or abusive, children benefit from having two parents. Of course, shared parenting may not always be the best decision for every post-divorce situation. Each family is different and may have different needs.

Considering Divorce? Let Us Help

If you are considering divorce and are worried about how the divorce will affect your children, you do not have to face these concerns alone. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., and get the help you need. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at our St. Charles office today.



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genetic, Kane County divorce attorneysSociologists and relationship experts have long known that children whose parents are divorced are more likely to get divorced later in life compared to children from “intact” families. Many have speculated that this was due to such children spending their formative years in an environment that was accepting of divorce. A new study, however, suggests that there may be more than just environmental factors at work in most cases, as researchers have found that genetics may also play a role.

Nature vs. Nurture

The study was a collaborative effort between teams at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden. Together, the researchers looked at data involving 20,000 children who were adopted at a young age, as well as their biological and adoptive parents. The project was intended to examine the common belief that children of divorce are more likely to divorce themselves as adults because they are conditioned to see divorce as normal. The study’s subjects were adopted children so that the team could separate “nature” and “nurture” in its findings.

The research revealed that children who did not know their birth parents or biological siblings tended to have marriage and divorce patterns that matched that of their biological families more than of their adoptive parents. In other words, if a child’s birth parents were divorced, the child was more likely to also get divorced later in life, regardless of his or her adoptive parents’ marital status. The findings led the teams to conclude that genetic influences may have more impact on relationships than most people realize.

Could You Be Destined to Divorce?

Jessica Salvatore, an assistant psychology professor at Virginia Commonwealth and one of the study’s authors, recognized that the findings are contradictory to what most people believe about children of divorce—namely, that children emulate their parents’ behavior in regard to relationships. She pointed out that much of the previous research on the matter did not separate the possible impact of genetic factors from environmental and social influences. While children may learn—or fail to learn—effective communication skills from their parents, for example, personality traits such as impulsiveness and neuroticism have been linked to genes.

Salvatore emphasized that the study does not mean that all children of divorced couples will eventually get divorced themselves. She observed that the elevated risk of divorce is similar to that of other genetic risks. “Just as if you had a parent with an alcohol-use disorder,” she said, “you’d also be at increased risk for developing one yourself.”

Charting Your Own Path

No matter what your family’s divorce history may be, you have the power to build and maintain healthy relationships in your own life and to find ways to address marital concerns. If such concerns cannot be resolved, a divorce may be unavoidable. Contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney to discuss your situation and your available options. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.



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visitation, St. Charles family law attorneysIllinois law states that the both of a child’s parents are entitled, at the very least, to a reasonable amount of time with the child unless the court finds that visits would be dangerous to the child (physically, mentally, emotionally or otherwise). However, the only other familial relations that are even granted standing (permission) to apply for visitation rights are grandparents, great-grandparents, stepparents, and siblings (including step-siblings).

Grandparents, stepparents, and siblings may petition the court to be granted visitation with a minor child, but they are only likely to be successful in certain situations. Even if a child has lived with them or been close with them for a long time, these family members are not entitled to visitation as a matter of law. The two situations in which these select non-parents are most likely to be granted visitation rights are (1) if one or both parents of the minor child have been missing for at least three months, or are deceased or otherwise incompetent; and (2) if the child’s parents are not living together, either on a permanent or indefinite basis. To establish a case for visitation being permitted, non-parents must establish that the parent’s decision to deny visitation is “unreasonable” and that the child has suffered or will suffer harm as a result of that decision. This is, as one might guess, very difficult to establish.OK

Aunts, uncles and other family members that may once have been close to the child have no standing to even apply for visitation privileges. Their ability to see the child in question is entirely left to the judgment of the parent or legal guardian.

Guardians and Foster Parents

Despite what may be months and years living with and taking care of a child, non-parent guardians or foster parents may be forced to return a child to his or birth parents. This could happen for a number of reasons, including the birth parents revoking their consent to the guardianship. When this happens, the former guardians or foster parents have no virtually no chance of obtaining visitation rights without the consent of the birth parents, regardless of the previous relationship with the child. It is possible to seek a reinstatement of the guardianship, but unless the court finds the birth parents to be unfit, the likelihood of success is rather low.

Professional Help Can Make the Difference

If you are in a position where you believe your visitation rights are being unfairly curtailed, there may be hope. The experienced Kane County family law attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. are well-versed in the intricacies of the law on these matters. We are ready, willing and able to put our knowledge to work for you. Your first consultation is free. Contact us today.



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property, Kane County divorce attorneysWhen entertainers and comedians talk about divorce, they often make references to the idea that both spouses will automatically get half of the couple’s assets. Such tropes are often mildly misogynistic, suggesting that a rich man who gets married is at risk for his wife taking half of everything in a divorce—including the assets he accumulated before the marriage. In reality, this popular depiction of divorce is essentially dead wrong, especially in Illinois. While some states do provide for an equal division of marital property in a divorce—and marital property does not usually include property that a spouse owned prior to marriage—Illinois is not among them. Instead, Illinois follows the principles of equitable distribution, which means that each spouse will receive a portion of the marital estate, but their portions will not necessarily be equal.

Fair Does Not Always Mean Equal

If a divorcing couple is able to reach an agreement regarding their marital property, an Illinois court will approve it as long as the agreement is not found to be unconscionably one-sided. If the couple cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court is required by law to allocate their marital property justly and fairly. The law makes no reference to the idea that the split should be exactly equal.

To determine what constitutes an equitable allocation, the court must consider the circumstances of each party, the marriage, and the divorce. The idea is to avoid putting either party is put an avoidable financial disadvantage. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a list of factors that must be considered by the court in making its decision, which includes:

  • Each spouse’s contribution to the value of the marital estate and its value, including the contributions of a stay-at-home spouse or parent;
  • Any claims of dissipation of the marital property by either spouse;
  • The value of the property being allocated to each spouse;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • Each spouse’s financial circumstances following the division of property;
  • Parenting arrangements being made for the couple’s children;
  • Whether spousal support has been or will be ordered;
  • Each spouse’s age health, occupation, and expected ability to earn income in the future;
  • Tax liabilities for each spouse as a result of the division of property; and
  • Any valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement between the spouses.

These considerations allow the court to develop a fairly accurate picture of the couple’s circumstances. Based on its findings, the court will divide the marital estate fairly and reasonably.

Let Us Help

If you are considering a divorce and have questions about the asset division process in Illinois, contact an experienced divorce attorney in St. Charles. Call 630-377-7770 for a free, no-obligation consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.



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taxes, Kane County divorce attorneyWhen you are in the process of getting a divorce, the last thing you are probably thinking about is your tax return. However, there are often significant tax consequences for both spouses after a divorce judgment is finalized. Both you and your attorney should be familiar with the possible outcomes, so you are not hit with an expensive surprise after the divorce is complete.

Dependents, Child Support, and Alimony

By far the biggest question for most couples is how to handle child and spousal support (also called alimony) in regard to tax liabilities. Child support differs somewhat from spousal support in that child support is not tax deductible while spousal support is. Conversely, child support is not included in taxable income for the spouse who receives it, but spousal support taxable.

Even if you cannot deduct child support, you may be able to claim your children as dependents. The IRS offers several child-related tax credits but is clear that only one parent may claim a particular child in a given tax year. Usually, the parent with the majority of the parenting time will claim the child tax credits, but the other parent may be able to do so if it is stipulated in the divorce decree, or if they provide half or more of the child’s support.

Property and Asset Transfers

The other major questions that come up in a tax context after divorce have to do with property division and assets. It is important to differentiate between value and basis and to understand that even if you receive more property, it may be a net loss due to capital gains tax.

Basis is defined in legal terms as the value assigned to an asset for purposes of sale or transfer. It takes into account the asset’s purchase price along with any possible deductions you might take. For example, if you purchase an automobile for $40,000, and are able to claim $5,500 in deductions, the adjusted basis of the car is $34,500. If you later sell the car for $44,500, the net gain is $10,000, even though you paid $40,000 for the car. This is important because capital gains taxes are calculated on basis not initial value, when it comes to most assets.

When an asset is sold at a profit, it may be subject to what is referred to as a capital gains tax. You must pay capital gains tax on any profit you obtain that is over the amount of legally permitted exemptions. For example, you may claim $250,000 in exemptions as a single person when you sell a home. If you received the marital home in your divorce, and it is worth $400,000, but you sell it for $600,000, you will pay capital gains tax on $350,000 (the sale price minus your exemption amount). It is critical during a divorce that your attorney know how to negotiate a property settlement with terms that are reasonable and that will not leave you with a tax bill you cannot pay.

Contact a Property Division Attorney

Divorce is intimidating enough without the possibility of owing the IRS more money than you have. The skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. understand the financial aspects of divorce. We will work hard to create a settlement that is both equitable and manageable. Contact us for a free initial consultation today.



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surprise, Kane County divorce attorneyMost of the time, divorce is something that both you and your spouse can see coming and make plans regarding how to handle it. On occasion, however, it comes as a surprise. The pop culture scene of the husband or wife being served at their door with divorce papers does still happen in this day and age. If this does happen to you, it is important that you react quickly. If you do not, and your spouse has malicious intentions, you may be put in a very difficult position.

Information Is Key

According to current estimates, as many as two of every three marriages experience issues with hidden assets. If your spouse decides to file for divorce first, it gives him or her the advantage of time in which they may attempt to conceal property or revenue streams. Though there is very little legal advantage to filing first, some spouses do use the element of surprise in an effort to manipulate the proceedings. In addition to possibly hiding assets, some may try “conflict out”—which means meeting with the top-rated divorce attorneys in a certain area, so as to establish an attorney-client relationship, thus leaving the other spouse with no available attorney without a potential conflict of interest.

The most intelligent thing you can possibly do if you are served divorce papers is to gather any and all household information and make sure you have it on hand. Making copies of things like tax returns, insurance policies, bank statements and the like can serve you well in the future. By doing so, you may be then able to stop any attempt at concealment. This can also apply to household possessions, as taking an inventory of valuables like jewelry, artwork, stocks, bonds, et cetera can help prevent an attempt by your spouse to misstate the existence or value of such items.

Parental Rights

One of the things that divorcees bring up routinely is a fear that not being the first to file puts them at a disadvantage in negotiating arrangements for the couple’s children. This is not the case in Illinois. The courts in Illinois will always attempt to allocate parental responsibilities—formerly called “child custody”—in a manner that is in the best interests of the child.To arrive at this determination, a court will consider:

  • The parents’ wishes;
  • The child’s wishes, taking into account the child’s age and maturity level;
  • The child’s situation in their community and their relationships with siblings, friends, and others who might affect their well-being;
  • The potential to cause harm to the child’s or parent’s mental, physical or emotional health; and
  • Any history of violence against the child in their current situation, among other similar factors.

It is plausible that a malicious spouse may try to discredit his or her counterpart, but this would likely be ignored by a competent judge. Allegations as to a parent’s unfitness must be thoroughly investigated before being used as proof.

Enlist an Experienced Attorney

Divorce is one of the most significantly traumatic events that can happen to a person, and it is even worse when it begins as a complete surprise. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney today to discuss your options.



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Sometimes, divorces go bad. It is sadly not unheard of for a person to become violent or dangerous toward his or her ex-spouse, harassing or threatening to a point where an order of protection—sometimes called a restraining order—becomes necessary. If you are pushed to the point where you have had to obtain one, or if you have been served with one, it is necessary to understand how they may affect your co-parenting arrangement.

Anatomy of an Order of Protection

Orders of protection are issued by judges when necessary after a victim files a petition with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the appropriate county—usually where the victim or the alleged abuser lives. In the petition, the victim must explain why he or she feels a restraining order is necessary and go into detail about the abuse or harassment he or she has suffered. The decision of whether or not to grant the order will be up to the judge, but if one is granted, it will probably be an emergency order of protection—at least in the beginning.

Emergency orders of protection are usually granted without advance notice to the alleged abuser and  may last for up to 21 days. They are granted in situations where continued abuse is considered probable, as most judges weigh the possible inconvenience of a temporary order of protection granted wrongly against the very real possibility that abuse would escalate in that time span. Judges tend to err on the side of caution. Emergency orders may contain many of the same limitations and restrictions as a standard plenary order of protection, but they only last for a short time.

Plenary orders of protection are the longer ones—valid for up to two years—and are issued after a hearing in front of a judge. They can do a variety of things such as prohibit contact with the former spouse or children, enforce a boundary limit on how close you can get to their home or school. If the full hearing for a plenary order of protection cannot be held before the emergency order expires, an interim order of protection may be granted. The alleged abuser is given the opportunity to state his or her case, however, before an interim order will be issued.

Parenting Arrangements

The parties in a new divorce case have an obligation to disclose any incidents of abuse at the outset. However, if your divorce has already been concluded, you are not out of luck. You can reopen the proceedings for the allocation for parental responsibilities by filing a motion to show there is a valid reason for doing so.

In any case that involves allegations of abuse, a judge operates under a presumption that it would not be in the child’s best interest to place a child in a situation where he or she is unsupervised with an abusive parent. If there is sufficient reason for the judge to believe that allegations of abuse are true, the abusive parent’s parenting time will be severely limited and may require supervision.

Keep in mind that an order of protection may be used as evidence toward a parental proclivity for abuse. This can be true even if the restraining order granted does not reference the couple’s children. Illinois case law has several examples of restraining orders being granted against husbands, who then later were denied custody of their children because of alleged histories of abuse.

Protect Your Rights

If you have been served with an order of protection, you need to know your options. If you need to request one, it can be difficult to do alone. Either way, the help of an experienced legal professional can make all the difference. The knowledgeable St. Charles family law attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. can help ensure you have the best plan possible to obtain your desired result. Contact us today for a free consultation.



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name, Kane County family law attorneyIt is extremely common for women to change their names after divorce, usually back to their maiden name. However, an increasingly widespread movement has divorced women legally changing the names of their children, as well. The legality of this is questionable in some states, but it can be a balm to a woman who has gone through an abusive relationship or a nasty divorce. It is important to know the law before you take steps on your children’s behalf.

Traditional Views vs. Modern Views

Historically, there was no option to change your children’s name after divorce. The father’s name was usually the one given to the child, for better or worse, as long as he was still actively involved in parenting that child. However, nowadays, more and more states are allowing a minor child’s surname to be changed after divorce, especially if there was abuse involved. The key question asks, as it does in custody determinations and child support deliberations, what is in the best interest of the child.

One might wonder how something like that can be decided. Generally, a judge will decide in a similar manner to how parental responsibility cases are decided, considering a number of different factors. Some of these include the relationship with both parents (or lack thereof) and a child’s bond to any new family unit (for example, if a woman remarries and takes her second husband’s name, a child may want to do the same).

Procedure in Illinois

It is important to keep in mind two important facts about Illinois law. First, you must initiate a specific court proceeding to be able to change your children’s names; you may not simply do so as part of your divorce. Second, you must publicize the decision to change the child’s name in a newspaper or other media outlet before a hearing can be granted. This serves to give anyone who may have the right to speak against it (such as an absent parent) the opportunity to contest the proceeding. In Illinois, one parent may not change a child’s name unilaterally without at least attempting to locate the other parent. However, if no one has spoken to challenge the petition after the period of publication has ended, it is a point in your favor in terms of allowing the change.

Once your notice has been published for a certain period of time (six weeks is the norm in most Illinois counties, but it is always a good idea to double-check with the appropriate court in your area), you may request a hearing on the matter. At a hearing, you will present your case as to why a change is the best thing for the child or children in question. Your request will almost always be decided immediately after the hearing, and sometimes even right on the spot. If you are denied, you do have the right to appeal in most cases, but if nothing changes in your situation, the court may refuse to hear the appeal. If nothing has changed, the court would essentially be deciding the same case again with no new information.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

It is important to remember that even if you change yours and your children’s surnames after a divorce, you are not affecting the father’s legal standing. The only way to do that is to modify a custody agreement or bring a new spouse into the picture. Any and all of these proceedings can get quite complex, and very often a dedicated divorce attorney can provide significant assistance. The talented Kane County divorce lawyers at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. can advise you as to what course of action may be best for you and your family. Contact us today for a free consultation.



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