disabled parent, Kane County family law attorneyDespite the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, disabled people continue to face discrimination in many, if not all, walks of normal life. One area that often surprises the average person is in the realm of child custody, or the allocation of parental responsibilities as it is now called in Illinois. It is sadly not uncommon for disabled parents to lose their children once their disability is known to the state. The law in Illinois has improved over time, but there are still some potential hurdles in place that a disabled parent may struggle to overcome.

Cultural Bias Is Strong

It has been said that disabled parents are the only group that must commonly fight to retain (or even gain) custody of their own children. Data from the National Council on Disability show approximately 15 percent of parents who are physically disabled report unwanted interference or discriminatory treatment in custody cases, while the removal rate for children of those with developmental disability or mental illness is as high as 80 percent in some states. In approximately two-thirds of U.S. states, the mere existence of a parental disability is grounds for removal of a child from the home.

In many states, the only evidence necessary to put removal into motion is the prevailing stereotypes of disabled people as helpless or burdensome to their loved ones. The best interests of the child are generally held to be the most important issue in allocating parental responsibilities, and it is not unusual to hear the argument that it is not in the child’s best interest to be in a situation where they may have to be more self-sufficient than average because of a parent’s alleged inadequacies.

Changes in Illinois

In recent years, Illinois has made several modifications to its family law statutes to both assist disabled parents and to make it more difficult for children to be removed from loving homes solely because of parental disability. One significant act that took effect on January 1, 2018 is the Parental Rights for the Blind Act, which explicitly preserves the rights of blind and visually impaired parents unless the burden of proof can be met which shows that they are unfit parents for another reason besides disability.

Another change is that while disability is still listed in the Illinois Adoption Act as one of the grounds upon which a parent can be declared unfit, language requiring “competent evidence” from a professional in the field (such as a licensed clinical social worker, psychiatrist or clinical psychologist) has been added. Essentially, instead of the mere existence of disability being enough for removal, a connection must be shown between the parent’s disability and tangible harm being done to the child in order for removal to be considered appropriate.

Need Help Understanding Your Options?

If you are encountering resistance to your parental rights as a disabled person, enlisting a knowledgeable attorney can make a big difference. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney to discuss your situation and to explore your options. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation today.





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divorce, Kane County divorce lawyersWith the prevalence of television, movies, and sensationalized media, it can be hard to know what information regarding divorce is true. The process can be complicated, and there are many misunderstandings about the law. Some people who consider divorcing their spouse first seek advice from others, who while well-meaning, are often not trained in family law matters or informed about recent changes to the law. The following are some of the most persistent divorce myths that are simply not true.

Half of All Marriages End in Divorce

This myth is quite complicated, but a myth nonetheless. There are many different ways of analyzing data regarding divorce rates. According to the National Marriage Project, the divorce rate in the United States is between 40-50 percent. Other sources show that the divorce rate is between 42 and 45 percent. Divorce rates are different for different demographics. For example, people with a college degree have lower divorce rates than those without a degree.

Divorce Is Becoming More and More Likely

There are many people who believe that the institution of marriage is nearly meaningless nowadays. However, there is actually reason to believe that divorce will become less and less common over time. While it is true that the U.S divorce rate now is nearly twice what it was in 1960, that rate has been declining since the early 1980s. Experts believe that if current divorce trends continue, that nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce.

Every Husband Will Have to Pay His Wife Alimony

Movies and extravagant celebrity divorces have created a great deal of confusion surrounding alimony. Alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is money which a person must pay his or her ex-spouse to help them manage their finances after a divorce. About 400,000 people in the United States receive post-divorce spousal maintenance currently and about 97 percent of those people are women. A person is likely to be required to pay his or her spouse maintenance if there is a significant difference in the income and earning capacity of the spouses, which is not the case in many marriages. Other factors apply, but income and earning capacity are generally among the most important.

Divorce Is Always the Worst Option if You Have Children

There has been a tremendous amount of research about how children grow and develop. Experts have found that children do much better in school and are less likely to suffer from mental illnesses when they have a relationship with both of their parents. However, the parents do not need to be living together for the child to reap the benefits of having both of his parents in his life. Furthermore, children are deeply disturbed by tension and violence between their parents. If a child is living in a household which is full of arguments and animosity, he or she may be relieved to hear of a divorce.

Kane County Divorce Attorneys You Can Count On

If you are considering divorce, you may benefit from consulting an experienced Kane County divorce attorney. We will help you explore your options and make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free initial consultation at the Law Offices of Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, LLP today.






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order of protection, Kane County family law attorneyA separation, divorce, or parental rights dispute can cause tensions to run high. An emotionally unstable spouse may become abusive when he or she is confronted with possible family changes. Some people choose to leave their spouse or seek full custody of their children precisely because their partner is abusive. Domestic violence is shockingly common in the United States. On average, 10 million men and women are victims of domestic violence each year, and about one in three women and one in four men will be victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Fortunately, there are legal options for those who wish to protect themselves or their children from an abusive partner.

Orders of protection are intended to protect a person from threat of imminent harm. An emergency order of protection is easily acquired and does not require the person seeking the order of protection to give notice to his or her abuser. An emergency order is a short-term measure typically given to a victim by a judge for up to 21 days. This gives the victim time to request a longer-term protection order if necessary.

In Illinois, a plenary order of protection is different from an EPO because it is longer term. A plenary order can last for up to two years and can be renewed upon review when it expires. These protection orders can include various provisions but generally require the alleged abuser to stay away from the victim and/or their children or family.

Violating an Order of Protection Is a Crime 

It is a crime to violate the terms of a valid order of protection. In Illinois, it is against the law to “commit an act which was prohibited by a court or fail to commit an act which was ordered by a court as a remedy in an order of protection” when you “have been served notice of the contents of the order or [have] acquired actual knowledge of the contents of the order.” Violating an order of protection is usually a Class A Misdemeanor offense which can be punished by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. In more extreme cases, violating an order of protection can be charged as a Class 4 Felony. A conviction for felony violation can be punished by fines of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for 1 to 3 years. Subsequent violations of a protection order result in more severe criminal charges. Additionally, a person who violates an order of protection may be charged with contempt of court.

Violating an Order of Protection Can Affect Parental Rights 

A judge presiding over a parental responsibilities dispute will almost always presume that it would not be in the child’s best interest to place him or her in the care of an abusive parent. If there is sufficient evidence for a judge to believe that allegations of abuse are true, the abusive parent’s parenting time or visitation can be severely limited or require supervision.

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, or your spouse has violated an order of protection, a St. Charles family law attorney can help. We will assist you in petitioning the court for an order of protection and securing safety for yourself and children. Call 630-377-7770 for a free confidential consultation today at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C.






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social media, Kane County family lawyersA prenuptial agreement, often called a “prenup” for short, is a legal document which a couple drafts and signs before they get married. The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to set forth directives regarding the spouses’ income and assets in the unfortunate event of divorce, separation, or death. Prenups can contain instructions about marital property and non-marital property, spousal support, inheritance rights of children from previous relationships, each spouse’s debts, and financial rights and responsibilities of both spouses during the marriage.

Making a Living Online

Some couples choose to include clauses in their prenuptial agreement which address the role of social media in a couple’s marriage. At first glance, this may seem like an unnecessary and even ridiculous consideration. Skeptics have even suggested that if a couple needs a social media clause that the relationship is doomed to fail. However, many of these individuals are only thinking of social media as a means to stay in touch with friends. For some people, social media is their job.

For example, stars such as Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln Neal III, known collectively as Rhett and Link, have amassed a fortune through their entertaining YouTube videos. They both quit their day jobs years ago and now support themselves and their families through advertisements on their YouTube channels and corporate sponsorships. They call themselves “Internetainers”—an amalgamation of “internet” and “entertainers.” Other examples includes couple Jack Morriss and Lauren Bullen. The two make six-figure incomes traveling the world and taking photographs which they post on Instagram.

Reputation Matters

You may be wondering what social media as an occupation has to do with prenuptial agreements. The answer boils downs to public image. When a person’s online reputation is profoundly connected to their income, it makes sense to legally protect that reputation. Prenuptial agreements that involve a social media clause may include provision about the kind of information and images couples can share about one another across social media platforms.

For example, a person who posts an embarrassing or otherwise reputation-tarnishing picture of their spouse or ex-spouse could be held financially responsible for any damage caused. When a couple gets divorced, angry spouses often act out of resentment and do or say things they would not normally do or say. Many people who choose to use a social media clause in their prenup do so in order to dissuade a disgruntled ex-spouse from purposely posting damaging posts or pictures online.

Contact Us for Help

If you and your significant have chosen to create and sign a prenuptial agreement, you need a skilled Kane County family lawyer you can trust. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., we offer family law services to our clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago and the Fox Valley area, including St. Charles, Elgin, Geneva, Aurora, Batavia, Naperville, Wheaton, DuPage County, DeKalb County, and Kendall County. For more information and a free consultation, contact us today at (630) 377-7770.





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children, Kane County divorce attorneysWhen a married couple with children decides to split, often their biggest concern is how the divorce will affect their children. Many parents who have chosen to live their lives apart worry that their children will think the breakup was their fault or will resent the parents for it. Divorced parents are also often concerned that their children will not be the same after a divorce, but research shows that there is reason to be hopeful. Most children of divorce are able to adapt to their new two-home family and end up thriving in it.

Studies Show Most Children Adapt Well 

A 20-year study conducted by noted psychologist Constance Ahrons and confirmed by others shows that about 80 percent of children of divorce are able to adapt to the divorce and lead happy, successful lives afterward. The majority of children whose parents get divorced do not experience permanent negative effects on their grades, social development, or mental health.

Developmental psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington from the University of Virginia came to similar conclusions through a study of 2,500 children of divorce. Other researchers consistently find similar results when they study how divorce affects children: in the long run, the majority of children of divorce see no lasting negative effects from the divorce.

Children Need Support, But Not Necessarily from Married Parents 

This is certainly good news for any parent who has worried about how their separation or divorce will affect their children. A meta-study by child development expert and Cambridge University professor Michael Lamb clarifies what he believes children really need to be well-adjusted. In his study, Mothers, Fathers, Families, and Circumstances: Factors Affecting Children’s Adjustment, he explains that in order to be supported, children need:

  • A close relationship with both parents, but this relationship can occur in the same house or separate houses;
  • Stability and consistency from both parents regarding discipline;
  • Emotional responsiveness from each parent;
  • Adequate resources and safe housing; and
  • Social support.

In short, an intact nuclear family is not necessarily required for a child to be happy and healthy.

Considering Divorce? Let Us Help 

Although no one gets married with the intention to get divorced, ending a marriage does not mean that the couple or their children will never be happy again. In fact, many families find that they are healthier and more contented after a divorce than before it.

If you are a parent considering divorce and are concerned about how the divorce will affect your family, you do not have to face these worries 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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modification, St. Charles family law attorneysThe purpose of divorce is to separate two peoples’ lives that have been intertwined through marriage. When two people get married, they not only combine their personal lives but also their financial lives. In order to divide them again during a divorce, a judge will decide what is a reasonable amount of marital property, spousal support, and/or child support to assign each spouse. These decisions are made based on several factors such as each spouse’s income, their contributions during the marriage, and their respective parental responsibilities. But, what happens if these factors change after the divorce is finalized? In a case like this, a divorced individual may need to seek a divorce decree modification.

Verbal Agreements Are Not Enforceable

Circumstances which would necessitate a divorce modification include substantial changes in income, illnesses, relocation, or remarriage. Generally, courts do not make changes to the original property or debt division, but modifications of spousal support or alimony, child support, and parenting time, are more common. Couples who wish to modify the terms of their divorce agreements by way of a verbal agreement should be ward that such verbal agreements are not enforceable by the court. Modifications must be in writing and approved by the court to be effective.

Motion for Modification

If a former couple agrees to modify terms of the original decree, they should do so in writing submit it to the court. Sometimes a hearing is required to ensure that both parties consent to the new terms of the agreement. Once the court is satisfied, the agreement is signed off on by the judge and becomes a legally-binding court order. If one spouse wishes to change the terms of the divorce agreement, but the other does not, a motion for modification must be filed. The two former spouses will need to attend a hearing. The spouse asking for a modification must have evidence to show that the change in circumstances warrants the modification. In matters related to parental responsibilities and parenting time, the person seeking a modification will also need evidence to prove that the change will be in the children’s best interest.

Do You Wish to Modify Your Divorce Agreement?

The experienced Kane County divorce modification attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. have the knowledge and legal skills to help you file a petition for modification that fits your unique needs. We serve clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, the Fox Valley area, and across the State of Illinois. To schedule a free consultation, contact our office today at (630) 377-7770.




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hiding assets, St. Charles divorce lawyersDuring a divorce, it is a legal requirement that each spouse disclose information about his or her financial situation. This includes detailed information about property, income, expenses and debt. However, some people are dishonest in their financial reporting. Sometimes a spouse will attempt to hide assets from his or her partner, and this can happen for several reasons. Often, a spouse does this to avoid having to share those assets with the other party in the divorce. Other times, a spouse may not want to report all of his or her income so that he or she will have to pay less in spousal support (alimony) or child support. Hiding assets during a divorce is against the law and can result in serious penalties.

Some common ways that spouses hide assets include:

  • Hiding, or undervaluing marital property;
  • Overstating debts;
  • Underreporting income; and
  • Reporting higher than actual expenses.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, approximately a third of US adults who combined assets with a spouse admit to being deceptive about money. The penalties for doing so can be strict. For example, in one famous incident, a woman won $1.3 million in a lottery before filing for divorce. She did not report this income and attempted to hide it. When the judge preceding over the divorce case found out, he awarded the entire $1.3 million to the husband.

Courts do not take these types of deceitful behavior lightly. If a spouse is found to have hidden assets during a divorce, the judge may:

  • Hold the spouse in contempt of court;
  • Sanction the spouse and force him or her to pay monetary fines;
  • Force the spouse to give up his or her share in the asset and relinquish it to the other spouse; or
  • Force the spouse to pay more support.

Dedicated Legal Counsel for Finding Hidden Assets 

At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., our attorneys recognize how important full financial disclosure is to an unbiased divorce process and especially to the allocation of marital property and spousal maintenance considerations. If you believe that your spouse is hiding income or property, or lying about his or her debts and expenses, you need the help of an experienced Kane County family lawyer. We will work with you to help you uncover the truth and ensure that you receive your fair share of property. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.





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abuse, Kane County family law attorneysDomestic violence is a serious problem in this country. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 10 million women and men are abused by a romantic partner every year. This works out to an average of almost 20 incidents every minute. Many of the couples affected by domestic violence have children. In fact, 1 in every 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year. Children are deeply affected by witnessing domestic violence, and exposure to it may cause them serious anxiety, fear, sadness or even guilt.

In Illinois parental responsibility cases—formerly called child custody—every effort is made to make decisions which are in the child’s best interest. Therefore, most courts will not order a child to live with or have visitation with a consistently abusive parent. However, if this abuse is not known to the court or is not documented, the courts may allow arrangements that place the child in danger. This is why it is important for each parent to notify the judge of any issues involving either parent that relate to domestic violence or protective orders.

Emergency Orders of Protection

If you are currently in an abusive environment, do not hesitate to seek help. If you are in immediate danger, call the police. If you are currently safe but fear what will happen in the future, you should apply for an emergency order of protection. An order of protection is a court order that prohibits your abuser from contacting you or your children among other restrictions that could be enforced.

If your spouse is found to be a danger to your children by the courts, he or she may be completely denied parenting time rights. Other times, a judge will allow parenting time but will take other steps to keep the child and child’s other parent safe. For example, a judge may order that your address remain confidential from the other parent or that parenting time take place at a public place. Sometimes, abusive parents are allowed to communicate with a child through the phone or email but not face-to-face. In cases of extreme abuse, the court may terminate parental rights.

At our law firm, we realize that toll that domestic abuse can take on a family. If you have been the victim of domestic violence and are considering divorce, contact a compassionate St. Charles family law attorney right away. We will help you petition the court for an order of protection and assist you in securing safety for yourself and children. Call 630-377-7770 for a free confidential consultation today at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.





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child support, Kane County family law attorneysEvery child deserves to have a safe, comfortable home in which to grow up. When parents divorce, one of the courts main duties is to make decisions which will benefit the children of the marriage. Often, this means that one of the spouses will be compelled to make child support payments to the other in order to help them raise the children.

When Is Child Support Awarded? 

Child support is almost universally granted to one of the spouses during a divorce. Illinois courts base their child support decisions on an “income shares” model. This model considers both parents’ incomes and the number of children, as well as the amount of parenting time each parent has. The amount of child support is based on an estimation of the total cost of raising the child. This cost is then equitably divided between the parents based on each of their respective net incomes. The parent with more parenting time will usually receive the support payments.

Can I Appeal a Child Support Order? 

If you believe that a mistake was made when the court awarded child support, you may appeal the decision. A person ordered to pay child support cannot appeal the decision just because they do not like the result. In order to appeal a child support order, a petitioner must have legal grounds to do so. For example, if you believe that insufficient evidence or prejudice played a role in the ruling, you may benefit from appealing the decision.

What Happens if Someone Refuses to Pay Child Support? 

If a parent ordered to pay child support consistently fails to comply, he or she may face serious consequences. The Illinois’ Division of Child Support Services can enforce wage garnishment, property liens, revocation of licenses, and interception of tax refunds in order to collect child support payments. If a parent fails to pay court-ordered child support for more than a six-month period, or they owe more than $5,000, they may face criminal prosecution.

I Have Doubts About My Paternity, Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support? 

When a married woman becomes pregnant, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. In cases where parents were not married, paternity may need to be established. This can be done voluntarily if both parents complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form (VAP). If there is question as to who the child’s father is, DNA genetic testing can be used to establish paternity. Because these types of situations can become very complex, a skilled attorney may need to step in to help those with doubts about their paternity.

Let Us Help 

If you are a parent and you have questions about child support, contact a skilled Kane County family lawyer to get the help you need. Call Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. at 630-377-7770 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.





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parenting time, Kane County family law attorneysIf you do not receive primary residential responsibilities regarding your children during your divorce, you will almost certainly be awarded visitation rights, now referred to as parenting time. However, all visitation is not created equal, especially if there have been alleged problems with your conduct toward the children or your former spouse. It is a good idea to try and familiarize yourself with the types of restrictions on your parenting time that you may face if you have encountered allegations of being a danger to your child.

Supervised Visitation

By far the most common type of restriction placed on the exercise of parenting time is supervision, meaning that the other parent or a third party must be present at all times during the restricted parent’s parenting time. Generally, if any allegation of dangerous conduct is made during divorce proceedings, a hearing will be held on the subject. If the conduct is proved by a preponderance of the evidence and that the child’s physical, mental or emotional health would be endangered by unsupervised parenting time with that person, supervision is the most common remedy assessed. The Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) has the right to oversee continuing supervised visitation, if it is deemed warranted.

Keep in mind that a child tends to benefit from having both parents in their life unless it can be shown definitively that it would not be in the child’s best interest. Mental health issues or substance abuse problems are not sufficient to preclude visitation, though it is grounds to refuse or deny it if the parent is unable to control those issues in the presence of their children.

Time and Place Restrictions

Even if you are able to avoid having third-party supervised parenting time, restrictions still may be placed on your ability to exercise it if there is some question of your fitness as a parent. Different restrictions may be used depending on the different problems that may exist in your case. For example, if the a parent lives in an area that is considered unsafe, or with people that might be considered unsafe, a court may order that his or parenting time occur in someplace that is not their home. Sometimes, the court will even require the visits to take place even in the other parent’s home.

It is also important to keep in mind that if you are ruled to be a danger to your children’s physical, mental or emotional health, you may not under any circumstances use someone else’s visitation time (for example, a grandparent’s) in order to contact your children. If you do, there is a strong possibility that their visitation will be revoked and you can face consequences. In extreme cases, contempt of court is possible, which can result in fines or even jail time.

Contact a Dedicated Family Lawyer

Most parents want any kind of contact with their children that is possible, but some may stretch the rules or misunderstand them in order to get more. If you are in a position where your parenting time may be restricted, our experienced Kane County parenting time attorney can help answer your questions. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation today.




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