September 21st, 2014 at 3:33 pm
In today’s society, establishing paternity is not always a simple process. There are now many different factors that must be considered when a child is born, which can affect how paternity is determined. The following is a list of situations that could affect the child’s paternity.
The Mother and Father are Married
This is the easiest scenario for parents of a child. Under Illinois Law, when a child is born to a married mother, the mother’s husband is automatically considered the child’s father.
The Husband is Not the Child’s Biological Father
Sometimes a mother marries during the pregnancy to a person other than the child’s father, or perhaps the mother got pregnant during a marriage with a different man than her husband. In these situations, the husband may not always want to be named the legal father of the child. If the husband does not wish to be named the father, the husband needs to request a Denial of Paternity Form when the child is born. The husband, mother, and biological father must all sign the form. If one of the parties refuses to sign the form or it is unknown who the biological father is, the parties should contact the Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Child Support Services and request a DNA test.
The Mother and Father are Not Married
When the mother and father are not married, the father’s name does not appear on the birth certificate with just the naming of the father by the mother. Instead, the father is considered an “alleged father” until paternity can be established, which is done by:
- Both parents signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. This can happen if both parents agree on the paternity and voluntarily sign the form;
- If both parents do not agree to sign the form, the mother can contact the State of Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Child Support Services for the entry of an Administrative Paternity Order; or
- The court can enter a Paternity Order.
If the parties choose to contact the Department of Healthcare, the department will interview the mother and request the name of the father. The department will then attempt to interview the father by serving the father notice to attend the interview. If the father attends the interview, the department will ask the father to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. If the father refuses, then a DNA test will be requested. If the father does not attend the interview, the department can declare the alleged father the father by default.
The mother’s other option is to file for paternity through the court. If this happens, the court will order a paternity test and then enter an Order of Paternity if the DNA test is positive.
Why Establish Paternity
For some, it may not be clear why establishing paternity is such an important issue. Ultimately though, paternity can have a large impact for a variety of reasons. The child has a right to know his/her father, to receive support from his/her father, to receive medical insurance from the father, to receive veterans’ benefits from the father, to receive Social Security benefits from the father, to receive inheritances from the father, and to know the medical history of the father. Additionally, the father has legal rights to know his child and to have his name on the child’s birth certificate. Lastly, the mother has the right to request child support from the father as well as payment to cover medical expenses for the child.
Establishing paternity can be complicated in today’s society. If you are in the position where you need to establish paternity, either as the mother or the father of a child, our experienced Naperville family law attorneys can answer any questions you may have. Please contact us today for a consultation.
September 17th, 2014 at 4:11 pm
For many couples, a divorce equates to a fight over children, as well as who will be responsible for child support payments, and for how much. If you are currently going through a divorce, before you go in front of a judge, it is important to know what the court looks at to determine child support in order to adequately prepare.
In Illinois, a child is owed support when the child’s guardian is not married to the child’s parent. Child support is to be used to support the physical, emotional, medical, and educational needs of the child.
Child support is calculated on a guideline set by the state, and is determined as follows:
- For one child, 20 percent of the net income of the non-custodial parent;
- For two children, 28 percent of the net income of the non-custodial parent;
- For three children, 32 percent of the net income of the non-custodial parent;
- For four children, 40 percent of the net income of the non-custodial parent;
- For five children, 45 percent of the net income of the non-custodial parent; and
- For six or more children, 50 percent of the net income of the non-custodial parent.
This can seem simple or straightforward, but first net income must be determined before the calculations can be made.
Net income is considered your gross income minus allowed deductions. The Illinois court allows the following deductions:
- Federal and state income tax;
- Social Security deductions;
- Mandatory retirement deductions;
- Union dues;
- Health insurance;
- Life insurance;
- Child support obligations or children of another relationship;
- Spousal support obligations;
- Debt obligations; and
- Foster care payments.
If you think the deductions can be confusing, also consider that the court can deviate from the guideline amount for the following reasons:
- The child’s financial resources;
- The custodial parent’s financial resources;
- If the parents had stayed married, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed;
- The physical, mental, emotional, and educational needs of the child; and
- The non-custodial parent’s financial resources.
In addition to the set child support amount, a non-custodial parent can be ordered to pay the costs of the child’s day care and medical expenses not covered by the child’s insurance. The custodial parent is typically responsible for the health insurance of the child.
Both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent have the ability to request a modification of support from the court. The court will only modify support if there has been a significant change in circumstances, for example a large increase or decrease in either parent’s salary. When you file for a modification, the court has the ability to modify the support retroactive to the date of the filing, not to the date of the change in circumstances. Additionally, the change in circumstances cannot be voluntary, for example, if you quit your job to pursue interests in a different field that pays less, you cannot use this excuse to get increased support.
Another reason for modification could be that one of your children has reached adulthood and no longer need support. In Illinois, once a child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, there is no longer a responsibility to pay support (or the age of 19 if the child is still in high school). Again, the court can only order the reduction in child support retroactive to the date of filing. Therefore, as soon as the child reaches majority, you need to file for support. Additionally, please be advised that when the court re-calculates support, it will use current income data, not the original income amounts.
Child support can be complicated. To ensure that your child receives the accurate amount of support, please contact our experienced Naperville family law attorneys for a consultation.
September 3rd, 2014 at 7:27 am
In Illinois child custody cases, under state law, a judge has the option to appoint a guardian ad litem, an attorney for the child or a child representative. It is important to understand the differences between these three positions and what each can report to the judge.
Guardian Ad Litem
A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed by the court to find the best interest of the child. The GAL is akin to the eyes and ears of the court in the custody case. The GAL is tasked to interview all parties involved in the case and all other information sources, including teachers, doctors, siblings, etc. Most importantly, the GAL is tasked with speaking with the child. The GAL will take all the information and submit a report to the court stating what the GAL believes is the best for the child.
At the custody hearing, the GAL can question witnesses, call witnesses of his/her own, and be asked to testify. The information supplied to the GAL is not privileged and can be repeated in either the report or testified to in court.
The court is not under obligation to follow the GAL’s recommendation. However, the GAL’s opinion is weighted heavily by the court as an unbiased source.
Attorney for the Child
An attorney for the child is appointed by the court to represent the child in a custody case. This person is literally the child’s attorney. The attorney has the duty to fully and passionately represent their client, whether or not the attorney feels the child’s choice is in the child’s best interest.
Your child will have attorney/client privilege with this attorney. Therefore, anything your child states to the attorney cannot be repeated to you or your spouse. Likewise, at a hearing, the attorney cannot be called to testify. This attorney will not submit a report to the court, but can call witnesses to put on a case for the child.
In order for this relationship to work, the child must be old enough to effectively communicate with the attorney.
The child representative is a combination of a GAL and an attorney for the child. The child representative holds attorney/client privilege with your child, but is seen by the court as an unbiased source. The child representative submits a report to the court as to their recommendation, however he/she is not obligated to follow the best interests of the child rules.
The downside to a child representative is that he/she is seen as an unbiased source by the court, however, due to the attorney/client privilege, the child representative does not have to justify their opinion. For example, if you disagree with the child representative’s opinion, you have no way to question his/her opinion as the child representative cannot testify in court. Conversely, if you disagree with the GAL’s opinion, you can question the GAL in open court to ascertain how the GAL came to that opinion, and then call your own witnesses to attempt to contradict the GAL.
The experienced Naperville family law attorneys at our offices can answer any questions you may have regarding guardian ad litems, attorneys for the child, or child representatives. Please contact us for a consultation.
August 27th, 2014 at 6:25 pm
So, you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce. What you may not have considered though, is that there are a plethora of other issues that you must discuss now that you have decided to separate. You must worry about things like a separation period, grounds for divorce, financial consequences of a divorce, and numerous other issues. To begin though, the first step toward filing for divorce is labeling the grounds.
Ground for Divorce
Illinois is not considered a no fault state. Therefore, you must have a ground for filing for divorce.
In Illinois the grounds for divorce include:
- Being impotent;
- One spouse committing adultery;
- One spouse deserting another;
- Continued drunkenness (for a period of more than two years);
- Drug abuse (for a period of more than two years);
- Abuse — either physical or mental;
- Being convicted of a felony;
- Being infected with a sexually transmitted disease from your spouse; and/or
- Irreconcilable differences.
If spouses are filing for a divorce under irreconcilable differences, they have to wait until a two-year separation period has passed. However, if both parties agree to divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, the two-year separation date can be reduced to six months. During the separation period, the parties cannot live as a married couple. Though the parties may live in the same house (sometimes necessary for financial reasons), they must live as roommates rather than a couple. The spouses should not eat together, join in any activities together, and should present themselves to the public as separated, i.e. the spouses should not go out to eat together, attend religious ceremonies together or attend family gatherings together. They should also let family and friends know that they are separated.
In addition to the separation period, if spouses are filing for divorce using irreconcilable differences, they must show the court that there is an irreversible breakdown of the marriage and that all efforts have been made to attempt to continue the marriage, but they mentally or physically can no longer do so. This can be done, for example, by showing that the spouses have tried marriage counseling, but that it has failed to work.
Lastly, when deciding what grounds to file divorce under, please note that under Illinois law, the court is not allowed to consider the reason for divorce when determining how to distribute the property. This means that a judge will decide how to distribute the property, but his or her decision will not change if you have divorced for the reason of adultery. The judge will not give you a larger portion of the marital property just because the divorce was caused by your spouse.
For assistance with all your divorce concerns, please contact our experienced Naperville family law attorneys. We have five offices throughout Illinois and can help you understand the law and form a plan for your divorce that will benefit you.
August 21st, 2014 at 10:17 pm
One of the most important issues of any divorce case is child custody. When contemplating a divorce, you must also contemplate the consequences of a divorce on children and what the court will be looking at in regards to child custody.
Types of Child Custody
Under Illinois law, a court can order either joint custody to both parents or sole custody to one parent. These terms refer not only to how much visitation a parent will receive, but rather to the power the parent has over decisions in regards to the children.
Joint custody is where both parties have equal say in decisions that involve their children. These decisions include things regarding religion, education, healthcare, and other important issues. In most joint custody arrangements, if the parties cannot come to an agreement regarding these important issues, the parties will be sent to a mediator to resolve the dispute. If the mediator cannot solve the issues, then either party has the right to petition the court for a resolution of the issues.
When the court orders joint custody or the parties agree to joint custody, the written agreement must include how the decisions are to be made between the parties, a means of resolving disputes between the parents, and a periodic review of the terms of the agreement. Additionally, under joint custody, both parents will enjoy joint physical custody of the children. Though this might not be a complete 50/50 split of time, it should be a fair split of time between the parties.
Sole custody is where one parent is granted the power to make all major decisions regarding the children. In a sole custody situation, the children reside with the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent is subject to visitation rights.
When leaving the decision of joint custody vs. sole custody to the court, the court will look at the best interest of the child factors in making its decision, including:
- The parent’s wishes as to custody;
- The child’s wishes as to custody;
- The relationship between the child and his/her parents and or siblings, as well as any other significant person;
- How well the child is adjusted to his/her home, school and community;
- The health, both mentally and physically, of all everyone involved;
- Any threat of violence, either mental or physical by the potential custodian, no matter whether that violence is directed toward the child or another person;
- Any abuse directed at the child or any other person in the household;
- The parent’s willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
- Whether one of the parents has been convicted as a sex offender; and
- Whether one parent is in the military and that parent’s family-care plan for deployment.
Once a decision by the court is made regarding custody, a parent can petition the court for a modification of custody after two years has passed, if there is clear and convincing evidence that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, or before the two years has passed if there is evidence that the child’s mental and/or physical health is in serious danger.
Our experienced Naperville family law attorneys understand that deciding child custody issues can be a stressful and confusing time in your life. The goal of our family law attorneys is to ensure that you understand both the legal and practical implications of your decisions. If you or your spouse is considering a child custody issues, please contact us today. We can help you understand the law and develop a plan of action that is in the best interest of you.
August 15th, 2014 at 9:12 am
Though a divorce may be the right choice for you and your spouse, one party is always going to lose when it comes to your children. Unfortunately, a complete 50/50 split of custody between both parents may not work out due to the children’s age, geography, schools, jobs, and a variety of other reasons. Obviously, one parent will then get less time with the children. However, when the court rules you are the non-custodial parent or when you agree to a custody agreement that makes you the non-custodial parent, you still have rights to parenting time with your children. Visitation Rights Being a non-custodial parent means that you still have “reasonable” visitation rights. The term reasonable is not specifically defined and is up to a judge to decide. Reasonable can vary depending on each family’s situation. The variables can include the children’s age, activities, preference for visitation, the family’s geographic closeness, and any other issue either parent raises to the judge during the custody hearing. Restricted Visitation The judge also looks to the child’s well being when determining custody. If there is proven abuse, the court could deny visitation or order restricted visitation for the non-custodial parent. Restricted visitation means that the non-custodial parent might not be allowed overnight visitation or may be required to have visitation take place at the custodial parent’s home, prohibit visitation when the non-custodial parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, require the visitation to take place in a public setting, require the visitation to take place at a home other than the non-custodial parent’s home, or require visitation to be supervised by a third party. Relative Visitation Other than the two parents of the child, other relatives do not have a legal right to visitation. Most grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings have to wait to visit with children during times when the non-custodial parent has visitation. Under limited circumstances however, grandparents or siblings can request a visitation order from the court. These circumstances include if the child’s parents are not currently living together on a permanent basis, or if one of the parents has died or has been missing for more than three months.
Modification of Visitation
Once a court has put a visitation order in place, modification of that order can be difficult. After two years have passed, a parent can petition the court for a modification of custody if there is clear and convincing evidence that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. If one of the parents believes that there is a serious danger to the child’s mental or physical health, a parent can petition for a visitation change prior to the two-year mark. Withholding Visitation/Non-Payment of Support Unfortunately, withholding visitation by the custodial parent is not necessarily a reason for the court to change custody. This is because the court looks at the best interests of the child and how disruptive a change in custody would be to the child. A court is more likely to order the custodial parent to follow the visitation order. However, if a custodial parent continually withholds visitation or disrupts visitation, an argument can be made that the custodial parent is intentionally interfering with the relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child and a change in custody needs to be made. Additionally, non-payment of child support is not a reason for a denial of visitation. The court views visitation and child support as two separate issues and will not take child support into consideration for modifying visitation. Child custody and visitation issues can be a confusing and stressful time. Our Naperville family law attorneys are committed to helping you legally understand your decisions. If you are currently deciding child custody and visitation issues, please contact us today. We can help you understand the law and make a decision that is in the best interest of you and your children.
August 11th, 2014 at 7:59 am
In the past decade, prenuptial agreements have been on the rise among the soon-to-be-wed. Historically, premarital agreements, which dictate the terms and conditions of the dissolution of marriage, were seen to be an insult to the institution of marriage, and only for the rich and famous.
However, they have since become more popular with the general population. When deciding whether to create a prenuptial agreement with your beloved, it is important to understand what terms you may include, and which terms may invalidate the agreement from the start.
Prenuptial Agreements in Illinois
In Illinois, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act outlines the scope of the prenuptial agreement. The scope of the agreement may include the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to:
- Their separate and marital property;
- The disposition of property at the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a condition and/or at the couple’s separation, divorce, or death of one of the parties;
- The extent of alimony and spousal maintenance payments; and
- Any other matter that is not prohibited by public policy or a criminal statute.
Drafting a prohibition against paying child support is not permitted in a premarital agreement. Once the prenuptial agreement is drafted (the agreement is required to be in writing, and not an oral agreement), both parties must sign. The agreement becomes effective at the time of marriage.
Reasons a Prenuptial Agreement May Be Invalidated
There are, however, reasons in which the prenuptial agreement may not be enforced. An agreement may be invalidated for a number of reasons:
- It is a requirement that each spouse make a complete and full disclosure of the assets and financial obligations that they have coming into the marriage. It is common for spouses to estimate their assets at a lower value or not disclose the assets or financial obligations at all so as to keep the property outside the scope of the agreement. Not providing the correct information could invalidate a prenuptial agreement.
- A prenuptial agreement may be invalidated if the spouse can show that coercion and duress were present and/or the spouse lacked mental capacity (i.e., the spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or ill).
- One of the spouses signed without an independent legal representative. It is important that each of the spouses, after completion of the initial draft of the agreement, review it with separate legal counsel. These types of agreements, especially when there is a disparity in wealth between the couple, may be lopsided and one party may feel that he or she has decreased bargaining power. Separate counsel will help equalize the bargaining power between the couple.
Other Included Provisions that May Be Unconscionable
Certain provisions might be considered unconscionable, but it is up to the court to decide. These provisions generally correspond with personal rights and obligations, such as weight gain, childrearing decisions, and the number of times per year family and in-laws may visit the couple. A new trend seen is to include social media clauses, restricting the right of couples to post to social media sites any embarrassing or nude photos or posts that may harm the reputation of one of the spouses. This would ensure that private affairs stay solely between the couple.
Naperville Family Law Attorneys
If you and a loved one are considering whether to draft up a prenuptial agreement before the big day, it is important that you both speak with an experienced Naperville family law attorney who will be able to provide guidance as to whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you and the common advantages and disadvantages of this type of agreement. It is important to not wait until the last minute as these types of agreement should be thought out, discussed, and both parties should feel that their needs are being met.
July 30th, 2014 at 11:32 am
Divorce can be an extremely intense stressor on the lives of those going through the process. It can be difficult to sever a marriage, especially when the couple’s affairs are greatly commingled and entangled, and hurt feelings and acrimony add fuel to the already blazing fire. The divorce can have serious health repercussions on both the divorcing couple and those close to them, and relate largely to the level of hostility that is projected throughout the process. Recent studies have shown the varied, negative health effects that divorce has had on men, women, and children.
Divorce Health Effects on Men
According to an article published in the Journal of Men’s Health, higher rates of mortality, substance abuse, and depression are associated with men who were divorced or unmarried. In the study, married men had a mortality rate that was 250 percent lower than divorced or unmarried men, who were also more prone to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and heart attacks.
The likely reason for the disparity between the populations was due to the fact that the divorced men were involved in more hazardous activities such drug and alcohol abuse and also were more likely to become depressed, with a suicide rate at 39 percent higher than their married counterparts.
Divorce Health Effects on Women
Women are well-known to be greatly affected by divorce. In a study published by Iowa State University, it was shown that women who were affected by mental distress (as a result of the divorce) in the short-term, experienced significant long-term physical illness and health effects associated with the initial mental distress from a decade earlier. These negative health effects were duly largely to the financial status of the woman post-divorce.
The women evaluated who suffered significant financial hardship as a result of the divorce were more likely to have worse health problems a decade later than those who managed to be financially stable post-divorce. There was also a correlation between the health issues and where the woman ended up living; the more rural of a location where the woman was living, the more likely she was to suffer from serious and significant health problems.
Divorce Health Effects on Children
Children of divorce are also greatly affected by the experience, especially when the divorce happened at the beginning of their lives. In the study, a child of a divorce was found to have a harder time connecting with parents later on in life, as well as connecting with romantic partners.
Another study commented on the lingering effects that divorce has on children throughout the rest of their childhood and into their adult life. The U.S Bureau of Consensus found, in its most recent census, that an adult was 14 percent more likely to attempt suicide if their parents had gone through a divorce; the percentage shot up to 85 percent if the participant’s parents abused alcohol within the home. Children of divorced parents were also found to have higher levels of C-reactive protein than their counterparts, which is associated with a great risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Though it is not necessarily the divorce itself that directly causes the higher risks of health issues among children of divorce, the separation may cause indirect effects due to emotional issues, poor performance in school, and inability to create close relationships with others.
With these most recent statistics, it is important that if you are contemplating a divorce or separation, you go about it in the most civil way as possible, if not for you own health benefits, then for the health benefits of your children. The most important factor in contributing to a fair and equitable divorce is to be open and honest about what your marital property is, what you want, what you do not want, and what you are willing to compromise on. It’s also important to make sure that you both use your legal representatives to advocate for your rights, rather than allowing the divorce to become more personal than is necessary. Your health and your kids’ health will thank you.
Naperville Family Law Attorneys
If you are contemplating a divorce, and have any questions or concerns about the process, your rights in the equitable distribution, and how this procedure will affect your children, please contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney today. One of our experienced legal professionals will provide insight and advice in starting divorce proceedings in the most civil and non-hostile way to protect your family and your children from adverse health effects associated with the separation.
July 18th, 2014 at 2:10 pm
In 1980, Illinois state legislature passed the Emancipation of Minors Act which provides a legal mechanism by which mature minors may be able to become wholly independent from their parents or guardians and enter into their own affairs. Generally, it is up to the court that the minor has petitioned to decide if emancipation is in the best interest of the minor.
A mature minor is outlined in the statute as a person who is between the ages of 16 and 18 who can prove to the court that he is capable and willing to handle his own legal and economic affairs. Furthermore, it must be in the best interest of the mature minor to live separately and independently from his parents or guardian in order for emancipation to be granted. The act also attempts to address the plight of homeless minors who would benefit from emancipation because they would be able, with the permission of their guardians, to receive assistance, housing, shelter, and other services.
Termination of Parental Rights in Emancipation of Mature Minors
The emancipation of a minor will ultimately lead to the termination of parental rights of the parents or guardian of the minor child. The termination of parental rights is considered to be an extremely serious matter in Illinois, and the court will generally only entertain the emancipation of the minor in limited and narrow circumstances. Minors, in addition, have a significant number of obstacles when petitioning for emancipation and should not enter into it lightly. It is important to know that complete or partial emancipation of a minor will be barred in the event that a parent or guardian objects to the emancipation. A homeless minor, who has limited connection with his family, will only receive partial emancipation if consistent attempts to unify the family have been made.
Petition Process for Emancipation
The petition for emancipation of a minor may not be filed on his own behalf. Because of the incapacity of the minor to petition the court, the petition will need to be filed on behalf of the minor, either by a “next friend” or by the parent or guardian in charge of the minor.
The petition requires that the minor outline within the petition the following information:
- The minor’s age,
- The minor’s affirmed Illinois residency,
- The reason the minor is seeking emancipation,
- Information with regards to the minor’s parents, and
- Any information establishing that he is willing, able, and capable to function and live partially or wholly independent from his parents or guardian and can manage his own affairs.
It is up to the court to ultimately decide if it is in the best interest of the minor to become emancipated or be reunited with his family and the court may decide to partially or wholly emancipate the minor. Partial emancipation will require that the court dictate the specific rights and responsibilities of the minor and the limitations of his emancipation until he is 18 years old.
Rights and Responsibilities of Emancipation
Emancipation gives the minor the legal right to enter into contracts, consent to medical decisions, and be financially and physically independent from his family. The emancipation ruling is subject, however, to the limitations created by the court until the age of 17 and the court will periodically check up on the minor to insure that emancipation is still in his best interests.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Naperville
If you are a minor or you are a parent of a minor who is interested in petitioning for emancipation, it is important to understand the implications and consequences of emancipation. Termination of parental rights is a serious issue and one that should be evaluated and discussed with an attorney experienced in family law issues. An experienced Naperville family attorney will be able to answer any questions or concerns you have with regards to the rights and consequences of emancipation of a minor.
July 14th, 2014 at 12:25 pm
Recently, a number of states have passed new amendments to their adoption laws, which permit adoptees to finally access their original birth certificate with the names of their biological parents. In the past nationwide, adoptees had no legal right to their original birth certificates on the public policy that biological parents who choose adoption should have the right to remain anonymous for any number of reasons (many due to lack of desire to be parents, lack of financial support to be a parent, or the child was begot due to traumatic circumstances such as rape or incest). Connecticut will be the next state in July 2015 to permit adoptees access to their original birth certificates. Currently, 42 states have statutes that seal birth records from as early as the 1930s.
Adoptee Rights in Illinois
Illinois was one of the first states to amend their Adoption Act and force the surrender of the original birth records to any adoptee interested. House Bill 5428 was put into effect on May 2010, and permitted adoptees who were born in Illinois before January 1, 1946 to access their original birth records. Surviving children of the adoptee were also able to obtain a copy of the original records. As of November 2011, adoptees who are older than 21 years of age and born in Illinois after 1945 are permitted to claim their original birth certificates.
Rights of Biological Parents to Remain Anonymous in Illinois
Birth parents who want to remain anonymous must preemptively apply to veto disclosure of their identity on the birth certificate. By vetoing the disclosure, all relevant, identifying information about the biological parent will be deleted from the original birth record. However, the veto disclosure only eradicates information about one biological parent; the other biological parent must request a similar veto to delete his or her own personal information. The death of a biological parent does not veto disclosure. As of May 2014, less than 500 biological parents have requested a disclosure veto to remain anonymous.
Public Policy Considerations for Giving Access to Birth Records
For many adoptees, the desire to access their birth certificates may have nothing to do with locating their actual biological parents. Many just want the information for their own knowledge. Others, however, may find the information extremely important, especially in the circumstances where access to relevant medical history would make a substantial impact on the individual’s life and decisions when it came to their own medical history. Having knowledge that the adoptee might have assumed a debilitating, genetic disorder from a biological parent could aid in not only the initial discovery of a possible genetic disease, but could ultimately save the life of an adoptee who might have waited for the symptoms to occur before seeking help.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Naperville
If you are an adoptee interested in obtaining your original birth records, a biological parent who wants to remain anonymous, or a parent to an adoptee who wants to encourage or prevent your child from accessing the original birth records, there are many considerations and factors that must be evaluated. The legal issues surrounding adoption and the right of adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates are complex and difficult and an experienced Naperville family law attorney will be able to go through many of the possible legal issues that might influence your decision. Please contact one of our family attorneys today for more information about adoption laws in Illinois.