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What is a Guardian Ad Litem? 

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Plainfield Family Law Attorney Many people involved in family law cases such as a divorce or child custody dispute have questions about the role of guardians ad litem (GAL's). They misunderstand the purpose of a GAL or confuse a GAL with an actual guardian who takes on a caretaking role.

A guardian ad litem is an individual, typically a trained attorney, who is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a minor child (or children) in family law matters. A GAL is charged with gathering information from all relevant parties, including parents and family members, and making recommendations to the court about what arrangement would be best for the child or children’s welfare.

Why Was a Guardian Ad Litem Assigned to My Case?

If a GAL was assigned to your case, it might be because the judge in the case wants more information before making a decision. Or, another party involved in the case, such as your child's other parent, may have requested a GAL. Do not worry if a GAL is assigned to your case. The assignment is not a reflection on your or a statement about your parenting. However, it is important to cooperate with the GAL and comply with any requests for documents or information.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

A guardian ad litem works as an investigator in a family law case, obtaining additional information and using this information to make an informed recommendation to the court. The investigation may involve:

  • Interviews with the children

  • Interviews with the parents

  • Visits to the homes of the parents

  • Review of medical, school, and other records related to the child’s welfare

The GAL may also attend hearings and provide written reports or oral testimony about their findings. The judge does not have to follow the GAL's recommendation. However, he or she will take the GAL's assessment into consideration when making a decision in your case.

It is important to note that GALs are not appointed to take sides in family court matters. The goal of the GAL is to make unbiased recommendations based on what they believe would be in the child’s best interests. It can be uncomfortable to have someone poking around your home, interviewing your children, or asking you personal questions. However, keep in mind that the GAL is ultimately there to benefit your child.

Contact our Plainfield Family Law Attorney

The Joliet family law attorneys at Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. understand that legal disputes become even more complicated when a child is involved. Our skilled team provides dependable advice, support, and representation to parents and other family members during divorce, child custody cases, and adoption.

If you are involved in a family law case that involves a guardian ad litem, we can help you understand the process and protect your rights. Call 815-666-1285 today to schedule a consultation with our knowledgeable legal team.


How Does Divorce Impact Social Security Benefits? 

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Joliet Divorce Lawyer

There are countless issues to consider when it comes to divorce, and many of these concerns involve finances. Divorcing spouses understandably worry about how the divorce will impact their financial futures. One of the most important issues to consider is how divorce affects one’s Social Security benefits.

Can I Get Social Security Through My Ex-Spouse?

Under certain circumstances, divorced spouses may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on their former spouse’s earning record. If the marriage lasted at least ten years, a divorced spouse can claim up to half of the ex-spouse’s benefit amount if it is higher than his or her own earned benefit. To get this benefit, the divorced spouse must be unmarried and 62 years old or older.

If a divorced spouse was not employed, or did not work long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits, he or she may still be able to claim benefits on their former spouse’s record.

What Happens To My Benefit Amount After Divorce?

Divorce does not necessarily reduce one’s Social Security benefit amount after retirement. If a person worked for at least 10 years under Social Security and earns enough credits to qualify for benefits, he or she is generally eligible to receive the full amount he or she would have received if he or she had remained married.

It is important to note that a divorced spouse cannot collect both his or her own earned benefit and the benefit from an ex-spouse at the same time. A person must choose which benefit pays the highest amount and then apply for it.

Other Retirement Concerns to Be Aware of During Divorce

If you or your spouse own other retirement accounts, such as a 401(k), make sure you understand how these funds are handled during divorce. In Illinois, any income a spouse earns during the marriage is part of the marital estate. So, if a spouse accumulates money in a retirement account during the marriage, both parties have a right to this property.

In many cases, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is used to divide retirement assets during divorce. A QDRO allocates portions of the account to both parties without incurring any early withdrawal or tax penalties. It is important to note that a QDRO does not impact Social Security benefits in any way, as these accounts are managed separately.

Contact our Joliet Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be a difficult life transition, and it is crucial to understand the financial implications of this process. If you are considering divorce or have any questions regarding Social Security benefits and divorce, consult with an experienced Plainfield divorce attorney from Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. who can help you understand your rights and make sure your interests are protected. Call 815-666-1285 for a free initial case assessment.




Divorce Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms in Joliet

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Joliet Divorce Attorney

When mothers choose to stay home to raise children, they typically rely on their spouse's income to make ends meet. Mothers who do not work outside the home, work limited hours, or volunteer are often put in a precarious situation during divorce. However, with the right planning, support, and legal guidance, divorcing stay-at-home moms can make a successful transition while protecting their financial interests.

Get Familiar with Your Financial Situation

For many stay-at-home mothers, the household and family responsibilities are divided. The mom focuses on taking care of the children while her spouse takes care of other responsibilities, such as paying bills and managing money. Before filing for divorce, it is important for a stay-at-home mother to familiarize herself with the family's financial situation. Developing an understanding of both assets and liabilities will help give her a clearer view of her financial future after the divorce is finalized.

Know Your Options for Temporary Support

If you have little to no income, you may understandably worry about how to pay for living expenses, child-related costs, and day-to-day expenditures. Fortunately, stay-at-home moms in Joliet have options for temporary financial support, including spousal maintenance and child support payments while the divorce is pending. Spousal maintenance can help cover a spouse's living expenses during the divorce proceedings, while child support payments are intended to cover the costs associated with raising the children. An experienced Joliet divorce attorney can help you understand your rights and seek a favorable outcome regarding both spousal maintenance and child support.

Start Working on a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan or parenting agreement is a document detailing how parenting time and parental responsibilities will be shared between two divorcing parents. The parenting plan also includes information about the transportation of the children between the homes, communication between the parents and the children, and how to handle future revisions to the parenting plan. Developing a comprehensive parenting plan that works for both parties is essential to ensuring an orderly transition for the children after divorce.

Talk to the Children About What to Expect

Telling the children about the impending divorce will likely be one of the hardest parts of the entire process. It is important to plan what you will say and how you will say it before having the conversation. As part of that discussion, explain to your children what changes they can expect and work on developing a plan for coping with those changes. Be sure to listen carefully to your children's concerns, answer questions honestly, and keep communication lines open throughout the process. Reassure your children that they are loved and that you will do everything possible to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Contact an Experienced Joliet Divorce Attorney

The divorce process can be complicated, especially for stay-at-home moms. Our knowledgeable Plainfield divorce lawyers are here to help. Call Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. at 815-666-1285 to learn more about how we can assist you during your divorce. We offer free, no-obligation consultations.



FAQs About Paternity in Illinois

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Will County paternity attorneysPaternity refers to the legal father-child relationship. The gender-neutral term "parentage" is currently used in Illinois law. However, "paternity" is still used informally, and the terms will be used interchangeably throughout this blog. 

Whether you are a mother or father, or soon will be, it is very important that you understand what your rights are responsibilities are regarding paternity.

Do I Need to Take Steps to Establish Paternity?

In Illinois, the paternity of a child is presumed in certain situations, including when the mother of the child is married to the father. If paternity is presumed, the parents can sign the child’s birth certificate and do not need to take any additional steps to verify parentage. However, if the parents are not married, paternity must be established through one of several legal avenues. Paternity can be established through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form or an administrative or judicial proceeding.

Does Establishing Paternity Benefit the Child?

Establishing paternity provides many benefits to the child, including access to important information such as their family medical history on the father’s side of the family. Children may be able to get health insurance or other benefits through their father. Inheritance rights are also established when paternity is established. Another crucial reason to establish paternity is to pave the way for a child support order. A father’s paternity must be established before the mother can petition the court for child support. 

However, one of the most important benefits of establishing paternity is that it promotes a father-child relationship.

What Happens if a Father Denies Paternity of a Child?

If a father denies that he is the biological parent of the child, the court may order that the father and the child undergo DNA testing. A DNA paternity test involves taking a cell sample from the inside of the mouth. It is a non-invasive procedure using a simple cotton swab. A laboratory will analyze the DNA from the child and the father and determine if there is a biological relationship. If the father is indeed the biological father, he may be required to pay child support and take on other responsibilities.

Does Establishing Paternity Benefit the Father?

When paternity is established, the father gains the right to pursue parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parental responsibilities refers to the authority to make decisions about the child, such as where the child will go to school. Parenting time is the time a parent spends with the child. Establishing paternity does not automatically give the father parenting time or parental responsibilities, but it is the first step in securing these important rights. 

Contact Our Joliet Family Law Attorneys

The skilled Plainfield paternity lawyers at Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. represent both mothers and fathers in paternity-related matters. We can help you establish paternity, establish child support, enforce child support if a parent is not paying, address parental responsibilities and parenting time, and handle other family law concerns. Call our office at 815-666-1285 for a free consultation.


Will County child support lawyersAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate currently hovers around 3.5 percent. The reasons for unemployment are as varied as the people who make up this statistic. Some people are still struggling to find employment after the pandemic, while others have been affected by the recent layoffs in the technology industry. Some individuals also choose not to work. They may decide to forgo employment in favor of child-raising or domestic duties, or for personal reasons.

Whatever the cause, unemployment can significantly impact a parent's ability to provide financial support to their child in the form of child support. If you are the payer or recipient of child support in Illinois, it is important to understand how unemployment can affect your child support order.

Intentional Unemployment

When it comes to child support, Illinois courts differentiate between intentional unemployment and unintentional unemployment. Intentional unemployment is when a parent voluntarily chooses to be unemployed or underemployed. Some parents do this solely in an effort to reduce their child support obligation. Intentional unemployment is frowned upon by Illinois courts, and if a court finds that a parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, they may impute or estimate the parent's income for the purpose of child support calculations. For example, if a parent used to make $100,000 a year and is now voluntarily unemployed, the court may use his or her previous income in the Income Shares calculation to determine his or her child support order.

A parent who is working “under the table” is likely to be considered intentionally unemployed. Working off the books is relatively common among those who do not want the “system” knowing how much they make.  

Unintentional Unemployment

On the other hand, unintentional unemployment is when a parent has been laid off or lost their job due to economic conditions, downsizing, or another reason beyond their control. Parents in this situation may be able to reduce their child support obligation through a petition for child support modification. A judge uses a number of factors to determine whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification, including the length of unemployment and the parent's effort to find new employment.

If you have any questions about how unemployment can affect your child support order in Illinois, it is best to speak with an experienced family law attorney who can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation.

Contact a Joliet Child Support Lawyer for Help

The Plainfield family law attorneys at Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. assist with child support modifications, enforcement, and many other child-related family law issues. If you need to change your child support order or your spouse is not paying child support, we can help you take the necessary legal action. Call 815-666-1285 and set up a free consultation.



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