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What Are My Adoption Options in Illinois? 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_205333231.jpgAdding another member to your family through adoption is a life-changing decision. Many considerations are factored into the adoption process to ensure a child is adopted into the right permanent home. Parents in Illinois looking to adopt can do so in various ways, including private adoptions, adopting through an agency, or adopting as a secondary family member. Suppose you are looking to adopt a child into your home. In that case, it is a good idea to hire a family attorney who can help prepare you for the legal investigation and navigate your family through the processes. 

Becoming a Foster or Adoptive Parent 

Parents can take two key avenues to bring a child into their home. The first way may be through foster care. Children who have been separated from their families or removed from their homes may be in state custody and placed into foster care. That child's welfare team will look to place a child with a temporary family who can promote that child's best interest while preparing to move the child into a permanent home through adoption. A foster parent is responsible for:

  • Maintaining the child's health and well-being, including shelter, food, clothing, and medical needs

  • Communicating with the state, birth family, or other necessary individuals 

  • Advocating on the child's behalf 

Adoption is the permanent addition of a child into the family. An adoptive parent will obtain all of a parent's legal rights, and the state will no longer be involved in the care of that child and the child's family. 

Private Versus Agency Adoptions

The adoption process can begin in two ways — through a private family adoption or by using an agency. A private adoption occurs by communicating directly with the biological family. For example, a family looking to place their child up for adoption may seek out potential parents and begin the legal process of shifting custody between the two families. Adopting through an agency includes obtaining custody of a child that has been placed in state care. 

There are many requirements that potential adoptive parents must meet to obtain complete, permanent custody of a child. Typically, the state will investigate the prospective family's health, criminal records, financial documents, and other personal information to ensure a child is placed in the right home. The timeline for adoption will be unique to each family. However, this process is almost always lengthy to some degree. Families should consider having a family attorney to guide them through adoption.


Guardianship is another option for the child's family members looking to retain permanent custody. Suppose a child will not be placed back with their nuclear family unit, and other family members would like to obtain custody. In that case, family members can be appointed as that child's primary caretaker. The biological parents will not have to remove their titles as parents, but the state will shift parental responsibilities and custody to another family member such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or sibling. 

Discuss Adoption With a Joliet Adoption Lawyer

Adoption can often be a complicated process. At Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., our Plainfield family attorneys have experience working with families looking to obtain custody of a child through foster care, adoption, or guardianship. Our firm offers a free initial consultation for clients. Please contact us by calling 815-666-1285



b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_85725289.jpg Divorcing your spouse presents many complex situations such as division of assets, determining financial responsibilities, and, when children are involved, agreeing upon child custody arrangements. Dealing with children during a divorce is difficult for all family members. Typically, parents and the court try to remain neutral and make arrangements that are in the children's best interests when determining custody. However, there are circumstances where parents are not awarded the custody or parenting time they would like with their children. Extenuating circumstances from the parent's past may present a hurdle when fighting for child custody.

Having a Criminal Record While Fighting For Custody

When judges determine custody during a divorce, they will consider many different factors. As mentioned, the court wants to create the best environment for the children. The judge will take into account:

  • Which parent is remaining in the marital home

  • Where each parent will be living 

  • The amount of parenting time a parent already dedicates to the children 

  • The family dynamic 

  • The wishes of the children 

  • Any circumstances that could be harmful to the children 

These circumstances are evaluated to determine a parent's fitness in having custody. Parental fitness includes a parent's ability to be responsible and keep the children safe. If a parent were to have a criminal record, the court would consider the type of crime, when it occurred, and whether the crime involved children.  

How the Type of Crime Affects You

If a parent fighting for custody has a criminal record, the type of crime will be considered by the court. Typically, non-violent crimes affect parenting time, visitation, and custody much less than violent crimes. Violent crimes that may affect your ability to retain custody of your children include sexual offenses, assault, or battery. For example, a previous conviction for child sex abuse would be much more likely to influence the court’s decision than a single conviction for drunk driving. 

Once the type of crime has been analyzed, the court will consider when the crime took place and how the parent turned their life around since then. A crime that occurred many years ago is less likely to hinder your ability to have custody than a criminal record from a few months ago. 

Adjusted Custody and Parenting Plans

If the court deems a parent unfit to have custody due to criminal behavior, there are still options available. The court may put the parent on a sort of probationary period — a parent may have to attend drug or alcohol classes and take drug tests to remain in the child's life. As a parent continues to prove their ability to follow the law, more and more parenting time can be awarded. Individuals can modify their parenting plans as new information becomes available.

Speak to a Will County Child Custody Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., our Will County family and divorce lawyers have the experience to help represent clients in child custody disputes. If you are a parent looking to retain custody, we have the resources to help you understand your situation and prepare you for the future. Please reach out to us at 815-666-1285 to schedule a free consultation with our office. 



b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_75952243.jpgWhen considering marriage, it is essential to discuss all of the legal aspects of this new chapter in your life with your partner. While many marriages are blissful, there are times when couples decide to separate or divorce. In the case of a separation or divorce, having a prenuptial agreement will help the process move along peacefully, efficiently, and quickly compared to a divorce proceeding without a prenup. If you are preparing for marriage with your partner, begin by speaking with a skilled family attorney who can create a prenuptial agreement that is best for your relationship.

Why Prenuptial Agreements are Useful

Why draft a document in the case of a divorce if you are sure you are marrying your soulmate? Many people avoid prenups for this reason. However, they could wind up regretting it later in life. Couples may decide to divorce for many reasons, not simply because of mistreatment or lack of love. Often, couples will separate or divorce due to relocation, financial incompatibility, or even disagreements in parenting styles. Even if you are sure your future spouse is the one, it may be helpful to dictate how your assets would be divided if your relationship ended. Having a plan may even help reduce any friction that would cause bad blood between you and your partner during a roadblock in your marriage.  

What to Include in My Prenuptial Agreement 

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that lays out how assets and finances will be divided in the case of a divorce. In your prenup, it is a good idea to include:

  • Which spouse would pay spousal support (alimony)

  • How assets such as the home, furniture, or other personal belongings would be divided

  • Each partner’s right to spend money during the divorce 

  • Whether a spouse will have a right to the other’s life insurance 

  • How debt or outstanding loans will be divided following the divorce

Couples may not include child custody agreements in a prenuptial agreement. That will have to be decided based on the child’s best interests at the time of a divorce. If you choose to draft a prenuptial agreement with your spouse before the big day, it is in your best interest to hire a family attorney experienced in this type of legal documentation. A lawyer will have the skills to understand each spouses’ financial health, determine ownership of assets before marriage, and help lay out an equitable division that represents the best interest of each partner. 

Working With a Joliet Family Attorney 

If you are preparing for marriage, our Plainfield family and divorce attorneys are here to help set you up for success. At the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., we have five attorneys with years of combined experience working alongside new couples to draft prenuptial agreements. Call today at 815-666-1285 to schedule a free consultation and discuss prenup agreements or other legal elements to your marriage. 




Are Debts Shared in a Plainfield, IL Divorce?

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1031134915.jpgThroughout a marriage, couples wind up sharing many important assets. Joint assets in marriage can range from physical things such as cars and homes to retirement plans and accumulated debt. Dividing up marital property can be tricky, especially when it comes to each spouses’ financial health. An experienced divorce attorney may be able to help divide the debt between the spouses in a way that ensures both spouses maintain a secure financial position. 


Understanding Shared Debt

Both partners are responsible for the debt accumulated during the marriage unless it is explicitly specified that only one spouse was responsible for a certain payment through a prenuptial agreement or other agreement. If the debt owed was created prior to the marriage, then that payment is typically the sole responsibility of that individual. However, there are special situations that deviate from these general rules.

Examples of shared marital debt may include:

  • Outstanding mortgage payments

  • Shared credit card debt

  • Shared car loan payments 

  • Medical payments 

Examples of individual debt may include:

  • Student loan payments prior to marriage

  • Outstanding medical bills prior to marriage

  • Individual loans

How Will Debt Be Divided?

Like all other shared marital assets, debt is divided between both parties in a way that is equal and reflects both spouses' financial abilities, not necessarily in a 50/50 manner. This means that when crafting the divorce decree that specifies all of the legal responsibilities that each partner will have following the divorce, the judge will consider many circumstances. These circumstances include:

  • Which partner has more individual debt

  • Which partner makes more money 

  • Which partner is receiving more of the shared savings

  • Which partner is paying the most for childcare needs 

  • Which partner is most responsible for the debt

When preparing for a divorce, it is in both partners' interests to document all of the shared finances prior to legal hearings. This will allow for time to pay off debts, prepare all of the paperwork necessary when filing for a divorce and open the dialogue with your partner. It is a great idea to discuss how marital property will be divided prior to filing for divorce to avoid a contested divorce. A contested divorce occurs when one or both spouses do not agree on an element of the divorce process. Contested divorces are time-consuming and much more expensive. Divorce attorneys can then help create a divorce agreement that allows both partners to feel comfortable with the amount of debt they will incur as a single individual. 

Speak To a Will County Divorce Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., our highly skilled divorce lawyers are prepared to help you through any stage of your divorce process. We understand the importance of having a lawyer that you can trust through this difficult time. Our attorneys have years of experience representing their clients and ensuring their best interests are considered when completing a divorce agreement. For a free consultation with our office, call today at 815-666-1285




joliet divorce lawyerWhen parents decide to proceed with a divorce, many changes to the family occur. From dividing assets to child support, a divorce decree is set to ensure that both spouses continue their financial obligations to the family. Child support orders are set based on the financial health of both parents during the time of the marriage dissolution. However, finances, jobs, and spending habits change over the course of a person’s life. If a change in your financial situation has left you unable to afford your child support payments, you may be eligible to alter your child support order

Step 1: Find a Skilled Family Attorney 

Changing a child support order can be a difficult process. A divorce decree is a legally binding document, so a person cannot just hold off on making payments that align with a court order. When a person becomes unable to afford their child support, it is important to first reach out to a family attorney who can walk a parent through the process of petitioning for a change. A lawyer can help navigate the legal process of modifying child support in a timely and legally correct manner. 

Step 2: Prepare Your Financials 

If you are looking to petition for a change in child support and have found a trustworthy lawyer that you are prepared to work with, the next step is to prepare your financial documentation. The court will need to see proof of your financial change that resulted in an inability to afford payments. A lawyer can be handy during this process. Your lawyer will be able to help select the best documentation that represents your case and file it correctly during your petition. Were you fired from your job? Did you suffer from a recent salary cut? Do you have new expenses such as medical payments that prevent you from affording your child support? There must be documentation to show the situation at hand clearly. 

Step 3: File a Child Support Modification Petition 

You cannot simply stop paying child support if you cannot afford it. However, you may be able to modify the amount you are paying. To change a child support order in Illinois, you must file for a petition for child support modification through your county court. The court will review the documentation you have prepared, which may include:

  • Your past financial health

  • Your current salary

  • Changes in employment 

  • Changes in necessary payments for external circumstances (medical bills, debt)

Your attorney can help you proceed through the petitioning process and help grant you an alteration in your child support order. In the case that your petition is denied, an attorney may be able to continue fighting for you. 

Speak With a Joliet Child Support Lawyer 

At Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., we understand that changes in financial situations occur during a person’s life. If you have recently experienced a drastic change that has left you unable to afford your court-ordered child support payments, our Joliet, Illinois family attorneys may be able to help you. To schedule a free consultation with us today, call 815-666-1285




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