BLOG

Parentage FAQ

Paternity can play a large role in various facets of family law, from child custody to child support to parenting time. When a man is recognized as the father of a child (paternity isn’t always based on a blood test or birth certificate alone), he can be held responsible for supporting that child in whatever way is deemed necessary by the courts. Read on to learn more about establishing paternity and how the process works in Illinois.

What’s the Legal Importance of Paternity?

Parentage means, “the identity and origin of one’s parents.” In family law, parentage refers largely to paternity and establishing paternity. There are two main processes used when it comes to establishing paternity:

  • Voluntarily Assumed Paternity: Voluntarily assumed paternity is when the parentage of a child is assumed based on the situation in which they were born, such as the child was born to a married couple or born to an unmarried couple who never marry but sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.
  • Involuntary Paternity: When the mother of a child or the state brings a paternity lawsuit against the potential father, this is known as involuntary paternity. The potential father will likely be required to take a DNA test. If a genetic blood test reveals him to be the father, he’ll be held accountable for child support and other responsibilities associated with childcare.

How Long Does a Paternity Test Take?

Laboratories can typically process the results of a DNA paternity test within two to three days after the samples are received. In some cases, such as when a name is being added to a child’s birth certificate, the process can be expedited for faster results.

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity?

In Illinois, a paternity suit can be brought against the alleged father to establish paternity until the child turns 20 years old. If a mother isn’t willing to admit a man is the father of her child or if the father suspects she’ll put the child up for adoption, he can petition the court to declare him the legal father. The state in which the child lives is usually the state that has jurisdiction over paternity, although it can be the state of the child’s conception or birth.

After the petition is filed, the mother will be issued a copy of the court papers and will need to reply. The court will order a DNA test if the mother opposes the claim, and the case’s outcome will depend on the results of the test.

Legal vs. Non-Legal Paternity Tests

There are two types of paternity tests: legal and non-legal. The results of a legal test are admissible in court and can be used in a family legal case because the test was completed by professionals in a controlled environment. Non-legal tests cannot be used as evidence in court, because they’re more private and involve the use of samples collected behind closed doors. These at-home tests aren’t conducted at a hospital or a lab, which makes their results unreliable at best.

Receive Expert Representation from Conniff Law Offices

Whether you’re bringing a paternity suit against a probable father, or wish to prove paternity to prevent your child from being put up for adoption, the family law experts at Conniff Law Offices are here to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation at our Chicago or Oak Park location and learn more about your next steps.

Posted in Child Custody, Family Law | Comments Off on Parentage FAQ

Civil Union FAQ

What is a civil union? It’s a legally recognized relationship between two people with state-level protections for the couple. Like domestic partnerships, civil unions originated as an alternative course of action for same-sex couples who couldn’t marry. Same-sex marriage is legal in all states currently, but many same-sex marriages were civil unions first. When it comes to the dissolution of a civil union vs. marriage, procedurally, there are no consequential differences for civil union partners.

Civil Union vs. Marriage

The main differences between a civil union and a marriage are as follows:

  • – Not all states recognize civil unions. If two civil union partners move to a state where civil unions aren’t recognized, they may lose their protections.
  • – Again, civil unions give only state-level protections. Federal benefits and protections aren’t yet available, whether the couple is same-sex or opposite-sex. However, the U.S. Supreme Court made it a requirement for states to honor out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses in the Obergefell vs. Hodges case. This is one example of federal-level protections married couples receive.
  • – Culturally, marriage carries a different connotation from a civil union. Now, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who view marriage as being more meaningful can marry and receive federal-level protections and benefits — no matter which state they live in.

Dissolution of a Civil Union vs. Marriage

In Illinois, married couples and civil union partners must follow the law as it is described in Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act when they choose to end their legally recognized relationship. In both cases, the process starts with a petition for dissolution. The steps taken during a married couple’s divorce will be the same as the steps taken during a civil union divorce. The same laws apply to different aspects of divorce like property division, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), and prenuptial and pre-civil union agreements.

Additionally, civil union partners seeking a dissolution of a civil union can use the same dispute resolution methods as spouses seeking a dissolution of marriage. Negotiation, mediation, litigation, collaborative law, or a combination of these processes is available to divorcing civil union partners. Consequently, there are no lawyers who specialize in just the dissolution of civil unions or just the dissolution of marriage; both follow the same process and end with a judgment for dissolution.

Rely on Conniff Law Offices for Family Legal Advice

If you and your partner are seeking a dissolution of your civil union, the family legal team at Conniff Law Offices can help. We’ll assist you with navigating the laws and procedures involved in dissolving a civil union. Contact us to request an immediate case review or to schedule a consultation at our offices.

Posted in Civil Union Divorce | Comments Off on Civil Union FAQ

4 Financial Mistakes in Divorce

When a couple chooses to dissolve their marriage, there is often more focus put on what to do during a divorce than what not to do during a divorce. The dissolution of marriage puts both spouses through a great deal of stress, much of which is caused by the financial decisions that must be made. Financial decisions in divorce proceedings are complex and can lead to numerous divorce mistakes that can have a serious impact on each spouse’s financial security. Here, the family law experts at Conniff Law Offices of Chicago and Oak Park cover 4 financial mistakes to avoid during divorce.

Attempting to Speed Through Proceedings

It’s understandable that some individuals want to get their divorce over and done with as quickly as possible so they can begin the process of healing and moving forward with their life. However, this can end up being one of your biggest divorce mistakes made. You may be tempted to agree to an unsatisfactory divorce settlement in an attempt to rush the process – a decision you’ll likely regret in the near future. Once the divorce is final, it’s very difficult to make changes to the agreement, so it is crucial to take the necessary amount of time to come to a beneficial settlement.

Failure to Take Marital Debts Into Consideration

When considering what to do during a divorce, you’ll surely cover marital assets. But what about marital debts? Marital debts should be regarded with equal importance; if they’re not divided properly, one spouse could be left shouldering most of the marital liabilities leftover from shared credit you had during your marriage.

Failure to Secure Alimony (Spousal Support or Maintenace) and Child Support With Insurance

The spouse who will receive alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, and child support payments should consider an insurance policy designed to secure them.  If your ex-spouse passes away or becomes disabled, the income you rely on could suddenly stop. This being the case, the payee would do well to request that the payor invests in life insurance and disability policies to protect your right to the payments if an unexpected loss or injury were to occur.

Attempting to Conceal Assets

Divorce is not always amicable. In some cases, one spouse might even go so far as to attempt to conceal their assets. Among the financial mistakes in divorce that could be made, this one can have some of the most serious and lasting consequences. Plain and simple, hiding assets in a divorce is illegal, and eventually, the assets hidden by the spouse will be uncovered. Attempting to conceal assets damages credibility, attracts major penalties, and will give the other spouse a significant advantage in the divorce proceedings.

Avoid Divorce Mistakes: Consult With Conniff Law Offices

Divorce is a stressful, time-consuming, and often emotionally draining experience that can leave an individual susceptible to financial mistakes they might otherwise not have made. Seeking the expert legal advice and representation of a divorce attorney will ensure the decisions made are in your best interest. To begin your divorce preparation, consult with the family law attorneys at Conniff Law Offices of Chicago and Oak Park, contact us online today. We are here to provide guidance and compassion at every step of the divorce process.

Posted in Divorce Litigation | Comments Off on 4 Financial Mistakes in Divorce

COVID-19 and Divorce: What Are Your Options?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it numerous difficulties and uncertainties that many individuals have never before experienced. As couples and families across the country adjust to life during quarantine and local regulations, many are facing additional difficulties within their marriage. For some relationships, the increased time spent at home together during quarantine is bringing issues to light that may have been unacknowledged or unobserved in the past. If during COVID-19 a divorce seems imminent, how should individuals in the Chicago and Oak Park area approach the process?

At Conniff Law Offices, our team remains dedicated to providing you with expert legal advice and professional representation. Learn how we can help you navigate Coronavirus and divorce in a safe, remote manner and gain some insight as to how the overall divorce process may differ during quarantine, below.

Coronavirus and Divorce: Seeking Consultation

The way in which you can seek consultation for a divorce during COVID-19 will depend on whether shelter-in-place orders are in effect. Most businesses, including family law practices, remain temporarily closed during shelter-in-place, so you would likely not have the option to meet with an attorney in-person for a consultation. When shelter-in-place orders are lifted in your county and you are able to meet in-person, you can continue to help stop the spread of Coronavirus by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing during your consultation.

What about areas where shelter-in-place orders are still in effect? Many practices — including Conniff Law Offices — offer alternative methods of remote communication. Individuals in the Chicago and Oak Park area can contact us online to start a conversation today.

Coronavirus and Divorce: Process Changes to Anticipate

Divorce can be a complicated and time-consuming process as it is, especially when it comes to litigation. As the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily reduced court system resources, you can likely anticipate further delays if you are filing for a divorce now or in the near future. Currently, Illinois courts are closed for in-person divorce hearings. However, for emergencies involving domestic violence and other such dire situations that require immediate attention, Illinois judges are working hard to hold hearings through Zoom conferencing. Also, parties looking to get divorced during the COVID-19 can do so through Zoom conferencing. For further information and future updates regarding the operation of Illinois courts during COVID-19, visit the official Illinois Courts COVID-19 web page.

Is There a Correlation Between Coronavirus and the Divorce Rate?

By now, most of us have probably heard about a Coronavirus divorce surge. You may wonder, is there really a Coronavirus divorce rate to consider? Most sources show that there has, in fact, been a surge in divorce filings as states and counties across the country begin to ease stay-at-home orders. This could certainly contribute to delays in the divorce process.

For More Information, Reach Out to Conniff Law Offices

If you would like additional information about filing for divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic or if you require immediate legal assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to Conniff Law Offices. Our attorneys are here to advocate for you and provide the family law services you need. During uncertain times, we are proud to apply our core values of Compassion, Excellence, and Discretion to every family we work with.

Posted in Divorce Litigation, Family Law | Tagged , , | Comments Off on COVID-19 and Divorce: What Are Your Options?

Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation

The decision to end your marriage is never an easy one. If you’ve resolved to proceed with a divorce, there are other important decisions which are yet to be made, including how you will go about getting the divorce. If after weighing options like a divorce or annulment you’ve decided to pursue a divorce, you may now be considering either a collaborative divorce or divorce mediation. There are important differences between these two methods to be aware of before moving forward. Conniff Law Offices compares collaborative divorce vs. mediation in greater depth below to help you determine which course of action is better suited to your situation.

Divorce Mediation Overview

Divorce mediation takes a cooperative approach. A hired mediator acts as a neutral third party for the divorcing couple, helping to resolve any issues throughout the process. The mediator does not make decisions for the couple, but rather helps them come to an agreeable solution. Divorce mediators do not have to be lawyers, though one or both spouses may hire a lawyer if they wish. We recommend having an attorney before the mediation process begins in order to understand your legal rights and your best options.

During a divorce mediation, the mediator will:

  • Assist the couple in establishing the issues that require attention in the divorce so each person may make their necessary decisions
  • Act as a neutral negotiator when sorting out issues the couple is in disagreement over
  • Propose options to guide the couple toward an agreement that is mutually favored and tailored to their unique circumstances, touching on important points like a parenting plan, alimony or spousal support, child support, division of marital property and debts, etc.
  • Drawing up some of the required paperwork, such as the Memorandum of Understanding (the document that summarizes the articles of the couple’s agreement)

In a successful divorce mediation, the couple has the advantage of a guaranteed outcome since both spouses were able to give their direct input on matters of disagreement. Divorce mediation is also known to be an affordable and less time-consuming process.

Collaborative Divorce Overview

Collaborative divorce combines aspects of divorce mediation with a “conventional” divorce. Unlike divorce mediation, it is a process that does require attorneys, as well as other third party professionals, including a child specialist, finance professional, and divorce coach.

Here is an overview of how a collaborative divorce works:

  • Each spouse hires their own divorce lawyer who is trained in the collaborative law process. As would happen in a conventional divorce, each spouse’s attorney is working to secure the best outcome for their respective client.
  • Both individuals and their attorneys sign a contract stating that they are committed to cooperate with each other rather than quarreling during divorce negotiations. This is known as a participation agreement.
  • Several meetings will take place during a collaborative divorce, during which the spouses and their attorneys will meet with third party professionals as they are needed. These outside professionals could include a divorce coach, child specialist, finance professional, therapist, mediator, and more.

If a mutual agreement cannot be reached between the couple, their divorce lawyers will be barred from representing them in the litigation process. The couple will need to proceed instead with divorce litigation in a family law court, with each individual starting over with a new attorney. Divorce litigation poses the risk of uncertainty, as the parties involved do not know how the judge will rule on their various divorce issues.

Key Differences Between Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation

In addition to the differences in the proceedings of divorce mediation and collaborative divorce, there are a couple other key areas of contrast to know about before moving forward.

How long will the entire process take?

  • The divorce mediation process may require one to four sessions spanning two to three months. The couple determines the pace at which they would like to proceed. Once an agreement is made, the time it takes to finalize everything depends upon how long it takes to file the divorce, draft the necessary documents, and finalize the proceedings in court.
  • Collaborative divorce typically takes 4 to 14 months to complete. Any issues that arise can usually be settled in four to six group sessions. The time it takes to complete the sessions depends not only upon the availability of each spouse and their lawyers, but also on that of the necessary outside professionals. Like with mediation, the time needed to finalize everything depends on the time it takes to file the divorce and go through court proceedings.

Which Method Is Right for You?

When it comes time to decide between collaborative divorce vs. mediation, only you can say which method is right for your situation. Couples who want what’s best for their children or who would like to maintain a peaceful process may prefer divorce mediation. If mediation isn’t right for you but you would still prefer to avoid litigation if possible, or if you would feel better having an attorney who will only represent you, a collaborative divorce may be the favorable choice.

Consult the Family Law Professionals at Conniff Law Offices

If you are seeking an experienced divorce lawyer to represent you in a collaborative divorce or would like to hire an attorney for your divorce mediation, consult with the family law professionals at Conniff Law Offices. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you reach the best outcome possible, and will be there for you during this often difficult time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at our Chicago or Oak Park office.

Posted in Collaborative Divorce, Mediation | Comments Off on Collaborative Divorce vs. Mediation

– Jim O., Western Springs (from Yelp)

– Chris W., Chicago (from Yelp)

– Rebecca M., Chicago (from Yelp)

– Eric S., Albuquerque (from Yelp)


More Testimonials >

I am a happy client and recommend Lyn without hesitation. She is knowledgeable, pragmatic and is adept at working with other attorneys in a positive manner.

The efforts of this team were incredible and in touch with my sensitivity. After the first phone call I felt assured that I would be given the utmost attention and it was delivered!

The attorneys kept me up to date on the status of the issue and were always available to take my call. They were kind, professional and responsive.

I'm no fan of the lawyer class, but the Conniff folks definitely know their stuff. I can't imagine it getting any better than this. Two thumbs up!