Family Law/Divorce




Adoption — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
There is nothing as satisfying as successfully connecting a child with a family that will provide for and love that child. Because there are different kinds of adoption, and because they often cross jurisdictional lines, including other nations, adoption is often a complicated process, requiring knowledge of the law and balancing the requirements of different parties.

It is especially important, in agreements involving birth parents and surrogates that agreements are spelled out with unmistakable clarity, to minimize the possibility of wrenching revocation later.

Illinois is considered an adoption-friendly state. It places no restrictive limits on either birth or adoptive parents, such as age, religion and not having other children.

If you are considering giving up your baby for adoption or are looking to adopt, we invite you to contact the Women's Legal Services Center today to discuss your options.


Alimony Money — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, refers to payments made by one spouse for the benefit of the other upon separation or the dissolution of marriage. Payments usually terminate upon the death of either spouse or a date decided by a judge or agreed upon by the husband and wife. They may also terminate upon remarriage or cohabitation of the supported spouse.

The court considers several factors when an order for maintenance is being considered or reviewed. Some of these factors include: any change in employment status of either party and whether the change was made in good faith, any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of either party, the tax consequences of the maintenance payments upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the maintenance payments previously paid relative to the length of the marriage, and any other factors that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.

The amount and length of spousal maintenance payments may be agreed to by the parties and approved of by the court, or may be set by the court when the issue is contested. If you need assistance in obtaining spousal maintenance or lowering the amount you need to pay to your spouse, contact the Women's Legal Services Center to schedule a consultation to determine the best path to take.

Child Custody

Child Custody And Visitation — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
Child custody is now known as "a parent's allocation of rights and responsibilities." When custody must be spelled out because of a couple's divorce, the custody arrangement usually becomes part of the divorce decree. The decree names the parent with whom the child will live, how visitation will be handled, and who will provide financial support. Courts consider a custody award to be subject to change until the child comes of age, 18. Illinois law no longer presumes the mother should have primary parental responsibility (custody), or in fact that either parent would have primary residential care. Child custody law is gender neutral.

This flexibility is intended to allow for the correction of poor or outdated decisions, but it also enables some parents to wage bitter custody battles that can last for years. If you need assistance in obtaining custody of your child, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today to schedule an appointment and figure out the best course of action.

Child Support

Child Support — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
Child support, also known as child maintenance) is a payment that a noncustodial parent makes as a contribution to the costs of raising her or his child. The payment can come from either the man or the woman and is paid by one parent to the other, either after a divorce, or between two parents who were never married.

The new child support laws took effect on July 1, 2017. It eliminates the former percentages and creates what is called the income shared approach. “To calculate child support based upon the parent's combined adjusted net income estimated to have been allocated to the child if the parents and children were living in an intact household”. 750 ILCS 5/505 (a)(1)(D). Net income is defined in 750 ILCS 5/505 as gross income minus certain specified deductions. The new child support guidelines include worksheets to aid in the calculation of the child support award and a table that reflects the percentage of combined net income that parents living in the same household ordinarily spend on their children.

If you are seeking child support, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today and schedule an appointment to meet with one of our experienced attorneys.

Civil Unions

Civil Unions — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
A civil union is a legal relationship between two people that provides legal protections to the couple only at the state level. A civil union is not a marriage, though. Civil unions do not provide federal protections, benefits, or responsibilities to couples, and a civil union may not be recognized by all states.

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act confers most of the rights of marriage on parties to a civil union. It promises equality as a matter of state law. Under the new act two persons - of either the same or opposite gender and both at least 18 years of age - may elect to enter into a civil union rather than a marriage. And those who do - as well as those who are already married, civilly unioned or united, will be entitled to all of the recognitions and benefits available under Illinois law to spouses, including that which is arguably the most important if and when the time comes: divorce.

As with marriage, the legal rights and interests to parties to a civil union will be determined mostly in dissolution. With the enactment of the act, couples who obtain a civil union in Illinois will be able to dissolve it in Illinois - or elsewhere, by express consent to the jurisdiction of Illinois courts under section 45 (see below) - and same-sex couples from other jurisdictions who can establish residency in Illinois may now obtain a dissolution of their marriage, civil union, domestic partnership or similarly recognized legal relationship. This single change in the law provides for the first time the right to divorce otherwise available to all who marry, along with the attendant right to equitable division of property without regard to title. If you are looking to dissolve a civil union, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today to schedule an appointment.

College Expenses

College Expenses — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
As a general matter, most educational expense issues are addressed during the divorce process itself, along with other child support issues. However, when there is no agreement in place, the obligation of divorced parents to pay for their child's college expenses will depend on the judge if the parties cannot agree.

If college expenses are not in the marital agreement then there is no obligation by either party to pay for them. However, if college expenses are in the agreement then the other party does have an obligation to help pay. Courts look at a variety of factors in determining whether to grant college expense support to an ex-spouse. Some factors that they look at are: the financial resources of both parents (including income, savings, and investments); the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved, the financial resources of the child (including financial aid and scholarships); and the child's academic performance (whether the child was going to go to college anyway).

It is very important to hire highly experienced attorneys to represent you in your divorce case. It is not only important to protect yourself and assets, but also the future of your children. The Women's Legal Services Center can do just that. Our attorneys are highly experienced in acquiring college expenses during divorce settlements. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.


Divorce Counselling — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
Everyone gets married with the intention of being together forever. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the termination of a marriage or marital union, thus dissolving the bonds of matrimony between a married couple.

There are also very high conflict divorces. In a divorce, emotions always run high. Even the most amicable of divorces can get messy. This is why it is important to have legal representation that is on your side. They will remain clear headed and will not overlook things when they feel overwhelmed with emotion. Let Women's Legal Services Center handle your divorce and help to alleviate the stress. We are very highly qualified and have over 45 years of experience.

If you find yourself needing even a simple divorce, contact Women's Legal Services Center today to schedule a consultation to explore all your options and find the best resolution for you.

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. (add or keep first sentence?). The Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.

This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. If you are experiencing any of these conditions, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today and let us help you.

Orders of Protection- One way the Women's Legal Services Center can help you with domestic violence is obtaining an order of protection. A petition for an order of protection may be filed only: (i) by a person who has been abused by a family or household member or by any person on behalf of a minor child or an adult who has been abused by a family or household member and who, because of age, health, disability, or inaccessibility, cannot file the petition, or (ii) by any person on behalf of a high-risk adult with disabilities who has been abused, neglected, or exploited by a family or household member. However, any petition properly filed under this Act may seek protection for any additional persons protected by this Act.

It is important that you do not wait as action must be taken now. To speak with an experienced family law attorney who can assist you in your domestic abuse case, please contact Women's Legal Services Center today.


Guardianship — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
There are different kinds of guardianships. In family law there is a “guardian ad litem.” A "guardian ad litem" (GAL) is a person the court appoints to investigate what solutions would be in the “best interests of a child.” The GAL will look into the family situation and advise the court on things like:

Where the children should live most of the time, whether the child is being harmed by a parent's substance abuse, and what contact the child should have with a parent. GAL's can be lawyers or some kinds of mental health professionals who have had special training.

Overall, the GAL must look at all the different factors that could affect the parent-child relationship. Then they make a recommendation. The GAL's recommendation should protect the child's right to have a meaningful, strong relationship with their parents, in a way that makes sense and is in the child's “best interests.”
This does not sever the legal relationship that exists between a child and his or her biological parents, however. Instead, it co-exists with that legal relationship.

For help regarding a guardianship, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today to schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney.

Litigation Process

Guardianship — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
No matter what your situation, litigating a family law case can be difficult and requires an experienced knowledge of the law. Judges don't have the patience for pro se cases lacking legal representation. In other words, judges don't have the time to listen to two married people bicker in court without the legal knowledge or terminology they needed to present a good case.

The law is very complex, which is why it takes people years to become fully qualified attorneys. If you or your spouse requires legal advice, the judge can't help as a neutral representative. Therefore, it is very important that you have the proper legal representation to ensure that your rights and interests are protected and not overlooked due to lack of representation when emotions run high. We are here to help. Contact the Women's Legal Services Center today to schedule an appointment and discuss your options with a highly qualified attorney.


Father Teaching His Daughter — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
Paternity law refers to body of law underlying legal relationship between a father and his biological or adopted children and deals with the rights and obligations of both the father and the child to each other as well as to others. There are three main ways in which paternity is typically established; by a paternity affidavit, by an administrative order based on genetic test results, or by a court order.

If a genetic test result is returned which identifies the father, an administrative order of paternity is issued and the matter is set for an administrative support action. Children born to unwed persons do not automatically have a legal Father without a Paternity action establishing the identity of the Father, whether agreed or contested. If you need assistance establishing paternity contact the Women's Legal Services Center today and let us help you.

Premarital Agreements

Premarital Agreements — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
Premarital agreements, also commonly known as a "prenup" is a contract between two people who intend to marry. It specifies the rights and obligations of each party. Premarital agreements can cover a variety of topics.

The most common topics include property and financial support rights during and after marriage, personal rights and obligations of the couple during marriage and in death, and the education and rearing of children to be born to the couple. A typical premarital agreement is used by one spouse or both spouses to keep personal property and income separate during the marriage or to protect certain property before one spouse embarks on a risky investment or new career.

If you need a premarital agreement drafted, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today and have an experienced attorney assist you.

Property Division

Property Division — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
The asset distribution aspect is often one of the most highly-contested and heavily-litigated parts of a divorce. Coming to an agreement on which spouse will own which possessions and how much money is something that is nearly always a major point of contention and can slow your entire divorce process down. For purposes of distributing property in a divorce, all property acquired by either spouse after the marriage and before a judgment of dissolution of marriage, including non-marital property transferred into some form of co-ownership between the spouses, is presumed to be marital property.

In Illinois, the courts generally accept a fair and reasonable property division the parties agree to, but if the parties cannot agree, the Circuit Court divides the marital estate within the Judgment of Divorce. The court will accept a marital settlement agreement that the parties submit unless the court finds it to be unconscionable.

Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Equitable does not mean equal, or even half, but rather what the Circuit Court considers fair. Illinois is a dual classification state. It separates marital property from separate property. The court divides the marital estate without regard to marital misconduct.

If you need experienced representation for your divorce, contact the Women's Legal Services Center today to hear from a highly experienced attorney that will provide the representation needed to protect your valued possessions.

Rights to Responsibility

Rights to Responsibility — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
It can be very easy to lose sight of your options and rights while you are going through a complex divorce, especially if the situation between you and your spouse is tense and stressful. We are here to explain what responsibilities you have in regards to the divorce and your children, as well as ensure that you do not lose sight of your rights. Our goal is to protect your rights and best interest and ensure that you are not taken advantage of.

We can help you to navigate matters of child custody, visitation (parenting time), and child support, to ensure that your rights and responsibilities are correctly allocated. Although the court does attempt to make the most appropriate decisions based on the best interests of the children, it is vital that you have a lawyer to represent you. The Women's Legal Services Center is here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your options.

Settlement or Trial

Trial Court — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
Trials can be long, grueling, and very expensive. This is why most people look to settle out of court before it ever gets to trial. A settlement is typically done by mutual agreement of the parties and the defendant usually does not admit fault.

There are pros and cons to settling. Some pros include knowing how much you will be getting because the parties control the outcome. It will also be resolved a lot sooner. Attorney fees and other costs are also significantly reduced. Some cons of settling are that the defendant does not usually admit any wrongdoing, and the settlements are often confidential.

A trial is when a claim is taken to court. This involves a public trial with a judge, attorneys, witnesses, and testimonies. There is no right to a jury of your peers in a family law case.

Whether you settle your case or it goes to trial, the Women's Legal Services Center is here to fight for you. Schedule an appointment today to discuss your options and decide what is best for you.

Visitation Rights/Parenting Time

Visitation Rights — Women's Legal Services in Chicago, IL
Visitation rights, now known as "parenting time" occurs in a divorce or custody action when permission is granted by the court to a noncustodial parent to visit his or her child or children. Courts generally consider the wishes of the child when reviewing custody and visitation issues. A child's wish may be granted but it will be dependent on the child's age and maturity level, as well as what the court concludes is in the child's best interests.

Parenting time may also be determined by the agreement of the parties or by a court order. If the court concludes that the parents will be cooperative. The parents must amicably work out reasonable times and terms that work best for both parents and child. If you are seeking assistance to gain parenting time with your child or children, contact Women's Legal Services Center today and let us help you.