Whether you’re going through a divorce, working out child support, or pursuing an adoption or a civil union, it’s important to make sure you have a Waukegan family law lawyer on your side to guide you through the process in the best way possible. You can depend on The Jordan Law Firm to provide the straightforward advice and skilled advocacy you deserve, no matter what kind of family law matter you are facing.
At The Jordan Law Firm, our mission statement is, “To provide quality, individualized legal representation and to effect change within the community through education and service.” We approach every family law case with this goal in mind. We never rely on the one-size-fits-all representation that exemplifies many other local family law firms, and we take the time to listen to each individual client’s unique situation before we begin to develop a strategy to accomplish their goals.
For family law clients in Chicago and the surrounding Cook County area, you can expect the following:
- Individualized Representation: No cookie-cutter services. I consider each person’s unique circumstances and develop a plan for representation that takes into account their wants and needs. Although I have the legal training, it is important to me that your voice is heard at all times. I do this by sitting down with you, asking you questions, getting to know you, and brainstorming what we can do, as a team, to get you where you want to be once the case is resolved.
- Quality representation: It is my sincere belief that EVERY person deserves quality legal representation no matter how “big” or how “little” their case is.
- A firm with a social conscience: I believe it is important to not only address my clients’ legal issues, but also to improve the community that we are all a part of. I do this by being an active member of the community offering reduced fee services with various legal aid organizations and educating the public on family law matters at every opportunity.
At The Jordan Law Firm, I pride myself on treating my clients like family. To me, the firm is more than a business. While most law firms simply offer their services and legal advice to clients, my firm aims to break the wheel and effect change within the community through education and service opportunities.
This means not only supporting your best interests in any legal matter, but also making sure you receive detailed answers to your questions and concerns throughout the process. When you retain my services, you can depend on me to guide you through your family law case toward the best possible resolution. I also make myself available to my clients to address whatever needs or late-night questions come up.
Understanding Civil Unions in Illinois
One of the areas of family law that I focus on is civil unions. Civil unions have been legal in Illinois since June 1, 2011, when the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act was signed into law. In Illinois, civil unions grant both same-sex and different-sex couples all of the rights, protections, responsibilities, obligations, and benefits provided to married couples under state law.
However, civil unions in Illinois do not provide any of the benefits, rights, protections, obligations, or responsibilities afforded to married couples by federal law.
Civil Union vs. Marriage – What’s the Difference?
Partners who enter into a civil union in Illinois are entitled to the same rights and protections afforded to married couples under Illinois state law. However, a civil union is not a marriage. Civil unions are recognized only on the state level; federal law does not recognize Illinois civil unions—at least not yet. Thus, a couple who enters into an Illinois civil union may not have that union recognized if they travel or move to another state.
Furthermore, an Illinois civil union does not make the couple eligible for the benefits, rights, and privileges afforded to married couples under federal law. This means that partners in a civil union in Illinois cannot collect one another’s Social Security benefits or file joint federal taxes.
If you’re in a civil union in Illinois, your employer may not be obligated to offer you the chance to put your civil union partner on your health plan. This means that it’s particularly important to consult an experienced family law legal practitioner throughout your civil union.
Civil Union Benefits Under Illinois Family Law: What You Might Not Know
Illinois family law offers the same benefits to couples joined by civil union as those joined by marriage in the state. You can change your name to that of your partner when you enter into an Illinois civil union, or both partners can change their names. You will be presumed to be birth parents of any children born into the union, at least under state law. However, your parentage may not be recognized in other states or under federal law.
Other rights and responsibilities afforded to civil union partners in Illinois include:
- The duty of joint liability for family debts incurred during the relationship
- The duty of joint financial support of each partner for the other
- Access to joint adoption and step-parent adoption using the same avenues and procedures as those open to different-sex and same-sex married couples
- The obligation to have the civil union dissolved by a domestic relations court should the partners wish to end the legal relationship between them, but also access to equitable division of debts and assets as overseen by the court
- The right of one partner to seek financial support from the other should the relationship end
- Access to child support orders, custody, and visitation upon the end of the relationship
- Protection for partners and their children under domestic violence, crisis assistance, and crime victim laws
- Automatic rights of hospital visitation, the right to make medical decisions for one’s partner, and the right to receive information about a partner’s medical treatment and condition
- The right to authorize autopsies, release of medical records, authorize organ donations and other anatomical gifts, and to make funeral arrangements for a deceased partner
- The right to sue for monetary damages in the event of a partner’s wrongful death
- The right to inherit, even without a will, and the right to financial protections while the deceased partner’s estate is in probate
- Access to employment-related spousal and family benefits, and spousal health insurance benefits for public employees
- The right to file joint state income tax returns
- The right to hold real estate in “tenancy by the entirety”
While civil unions remain available in Illinois to couples who wish to establish a legal relationship, but do not wish to marry, same-sex marriage is now legal in Illinois and affords same-sex partners all of the federal benefits and obligations of marriage. If you are already in a civil union in Illinois, you can convert your civil union into a marriage by applying for a marriage license. There is no fee to convert your civil union into a marriage in Illinois.
However, your civil union will not be automatically converted into a marriage. You must request that your civil union be converted into a marriage. Civil unions converted to marriages between June 1, 2014, and June 1, 2015, will be retroactively backdated to the date of the original civil union, meaning that these couples can amend their tax returns going back to 2011 and may receive additional benefits. Civil unions converted after June 1, 2015 will be considered marriages from the date of the conversion. Converting your civil union to a marriage is the best way to obtain full benefits for your spouse and children, on both the state and federal levels.
If you and your family need help with any part of your civil union, the dedicated Waukegan family law lawyer at The Jordan Law Firm can help. We have extensive experience handling civil union cases and put our advanced knowledge to use in every case we handle, making the process as easy on you as possible.
Dedicated to Working with Military Families
It’s no secret that dealing with family law in military families can be complicated. This is why helping military families is another area of our firm’s focus. Whether you are trying to understand how a civil union or your marriage to military personnel might be affected, or if you are going through a divorce from someone who is currently stationed abroad – you can count on the experience and knowledge of The Jordan Law Firm to get you through the process.
Ms. Jordan is a very competent attorney who works to get the best outcome for her client. This was evident in her work while representing me in my case. She is very professional and answered all of my questions. Ms. Jordan was a pleasure to work with.
– Sara Cruse
Waukegan Child Support and Alimony Disputes
Disagreements involving child support and alimony are two of the most common issues that arise during and after a divorce. Child support refers to payments made by one parent to the other, for the benefit of the child. Courts will order the non-custodial parent to make child support payments to the custodial parent. While child support is paid to the parent, the right to child support belongs to the child. Thus, courts oversee child support agreements to ensure that they are in the best interest of the child. The amount of child support will depend primarily on the non-custodial parent’s income.
Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, involves regular payments made by one spouse to the other, either during or after a divorce. The court’s goal in awarding spousal support is to put both spouses in as equal a position as possible. Thus, the court most often awards spousal support in situations where there is a significant income disparity between the parties. The court will determine the length of time that alimony payments are appropriate.
Both child support and alimony orders can be terminated or modified by the court. For example, alimony payments will automatically terminate if the receiving spouse remarries or begins living with another partner. To obtain a modification, the requesting party must show that there was a change in circumstances since the original order, such as:
- A change in income or employment status;
- The receiving spouse’s lack of effort to become self-supporting; or
- Either parties’ development of a serious health condition.
As is often the case in family law, when the parties can agree to a modification, the process is fairly straightforward. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree to a modification, an experienced Waukegan family law attorney can help represent your interests to ensure you are treated fairly.
A Skilled and Experienced Waukegan Family Law Lawyer on Your Side
It’s important to have a skilled Waukegan family law attorney on your side if you’re dealing with a child custody dispute, alimony, or any other family law matter. At The Jordan Law Firm, I am prepared to work tirelessly for you, no matter what type of matter you are currently dealing with. When you schedule a consultation with me, I will examine the details of your case and help you determine the best way to move forward.
The Jordan Law firm provides Illinois residents with individualized legal solutions in a variety of family law matters ranging from representation for divorce, child custody, child support, and alimony. We also have extensive experience with special circumstances like military spouses and civil unions. I can ensure your rights are protected and will work to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children.
No matter what kind of family law issue you are going through, it’s crucial that you have the right lawyer on your side. At The Jordan Law Firm, you can trust and rest assured that you have an experienced and knowledgeable Waukegan family law attorney on your side. To schedule a free consultation, call me at 312-380-9221 or fill out the form online to get started.