This is a common problem that I see often. First, it is important to know whether or not you have a right to parenting time (which used to be called "visitation"). Did you sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity at the time the child was born? Do you have a court order declaring you the legal parent of the child? Do you have a court order for parenting time? If not, this is the first step to securing your right to parenting time with your child.
Next, it is important to know your rights under the law. In Illinois, parents have the right to parenting time (formerly called visitation) with their children, unless they are found to be a serious danger to their child’s well-being (in which case parenting time my be supervised or denied altogether). Parents also have the obligation to financially support their children. However, it is important to note that the right to see your child is independent of the obligation to pay child support. This means that even if you are behind on your child support payments, the other parent cannot deny you time with your child.
If you are being denied parenting time, keep a log of all of the incidents with details about what happened. You may also file a police report for visitation interference, if you have a court order. If you need an order for parenting time, or you would like to enforce an existing order, you should make an appointment with an experienced family law attorney right away.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, which is also known as SIJS, is an immigration status for unmarried minors under the age of 21, living in the United States, who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both parents. You can apply for SIJS only if you have an order from a state court which places you in the custody of someone else, and that states that you have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent. The order must also state that it is not in your best interest to return to your home country.
Minors who are granted SIJS can receive a green card (with some exceptions). However, they can never file a petition for a green card on behalf of their parents in the future. The SIJS program provides minor children, who are in the custody of someone else, with a path to residency and citizenship.
In order to apply for SIJS, first you must obtain the necessary state court order, if you do not already have one. This means that an adult who is caring for the child must file a petition for custody (if the adult is a parent of the minor) or guardianship (if the adult is not a parent of the minor), in the appropriate court. It is recommended that you hire a family law attorney for this part of the process, and it is very important that your attorney understand SIJS procedures.
If that petition is successful, and the state court order contains the necessary language, then the minor child is now eligible to apply for SIJS through the USCIS. It is recommended that you hire an immigration attorney for this part of the process. It usually takes between six to twelve months to process the application.
One tricky area of the law here is that you can only get the custody or guardianship order from the state court if the minor child is under 18 years of age. This is because the state courts can only grant these orders for minors younger than 18, except in special cases. So far there have not been clear examples of minors between the ages of 18-21 who have been able to get the state court orders, so it is best to act quickly while the minor child is still younger than 18 years of age.
In summary, SIJS can provide minor children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by one or both parents with protection from deportation and a green card. It is a process that requires two separate cases, one at the state court level and later one at the federal level (immigration). It is highly recommended that you hire lawyers who are knowledgeable about SIJS, and it may be in your best interest to consider a law firm that handles both types of cases.
Maintenance, formerly called alimony in Illinois, is the financial support that one ex-spouse pays to another ex-spouse during and/or after they get a divorce. Maintenance exists to make sure that both parties can support themselves after a divorce. Often times, one spouse will be the “breadwinner” in the family, and the other spouse has given up work opportunities and other advancements to care for the family. The maintenance law seeks to make sure that the other spouse does not end up destitute when the marriage ends.
Unlike child support, maintenance is not automatically awarded in every divorce case. The court will consider many factors to determine whether or not maintenance is appropriate. The court will look at the parties’ standard of living during the marriage, the work history and level of education of each party, and each party’s income to decide whether maintenance should be awarded.
If a court decides that maintenance is appropriate, then there is a formula in the Illinois law that is used to calculate the amount of maintenance and the duration (how long the maintenance will be paid). The amounts are based on both parties’ incomes, and the duration is based on the length of the marriage.
Here are some common questions about maintenance that many people ask me:
Q. Can I get maintenance if I am not married but I have been with my partner for a long time?
A. No. Unmarried couples who separate cannot ask for maintenance in Illinois, even if they have been together a long time. Illinois does not recognize “common law” marriages.
Q. Is maintenance only for wives who stay at home to raise children?
A. No. Maintenance can be received by either a husband or a wife. A spouse can receive maintenance even if he or she is working. It all depends on the circumstances of your case.
Q. Do I have to wait until a divorce is finalized to get maintenance?
A. No. The law allows the parties in a divorce to request temporary maintenance while the case is still being decided.