It was a dream come true for a little girl in Bolivia: a family who wanted to adopt her. But more than three years later, the family from west suburban Aurora is still trying to bring 5-year-old Cecilia home. Attorney Brad Giglio of Mevorah Law Offices LLC says the feds have told him and his clients to be patient. Read more from CBS Chicago. Support Bringing Cecilia Home on Facebook.
Being arrested and charged for a crime can have a significant impact on a person’s life, especially when the conviction comes with a long-term prison sentence. It is not only the person, however, who finds themselves the most affected. With the prison population growing in the United States, and roughly 2.2 million prisoners in the U.S. (excluding those who are on probation or parole), the number of people affected by an extended prison sentence includes the prisoner and his or her family, especially when children are involved.
Incarcerated Parents Can Still Maintain Their Parental Rights
When a parent has been arrested and convicted of a crime, depending on the circumstances, a parent may lose parental rights to his/her children. This, however, is not a guaranteed termination. Parents who have been incarcerated may still be permitted to have parental rights and a relationship with their children as long as that relationship does not harm or cause damage to the child’s physical, mental, and/or emotional well-being.
Child Custody at Time of Arrest
At the initiation of your arrest or once you get your first phone call from the arresting official, there may be an opportunity for you to make arrangements for your child/children to be looked after by a relative or family friends. Even if there is another relative or friend to take care of the child (who is not the other biological or adoptive parent), it will be up to the Child Protective Services to vet the emergency foster parent to ensure that this person is responsible and won’t cause harm to the child. If possible, it is always beneficial for the child to remain with a relative or a family friend rather than be put into foster care as the child’s life will be less likely to be disrupted by the imprisonment if he/she is with someone he/she knows and trusts. It’s also best for the child if the arrangements allow the child to remain local so that his/her life is unchanged as much as possible.
The Importance of Maintaining Relationship between the Parent and Children
To later be able to reunite with his/her children, an incarcerated parent, who has not had his/her parental rights terminated, should work to ensure that he/she has visitation rights. It is important for keeping the family intact that there is consistent family contact while the parent is in prison. Studies report that continued and regular visits lead to strong, successful relationships between the parent and child post-incarceration and also lead to a lower recidivism rate for the parent.
Reunification is the process by which you, as a parent, upon your release from prison, are able to reunite with your children. To be able to reunite with your family, you must prove that you are a good and responsible parent. Part of that process is showing that you would not bring any harm to your child and that the relationship and kinship you have with your child is in his/her best interest. The court will provide a reunification plan and to get your children back, you must satisfy all of the requirements asked of you by the court.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County
Parental rights are fundamental and there is no law in Illinois that requires the termination of parental rights when a parent has been incarcerated. If your parental rights are being threatened, it is important to speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC. Contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.
With Marriage Equality Now the Law of the Land, What Could Happen to Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships?
The Supreme Court deciding in favor of same-sex marriage has been an incredible victory for those who have been denied equal protection of fundamental rights. Having the right to marry expanded to all persons interested, regardless of their sexual orientation, has many contemplating the possible repercussions that may affect persons who entered into civil unions and domestic partnerships because marriage was not available to them. Because civil unions and domestic partnerships were honored by states where same-sex marriages were not permitted and by corporations who wanted to extend benefits to domestic partners of their employees, the future of domestic partnerships and the benefits that were provided to domestic partners is being decided.
Domestic Partnerships/Civil Union Law in Illinois
Domestic partnerships and civil union law in Illinois became effective initially on June 1, 2011. Civil unions were provided equally to both same-sex and opposite-sex partners interested in civil unions; the union provided partners benefits that were enjoyed by spouses within the state.
The Rights and Obligations of Illinois’ Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships
According to an article published by the Illinois State Bar Association, the civil unions were the state’s attempt to rectify disparities between men and women who were not permitted to marry their same-sex partners within the state and share in the same obligations, duties, responsibilities, and benefits that opposite-sex couples could enjoy through marriage. However, the rights, obligations, and benefits were only provided from the State of Illinois, and not from federal law or another state’s laws. Civil unions in Illinois allowed Illinois civil union partners to be joint parents to children born within the union, seek maintenance at the termination of the relationship, provide access to custody, visitation and support rights in the case of children begot through the civil union, and automatic medical and death-related rights such as hospital visitation, medical decision-making, money damages for wrongful death, and other spousal/family benefits provided by employers.
The Future of Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions: Could Their Disintegration Do More Harm than Good?
Though civil union rights provided significant benefits to couples living and working in Illinois, those rights did not extend past state lines, and employers across state lines did not have to acknowledge the relationship. The issue at the center of the upheaval of the marriage laws provides a situation where domestic partnerships and civil unions are no longer necessary, so potentially the scrapping of these programs would mean that beneficiaries of these relationships would have to marry to continue to receive benefits under the new laws. The question at the center of this debate is: now that marriage equality is here and present, why should there be various layers of relationship statuses among the populace? Are civil unions and domestic partnerships obsolete now?
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County
Domestic partnerships and civil unions may be on the chopping block. If you and your partner are not able to take advantage of the benefits of your civil union, it is important to speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC. Contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.
With the U.S. Supreme Court making decisions regarding the matter of same-sex marriage, soon states might have to start passing legislation that would imbue same-sex couples with the rights afforded to married couples already acknowledged by the United States. There will, however, be a considerable lag between the possible passing of U.S. Supreme Court’s holding and potential corresponding legislation. During that time period, however, same-sex adoption issues and parenthood issues will still be on the dockets until the corresponding legislation has been passed.
Same-Sex Adoption Rights in Illinois
Luckily for same-sex couples in Illinois, which is one of the most progressive LGBTQ states in the nation, they will not be dealing with the same discrimination that is rampant in other states. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services permit that all families that are able and willing to care for children are allowed to adopt without any prohibition against same-sex individuals or partners. However, this does not mean that discrimination against same-sex individuals or couples in other states does not have an impact on those lucky enough to live in Illinois.
Issues Faced by Non-Biological Parent in Same-Sex Couples
Currently, the issues that other same-sex couples face could still have an impact on Illinois same-sex couples. This is because parenthood is generally established as a biological connection. Many times the DNA from one of the same-sex partners is used, linking the offspring to one of the parents, but not the other. This could disadvantage greatly the non-biological parent, even if he or she has been parenting the child since day one. In an article written regarding inefficiencies surrounding statutory parenthood of same-sex couples, professor Jeffrey A. Parness suggested changes to Illinois’s current statutory parenthood provisions so as to bequeath parenthood to the non-biological same-sex partner as would be done if the offspring came from the biological father.
Suggested Amendments to Current Same-Sex Parenthood Statutes
The following are some amendments to current parenthood statutes that would provide greater coverage to parents in a same-sex union:
With regards to the lesbian couples in civil unions, there could be an added presumption that a biological male partner, whose DNA was used through the method of sex, would lose his parenthood interests before birth and would import that presumption of parenthood on the non-biological same-sex parent. That would permit that at the birth of the child, regardless of the biology, he or she would be the legal offspring of the mother and her civil union partner. There would be an opportunity for the presumption to be rebutted by the mother and the biological father if for some reason the lesbian partner was not supposed to be the child’s parent.
With regards to male same-sex partners in a civil union, there should be an easier way in which a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity could be executed at the birth of the child. This would allow a parent who is not biologically-linked to assume the role as parent early on.
Finally, for gay and lesbian partners who are not in civil unions or enter into civil unions after the birth, there should be an expedited process by which parentage could be acknowledged at birth of the child, regardless of the biological ties of the parent to the child. As long as the partners were together from conception, through pregnancy to birth, this should be enough to show parentage, as it would for heterosexual couples in the same situation.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County
Sadly, there are still many same-sex parents who must go through significant statutory roadblocks before adoption can be a possibility. If you and your partner have been discriminated as a result of your sexual orientation, it is important to speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC. Contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.