Family Law & Divorce
Child Related Issues
Preguntas Legales Frecuentes
Can I Petition for Guardianship of a Child That Is Not Mine?
According to Illinois law, any person of sound mind who is at least 18 years old, a resident of the United States, and who has not been convicted of a felony or declared disabled by a judge can petition for guardianship of a child. This means that a non-parent family member or a friend can seek guardianship.
There are many situations in which parents may not be able to properly care for their own child. Some parents may be too young and immature, while others may have financial issues or problems with drugs or alcohol. In cases like these, it is often friends or family members, such as grandparents, aunt, and uncles, who step up and provide the care that the children desperately need.
Unfortunately, the biological parents often take advantage of the situation, coming and going from their child’s life as they please. This can be not only frustrating for the family member or friend but also unhealthy for the child.
Illinois law provides that a non-parent can seek guardianship of a minor child as long the person seeking guardianship:
- Is at least 18 years old;
- Is a resident of United States;
- Is of sound mind;
- Has not been convicted of a felony; and
- Has not been declared disabled by a judge.
In order to obtain guardianship, the non-parent must show that the child’s biological parents have voluntarily relinquished physical custody of the child and are unable or unwilling to care for the child. This burden of proof is waived if the biological parents consent to the guardianship either in writing or verbally in open court. The guardianship can also be granted if the parents fail to appear for the hearings.
An Illinois court will only grant guardianship of a minor child to a non-parent when doing so is in the child’s best interests, and we can help you show that it is. Contact MFKM Law by calling 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation today. We serve DuPage County, Kane County and surrounding areas throughout northern Illinois.
Does My Employer Have to Accommodate My Disability?
If you are disabled but you are still able to perform the essential functions of your job, your employer is required by law to make reasonable accommodations for your disability. It is generally up to you, however, to request an accommodation. Your employer is then responsible for helping to determine what type of accommodation may be necessary.
There are thousands of disabled individuals in Illinois—and many more throughout the country—who are fully capable of performing a wide variety of jobs. Sometimes, the nature of a disability means that an accommodation must be made to allow the disabled person to better carry out his or her duties. For example, a person whose disability prevents him or her from standing for a significant period of time may still be able to fulfill the duties of a cashier if the person is permitted to use a stool.
It is a violation of state and federal law for an employer to discriminate against you on the basis of your disability status, but you are responsible for requesting the necessary accommodation. Once you have made your request, it is up to your employer to work with you in what is known as the “interactive process.” During this process, your employer will inquire about your disability, gather medical documentation, and determine the accommodation that will best allow you to do your job.
If the employer can show that the accommodation would cause the company undue hardship, based on the size of the business, the costs involved, and other factors, the accommodation is no longer considered to be reasonable. An employer is not required to make an accommodation that would cause undue hardship.
If you would like guidance with requesting a reasonable accommodation or your request has been denied by your employer, contact our office. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation with an experienced workplace discrimination attorney. MKFM Law serves clients in DuPage County, Kane County, and the surrounding areas.
How Do I Know If I Am a Victim of Workplace Retaliation?
Workplace retaliation refers to negative actions taken by an employer against an employee who reports or makes a complaint about sexual harassment, discrimination, or other violations of the law. If you were demoted or fired after reporting a problem to your employer, an experienced attorney can help you determine whether you have been a victim of retaliation.
At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, we understand that Illinois is an “at-will employment” state which means that employees can be fired for any lawful reason or for no reason at all. There are, however, certain situations in which an employer cannot fire you or otherwise take negative action against you. One of these situations is when you have engaged in a “protected activity.”
Under Illinois and federal labor laws, protected activities include:
- Filing a report or complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IHDR);
- Discussing concerns with a manager or supervisor about workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment;
- Participating in an investigation of alleged harassment or discrimination;
- Refusing to follow instructions that would result in discrimination; or
- Requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability or religious practice.
It is important to understand that the law offers the most protection to employees who make specific complaints, reports, or requests. This means that if sexual harassment is an issue in your workplace, you should specify in your complaint that you are being sexually harassed.
Termination of employment is just one way in which an employer could retaliate against an employee. Other forms of possible retaliation include formal or informal reprimands, artificially lowered performance evaluations, transfers to a less desirable position, increased scrutiny or expectations, and threatened or actual reports to authorities, such as in regard to an employee’s immigration status.
If you have additional questions about identifying and addressing issues of workplace retaliation, contact our office. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation. MKFM Law serves clients in Wheaton, St. Charles, Oak Brook, Naperville, Geneva and throughout DuPage County and Kane County.
What Is a “Protected Class” as It Relates to Employment Discrimination?
There are a number of state and federal laws that are intended to prohibit and police discrimination against individuals with certain, identifiable characteristics. Those who share these characteristics are considered to be part of a “protected class” of people. Employment discrimination occurs when an employer treats a member of a protected class differently from their peers.
Protected classes have been recognized by a variety of federal laws, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967, and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, among many others. At the state level, the Illinois Human Rights Act established protections for additional identifiable characteristics.
According to these laws, it is illegal and a violation of the person’s rights for an employer to make adverse employment-related decisions on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived:
- National origin or place of birth;
- Sex or gender identity;
- Sexual orientation;
- Marital, pregnancy, or family status;
- Order of protection status;
- Veteran status, including unfavorable discharge; or
- Citizenship status.
Adverse employment decisions include refusing to hire, segregating, compensating, promoting, disciplining, or otherwise affecting the terms and conditions of a person’s employment.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Human Rights Commission are responsible for ensuring that all people enjoy the benefits of equal opportunity laws. At MKFM Law, we are committed to helping those who have experienced discrimination of any kind in the workplace. If you have been discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic, contact our office so our experienced team can help you take action. Call 630-665-7300 to discuss your case and to explore your available options. Our firm serves clients in DuPage County, Kane County, and throughout Northern Illinois.
Can I Plead the Fifth in My Illinois Divorce?
The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution is known as the self-incrimination clause and states “No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” When someone says, “I plead the Fifth,” they cannot be required to answer any questions or state any information that may incriminate them.
Most Americans are aware that they have the right to refuse to answer questions about their own criminal conduct. However, many do not realize that Fifth Amendment protections are limited in civil cases related to divorce.
Some people may wish to plead the Fifth because they are hiding assets, having an affair, or engaging in another activity they do not want to disclose. They may prefer to remain silent rather than lie in court or answer questions that reveal secrets to their spouse.
Unlike in a criminal court case, if you invoke your Fifth Amendment rights in a civil court case, a judge can hold your refusal to answer against you. Therefore, if you are involved in a divorce or another civil case and are concerned that you may be asked to admit criminal conduct, it is in your best interest to reach out to an experienced divorce attorney.
Prior to your court date, your attorney will inform you of what types of questions to expect and how to handle the questions that may make you feel uncomfortable. In most cases, you will need to respond to all questions, unless your attorney tells you otherwise. Aside from preparing you to answer difficult questions, your attorney will object to inappropriate questions and help you avoid answering questions that may hurt you case.
If you are going through a divorce proceeding, you should call the highly skilled divorce attorneys at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC at 630-665-7300. For decades, we have been assisting clients from DuPage, Kane, and Kendall Counties, and can help you understand how the Fifth Amendment and the Illinois divorce statutes apply to your case.