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New laws in Illinois could mean big changes for some families p2

Every state has a default effective date for new laws. The date generally falls a couple of months after the legislature adjourns, to give agencies a chance to write any necessary regulations and, of course, to simplify the lawmaking process; it may or may not coincide with the beginning of the state's fiscal year. In certain circumstances, the bill will take effect "immediately," as soon as the governor signs it.

This is why some of the new laws we are talking about here and in our last post may sound familiar. In Illinois, the default date is Jan. 1, but the General Assembly may have passed the law in August. The "first right of refusal" law that we discussed in our last post, for example, passed both houses in May; it was sent to the governor in June, and he signed it in August.

A bill that amended the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 followed a similar path. This law allows custody or visitation to the father of a child conceived through sexual assault only with the consent of the child's mother or guardian. Interestingly, the law applies to men who have been convicted of sexual assault as well as to men who have been found liable in a civil hearing. While the standard in a criminal trial is "beyond a reasonable doubt," the civil matter is decided by clear and convincing evidence.

The law does not stop with the father's parental rights. Without the consent of the mother or guardian, the father's relatives, including parents and grandparents, have no right to visitation or custody. The same consent is required for the father to inherit or to benefit in any other way from the child.

Among the other new laws is one that prohibits children from suing their parents for eavesdropping on their electronic communications. The one caveat is that the parent must be exercising his or her right "to supervise, monitor and control the activities of a minor." So snooping is not protected, but parenting is.

If you have any questions about how these bills and others affect you or your family, we strongly suggest that you consult with a family law attorney.

Source: Elmhurst Patch, "More Than 200 New Laws Went Into Effect Wednesday," Karen Chadra, Jan. 2, 2014Illinois General Assembly, House Bill 3128 as enrolled

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