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Sara R. Howard
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Sara Howard’s Answers

769 total


  • Can I respond to a petition for adoption myself? If so where do I get the forms?

    I need to respond to a petition for adoption. I am the biological parent, and do not wish to have my child adopted by the new step parent. False claims of abandonment are being made, when actually visitation and communication with my child are b...

    Sara’s Answer

    There are no forms available... an Answer to the Petition for Adoption needs to be drafted with a response to each paragraph of the Petition. You need to file your Appearance and Answer within a relatively short time so if you are unsure as to how to proceed, it is best to consult with an attorney or risk having your parental rights terminated. Many attorneys, including me, do offer a free initial consultation for such matters.

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  • Can I terminate my parental rights and how would I go about accomplishing this?

    I am a divorced mother of 3 children, I have physical custody of all three. My middle child (14) has various mental health issues. He is abusive to all of us verbally and sometimes physically. He wants to go live with his father and I am consi...

    Sara’s Answer

    There is no way that you can have your parental rights terminated other than if the father might be re-married and he and his spouse was willing to adopt this child. If adoption is an option, then not only would your parental rights be terminated, but you would not be liable for child support to the child's father.

    If you and the father decide that your child should to live with him, please consider consulting with an attorney to make sure that the process is done with the knowledge and assistance of the appropriate court order to protect yourself.

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  • Do I have to actually hand it to him in person or just post on his door?

    I have a tenant in Chicago who is almost 3 months behind in rent. He doesn't answer the door or phone calls and disregards any type of communication. Trying to give him an eviction notice in person has become very difficult.

    Sara’s Answer

    Personal service is the preferred method of serving your tenant. You may have to hang out at the property to catch him entering or leaving to catch him, but it may be necessary to do so. If he works, you could also serve the notice at his work. It is also important that your notice is properly prepared as if it is incorrect, the court could dismiss your case requiring you to start over and lose both time and money.
    Evictions can be complicated if you are not sure of what you're doing. It is in your best interest to consult with an attorney to assist you. Many lawyers, including me, offer a free initial consultation for such matters.

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  • Can my husband adopt my daughter with out her father's permission if she has never meet him and he is not on her birthcertificat

    I have a 13 yr old daughter she has my last name her real dad's name is not on her birth certificate and has no relationship with him. My husband wants to adopt her, will i need to get permision from her real father?

    Sara’s Answer

    Even though the father is not on the child's birth certificate, he is entitled to note if you and your spouse want to file a Petition for Adoption. I If the father's whereabouts are known, you would need to see him with notice thru the court. Alternatvely, he might be willing to Consent to the adoption. If the father's whereabouts are unknown, you could serve notice by publication. It is advisable to consult with an attorney who is well versed in adoption law and procedure to determine the best way to proceed. Many lawyers do offer a free initial consultation for such matters.

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  • How do I reclaim baby given up through baby Moses law (safe haven)

    How do I reclaim my baby? Three days ago I panicky gave my new born up through the baby Moses law in Illinois. Since then I have changed my mind. I have a strong support system behind me (friends and family) How do I start the process of gettin...

    Sara’s Answer

    As the other attorneys have stated, you must reclaim your child within 60 days from the date you placed your child via Safe Haven. You should have been given some paperwork that explains how to give notice that you want your child returned to you. This notice must be in writing. The sooner you do this, the better it will be since the child will be placed with a licensed family in the interim and while this isn't always the case, in many instances the family may be hoping that the child will become legally free for adoption if you delay beyond the 60 days the law gives you to change your mind.

    Once you ask for the return of your child, be aware that DCFS may initiate an investigation to make sure that you are a fit and proper person to have the child returned. They may also ask for information about the biological father and also investigate his fitness. The results of the DCFS investigation may be submitted to the court and a court order then entered authorizing the child be returned to you, or determining that you are unfit and your rights terminated. For that reason, it is suggested that you consult with an attorney to guide you thru the return process.

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  • How do I get started?

    Son's biological father wants to sign his rights over to my husband and allow him to be adopted. We are looking to do this without a lawyer. What should my first step be? Bio dad is saying since I already had my sons name changed to mine, before m...

    Sara’s Answer

    Adoptions are started by filing a Petition For Adoption. This is a separate càe from the name change you previously filed. Although Illinois adoption law is the same throughout the state, adoption procedures vary from one country to another and require that you adhere to both law and procedure to get the adoption done correctly. Many lawyers including me do offer a free initial consultation for such matters. You may be surprised to find that the cost of having an attorney represent you will not be as costly as you may think. Please do consider retaining an attorney to guide you through the process.

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  • Is there a voluntary consent to adoption form in Maryland?

    Hello. In 2005, my son was born in Maryland and my boyfriend put his name on the birth certificate as the father. The boyfriend did not see my son nor did he provide financial support and, soon after, my son and I moved to Illinois. In 2012, I was...

    Sara’s Answer

    Please refer to the answer I posted to your previous, similar question. There are a number of ways to accomplish your objective of terminating the parental rights of your ex. Having him sign a Consent in Maryland with a Maryland consent form is one way to do this, but is not the least complicated option. As the ptjer attorneys have suggested, having an attorney who is well versed in adoption law and procedure, may be the best and most cost effective way to complete your adoption.

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  • How may my ex-boyfriend sign a Final and Irrevocable Consent to Adoption in front of IL judge when he lives in MD?

    Hello. In 2005, my son was born in Maryland and my boyfriend put his name on the birth certificate as the father. The boyfriend did not see my son nor did he provide financial support and, soon after, my son and I moved to Illinois. In 2012, I was...

    Sara’s Answer

    You and your husband have a number of options that will terminate the parental rights of your ex boyfriend who is listed on the birth certificate as your child's father.
    1) Your ex-bf can travel to Illinois and sign his Consent in front of a Judge.
    2) Your ex can arrange to appear in front of a Judge in Maryland and sign an Illinois Consent.
    3) Your ex can comply with Maryland law regarding Consent, which may or may not require him to appear in front of a Judge. Whatever Consent he then signs would need to be presented to the Judge here in Illinois along with a copy of the Maryland Consent so the Judge here would know that the Consent was done properly.
    4) You could have your ex served with a copy of your filed Petition for Adoption and if he doesn't file his appearance in the case in the required time period a( not more than 30 days after he has been served) his rights can be terminated by filing a Motion for Default.
    5) Lastly, there ia relatively new way to terminate the father's parental rights. He can sign a Waiver and Consent to Adoption by a Legal or Putative Father. This form needs to be properly completed and notarized, but does not require to be witnessed by a Judge... just a notary.
    Please do consider speaking to an attorney who is well versed in adoption law and procedure to get your adoption done correctly. Many lawyers, including me, offer a free initial consultation for such matters.

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  • I live in the state of Illinois. Do I need to have retained a lawyer in order to file for a dissolution of marriage?

    My husband and I of 5 years have decided to divorce. We have two kids, a house, and other assets which we've already agreed upon division, as well as custody.

    Sara’s Answer

    Illinois law does not require you to have an attorney, but it is advisable to do so. The law is changing as of January 1, 2016 and unless you are able to draft your Petition for Dissolution as well as Settlement Agreement, Parental Responsibility Agreement and other documents, you would be well advised to contact one or more attorneys and retain one to assist you in getting this done correctly. Many lawyers, including me, offer a free initial consultation for such matters.

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