IL custody lawyerThe news of a divorce can be distressing for your child, but engaging in arguments and conflicts with your spouse can be more unsettling for them. If you use mediation instead of confrontations in the long run, it is better for your child's well-being. Research indicates that children who do better after a divorce have parents who communicate and compromise without getting into fights. If you believe you and your spouse can have a civil discussion, a skilled Illinois mediation attorney can try to help.

How Can Mediation Reduce Turmoil?

Mediation involves using a neutral third party to assist parents in resolving custody-related issues. A mediator, often an attorney, looks at all the pieces involving the divorce. Engaging in a bitter custody battle can be emotionally traumatizing for a child, but when children witness their parents communicating and finding common ground, it can mitigate the emotional turmoil they experience. So, even if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse do not see eye to eye, an experienced mediator can guide you back on track and ensure that discussions are less stressful.

Can Mediation Lead to Easier Co-Parenting Plans?

Mediation gives parents important skills, such as effective communication, flexibility, and negotiation abilities. It is essential for both parents to play an active role in their child's life and learn how to compromise for the child's sake.

Researchers have compared the effects of mediation to litigation in child custody cases. They found that twelve years after a divorce, mediation encourages both parents to stay involved in their children's lives without increasing conflict. It also found that parents who do not live with their children were three times more likely to have weekly contact with their children compared to parents who went through a court battle. 

Mediation allows both parents to discuss their parenting plans while a mediator helps them reach agreements. This is important because if a judge has to make the decision, he or she may not consider unique family circumstances or holidays. Mediation gives parents more control over the decision-making process. And parents are more likely to follow through if they collaborate on a plan for raising their children post-divorce.


kane county child custody lawyerCo-parents sharing responsibility for their children after divorce are bound to the terms of their parenting plan. But life can be unexpected. Changes such as a better job in another state, remarriage, or family illness can turn your plans awry. So how does that affect relocation and visitation rights? 

Relocation Laws in Illinois 

As per Section 609.2 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a parent who wants to move a significant distance with their child needs to seek the court's approval first. Per Illinois law, relocating means moving more than more than 25 miles away if you live in one of the collar counties. If you live in a different Illinois county, a relocation is a move of more than 50 miles away, or more than 25 miles away if state lines are crossed.

If the parents disagree regarding the relocation, the court will make the decision about whether to allow the relocation. 

The court will decide whether the move is in the child's best interests by evaluating the following:

  • The quality of each parent’s relationship with the child
  • The educational properties the child will have in either location
  • The wishes and impact of the move on the child
  • Parent responsibility arrangements, including visitation
  • The reason you wish to move
  •  The distance between the locations
  • The cost and time involved in visitation
  • The motive behind the non-custodial parent’s objection to the move
  • Whether the move will enhance the child’s quality of life

Please note that the court prioritizes the child's safety and well-being. While Illinois laws regarding relocation and custody can be complicated, they are ultimately designed to keep children safe and happy in a household. 


St. Charles, IL parenting plan attorneyIn 2016, Illinois updated the language describing child custody. Today, the state recognizes “parenting time” and "parental responsibilities," which refer to physical custody and decision-making authority respectively. Divorcing parents will need to determine how they will make decisions about their child's education, involvement in church or other religious activities, medical care, and more. They must also determine how they will share responsibility for supervising the child and meeting his or her day-to-day needs. A parenting plan provides an agreement between two parents regarding who has what rights or responsibilities related to the children. Developing a mutually-agreeable parenting plan is rarely a simple task, so it is important to start thinking about these issues early in the divorce process.

Parenting Time, Parental Responsibilities, and Other Crucial Matters in Your Parenting Plan

Whenever possible, parents are encouraged to create their own parenting plans as opposed to letting the court determine the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time for them. Sometimes, this requires help from their respective attorneys or a divorce mediator.

As you work on your parenting plan, make sure you discuss the following topics:

  • The parenting time schedule - The parenting time schedule describes when the child will live with each parent. It may include who will have the child on holidays and vacations, as well as how transportation arrangements will be handled.
  • Parental responsibilities - The parenting plan should also address which parent has decision-making authority over certain matters pertaining to the child's upbringing, such as education or religion. The parents may also decide that they will make all major child-related decisions jointly. 
  • Resolving disputes - All parenting plans should include a dispute resolution procedure, such as mediation. Disagreements are bound to arise, and parents will have an easier time resolving disagreements if they have planned for this possibility in advance.
  • The right of first refusal - This clause states that one parent must notify the other if he or she is unable to care for a child during his or her designated parenting time. It specifies that the other parent must be given the opportunity to care for the child first before a third party such as a babysitter or grandparent is asked to watch the child.
  • Future modifications to the parenting plan - As the child grows up and the parents' lives change, there may come a time that the parenting plan needs to be modified. The plan should include a clause specifying how future changes will be handled.
  • How and when the child will communicate with both parents - A parenting plan should include a clause specifying how and when the child will communicate with a parent during the other parent's parenting time. This is an issue that can sometimes cause conflict, so it is best to address it early in the process and make a mutually-agreeable plan. For example, you may specify that the parent who has parenting time will have the child call the other parent before bed, or use text messaging to stay in touch with the other parent throughout the day.

Contact a St. Charles Parenting Plan Lawyer

The Kane County divorce attorneys at Shaw Sanders, P.C. can help you develop a parenting plan, address any child custody disputes, establish a child support order, and much more. Call our office at 630-584-5550 and set up a free initial consultation to learn more.



St. Charles, IL child custody modification lawyerIn 2016, Illinois changed how courts handle child custody matters. Child custody now involves two components. The allocation of parental responsibilities refers to the allocation of child-related decision-making authority. Parenting time, which used to be called visitation, is the time each parent cares for the child.

In order to promote stability in a child’s life, the court only allows parents to modify their child custody order under certain circumstances.

Modifying a Child Custody Order in the First Two Years

The rules about child custody modifications depend on when the order was established or last modified. It is generally believed that maximizing consistency is in the child’s best interests after a divorce. Consequently, the courts want to prevent the parents from making unnecessary changes to the child custody order. If it has been less than two years since the child custody order was first established or last modified, there is a higher burden of proof needed to change the order. If you want to modify parental responsibilities within two years, you usually must submit an affidavit to the court affirming that the current allocation of parental responsibilities is endangering the child’s physical, mental, psychological, or moral health.

Modifying a Child Custody Order After Two Years  

The only thing certain in life is change. Many parents find themselves in a situation where they need to change their allocation judgment after a divorce. If it has been more than two years since the child custody order was established or modified, you will need to demonstrate the following to modify the order:

  • There is a substantial change of circumstances that directly affects the child
  • The modification is in the child’s best interests

Countless different situations may constitute a major change in circumstances. For example, if a parent moves a significant distance away, a child custody modification may be needed to change the parent with primary decision-making authority.


St. Charles, IL child custody lawyerThe issues that need to be decided between a divorcing couple can be difficult. One of the most difficult is deciding how custody of children will be shared. In Illinois, child custody is divided between the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parents must agree – or the court will decide for them – which parent will be responsible for major decisions in a child's life, including their education, medical treatments, and religion, as well as how parents will divide the children’s time between them. 

One of the most difficult parts of parenting time scheduling is the emotional burden, as well as the physical burden, it puts on children. They go from one parent’s house to the other, with a bedroom, different clothes, and toys in each home, and it can be exhausting for them. This is why many parents are turning to “bird’s nest” custody where the children live in the same home all the time, and it is the parents who take turns living there.

How Is Bird’s Nest Custody Handled?

Under a bird’s nest custody plan, the marital home becomes the “nest.” A child lives in the home full-time. The parents will have come up with a parenting time schedule, but it is the parents who stay with the child at the “nest” during their parenting time and leave when the other parent arrives for their parenting time.

Bird’s nest custody can work for parents who have equal parenting time or even in parenting schedules where one parent may only have parenting time every other weekend. No matter what the parenting time schedule is, the most important component this arrangement brings is consistency for the child who sleeps in the same bed every night. This also allows them to go to the same school, play with the same neighbors and friends, and participate in their regular extra-curricular activities with no interruptions because they have to be at the other parent’s home, which may not even be in the same town.

What Are the Downsides to Bird’s Nest Custody?

While there are many benefits to this type of arrangement, there are some factors that parents need to consider carefully before agreeing to it. For one thing, instead of maintaining two separate residences, the parents would be maintaining three – the marital home where the child lives and then their own homes where they stay during their non-parenting times.


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