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 IL family lawyerOne of the most difficult decisions when going through a divorce is what your parenting arrangement will look like. This is often known as custody arrangements; however, parenting consists of many more details outside of where your child will be sleeping each night. Continue reading to learn about the different types of parenting plans and what details are included in them.

What Should Be Included in Your Parenting Plan?

When making a parenting plan, the following should be considered:

  • Living arrangements and parenting schedules: In most cases, the child will spend time between each home. One of the main considerations that parents should think about is the distance between each household. Many former spouses will decide to move far from their original home to place a large distance in between them and their former spouse; however, they fail to realize the difficulty that this poses in terms of visitation.
  • Vacations and holidays: It is better to divide vacations and holidays between each parent before the divorce is finalized to avoid future conflicts. This can be one of the more difficult decisions to make as it is much different from the life you previously lived with your child and former spouse.
  • Healthcare details: This portion of the parenting agreement often depends on each parent’s occupation and the coverage that they receive. Parents should come up with plans in regards to doctor visits, adjust medical record access, and decide who will care for the child if he/she is sick.
  • Education: Decisions made regarding education are dependent on the type of school your child attends. For those who attend public school, education costs are not up for debate. However, those who are enrolled in private schools will need to determine the allocation of tuition payments. This is also true of children who hope to pursue higher education.

Contact a St. Charles, Illinois Divorce Attorney for Help

Making decisions regarding your child can become difficult without a third-party present to ensure that emotions affect the legal decisions being made. At Shaw Family Law, we understand that determining child custody is a difficult choice to make and we plan to help you at each step of the way. If you are considering divorce and are trying to determine child custody parameters, contact our Kane County divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 for help.

 

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IL divorce lawyerDivorce comes with hundreds of life-changing questions that must be answered in a matter of months. Add children to the mix and things get even more complicated. If you and your former spouse have decided on joint custody, an agreement will be written for you to follow after your marriage has been officially ended. This agreement will include details about each parent’s rights and responsibilities, information about the child, and a parenting time schedule. This schedule breaks down who the child will be with at each hour throughout the week and weekend. The purpose of the parenting time schedule is to avoid having further disputes about time spent with the child. Although a parenting time schedule can be different for each family, there are common schedules that many families choose to follow.

  • The 50/50: This plan is pretty straight-forward. Your child will spend 50 percent of his/her time with mom and the other 50 percent with dad. Some families choose to alternate custody on a weekly basis while others select a biweekly schedule.
  • The 60/40: This can be broken down in two ways. Some families decide to have an “every extended weekend” schedule in which the child spends a long weekend with one parent every week and the remaining four days of the week with the other. Others decide to spend four days with one parent and three days with the other, not necessarily lining their plans up with the weekend.
  • The 70/30: In the 70/30, a child spends five days with one parent and the remaining two days with the other. This is most often done by having one parent take weekends and the other take weekdays.
  • The 80/20: This plan gives one parent primary visitation hours. Under the 80/20 plan, a child will live with one parent most of the time, while seeing the other parent on a bi-weekend basis. In other terms, one parent will see their child every other weekend while the other has their child the rest of the time.

Parenting Agreement Help

Selecting a parenting agreement that works best for your family can be a stressful and difficult decision to make, especially if you and your spouse are not on the best of terms. Our seasoned Kane County parenting agreement attorneys have experience with creating parenting time schedules, whether it follows a common format or not. At Shaw Family Law, P.C., we spend time working with both spouses to come to a conclusion that works best for your family. Contact us to receive your free consultation at 630-584-5550.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+VI&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=8350000&SeqEnd=10200000

IL family lawyerIn the past, mothers have had the power in the custody courtroom. The mother is often given custody as a result of female stereotypes and age-old parental roles. She is seen as nurturing, selfless, and “the primary parent” whereas fathers can be seen as careless and unfit to care for a child on his own. Though times have changed and these parental stereotypes have been proven inaccurate, fathers continue to fall short in the courtroom.

Dad Data

Joint custody is the most common decision made because it is thought that a child should be raised by both of his/her parents. Joint custody may allow for both parents to be in the child’s life, but not necessarily in equal amounts. Illinois ranks in the bottom five states for the amount of custody time allotted to fathers. These children only spend an average of 23.1 percent of their time each year with their dad, giving the mother the other 3/4 of their time. The United States may be moving towards eliminating gender bias; however, the state of Illinois is in 47th place in the U.S. for the amount of custody time fathers are provided.

Though joint custody is often best for the child, not all situations allow for this to happen. Extenuating circumstances force judges to choose one parent over the other, leading to the impossible choice of giving full custody to one parent. According to the 2016 U.S. Census Report, fathers only win primary custody 17.5 percent of the time. Laws may have been passed stating that there is no custody preference for women over men, but the data shows otherwise.

Four Tips to Win Custody

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Illinois divorce lawyerWhat was once known as legal custody is now known as parental responsibilities. This is the right to make decisions on a child’s behalf that impact the child’s lifestyle and future. Under Illinois law, a parenting plan must touch upon all of the following subjects and state which parent is responsible for making decisions in each subject area. Both parents can be named in one or all subject areas, granting them both the right to make decisions and requiring them to work together in their child’s best interest:

  • Education;
  • Healthcare;
  • Extracurricular activities; and
  • Religious upbringing.

There are many competing philosophies on education and even among married couples, parents can disagree about the best course of action for their child’s education. If you find yourself disagreeing with your former spouse’s thoughts and choices regarding your child’s schooling, keep the following in mind:

If You Share the Responsibility to Make Choices About Your Child’s Education, You Have to Work Together

When you share parental responsibilities with a former spouse, you have to cooperate for your child’s sake. Making decisions about moving a child to a different school, keeping him or her back a year, handling behavior problems in the classroom, and discussing issues related to your child’s learning disability or need for an individualized education program (IEP) can be stressful.

Take yourself and your feelings about your former partner out of the equation and focus solely on your child’s educational needs. Use concrete facts like progress reports and report cards to guide your conversations with your former partner. Remember that sometimes, a parenting plan needs to be altered to give a child the best chance for academic success.

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Illinois custody attorneyWhen a divorcing couple has children, a child support order and parenting plan are part of their divorce settlement. But what if one or more of the couple’s children are still in the womb? The court cannot create a child support order or parenting plan for a fetus. These can be established after the child’s birth, at which point the child’s legal parentage becomes an important issue to consider if he or she is not actually a product of the marriage. When the child is the product of the couple’s marriage and the parents intend to establish a parenting plan for him or her, it can be easier to wait until the child is born to complete the divorce process. However, this is not required in Illinois like it is in a few states.

A Baby Born to a Married Woman or a Woman Married at the Time of Conception Is Legally the Spouse’s Child

Legal parentage is not the same thing as biological parentage. When a woman who is currently married or was married at the time of conception gives birth, her spouse is automatically the baby’s legal parent, regardless of whether the spouse is the child’s biological parent. This can create difficulties in cases where another man fathers a married woman’s child.

A non-biological legal parent who does not want to be the child’s legal parent must terminate his or her parental rights, which is easier to achieve with the aid of an experienced family lawyer. Conversely, an unmarried biological parent must establish his parentage to become his child’s legal father, which can be done in a few different ways.

Applying Illinois’ Parenting Time and Child Support Laws after Birth

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerIllinois family courts tend to follow guidelines and case precedent when issuing divorce decrees, especially absent any input from the spouses themselves regarding disposition of issues like parenting time. However, sometimes a parenting plan will need to be modified, and it is important to realize that there are certain requirements that must be followed before a change will be permitted.

Family Court Has Authority

The most important thing to realize going in is that only family courts may make definitive adjustments to divorce decrees - you are welcome to work out an agreement with your spouse as to parenting time or support, but these agreements do not have the force of law. A court will not abide by them unless you have these unofficial agreements added to your decree. It matters, especially if you and your spouse have a tumultuous relationship, because if you become engaged in a dispute and refuse to abide by your arrangement.

In Illinois, however, the law holds that unless the parties agree or there is found to be an immediate reason in the best interests of the child, any modification of terms may not be made before two years have passed. The rationale behind this is that unless it is a demonstrable emergency, it can be harmful to a child’s emotional and mental well-being to undergo too many changes to their living situation, and the arrangement arrived at initially must be given time to work before it can be amended.

Modifications If You Cannot Agree

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Illinois divorce lawyer, Illinois child custody attorneyThroughout the years and perhaps due to the change in family dynamics in our country, the family law regarding child custody and visitation schedules have undergone significant changes. No longer are we in the ages of the clear cut, laid out in a black-and-white model of care arrangements. Legislators realized that there is no one-size-fits-all model. Instead of joint custody or sole custody division, Illinois has the additional assignment of parental responsibility. Although transitions such as these are beneficial because they allow the courts to mold a solution suitable for each family, terms become increasingly blurred and challenging for someone unfamiliar with the area. It is not uncommon for questions to arise when determining the best outcome for each child.

The Best Interest of the Child

As always, Illinois focuses on the best interest of the child, occasionally even if that is against the guardian's preferences. A judge will take into consideration if someone is unwilling or has a lack of want to care for the child, as well as those who do prefer to look after the child, however other factors play into consideration. By Illinois law, 15 factors influence the determination of parental control, including:

  • The child’s wishes and needs,
  • The child’s adjustment to the home, school, and surrounding community,
  • The mental and physical health of all parties,
  • The relationship of the parents (i.e. contentious, cooperative, etc.)
  • The history each parent has in decision making for the child,
  • Parental wishes,
  • Potential restrictions on decision-making capabilities,
  • Abuse, and
  • Sex offender registrant status.

Parental Responsibilities

Regardless of which parent has physical custody of the child involved, there is a separate matter of who has the decision-making capabilities. There is no legal obligation stating that both parents have an equal right to choose the upbringing of the child. For instance, a judge may determine that the mother can make a decision regarding education whereas the father makes the decision about religion. The major areas in which a judge determines who controls the decision making include:

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child custody lawyerThe list of responsibilities to be addressed following a family’s separation is vast. When you have decided to divorce, everything from your finances, routines, and overall lifestyle must be re-evaluated to accommodate the circumstances surrounding your post-divorce life. One important area that requires a significant learning curve for both spouses is parenting. If you and your spouse share a child, the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) must be addressed, including a thorough parenting plan that ensures a healthy transition for the child.

The Relocation Factor

If either parent is planning to relocate shortly after the divorce, both parents are presented with a new set of challenges as the family wades through the transition. Separation is already rife with obstacles and requires multiple emotional, mental, and physical adjustments for everyone involved, but parental relocation can add additional stress to the mix. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports a study from the Journal of Family Psychology that found the following regarding the effects of relocation after divorce on children:

  • Children are significantly less well-off after divorce when their parent moves more than a one-hour drive away;
  • Children from families in which one parent relocates after divorce typically receive less financial support from their parents and worry more about the lack of support;
  • Feelings of greater hostility in interpersonal relationships were reported in children from divorced families who experienced the relocation of a parent afterward. There were also reports of more overall distress from the divorce experience;
  • General dissatisfaction in personal, physical, and emotional adjustments was reported; and
  • Children of parents who relocated after divorce were found to have more negative perceptions of their parents, with less favorable views of them as role models and reliable sources for emotional support.

The authors responsible for these studies emphasized that additional research is still needed, pointing out the possibility that other factors may also contribute to the findings, such as any existing, unresolved pre-move conflict between the parents.

If you are in the beginning stages of the divorce process and have discussed potential relocation after the separation with your spouse, speak with a knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorney right away to set your family up for a seamless transition. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 for a personal consultation.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois custody lawyerAs divorcing spouses work through the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) arrangements following their separation, there are a number of important areas parents must address in order to protect the best interests of the child. Everything from living and school arrangements to religious upbringing and financial agreements contribute to the production of a solid parenting plan that benefits the whole family.

To create custody and visitation plans that each party can agree on requires a significant amount of evaluation, however. According to Illinois law, the child’s best interests must first be considered to successfully identify which arrangements will work in the family’s favor. The court considers all the following factors when determining the child’s best interest:

Residential Circumstances

The distance between the parents’ houses, each parent’s daily schedule (as well as the child’s schedule), and the general logistics behind transporting the child to and from the parents’ homes are referred to as “residential circumstances” and are examined thoroughly when discussing the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Prior Agreements 

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Posted on in Family Law

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyFor some couples facing marital troubles, divorce as a solution is a last resort and legal separation is the first course of action. There are countless reasons you or your spouse might not be ready to call it quits just yet, and legal separation allows you time to assess the damage and decide whether or not divorce is the right choice.

How Is Legal Separation Different from Divorce?

Like divorce, legal separation is a legal action that officially deems you both separated in the eyes of the law. However, legal separation is a term and is not an actual divorce. According to the law, you are still married and may not marry other people. Your property and possessions are not divided up unless you ask the court to divide those things for you. The court can decide other things with a legal separation, such as child support, parenting time (visitation), and allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody).

To qualify for legal separation in Illinois, you must have been living in the state for at least 90 days, not be “at fault” for the separation, and must be physically living apart from your spouse. “At fault” is defined by many things, including adultery and abandonment. Filing for legal separation does not prevent you from filing for a divorce later on, should you decide to end the marriage entirely.

Legal Separation Can Be Beneficial

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Illinois child custody laws, Illinois child custody attorneyDivorce and separation can be difficult on the entire family, especially when it comes time to address the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation), as these issues impact the lives of both parents and children. A new lifestyle is born, and new routines are put into place, forcing everyone to adjust and adapt to many big changes at once.

Unmarried Parents Versus Married Parents

One question that often plagues the mind of parents undergoing divorce is whether or not their rights are equal. The subject of father’s rights are particularly concerning, as many children end up residing with the mother after a divorce. Do fathers receive the same rights? Is their desire to participate in the lives of their children taken just as seriously as the mother’s needs and wants?

If the couple is not married, these questions are doubly important. When couples are married, most states automatically assume that the husband is the father of the child and is therefore entitled to certain rights. The same is not true for unmarried couples sharing children.

What Rights Can I Expect to Have as a Father or Mother Going through a Separation?

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Illinois child custody attorney, Illinois family law attorneyAs of the of January 1, 2016, Illinois law refers to child custody as the allocation of parental responsibilities. The concept behind the term child custody still remains the same, however. Divorcing parents work together with the court and an attorney to create new lifestyle arrangements for their children and determine who is responsible for making what decisions for them. The agreements include everything from where the child will live, who they will live with, and how the child’s education, extracurricular activities, and religious practices will be managed.

Asking for Parental Responsibilities

The filing process for allocation of parental responsibilities will vary from county to county, but throughout Illinois you can expect to go through the following steps:

  • Obtain legal representation and file the petition;
  • Make an appointment for a case management conference (This must be done no later than 90 days after you file the petition); and
  • Serve the other parent the filed petition with a summons.

After you complete the initial first stages of the process, you await a response from the other parent. If they fail to respond, the next step is to ask the court for a default judgement.

Create a Parenting Plan That Suits Your Family’s Needs

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Illinois child custody laws, Illinios family law attorneyWhen you lose an allocation of parental responsibilities case, it can feel like you will only rarely see your child. However, there are many things you can do to increase your time with your child. It often starts with maintaining a positive relationship with the other parent. Even if the court has decided it is not in the child’s best interest for you to be the primary caretaker, that does not mean you do not have a vital role to play in your child’s life.

Right of First Refusal

Under Illinois law, when the child lives primarily with one parent, the other parent can ask the court for the “right of first refusal” when childcare is needed. This means that before the child is put in daycare, the other parent should be given the chance to be with their child instead.

This situation can benefit everyone involved. You and the child get to spend more time together, and the other parent saves on childcare costs. This arrangement works best when the two parents have an amicable relationship and both parents are willing to be flexible and put the needs of their child first.

Sharing Carpool and Taxi Duties

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emotional support, Kane County divorce lawyerDivorce can have long-lasting effects on the entire family. Issues such as allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody), child support, and parenting time (visitation rights) all need to be addressed as the divorce process is underway, and the emotional toll on everyone involved can be incredibly overwhelming.

The state of Illinois is also aware of these effects, and thankfully, the state legislature encourages certain practices to help ensure the children in the family are receiving the emotional support and attention they need during such a tough, transitional period.

Divorce Education Benefits the Whole Family

The Kids in a Divorcing Society program—also simply referred to as "KIDS"—is an educational program provided by Kane County for parents undergoing divorce. The goal of the program is to help equip parents with the tools they need to learn how to best restructure their families in a way that minimizes the negative emotional impact on their children before, during, and after the divorce is finalized. The KIDS program teaches the parent coping skills for re-entering the world as a newly single parent, and also benefits the child long-term by empowering and arming the parent with positive, effective parenting techniques.

Some helpful topics the program will cover:

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