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IL custody lawyerWhen you are a parent, getting a divorce does not only affect you and your spouse, it can also have a dramatic impact on your child. If your child has an intellectual or physical disability, you may wonder how you can minimize your child’s stress during this difficult transition. You may have concerns about the emotional effects the divorce will have on your child as well as the logistical and financial issues you will need to address. Although there is no perfect way to handle divorce as a parent of a child with disabilities, there are several steps you can take that may lessen the strain experienced by the whole family.

Minimize the Contentiousness Between You and Your Spouse

Numerous studies have shown that children are very sensitive to parental tension and hostility. One of the best things you can do for your child is to make your divorce as cooperative and respectful as possible. Many parents find that family law mediation allows them to resolve divorce issues such as property division and parental responsibilities without going through a stressful and contentious court trial. During mediation, you and your spouse will meet with a skilled mediator who helps keep discussions focused on solutions rather than accusations, blame, or irrelevant subjects.

Keep Your Child’s Routines as Normal as Possible

Whether your child has a physical disability or an intellectual disability like autism, one thing you can do to lessen the negative impact of divorce on him or her is to keep established routines and schedules the same. Your child’s life is about to change in countless different ways. One way to give him or her a sense of security is to keep morning routines, bedtime, mealtimes, and household rules as consistent as possible. You may be tempted to relax the rules or spoil your child during this tumultuous period in his or her life, but experts say that doing this may actually worsen your child’s stress.

Plan for Your Child’s Financial Future

Disabled children may need specific medical equipment, physical therapy, mental health counseling, and other specialized medical care. The costs of these special needs can certainly add up and will need to be addressed during your divorce. Typically, the parent with the majority of the parenting time receives child support from the noncustodial parent until the child reaches adulthood. Fortunately, Illinois allows children with disabilities to continue receiving child support even after they have turned 18 and/or graduated high school. This financial support may go to the child, the parent with whom the child lives, the facility in which the child lives, or into a special needs trust.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Having a child with special needs can complicate the already complex process of ending a marriage. For help with questions or concerns related to child custody, child support, property division, and much more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a confidential consultation with one of our skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys to discuss your needs.

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IL divorce lawyerThe USDA estimates that it costs over $230,000 to raise a child from birth until age 18. If you are expecting a child and you are not married to the child’s father, you may have concerns about how you will pay for child-related expenses like housing and child care. Child support is a valuable source of financial assistance that parents are entitled to by law. If you are an unmarried mother, it is essential that you take the steps to ensure that you and your child will have the financial resources you need.

How Can I Get Child Support in Illinois?

In Illinois, the terms “child custody” and “visitation” have been replaced by the terms “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” Parenting time refers to the days that a parent is responsible for caring for his or her child. The parent with the majority of the parenting time, formerly called the custodial parent, is the recipient of child support and the parent with less parenting time is the payor. If your child’s father and you agree that you should have the majority of the parenting time, you will create a parenting plan stating this agreement and describing other child-related arrangements. This plan is submitted to the court. You will then be able to petition the court for child support. The amount of child support that you will receive will largely depend on the difference between your income and the father’s income.

You Must Establish Paternity Before You Can Receive Child Support

You cannot petition the court for child support until you have established paternity. This means that you take steps to establish the child’s biological father as the child’s legal father. The simplest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital where the child is born. If the father denies his parentage or refuses to sign the VAP, the process becomes more complicated. In this case, one option is to pursue an administrative paternity order through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). DNA testing may be needed to establish the biological relationship between the father and the child. You may also be able to establish paternity through the court. The court will schedule a paternity hearing that both parents are expected to attend. If the father fails to attend the court hearing or administrative paternity hearing, he may be declared the father by default.

Contact a Kane County Child Support Lawyer

If you are a single parent, it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure that you receive the financial support you need. For help establishing paternity, petitioning the court for child support, resolving child custody disagreements, and much more, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles family law attorney by calling our office at 630-584-5550 today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerWhen divorcing spouses share children together, the divorce process is often much more involved than divorces not involving children. This is especially true if the spouses are not able to reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. In some divorce cases involving child-related disputes, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed to act as a child representative. The judge may assign a GAL to the case or a spouse may request for a GAL to be assigned. The opinion of a guardian ad litem can have a major impact on the outcome of a child custody case.

Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

Unfortunately, in many custody disputes, one or both parents are more interested in “winning” the case than working toward a custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. During a contentious divorce case, the wishes and needs of the children can become obscured. A guardian ad litem is a lawyer who represents the child’s best interests. He or she is tasked with investigating the facts of the case and eventually developing an opinion about what type of child custody arrangement is best for the child. This may be accomplished through evaluating the child’s residence as well as interviewing parents, siblings, teachers, daycare workers, and other people involved in the child’s life. The GAL will also look for evidence that suggests a living environment may be unsafe for the child. He or she may analyze criminal records, health records, school records, and any past or present Child Protective Services cases. The GAL then shares his or her findings and overall opinion with the judge. Although the judge is not required to follow the GAL’s recommendation, this recommendation will most likely carry substantial weight.

Should I Request a GAL?

Some divorcing spouses misunderstand the purpose of a guardian ad litem. They assume that the GAL is an additional attorney who will help them argue their side during the divorce process. However, the GAL does not “work” for one spouse or the other. His or her only allegiance is to the child or children involved in the dispute. You should only request a GAL if you are prepared to be honest and fully cooperate with his or her investigation. If the GAL catches you in a lie, this could significantly reduce your credibility. Many parents request a guardian ad litem because they have concerns that the other parent is not capable of providing a safe, loving home for their child. If you want to learn more about requesting a guardian ad litem, speak to an experienced child custody attorney.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

A guardian ad litem is a lawyer who is responsible for investigating the facts of a child-related legal dispute and presenting a recommendation to the judge. To discuss whether or not assigning a guardian ad litem to your case may be right for you, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call our office today at 630-584-5550 and schedule a free consultation with an accomplished Illinois family law attorney from our firm.

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_parenting_20200302-171405_1.jpgIf you are planning to divorce and you share children with your spouse, you will be required to create a “ parenting agreement” or parenting plan as part of your divorce. The parenting agreement will include key information about how you and your child’s other parent plan to share parental responsibilities and make important decisions about your children. Many divorcing spouses disagree regarding the terms of their parenting agreement. In these cases, mediation and assistance from an experienced family law attorney can be valuable resources.

Defining Each Parent’s Rights and Responsibilities

The parenting agreement is not simply another piece of divorce paperwork. This agreement will act as the main authority regarding each parent’s child-related responsibilities, expectations, and rights after the divorce. Illinois law identifies the elements that must be addressed in the parenting plan. These elements include:

  • How the parents will make significant decisions about the children
  • Each parent's parenting time (formerly called visitation)
  • Transportation arrangements
  • Each parent’s responsibility to notify the other of child-related emergencies, medical care, travel plans, or other significant matters
  • Each parent's right to access children’s school reports, extracurricular reports, medical records, and child care records
  • Directions for mediation if a parent wants to reallocate parenting time or parental responsibilities
  • Information about any future modifications of the parenting plan
  • Requirements regarding any future parental relocations or disputes about potential relocations
  • Directions regarding parent communication with the child during the other parent's parenting time
  • Each parent’s “right of first refusal” meaning each parent’s right to gain extra parenting time when the other parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time obligation
  • The children's residential address for the purpose of school enrollment
  • Each parent's residential address, contact information, place of employment, and employment contact information and
  • Any other provision that addresses the children’s needs or that will help facilitate cooperative co-parenting

At a minimum, parents are required to adequately address the mandatory elements in their parenting plan. However, it may also be a good idea for parents to include additional information about how they plan to co-parent after their divorce. Voluntary elements in a parenting plan may not be legally enforceable, but this information can go a long way in helping parents avoid child-related disputes in the future.

Contact a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer

Understandably, divorcing parents may not always agree regarding child-related issues. If you are planning to divorce and you and your spouse are struggling to reach an arrangement about child custody or other child-related issues, Shaw Family Law is here to help. We have helped countless divorcing parents resolve divorce-related issues and protect the best interests of their children. Schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your needs with an experienced Illinois family law attorney from our firm by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

 

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IL divorce lawyerIf you are a parent getting divorced in Illinois, you will be required to submit a “parenting plan” or parenting agreement regarding how you intend to care for your children after the divorce. The plan must contain directions for the allocation of parental responsibilities as well as parenting time, or visitation. While some parents take on all of the parental responsibilities, sometimes called having “sole custody,” a shared parenting arrangement is more common. Parents who wish to share parental responsibilities will need to include a parenting time schedule and directions for how child-related duties will be divided between the parents in their Illinois parenting plan. If you and your child’s other parent are struggling to come to an agreement about how to share parental responsibilities and parenting time, mediation may be a way to reach a resolution.

The Benefits of Mediation For Divorcing Parents Who Cannot Agree

Understandably, many parents getting a divorce are overwhelmed with emotions. They may worry that they will not get to spend enough time with their child after the divorce or they might have concerns about how their spouse will handle post-divorce parenting obligations. It can be challenging to remain objective and calm when discussing the provisions of a parenting plan with a soon-to-be ex-spouse. If you and your spouse have found yourselves in this situation, mediation may help you effectively negotiate parenting issues so that you can reach an agreement without the need for expensive litigation.

A Qualified Mediator May Help Parents Reach a Resolution Regarding Parental Responsibilities

Parents may be ordered to attend mediation if they cannot reach an agreement about child-related issues or they may choose to attend mediation voluntarily. During the mediation process, a credentialed mediator acts as a neutral third-party facilitator. The mediator’s job is not to make decisions for the parents or choose one parent’s parenting plan over the other’s. The mediator simply helps the couple discuss parenting issues in a meaningful, productive, amicable way. Both parents will have an opportunity to share their points of view regarding the provisions of the parenting plan and then parents will negotiate until they can reach a solution. Unlike courtroom litigation, anything you say in mediation is confidential and not part of the public record. If parents cannot reach an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, or the other issues addressed by their Illinois parenting plan, they may require court intervention.

Contact a Kane County Mediation Lawyer

If you want to learn more about how mediation can benefit you and your children, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an accomplished St. Charles mediator by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

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IL family lawyerIf you are getting divorced or you are an unmarried parent, you may have questions about how child custody, called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois, is handled. You have probably seen phrases such as, “The court will determine a parenting time schedule that is in the child’s best interests.” You may have wondered what the phrase “best interests” actually means in this context.

Determining What is in a Child’s Best Interests

When a married couple with children gets divorced or an unmarried couple has a child together, they have the option of creating their own arrangement for parenting time and parental responsibilities. Parents who need help negotiating a parenting plan may benefit from the help of a qualified mediator. However, even with mediation, coming to an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities is not possible for some parents. In cases like this, the court will consider a number of factors to determine a parenting arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Each parent’s wishes regarding custody
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to express these wishes
  • The relationship the child has with his or her parents, siblings, and any other individuals who may affect his or her best interests
  • Each parent’s ability to facilitate a good relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and neighborhood
  • Any domestic violence or abuse that has occurred and
  • Whether or not either of the parents is a sex offender

Unless there has been ongoing abuse as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, Illinois courts typically assume that it is in the child’s best interests to have both of his or her parents highly involved in his or her life.

Contact an Aurora Child Custody Lawyer

When parents cannot agree on child custody issues, the court will decide for them. The parents’ wishes, the wishes of the child, any history of abuse, the health of the parents, and many other factors are considered by Illinois courts when making child custody determinations. If you are in a custody dispute, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. Schedule a free consultation with a proficient Kane County family law attorney by calling us at 630-584-5550.

 

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IL custody lawyerMost of the courts in Illinois require a couple to go through mediation in cases involving allocation of parental responsibilities, visitation, and relocation before going through the court system. Child support will still be determined by the family court judge, however, all other issues can be settled in mediation.

This right is also given to unmarried parents, but there is an extra step that the couple must go through before heading to mediation.

When a couple has a child without being married, paternity cannot be assumed. It must be proven either through a court-ordered paternity test or a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that can be filled out and filed at the time of a child’s birth.

If a father claims the child and all the proper paperwork is filed, the couple can go through a mediator to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities including:

  • Where the child will live and with which parent
  • How much time a child can visit with their non-custodial parent
  • Where the child will attend school
  • Who will be the child’s primary decision-maker on issues of health and religion

Child Support Determination

While some states allow parents to come to an agreed-upon amount for child support payments, Illinois requires that parental partners must have their payments determined by the court system.

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IL custody lawyerInstead of classifying types of child custody as “joint” - between two parents - or “sole - between one parent - the state of Illinois practices allocation of parental responsibilities. This means that during a divorce, the family court judge and the parents involved will set the terms of a parenting plan that decides who will be the main decision-maker for the children, what amount of time each parent will get with their children, and the rules for when a plan can be modified.

Generally, a parent cannot petition to modify a parenting plan for two years from the date the document was finalized. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act says that parenting plans can only be modified sooner if the child’s physical, emotional, and/or mental well-being is in danger. This can be determined through the enforcement of parental responsibilities.

How Is a Parenting Plan Enforced?

One parent can ask for a petition to check-up on the other parent if they believe the parental responsibilities are not meeting the expectations of the agreement. The parent who is accusing the other of negligence can fill out paperwork describing the evidence they have seen as to how a parenting plan is being violated.

Types of relevant violations include:

  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Missing appointments and tardiness in school drop-offs
  • Substance abuse
  • Deterioration of the child’s physical health and/or hygiene

If the court finds sufficient evidence to suggest that a parent is not meeting the standards of the parenting plan, they can order family counseling and physical education programs to better educate the parents. They can also decide to modify the parenting plan before the two years are complete.

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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.

 

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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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