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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

b2ap3_thumbnail_marijuana.jpgLots of people use marijuana. As more and more states legalize cannabis use for medicinal and recreational purposes, more adults openly admit to using the plant to relieve their stress and pain. In family court, marijuana use is a touchy subject. In Illinois, it is legal to use cannabis medicinally through the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. Possession of a small amount of marijuana has been decriminalized throughout the state, but this does not mean it is actually legal to possess and use marijuana without a valid prescription. Simply using marijuana will not result in having your parental rights terminated, but it is important for you to understand that many judges are biased against marijuana use and that it can impact your parenting plan. If your former partner alleges that you are addicted to drugs or that your cannabis use negatively impacts your ability to parent your children, work with an experienced family lawyer to show the court the truth.

Keep your Medication and your Children Separate

Do not give your former partner any possible “ammunition” to use against you. If you are a medical marijuana user, keep your medication out of your children’s reach at all times. Do not use marijuana while your children are with you, and if you consume cannabis in the form of edibles, keep them in a secure place where there is no chance of your children accidentally consuming them. Failing to keep medication securely out of children’s reach is poor parenting and can be grounds to limit the time you spend with your children.

Another tip to keep in mind is to keep discussions of your medical marijuana use off social media. Posts and images can be taken out of context and used to create a narrative that is not actually true, a narrative that casts you as an unfit parent. Do not post any content that can be used against you this way.

Be Prepare to Show the Court the Truth

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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 lawyerSummer vacation is right around the corner. If this will be your first summer co-parenting with a parenting plan, it can be easy to get confused about how co-parenting works once school is out for the summer. If you included specific summer vacation plans in your parenting plan, co-parenting this summer can be easy. If you did not, talk to your former spouse about creating a modified parenting schedule for the summer. If you agree on a modification, you can alter your parenting plan at any time.

Adjusting to life after a divorce can be difficult for every member of your family. Use the following guidelines to make this summer the easiest transition possible.

If You Have a Summer Vacation Parenting Plan, Follow It

Many divorcing parents include a summer vacation plan in their parenting time schedules. While the children are out of school, they might spend more weekdays with their non-custodial parent or switch to a weekly alternating schedule, rather than a schedule where they only spend a few fixed days each week with one parent. In your summer parenting plan, be sure to include the start and end date for the seasonal schedule and if applicable, specific, recurring vacations each parent takes. If your child has specific plans for each summer, such as going to summer camp the first week in August, include this as well.

Be Willing to Be Flexible

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 Illinois divorce lawyerIf anybody told you co-parenting was easy, they were either lying to you or woefully misinformed. Co-parenting with your former partner can be quite a challenge after your divorce, even if the divorce itself was fairly amicable. When your parenting styles differ, it can be difficult to find a “middle ground” that serves your children in terms of structure, expectations, discipline, and parental involvement in your children’s daily lives. But difficult does not mean impossible. You can work cooperatively with your former spouse to co-parent your children, but you both have to be willing to be flexible. Keep the following in mind as you, your former spouse, and your children settle into their new parenting plan.

Communicate Your Concerns

Put your negative feelings toward your former spouse aside and talk to him or her about your children. If you have concerns about the way he or she is parenting your children, discuss them. You should not feel entitled to control how your former spouse parents your children, but you should also feel comfortable raising concerns with him or her and expect that your concerns be validated.

Be Willing to Be Flexible

Adjusting to life with a parenting plan is a big change for every member of your family. The reality of life with a parenting plan could look very different from the lifestyle you envisioned, and when this is the case, be willing to adjust your expectations and adapt your lifestyle to your children’s needs. After all, your child’s parenting plan is for his or her benefit, not yours or your former spouse’s.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody.jpgThe parenting agreement you sign at the time of your divorce might not serve your child well until he or she becomes an adult.

A parenting plan is divided into two components: parenting time and parental responsibilities. You can modify one or many items in your parenting plan by filing paperwork with the court to alter it. If you and your former spouse agree to the change, this is an easy process. If you do not agree on the proposed changes, you will have to demonstrate to the court that circumstances in your lives have changed and the proposed new plan is in your child’s best interest.

Your Child’s Needs Change as He or She Grows

When your child is in elementary school, remaining in the same school after your divorce could be in his or her best interest because this means one less disruption. By high school, attending a school that has greater academic resources might be a higher priority, which can mean changing districts. In this case, consider altering your parenting plan so your child attends the school that can serve him or her better.

Changes in a Parent’s Household Impact the Child

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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 divorce lawyerWhile it is not uncommon for the road to and through divorce to be a mutual, peaceful one, the reality remains that there is always that percentage of married couples who do not make it through the journey without multiple bumps in the road. Divorce is often plagued by conflict, tension, and problems reaching resolution on numerous matters, from everything to parenting time arrangements and the creation of a parenting plan, to the division of assets and child support payments.

Approaching Divorce as a Beginning, Not an End

Whatever your personal divorce circumstances look like, if you are on the verge of blending a new family dynamic together shortly after your split, then you are on deck for a whole new challenge entirely. Those pesky conflicts you faced throughout the divorce proceedings are no longer tied to the separation alone, but are now factors that will come into play with another issue: The task of beginning a new chapter with your newly blended family. Merging a new family means working with your former partner, addressing lingering hurt your children are experiencing from the previous marriage, and channeling your time and energy into building a healthy foundation with your new partner and their children.

Challenges You May Face as a New Stepparent

Some of the challenges a new stepparent may face are diverse. Here are some points of conflict you can expect to encounter if you are freshly divorced, or if your new partner has recently been through a split:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_children-divorce.jpgNavigating the adjustment period after a divorce is a challenge for everyone at the end of a marriage. Depending on the level of tension and conflict in the relationship, the final unraveling of the union has the potential to wreak a significant amount of emotional damage on each party, and it is only natural for even the most peaceful splits to leave some sort of emotional scarring by the time the divorce is official.

The Psychological Effects

The psychological effects of divorce are just as impactful for children, and in some cases, even more so. This is due in part to the critical developmental periods children go through, such as the early teen years, when their minds and bodies are changing rapidly and drastically. The American Psychological Association reports research that indicates children from divorce tend to experience less financial security and have lower academic achievement, tend to drink and smoke more, and have a harder time finding and keeping jobs.

Factors that Play a Role in Healthy Adjustment

Despite these common negative post-divorce effects, studies reported by the APA still show that resilience, rather than dysfunction, is often the outcome for many children of divorce. There are a number of factors that play a role in promoting healthy post-divorce adjustment. The APA reveals that the following key factors are particularly influential:

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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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