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IL family lawyerDivorced and unmarried parents in Illinois are required to submit a parenting plan, or parenting agreement, to the court. The plan describes how the parents will allocate parental responsibilities and share parenting time. A shared parenting arrangement can leave one parent with significantly less parenting time than he or she would prefer. If you are looking for ways to increase your parenting time, one way to do so may be through the “right of first refusal.”

Understanding Your Right to Enjoy Additional Parenting Time

The right of first refusal refers to a parent’s right to gain additional parenting time when the parent who is assigned parenting time cannot fulfill this commitment. Consider the following example: A father is assigned parenting time, formerly called visitation, every other weekend. He misses his children and wishes he could spend more time with them. On one of the weekends that the children’s mother is assigned parenting time, she must leave town for a work obligation. Because the parents included directions about the right of first refusal in their parenting plan, the mother is required to notify the father about her work trip and give him the opportunity to care for the children during her absence. If the father cannot take on the additional parenting time, then the mother is permitted to find a third-party such as a babysitter or grandparent to care for the children.

Deciding How The Right of First Refusal Will Apply

Parents will need to decide how the right of first refusal will apply to their particular situation and include this information in their parenting plan. Parents should consider:

  • How long a parent’s absence must be in order for the right of first refusal to apply
  • How much advance notice the parent who is originally assigned parenting time should give the other parent if he or she will be absent
  • The amount of time that the other parent has to accept or refuse the additional parenting time
  • Transportation arrangements for the children

It is not always easy for parents to reach an agreement about the right of first refusal or the other terms of their parenting plan. Many parents find that mediation and guidance from an experienced child custody attorney are extremely helpful during the creation of a parenting plan.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

Illinois parents who are planning to divorce will need to create a parenting plan that describes each parent’s child-related rights and responsibilities. If parents cannot reach an agreement about these issues, the court may need to intervene. For help negotiating the terms of your parenting plan and zealous representation during court proceedings, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a Kane County family law attorney from our firm by calling us at 630-584-5550 today.

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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 divorce lawyerFamily vacations are a common occurrence in the summertime. Your children have time away from their academics and the beautiful weather typically motivates families to spend time away from their home state. Whether or not you and your family regularly took vacations, your summer will probably look different post-divorce. It is important to reflect on summer plans in light of your divorce with summer vacation beginning in a few weeks. Continue reading to help plan your summer and spend quality time with your children.

What You Need to Consider

  1. Financial Planning: For most families, money is set aside to pay for family vacations. The planning is done well in advance to avoid budget issues and travel restrictions. Family vacations after divorce will problem happen less frequently due to the supply of funding coming from a single income rather than two. If you would like to take a vacation, it would be advantageous to plan it out well in advance.

  2. Look at your Parenting Plan: You will now have to verify your plans with your former spouse if you share custody. Most parenting plans will have specified rules about which holidays are spent with which parent. The plans also have legal requirements on how much time must be spent with each parent. If you plan on taking your child for more than your usual time allotted, you will have to run this by your former spouse. This can typically be done without the intervention of an attorney depending on your relationship.

  3. Traditions May Be in the Past: Many families have the family tradition to go on one vacation every summer. This can be difficult to let go of but is not always feasible for divorcees. A good outlook on things is to end old traditions and start new ones. You may have to trade in your tradition vacation spot for a newer, more economical option. Not only will this be helpful for your wallet, but it can also feel like a fresh start for many parents.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney for Help

Family vacations may not be on your mind while you are involved in the divorce proceedings; however, this can be very important for some families. Discussing this with your spouse during the divorce process can help alleviate the stress once the paperwork is finalized. It can be helpful to divide holidays and vacations in the contract to avoid discussing this afterwards. If you are considering divorce and need assistance, contact our experienced St. Charles, IL divorce attorneys at 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.

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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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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 divorce lawyerYou cannot separate education from a child’s life. Think it like trying to extract a career from an adult’s lifestyle and perception his or her role in society. When you first meet somebody, one of the first questions you ask is “what do you do?” For a child, school is what he or she “does.” Because of this, a child’s academic needs are considered heavily when the court develops an appropriate parenting plan for him or her. And although child support orders are created using a formula, special academic needs can force the court to deviate from this formula.

Child Support can be Used to Cover School Expenses

For most children, school expenses include:

  • School supplies;
  • School clothing; and
  • Occasionally, field trips and other special events.

In some cases, a child needs far more support for his or her education. This can be the case when a child attends private school and needs parental support for tuition and uniforms of when the child has a severe mental or physical disability that requires him or her to attend a specialized school.

Your Child’s Academic Needs Are Considered when Your Parenting Plan Is Developed

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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 custody lawyerThe short answer is this: it depends on the child and the circumstances he or she is facing. Typically, Illinois courts permit adolescents age 14 and over to weigh in on their parenting time schedule. When a young man or woman expresses a well-developed opinion about his or her parenting time, the court will often consider it alongside other factors to determine an appropriate parenting schedule for him or her. But a child’s opinion cannot be the only thing the court considers, and it is not required to consider the child’s opinion if there are other, more significant, factors present.

Yes, but the Court Can Overrule Your Child’s Choice

When the court develops a parenting time arrangement, it creates the arrangement that it determines to be in the child’s best interest. In most cases, it is in the child’s best interest to maintain a consistent relationship with each parent. One parent could be deemed to be better equipped to care for the child, and when this happens, that parent generally has a greater share of the child’s parenting time.

When the court considers a child’s opinion about his or her parenting schedule, it must determine whether the child’s opinion was logically developed or if he or she is being impulsive. The court must also determine if one parent manipulated the child into voicing such a request in order to receive a larger share of parenting time or “punish” the other parent.

Factors the Court Considers When Determining a Parenting Schedule

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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 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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