Northwest Cook County family law attorney child custody

In Illinois, child custody is now referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities. Regardless if a married couple with children was married and decided to divorce or they never tied the knot, they must determine who is going to care for their kids in the future. Typically, Illinois courts favor both parents staying involved in their child’s life after a divorce or a breakup if they were unmarried. However, there are situations where one parent may be abusive or neglects to properly care for his or her children. In these cases, a parent may be deemed unfit by a judge and his or her custody terminated involuntarily.

Terminating Parental Rights

Unless there is convincing evidence, rarely will an Illinois court terminate a parent’s rights completely. The court needs actual proof that the other parent’s actions (or inactions) are negatively affecting the kids. Proof of unfitness may include photographs or videos showing abuse, medical records illustrating injuries due to an unsafe environment, police reports, and electronic communication such as text or email messages and social media posts. Even if a parent is deemed unfit, he or she is usually given certain parental rights, albeit very limited. 

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Schaumburg family law attorneyThere are a wide variety of reasons why you and your child’s other parent may not live in the same home. Following your break-up or divorce, you and the other parent will need to develop a cooperative parenting plan that outlines each of your responsibilities regarding your child. As part of your plan, you will also need to include direction over the time that each of you will get to spend with your child. Once known as visitation, the law in Illinois now refers to this as parenting time and recognizes the importance of quality parenting time in helping to foster a strong relationship between the child and both parents.

Get It in Writing and Get It Approved

If you are or were married to the other parent, Illinois law mandates that your divorce agreement will need to account for your child. The court will not enter a finalized divorce judgment until there is an approved parenting plan in place or, if necessary, an order for the allocation of parental responsibilities has been issued.

But what if you and the other parent were never married? While children born outside of marriage are far from uncommon, there are often more complex considerations needed to be sure that each parents’ rights are protected. Presuming paternity is not in question, and you have voluntarily acknowledged your parentage, the two of you will need to develop a parenting plan and a schedule for parenting time. No matter how rocky your relationship with the other parent may be, you are entitled to reasonable rights of parenting time.

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Hoffman Estates divorce attorney child custody

There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, many of which do not affect your capabilities as a parent. However, you may be concerned that a diagnosis will affect your child custody case when going through a divorce. Generally speaking, suffering from mental health issues is not enough for you to lose your parental responsibilities in Illinois. However, how you treat and manage your mental illness can have an impact on the outcome of the legal proceedings. That is why it is critical to seek the legal guidance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can help protect your parental rights. 

Factors Determining Child Custody in Illinois

A judge will consider several factors when determining child custody, also known as the allocation of parental responsibilities, under Illinois law. All of these factors center around what is in the best interests of the child. There are a number of issues a judge will take into consideration, including the following:

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Barrington divorce attorney summer parenting timeSummer is quickly approaching, and some divorced parents may have vacation plans that include their child. Whether these plans include taking lengthy trips or having children stay with a parent for a whole week instead of a weekend, summer schedules are often quite different than they are during the school year. Parents who share child custody may struggle to address these changing schedules and ensure that they can spend time with their children as planned. To make it easier, here are some tips on what you should and should not do when addressing issues related to summer vacations.

How to Co-Parent in the Summer

There are a variety of ways to make co-parenting easier during the summer months when parents and children may be able to spend more time with each other. During this time, it is important to:

  • Plan in advance: If you have any plans with your child that deviate from your parenting plan, you will want to discuss them with your former spouse ahead of time. Ideally, you will be able to work together to come to an agreement about any changes to your parenting time schedules during the summer months while ensuring that the decisions you make will protect your children’s best interests. 
  • Get your child involved: Divorce can be hard on kids. They may already be adjusting to dividing their time between parents’ homes, and during this time, maintain a consistent routine. No matter how fun a vacation is, it can still be a disruption that could make it harder for your child to cope with the changes that have come with your divorce. To minimize these types of difficulties, involve children in vacation planning by asking them what they would like to do, and be sure they know what to expect. When children are older, you may also need to determine whether they will have any of their own plans, and be sure to consider this when preparing for summer.
  • Keep communication open: As you carry out your summer vacation plans, be sure to remain in contact with the other parent, and make sure your child communicates with them regularly. Encourage phone calls and texts so they can stay in touch.

How Not to Co-Parent in the Summer

As you prepare for summer, you may inadvertently take some steps that are not appropriate for the situation. You should do your best to avoid the following mistakes:

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Palatine parenting time lawyer coronavirusEven when certain issues, such as child custody, have been finalized in a divorce settlement, parents and children may experience changes that affect these matters. That may never be more true than during these uncertain times in which we deal with the threat of the coronavirus. First and foremost, parents should know that the Governor of Illinois has stated specifically that parents are allowed to transport children to carry out court-ordered parenting time schedules. After all, families need each other more than ever right now, and children will need to maintain close relationships with both parents. However, there are some uncertainties and safety issues that parents may need to be aware of when addressing child custody.

Steps to take When a Child Is Endangered

While many of the courthouses in Illinois have closed and will not reopen until the coronavirus crisis dies down, courts will be available to deal with emergency situations. If a parent feels that allowing their child to spend time with the other parent would put the child in danger, they may pursue an order of protection that will ensure that they and their child will be safe from harm. As soon as courts are back in session, a parent may file a petition to modify the child custody order.

Responding When Someone Is Experiencing Symptoms

Some parents may come across the situation in which they, their child, or the other parent is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. In the event that anyone is experiencing symptoms, the parenting time schedule may need to be adjusted to minimize the possibility of infection. In these cases, parents will want to work together to reach an agreement that will protect their children’s best interests. This may mean temporarily foregoing parenting time, and the loss of time with the child may be made up at a later date once the infected party has made a full recovery.

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