palatine divorce lawyerAs a parent, you want the absolute best for your child. This includes the best possible child custody arrangement after a divorce. However, many divorcing parents disagree about what is best for their children. This blog explores some of the most popular dispute resolution methods for parents who disagree about parental responsibilities and parenting time. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for child custody disputes. The right approach will depend on your relationship with your soon-to-be-ex, your child’s needs, and a variety of other factors.

Family Law Mediation May Help You Resolve Child Custody Disagreements

A family law mediator is trained in conflict resolution, de-escalation tactics, and communication skills. During a child custody dispute, the mediator’s job is to help parents discuss child custody issues, find common ground, and reach compromises. Understandably, many parents have strong opinions about their children and can sometimes let their emotions cloud their judgment. The mediator helps parents avoid contention and stay focused on finding a solution.  

Reaching a Child Custody Agreement Through Collaborative Law

During the collaborative divorce process, parents work with a collaborative team to negotiate unresolved divorce issues including child custody. Each parent is represented by an attorney trained in collaborative law. The spouses and their attorneys may also work with child development specialists, child psychologists, or other experts. The spouses, attorneys, and other members of the collaborative team sign an agreement promising to negotiate in good faith, keep the conversations confidential, and keep the case out of Court.

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Illinois family law attorneyWith summer in full swing, you may be thinking about taking a fun trip with your kids. However,  if you recently got divorced and have a child custody order to follow, it can make things a little more complicated. To avoid mishaps, be sure to plan ahead and keep your child’s co-parent in the loop.

Reviewing Your Parenting Agreement

If you share custody of your kids with your ex, it is a good idea to look at the parenting agreement before taking your children on vacation. Look for information regarding holidays and taking trips with your kids. The document may address important questions, such as how much notice you have to give the other parent and how long of a trip you can take. If you are having difficulty understanding some of the terms in your parental agreement, do not hesitate to talk to your Illinois family lawyer.

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barrington divorce lawyerEvery couple going through a divorce with children must make child custody arrangements for their children before they can complete the process. Your parenting plan must contain information about how you and your spouse will split parenting time and share decision-making responsibilities. Parenting time is often a tough issue for parents during a divorce. Many parents do not want to give up spending time with their children. One of the ways parents can spend a bit more time with their children is by crafting a well-thought-out “right of first refusal” clause in the parenting agreement.

Understanding the Right of First Refusal

There are fifteen different elements that must be addressed in the parenting plan per Illinois law. One of the provisions you must include is a description of how and when parents may invoke the right of first refusal. The right of first refusal gives a parent the opportunity to care for their child before the other parent takes the child to an alternative care provider. For example, if a mother cannot watch the child on her assigned day, she must contact the father to see if he can watch the child before calling a babysitter. The right of first refusal is a right that both, one, or neither parent may have, depending on what would be in the child’s best interests. 

What to Include in the Agreement

Parents are encouraged to come to an agreement about the right of first refusal, but if they are unable to, the Court reserves the right to make the final decision. There are a few things you should be sure to include in the agreement:

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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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