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....
Unfortunately, not all couples live happily ever after. The latest statistics show that approximately 40-50 percent of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. During these challenging times of COVID-19, many people have been spending more time than usual at home. This can be a blessing and a curse depending on the situation. For some families, quality time together has strengthened their relationships. For others, though, it may have exposed underlying problems within their unions. Regardless of the reasons that two people choose to dissolve their marriage, there are certain steps that must be completed before they can walk away. There are many things that may cause delays in finalizing your divorce, so it is important to be patient. An experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate this complex process.
A divorce that involves children is inherently more complicated than one without kids simply because there are fewer issues to resolve. When a couple has children together, decisions must be made regarding what is in the children’s best interests and what meets their basic needs. In Illinois, child support is calculated using the Income Shares model based on both parents’ net incomes. However, child custody and visitation may be worked out between parents if they can agree on an arrangement. However, coming up with a mutually agreeable schedule can be difficult since both parents often want as much time with their children as possible. Figuring out who gets the kids on what holidays and during the summer or school breaks can be challenging....
During the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live. While many businesses shuttered temporarily to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus, other companies have allowed their employees to work remotely from home. Likewise, many school districts have switched to online learning, so more people are home now than they would be normally. Some divorced parents are finding their income significantly reduced if their position was eliminated completely and they had to file for unemployment. With such a disruption to everyone’s regular routines, you may be wondering if you can modify your existing divorce orders, including child support, parenting time, and child custody. Under Illinois law, you can amend these types of orders depending on the circumstances.
Continuing to find ways to support your children after you get divorced can be very challenging, especially if you and your ex-spouse do not see eye to eye on certain matters. Illinois law requires divorcing parents to come to an agreement on the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation). This parenting plan also includes who will have the authority to make decisions about the children’s educational opportunities and extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or theater. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, a judge will make decisions based on several factors, including the financial status of the spouses and the well-being of the children....
In today’s world, there is no such thing as a “typical” divorce. There are many ways a couple can end their marriage, and the outcomes will vary depending on the needs of each family. Some families are still traditional in the sense that the mother is the primary caregiver and is the one who spends the most time with the children. In other families, fathers are much more involved in the daily responsibilities of raising their children, which can cause tension and stress when it comes to making child-centered decisions during a divorce.
Though the law states that mothers and fathers should be treated equally, fathers are sometimes still seen as “second-class” parents, and some dads feel that they are not given the same consideration as mothers when it comes to issues such as parenting time. Divorce can be difficult for everyone, but its negative effects may be especially worrisome for fathers. Here are a few tips to help dads aim for success during and after a divorce:
Tip #1: Be Proactive
When you are involved in a custody dispute that requires intervention from the court, matters can quickly become complicated. You will need to prove to the judge that you deserve to have just as much parenting time as your former partner, if not more. To demonstrate this, you will need to be involved in your children’s lives, and be sure to confer with the other parent about things like doctor’s appointments, extracurricular activities, and school progress. The goal is to prove to the Judge that you contribute more to your children’s lives than just picking them up and dropping them off....
There 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....
If you are getting a divorce, you must make decisions based on reliable information. Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding divorce in Illinois and the various issues people face during the process, such as child custody, visitation, and the division of marital assets. When going through the divorce process, recognize the common divorce myths that you may hear and understand the truth behind them.
You Must Prove Fault in a Divorce
When first considering divorce, you may think that you have to prove your spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Oftentimes, the ending of the marriage is not anyone’s fault, people simply fall out of love or want to go in different directions. Fortunately, the only type of divorce you can file in Illinois is known as a no-fault divorce, which means you only have to state that the marital relationship has broken down and there is no chance of reconciliation. So, even if neither you nor your spouse was at fault for the divorce, you can still file to legally end your marriage....
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:...
Summer 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:...
Even 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....
Child custody always has the potential to become an extremely complex issue. However, when parents are not married, it can become even more complicated. While married couples will make decisions about child custody as part of their divorce, unwed couples may need to take legal action to address issues related to their children. In some cases, paternity will need to be established before decisions can be made about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.
Establishing Paternity in Illinois
In Illinois, married spouses are presumed to be the parents of any children born during the marriage, unless there is documentation that says otherwise. However, when the parents of a child are not married, the same assumption is not made. In the case of unwed parents, the paternity of the father must be established. There are three ways to do this:
- Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity: If both parents agree on the paternity of the child, they can both complete and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.
- Administrative Paternity Order: If the parents cannot agree, the State of Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Child Support Services can issue an Administrative Paternity Order to establish paternity.
- Order of Paternity: The last method of establishing paternity is to appear in court and have a judge issue an order of paternity.
An Administrative Paternity Order and an Order of Paternity are typically only required if the father disputes that he is the biological father of the child. In these cases, DNA testing will usually be used to confirm that a presumed father is in fact the child’s biological father....
Divorce can be very difficult for everyone who is affected by a couple’s breakup, including their children. One of the biggest concerns children of divorcing parents may have is how their living situation might change and when they will spend time with each parent following the divorce. In many cases, parents and children alike may expect that children will play a role in making decisions about their living arrangements. Although children’s opinions and desires may be a factor in some cases, this will not necessarily be true in every situation. When addressing child custody matters, a family law attorney can help ensure that children’s best interests are protected.
Parenting Time in Illinois
In divorce cases, the time children spend with each parent is commonly referred to as “physical custody” or “visitation.” However, in 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was modified, and those terms are no longer used. Today, the time children spend with each parent is referred to as “parenting time.” The law recognizes that it is in children’s best interests to have regular, ongoing time with each parent, and during divorce, parents will need to create a parenting plan that includes a schedule for when children will live with each parent. The parenting plan will also address how parents will divide the responsibility for making important decisions for their children, such as where they will go to school and what religion they will be raised in.
Do Children Have a Choice Where They Will Live?
One prevailing myth that people may have heard states that once a child turns 14, the court will consider him or her to be mature enough to make a decision about where he or she wants to live. However, this is not a provision that is included in Illinois law. When making decisions about parenting time, a judge will take many factors into consideration to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The child’s desires are one of these factors, and a judge may listen to what a child has to say and take any preferences he or she has into consideration. Rather than identifying an age at which a child’s preferences will be considered, the law states that a judge may consider the child’s wishes if he or she is mature enough to be able to express his or her “reasoned and independent” preferences....
As of January 1, 2020, marijuana is legal in Illinois for both medical and recreational use. However, even though the possession and use of this drug is no longer a criminal offense, people who have gotten a divorce and have at least partial custody of their children should think carefully before using marijuana. Irresponsible use of drugs or alcohol could negatively affect the amount of time you are able to spend with your child.
How Marijuana Use May Affect Parenting Time and Parental Responsibility
In Illinois, child custody is referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities, and visitation is referred to as parenting time. When determining how much time each parent will spend with their child, the court will consider what is in the child’s best interests. If one parent is concerned that the other parent is using marijuana when the child is in his or her care, this issue can be brought to the attention of the courts, and the parent may ask for a modification of the parenting plan. For example, a parent may ask that the other parent’s parenting time be reduced or that the parent be prohibited from using marijuana during his or her parenting time.
Understanding this issue is important for anyone who currently has parenting time with a child. Sometimes, a bitter ex will tell the court that a parent is using marijuana excessively around the child as a means of obtaining a greater allocation of parenting time. A parent may claim that the other parent’s use of marijuana is endangering the child, and the other parent may be required to prove that he or she has not acted in a way that has harmed the child....
After getting a divorce as a parent, you and your ex-spouse will typically have to work together to co-parent your children. This can be difficult, particularly if the divorce was bitter or messy, and there are still feelings of resentment. However, it is best if you are able to work together with your ex-spouse as peacefully and respectfully as possible. Not only will everyone benefit from this cooperation, but it can help you demonstrate that you are willing to put your children’s interests first, which may work in your favor if you need to modify the terms of your parenting plan in the future. Here are some ways you can encourage ongoing cooperation between co-parents after getting divorced:
Solve Problems Together
Although you and your ex-spouse have agreed to work together as co-parents, this does not mean that any hurt or anger that built up during the divorce will just go away. However, you will still need to be able to cooperate to meet your children’s needs and address any problems that may arise. When working to resolve these issues, you should try to put your feelings about your former spouse to the side and focus on how the two of you can reach a solution that will provide for your children’s best interests.
Maintain Open Communication
Communication about what is going on in children’s lives is one of the most important factors in successful co-parenting. By keeping your children the focal point of every conversation, the two of you can ensure that you understand their needs and are prepared to address any ongoing concerns. This will also allow you both to remain informed about what is going on in your children’s lives, including any medical or educational matters that you and your ex-spouse both need to be aware of....
When a couple chooses to get a divorce, there are many ways they can do so. They can go through litigation, arbitration, mediation, collaborative divorce, or cooperative divorce. These last two options are often confused, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two, and divorcing couples should understand what those are before deciding what type of divorce to pursue.
During a collaborative divorce, each spouse will meet separately with his or her own attorney. He or she will outline what he or she wants from the divorce, and the minimum settlement he or she will accept. If both parties agree to pursue a collaborative divorce, they will enter into a Participation Agreement along with their respective attorneys. The agreement states that all parties are committed to the collaborative process and that they will freely and honestly exchange information with each other as they work to reach a divorce settlement.
After the Participation Agreement is signed by both parties, meetings will begin. During these meetings, both sides and their attorneys will negotiate the terms of the divorce, addressing issues such as child custody and property division. Sometimes, outside experts and advisors are brought in to advise on issues such as finances and child development....
Even if your marriage has broken down, you may not want to go through the long, drawn-out process of divorce. You know you will have to see your ex in many unpleasant circumstances, and you may want to avoid interacting with him or her altogether. If you are in an abusive relationship, this can be a particularly important issue.
You may have heard about the possibility of getting a divorce through the newspaper in which you simply publish the divorce announcement and have your marriage dissolved. Is this true, though? Can you really just publish that you want a divorce in a newspaper and have the process finalized? While this may be possible in Illinois, the process of doing so is not easy, and you will have to meet several criteria before you start paying for that ad space.
What You Need to File Through Publication
In a few rare cases, you can get divorced through a publication in the newspaper in Illinois. Before you do so, you will need to file a petition for divorce with the court, ask the judge to allow you to serve the divorce papers through publication, and then prove why you need to do so....
When parents are divorced, the death of a parent can create a number of difficulties. If the deceased ex-spouse was the custodial parent, this will likely mean that the other parent will have more parenting time with their child. However, it is important to understand how Illinois courts address child custody in cases in which a parent dies.
The Courts Are Generally in Favor of the Surviving Parent
When a custodial parent dies, and the courts need to reassign custody of children (known as “allocation of parental responsibilities” in Illinois), they will generally give preference to the surviving parent. The court will typically assume that the surviving parent has a greater interest in the care, custody and control of the child than anyone else. This will generally hold true even when another person, such as a grandparent or stepparent, asserts rights over the child....
Even those who do not regularly follow celebrity news may have heard about the breakup of Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson. Aside from the entertainment aspect of the story, people may be curious about the legal effects of the breakup and how similar matters would be handled in Illinois. Since the couple has a child together, the question of how child custody and child support will be handled may be on some people’s minds.
Child Custody for Unwed Parents in Illinois
When a child is born to a married couple in Illinois, the husband is assumed to be the father of the child. However, that is not the case when the parents are unwed. If unmarried parents break up, the parentage of the child will need to be legally established before decisions can be made about child custody.
Parentage is established in one of three ways in Illinois. The easiest way is for both parents to complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) in which they both agree the man in question is the biological father of the child. If the parents do not agree to submit a VAP, a court may order DNA testing to establish that the man is the child’s biological father, and an Order of Paternity will be issued. In addition to these options, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services may also conduct paternity testing and enter an Administrative Paternity Order....
There are few things more difficult for a family to go through than divorce. This is particularly true when there are children involved. Emotions run high, and everyone wants to leave the marriage in a manner that is fair to them, and the entire family can struggle to move on with their lives. In addition to all of this, parents must negotiate a child custody agreement and determine child support obligations. During this process, there are three very important things each parent must keep in mind.
1. Keep Your Emotions in Check
Spouses will normally experience strong feelings when going through a divorce, such as sadness, anger, disappointment and frustration. However, letting these emotions rule child custody negotiations typically results in a longer, more difficult process. Parents should do their best to try to avoid being confrontational during these proceedings, and remember at all times that negotiations are taking place in the best interests of the child, not the parents. In addition, remember that these negotiations can take time. Rather than rushing to reach an agreement as soon as possible, you should ensure that the final agreement protects your parental rights and meets your children’s needs.
2. Know the Laws
Child support is determined by a judge who will use the financial information the two spouses have submitted to make a decision. Due to this, both parents going through a divorce must provide accurate financial documents, and they should be sure to understand the laws surrounding child support....
The terms of a divorce settlement or judgment will attempt to cover the many different issues the two parties will face as a divorced couple. However, marital settlement agreements cannot possibly cover every situation. One of the most common situations divorced couples with children face is whether or not parents should leave their child alone with another person, such as a babysitter, when they cannot care for them.
It can be upsetting to hear that a child was left with someone other than their parent. This is particularly true when one parent does not personally know the person watching the child. While this type of situation can be stressful and sometimes cause arguments, is it against the law?
The Right of First Refusal
Historically, Illinois did not have many laws on the books pertaining to someone other than a parent watching a child. However, as of January 1, 2014, parents can choose to leave their child with someone else, but they may first have to ask the other parent. This is known as “right of first refusal,” and this right is covered under 750 ILCS 5/602.3. This statute simply requires that, in certain cases, the parent caring for the child could be required to give the other parent the first opportunity to watch them....
The emotional and psychological fallout of separation and divorce can have a major impact on a family. Once the initial shock passes and the legal process is underway, children start to get a sense that the change of divorce is really happening, and they may need extra support to get through the transition. The need for assistance is especially prevalent in high-conflict divorce cases in which both sides seek outcomes diametrically opposed to one another. These situations often involve animosities that are transferred to the children. Studies have long shown that divorce can lead to a wide range of negative and long-term emotional and psychological damage in children if not properly handled.
Addressing the needs of a child going through a divorce is complicated, and parents may require the involvement of multiple adults to provide sufficient support. For children who are struggling and starting to exhibit destructive behavior, such as depression, skipping school, or outbursts of anger, more direct intervention may be demanded. The courts have the power to order two processes that speak to this situation: custody evaluations and counseling.
When parents cannot agree on parenting plans, and this stalemate lasts for a long period of time, courts are often asked to step in and make the decision for them. Each family is unique, though, and any decision issued by the courts will affect the quality of life for the parents and children for years to come. To help the court form a better understanding of the family dynamics, and more specifically, the best interests of the child, a judge may order a custody evaluation to look at the relationship between the spouses, the parent/child relationships, and the child’s overall welfare....