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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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Barrington child custody attorney unwed parentsChild 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.

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Hoffman Estates child custody attorney for parenting timeDivorce 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.

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Inverness parenting time attorney for marijuana useAs 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.

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Inverness parenting plan attorneyAfter 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. 

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Arlington Heights collaborative divorce attorneyWhen 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. 

Collaborative Law 

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. 

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Rolling Meadows divorce attorney missing spouseEven 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. 

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Rolling Meadows family law attorney deceased parent child custody

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. 

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Barrington child custody lawyerEven 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.

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Palatine divorce and child support lawyerThere 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.

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Palatine divorce parenting plan attorneyThe 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.

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Rolling Meadows divorce child custody lawyerThe 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.

Custody Evaluations 

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.

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Inverness divorce attorney for dating parentsOnce a married couple decides to split and file for divorce, the inevitable question, sooner or later, is when to move on and start dating again. Dating, in and of itself, presents complications, but when children are added to the equation, their opinions, as well as that of the other parent, may begin to matter.

A parent’s choice to begin a new relationship may play a part in decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities and other divorce-related matters. Even if a parent begins dating after the divorce has been finalized, the other parent may potentially bring this matter before a judge and ask for a modification of the parenting plan. Thus, while there is no legal prohibition against dating, new relationships may have a practical effect on how a court may view certain behavior, and they may influence child custody decisions.

Dating During a Divorce

From the outside, dating while a divorce is still pending may appear premature, but couples may have extended periods of separation before taking the final step to formally end their marriage. That being said, appearances do make a difference in the outcome of divorce. Thus, starting an active dating life before the divorce has been finalized is likely to produce conflict and increase the odds that the other spouse will be less willing to compromise and more willing to litigate disputed issues. This can leave the other spouse with the choice of accepting a settlement that is less advantageous than they really want in order to avoid the time and expense of litigation, or they may choose to let a judge make the final decisions, which can be unpredictable and unlikely to produce a satisfactory outcome.

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Arlington Heights family law attorney parental relocationBeing free to move about the country is one of the rights and privileges enjoyed by all Americans, and being divorced does not necessarily remove this option from the table, even if child custody is shared. For relocations of a significant distance, Illinois law requires a legal process to be followed, ensuring that the rights of both parents are taken into account, and most importantly, the best interests of the child. Ignoring these requirements can lead to significant consequences, including modification of the custody arrangement in favor of the other parent, so working with an experienced family law attorney to ensure the applicable rules are followed is critical.

In one recent case, a drawn out custody fight that now straddles the court systems in Illinois and Massachusetts illustrates how dire the consequences can be for violating parental relocation laws. This case includes an allegation of unauthorized parental relocation as one of the issues both courts are being asked to sort out, and the Illinois court issued an arrest warrant for the father after he failed to attend six hearings related to the relocation. Fortunately, conflict does not have to escalate to this level, as long as parents meet their legal requirements when relocating. 

What Is Considered Relocation?

Not every move will trigger the provisions regarding parental relocation, just those likely to interfere with the other parent’s ability to participate in the child’s life. Thus, when a parent in Illinois who holds the majority of the parenting time, or shares parenting time equally, wishes to move with the child, court approval is necessary, if one of the following is true:

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Inverness child custody attorneyIn a perfect world, all children would live with both parents in a safe and loving home. However, this stable and supportive situation does not exist in all families, and children can end up splitting their time between parents, living solely with one parent, or being cared for by relatives.

Child custody, referred to as parental responsibilities under Illinois law, legally and traditionally rests solely with the parents. Parents are presumed to be fit, and efforts are made to keep children under their parents’ care. For a variety of reasons, however, parents are sometimes unable or unsuitable to take on this responsibility, and in these cases, a safe and stable alternative must be found that protects the best interests of the child. The road to achieve custody rights as a non-parent can be difficult, but not impossible.

Challenges to Custody

The biggest challenge any non-parent will face when seeking to assert custody rights is whether he or she has standing to bring the matter before the court. Standing refers to the petitioner’s ability to maintain a legal case. With non-parents, standing will only be found if the child is not in the physical custody of either parent (step-parents and grandparents do not necessarily need physical custody to gain standing if certain conditions are met). The person caring for the child must have obtained possession by consent, acknowledgment, or acquiescence of the parents, and the arrangement needs to be more than temporary.

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Arlington Heights child custody lawyer parenting time denialProtecting a child from harm is the number one priority for parents. Rarely does this danger come from within a family, but when it does, a parent may be forced to make hard choices to ensure the child is properly protected.

Parents are presumed to have a fundamental right to spend time with and make decisions for their children, and this is reflected in the child custody laws that govern divorce cases in Illinois. As a result, in the vast majority of divorces, both parents will receive some amount of parenting time on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, this arrangement is not always appropriate, and in some cases, corrective action needs to be taken to ensure the child’s safety.

The normal way to address children’s safety involves requesting a modification of the family’s parenting plan, but this process takes time, and that is something a parent concerned about his/her child’s safety may not have. However, refusing to allow parenting time that has been allocated in a divorce decree is a direct violation of court order, and this can have serious consequences. Parents may wonder what to do if circumstances exist that would negate this rule for the child’s sake.

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Palatine family law attorney, child legal advocates, children and divorce, child custody, divorce proceedingsDivorce, child custody and child support are all emotional and difficult legal issues that separated families face. Parents typically intend to shield their children from the stress and negative emotions of these proceedings; however, sometimes, they leach out anyway. Further, even in the best of situations, the best interests of the child can become lost in the midst of legal battles.

To ensure the child’s needs are properly addressed and considered, a Judge has discretion to appoint a child advocate to help him or her better understand the child’s situation and the type of arrangement that would best promote the child’s healthy development. Attorneys are used for such an appointment and would serve in one of three differing capacities intended to provide a voice to the child’s past and current situations.

Consider the following three roles an attorney may play as a child advocate in family law cases, and examples of circumstances that may prompt a Judge to make this type of appointment.

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parenting responsibilities, Schaumburg divorce attorney, child custody, split parenting time, equal parenting timeHaving an active and important role in a child’s life is the principal goal and priority of parents. However, maintaining this level of involvement can become tricky after divorce when child custody, or, as custody is now called, parental responsibility, determines when and how much time each parent has with the child. Children generally have less negative long-term effects from a divorce if both parents remain a continuing and supportive aspect of their lives.

A group of fathers in Illinois think the current laws on child custody often leave them with a much smaller opportunity to see and engage with their child on a regular basis when a Judge decides this issue. In hopes of changing this perceived paradigm, the Illinois Fathers for Equality is currently pushing for the passage of a law that would favor splitting responsibilities between parents 50/50.

Proposed Revisions to Child Custody Law

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parenting time, Palatine family law attorney, parenting plan, deny parenting time, child custodyEstablishing and maintaining a meaningful connection with one's child is one of the primary goals of all parents. While this effort often becomes more complicated as a child grows up, parents that are separated or divorced have an even bigger hurdle to overcome.

Nurturing a relationship with one's child when custody is shared is challenging for both parents, but the parent allocated the lesser amount of parenting time must work even harder to overcome the lack of time together. Parents generally have a right to exercise a reasonable amount of parenting time with their child, and are presumed fit to exercise parental responsibilities unless evidence is submitted to show the contrary. However, in practical terms, one parent — often the mother — is granted a greater share of the parenting time and care taking duties. The other parent, on the contrary, is typically left with weekends — not always consecutive — and one night per week to foster the parent-child connection.

Reflecting the tendency for fathers to receive less parenting time, a non-profit hosted a free event for fathers in Chicagoland affected by divorce or other family disruptions to learn how to be the most effective parent possible under such circumstances. Regardless of which parent has a greater role in a child's day-to-day life, the parent with more parenting time has the power to block the other parent from seeing the child, in violation of the parenting plan.

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