Divorce may seem like an isolated family issue, but it can also affect extended members of the family, such as grandparents. It has been a trend in the United States for grandparents to contribute significantly to child care and helping parents raise their children. In many cases, a retired grandparent may act as daytime child care for a child whose parents work during the day. Especially in these relationships, the bond between a grandparent and grandchild can be strong and essential to the child’s well-being. In some cases, grandparents in Illinois may be able to request visitation with a child after the child’s parents divorce or split up.
Requesting Visitation for a Grandchild
When it comes to family matters such as these, things can be sticky when parents disagree with grandparents. Illinois law states that grandparents are only allowed to request visitation if the child’s parent has “unreasonably” denied the grandparent the right to spend time with the child, and the denial has caused the child physical, emotional, or mental harm. The law does not define what “unreasonable” denial is, but it does state that all parents who are deemed fit are presumed to be acting in the child’s best interests if they refuse to allow a grandparent or other family member to spend time with the child. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Sometimes, a parent may use their child as a pawn against a grandparent or have some other bad faith reason to deny visitation.
Factors for Determination
If a grandparent has requested visitation with their grandchild, the court will make the final decision based on a variety of factors. These factors can include things such as:...
Every 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:...
Few topics arouse more tension and conflict than religion. Religious beliefs have fomented wars, destroyed countries and displaced countless people across the globe since ancient times. Religion is just one of many child rearing issues divorced parents must handle as part of sharing parenting responsibilities.
Due to the animosity, anger and resentment disagreements that religion tends to produce, Illinois family law provisions specifically address how to divide this responsibility in the hopes of reducing or preventing conflict when this subject arises. Conflict over religion is primarily generated when interfaith couples divorce and fail to clearly articulate and decide each parent’s expectations for the child’s religious upbringing. Regardless of the source, disagreements over religion and raising a child needs resolution, and Courts will establish guidelines if necessary.
Religion is especially a point of contention if one or both parents follow highly regulated belief systems, common among Judaism and Islam, that make compromise extremely difficult. Consider how Illinois Courts view religion in the context of divorce, and ways in which this responsibility may be divided....
Dividing child custody (legally termed parent responsibilities) is a critical, complicated, and emotional undertaking that challenges even the most cooperative spouses getting divorced. Practically speaking, both parents will have to compromise and cede some amount of authority and autonomy over the child’s life in order to facilitate sharing responsibilities with the other parent.
Until a Court order says otherwise, both legally recognized parents (typically, those biologically related to the child) have full rights to make any decision on the child’s behalf and to determine the child’s physical location, without the other parent’s knowledge or permission. Once a Court order is issued, though, this expansive ability to make unilateral decisions stops if parental responsibilities are shared, which is almost always the case.
Biological parents have a tough time sharing these rights and duties, and when a non-biological parent seeks the same level of parental authority, the other parent is likely to push back hard against such claims. This situation occurred between a same-sex female couple from Rockford who used artificial insemination to impregnate one of the women, yet failed to legally acquire parental rights for the other spouse. An Illinois appellate court recently ruled that the non-biological former spouse had parental rights that she could attempt to enforce....
Dividing parental responsibilities is always a tricky proposition, as each parent is likely to believe he or she is best equipped to provide for his or her child’s physical needs and emotional support system. However, the reality in most homes is one parent is typically more involved in a child’s day-to-day needs and scheduling requirements.
When this factor aligned with the model used to allocate parenting time, a Court is more likely to give the bulk of the responsibilities to the parent who is more involved. This allows continuity for the child to be maintained. However, the situation often leaves the other parent feeling as though he or she has no real opportunity to have equal time with the child, or an ability to make a significant contribution to the child’s life.
Further, fathers are typically more affected by this tendency, which serves to reinforce the stereotype that single fathers have little desire to engage with their children on a meaningful basis. A Bill is currently under consideration in the Illinois legislature that would change the child custody model used by Courts so that both parents would start from the presumption of having equal time with their child....
Child custody is never an easy issue to resolve, even when parents form their own agreement, because the issue is intricately tied to powerful emotions and relationships that are central to the family structure. Settling parenting responsibilities on the heels of divorce becomes even more complex if the Court is asked to decide an arrangement that will govern future interactions.
Sometimes, when parents experience high amounts of conflict, or have legitimate concerns about the child’s welfare, Court intervention is necessary. Because of the importance of child custody, the impartiality of the Judge overseeing the disposition of the case is crucial.
Historically, and according to gender stereotypes, women are traditionally seen as the parent most suited to taking the primary role of caretaker in divorce, with the father receiving much less parenting time comparatively. Recent research into the gender bias affecting the Court system showed that Judges were highly prone to injecting personal bias into child custody decisions that favored the mother, and discouraged the father from taking a meaningful role as caretaker....
When parents decide to divorce, the process consists of more than simply deciding who will move out and how time with their children will be shared. The heart of any divorce decree is the settlement that outlines how a couple will address support, property division and child custody. Settling these issues is pivotal to concluding this process. However, due to the sensitive nature, these issues are some of the most difficult matters a person will ever consider.
Courts can be tasked with creating a settlement; however, they will be restricted by the confines of the law and the Judge’s limited knowledge about the parties’ needs and expectations. A better alternative is to negotiate a private settlement agreement that serves to keep the details of the divorce confidential and grants spouses more control over the outcome. Couples tend to underestimate how much work these endeavors require, as well as the approach most likely to lead to a fair and workable agreement.
What Goes into a Divorce Settlement?...
Raising a child requires a parent to dedicate a large portion of his or her resources to adequately provide for the child's welfare, not least of which is a large financial obligation. Both parents are supposed to share this responsibility. However, this mutual obligation can become a point of contention between divorced and separated parents.
Child support is a Court-ordered duty to pay a set amount for a child's needs that is most commonly issued when parents get divorced or file a paternity a claim against a former partner. Typically, the legal process used to settle child support and custody claims are handled exactly the same, regardless of the marital status of the parties. Until earlier this year, however, Cook County had separate courtrooms for married and single parents. These facilities, which some claimed were dilapidated and imposed an unfair bias on unmarried parties, were shut down in February.
Apart from procedural issues, parents generally tend to disagree about how much money is being paid as well as how the funds are being used. Still, legitimate concerns can arise about a parent's ability to pay anything at all when he or she is under- or unemployed for significant periods of time....
The stereotypical image of a divorcing spouse doing everything possible to make the other party look bad is, unfortunately, not always an exaggeration. However, Courts are not interested in hearing divorcing spouses badmouth one another and will generally not give this type of information any consideration unless false allegations are made that significantly affect a party's rights. Under these circumstances, the situation changes and becomes more than bickering that may be disregarded.
Falsifying documents or making untrue allegations principally affects a party's rights in property distribution and the allocation of parental responsibilities. Typically, false allegations come in the form of claims of abuse (child and/or domestic), drug use and submissions of fabricated financial affidavits/documents.
While dishonesty between spouses is rarely worth taking legal action, lying or misleading a Court can result in serious consequences. Statements made directly to the Judge and documents filed with the Court all come with the stipulation that the information provided is true and accurate. If the Court later discovers a party intentionally lied or provided erroneous information, the potential consequences can reach both the outcome of the divorce case and include the imposition of criminal penalties....
In today's society, many Americans split their lives between in-person interactions and social media communications, and not necessarily in that order. This tendency to put a large chunk of one's life online does not go away when a couple decides to divorce. Social media and other forms of electronic communication (email, text, etc.) can present issues during the divorce proceedings.
In the wake of divorce, emotions can take over and cause a person to say, write or do something out of character as a way to cope with the situation. Before social media, incidents of this type rarely made it to the courtroom. However, social media and electronic communication generally memorializes the behavior and therefore makes using an email or post as damaging evidence in the divorce case easier for the other spouse.
One example of how digital evidence is becoming more prevalent in divorce cases, and in litigation, involves an Illinois man who recently sued his ex-wife for violations of federal wiretapping and privacy laws. The lawsuit claims the ex-wife gained unauthorized access to his email accounts and used them in their divorce case, which spanned from 2011 to 2016, to get a better settlement....
Sharing custody of a child routinely presents many parents with the potential for conflict. Whether related to decisions on education or childcare, or the amount of time a child spends with each parent, points of disagreement are likely to arise.
In addition to the philosophical and custodial aspects of sharing parental responsibilities, the very act of exchanging custody of a child between parents can create a number of logistical and psychological challenges. This practical consequence of divorce is one that is easy to overlook when the parties are deciding how to allocate parental responsibilities. Moreover, these exchanges can have profound implications on the ability of parents to cooperate with one another.
Consequently, deciding where and when a custody exchange will take place is an important issue that should be directly addressed, especially if there is concern that outside factors, such as anxiety over seeing a new romantic interest or fear of an altercation, may provoke tension and thus make civil exchanges difficult, if not impossible. Certainly, the amount of interaction, which is often tied to the age of the child and the frequency of exchanges, is a big driver of the potential for conflict. Further, the context of child custody exchanges is likely to change as the child gets older, and is in less need of supervision and direction....